By On Oct 07, 2018 Form Templates
If you ever find yourself getting sick of looking at your work product and starting to do something rash such as throwing your hands up and just turning it in at that moment, pull yourself up short. Give it a good dramatic reading. Out loud. You will still find some slips and rough patches—and you will be glad you did. Better that you find the problems than your readers do. Learn the lesson that mutilating and reworking your own first drafts actually builds your ego as a writer and editor.
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.
When given an assignment, ask plenty of questions. Read the relevant documents and take good notes. Learn all you can about the clients situation. If you are a junior asked to write a memo or a motion but you are not told anything about the clients actual problem, ask what it is in some detail. You must be adequately briefed—and thats partly your responsibility. Theres almost no way to write a good research memo in the abstract. As you are reading cases and examining statutes, you will be in a much better position to apply your findings if you know the relevant specifics.
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