LawProse Lessons #75 & #76

LawProse Lessons #75 & #76

Lesson # 75
What’s the most eye-opening lesson that lawyers learn at LawProse seminars? ANSWER: There are many eye-openers, but the biggest is probably that writing style matters much more than most legal writers suspect. It is the wand that turns good ideas into gold. And just as you know the quality of a musician in the first 20 notes, you know the quality of a legal writer in the first 20 words. There’s no hiding one’s mediocrity in phrasing ideas. Sources: All the LawProse seminars and webinars (
Lesson # 76
What’s the biggest punctuational difference between professional-grade writing (as found in The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker) and the writing of most lawyers? ANSWER: Attentiveness to hyphenating phrasal adjectives. Amateurs see little reason to hyphenate common law when used as an adjective <common-law jurisdictions>; professionals insist on the hyphen to avoid miscues. But that’s just the start: affirmative-action policy, child-support payments, federal-question jurisdiction, real-estate law, white-collar crime, etc. Professional editors hypenate such phrases; amateurs never do. See: The Elements of Legal Style 24-25 (2d ed. 2002). The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style 38-41 (2d ed. 2006). The Winning Brief 276-83 (2d ed. 2004). Garner’s Modern American Usage 625-28 (3d ed. 2009). Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 674-76 (3d ed. 2011).
Spend a day with Bryan Garner
Bryan Garner’s seminars teach the habits of effective legal writers: how you can write about law using the same techniques that professional writers of nonfiction use. You’ll need an arresting opener, a clean narrative line, and polish throughout. How many lawyers are effective legal writers? “Not many,” Garner says. “But I like helping more lawyers move into the upper echelons.” Let Garner help you become not just a better writer, but a better thinker. The two go hand in hand. Make a difference in your career: join us for a day to sharpen your legal-writing and advocacy skills. Learn techniques vital to the effective lawyer’s arsenal.

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