LawProse Lesson #418: A Holistic Approach to Writing

The best writing instruction is holistic and broad, not just covering dozens of nitpicky grammatical points. Instead, it deals with the essence of inventing arguments. Effective teaching deals with creativity that enhances your mental capacities: recognizing similarities and differences, knowing the significance of factual changes, being able to shift levels of thought, and understanding differing …

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LawProse Lesson #411: What professors and judges have in common?

Let’s say an undergraduate professor once assigned you to write a critical report on a recently published book. You were expected to read it closely and to consult additional sources, such as related publications and book reviews. Your professor made several assumptions about your capabilities: that you could read and understand college-level materials;that you could …

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LawProse Lesson #409: The Kinds of Editorial Changes

Whatever their level of competence, revisers can make only three types of alterations: delete, replace, and insert. Any of these should improve a piece, not detract from it.   Deletions involve removing whatever is unhelpful, whether superfluous words (June of 2022 becomes June 2022), redundancies (general consensus becomes consensus), undesirable repetitions (often resulting from inexpert phrasing), and even weak arguments. Yes, sometimes …

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LawProse Lesson #405 Renegade Writers

Professional writers know that they’ve had to abandon various “school rules” to become successful. They’ve had to unlearn the untruths that seemingly all writers pick up along the way. (A prime example is the idea that you should never write a one-sentence paragraph.) A renegade writer rejects superstitions. The important thing is to know which …

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LawProse Lesson #404 Seeing the Forest

One common problem that legal writers have is plunging into sections of a project before developing a good sense of the whole. Imagine building parts of a house before having an architectural plan. A superb technique for team writing projects is to have every member individually prepare point headings—full-sentence propositions. These team members must be …

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