By On Oct 05, 2018 Form Templates
The late Judge David Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was a stickler for super-tight prose. Once, when his student clerk, Eugene Gelernter (now a New York City litigator), brought him a draft opinion, the great judge said: "Nice draft, Gene. Now go back and read it again. Take out every paragraph you dont need, then every sentence you dont need. Then go back and take out every word you dont need. Then, when you are done with that, go back and start the whole process all over again." We should all have such a mentor.
Its not enough to summarize. You must summarize in a way that every conceivable reader—not just the assigning lawyer—can understand. So dont write your issue this way: "Whether Goliad can take a tax deduction on the rent-free space granted to Davidoff under I.R.C. § 170(f)(3)?" Thats incomprehensible to most readers because its too abstract and it assumes insider knowledge. Also, it doesnt show any mastery of the problem.
Some lawyers, especially less experienced ones being encouraged to avoid legalese, end up turning blithely informal and flouting the norms of standard English, especially in email messages. For example, they might write "u" instead of "you" and "cd" instead of "could." Some even use emoticons. Even if you find yourself working for a firm where some people do these things, exercise restraint. Use conventional punctuation and capitalization in your email messages. Your colleagues wont think any less of you, and your supervisors will appreciate your professionalism.
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