By On Sep 29, 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.
Law school exams encourage students to use the one-hand-other-hand approach: The outcome could be this, or it could be that. Even experienced lawyers sometimes hedge needlessly. This approach can look wishy-washy. Whats wanted is your best thought about how a court will come down on an issue.
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.
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