By On Oct 09, 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.
YVerbosity makes your writing seem cluttered and underthought. Learn to delete every surplus word. For example, general consensus of opinion is doubly redundant: A consensus relates only to opinions, and a consensus is general by its very nature. You can replace the phrase a number of with several or many. And in order to typically has two words too many—to can do the work alone. So instead of in order to determine damages, write to determine damages.
YFind out what the standards are for citing authority in your jurisdiction. In California, lawyers follow the California Style Manual. In New York, they should (but frequently dont) follow the New York Law Reports Style Manual. In Texas, every knowledgeable practitioner follows the Texas Rules of Form. Other states have their own guides. And, of course, The Bluebook and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation are widely used as defaults (and sometimes required by court rules). Even if you are not inclined to care much about these things, you better learn to obsess over them. Otherwise, you will look unschooled.
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