Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Reads

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on….oh, sorry, I got carried away there. Since we’re starting a new academic year, I'm offering a list of some of my favorite legal writing books. These texts will help improve your writing whether you’re a law student, new associate, or seasoned partner and will keep you away from the dog bites, the bee stings, and feelings of sadness about your writing.

Noah Messing, Art of AdvocacyArt of Advocacy could be used as a textbook but is a great source for practitioners as well. Art of Advocacy focuses on brief- and motion-writing strategies and offers hundreds of examples from practitioners’ briefs to illustrate Messing’s points. He provides an explanation of each technique and an introduction to each example, then highlights the specific information he wants the reader to focus on. Perhaps my favorite part of Art of Advocacy is Messing’s explanations for and examples of specific types of arguments, including policy arguments and arguments premised on legislative history. He explains the relative value of each type of argument then shows readers how to make them most that argument.      

Ross Guberman, Point MadePoint Made is an excellent resource for practitioners looking to add pizazz to their briefs. Guberman offers some really cool tips on organization and style. Like Messing, Guberman includes real-life examples for each of his tips, which really enable the reader to see how effective the tips are.  Point Made is well-organized; all tips on a particular topic are grouped together, and the reader can quickly flip to sections of interest. Point Made is, deservedly, popular, and Oxford University Press recently put out the second edition that includes additional tips and examples. For my prior review, see here.

Steven Stark, Writing to Win—I’ve reviewed Writing to Win before as well, here. I like Writing because of its easy-to-read, conversational style. The majority of the tips offered in Writing relate to trial-level and appellate brief writing, but Stark also provides tips for drafting pleadings, including complaints, answers, affidavits, and discovery requests. Writing is a great book for everyone from law students to mature lawyers. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about legal writing, I bet you’ll find something you didn’t know in Writing.

Bryan Garner, The Winning Brief—In The Winning Brief, Garner offers 100 tips for writing winning briefs. Each chapter includes an explanation of the tip and good and bad examples of brief writing. Because of the short nature of each chapter, the reader can pick up Winning Brief for a few minutes and come away with tons of useful advice. Garner’s tips are well-labeled, and the index enables the reader to quickly find specific tips. The appendix also includes some of Garner’s favorite briefs that allow the reader to see how to put all of Garner’s tips together to produce a winning brief.

Richard Wydick, Plain English for LawyersPlain English is a short but excellent source for those dedicated to improving their writing. Like the book itself, the chapters in Plain English are short and to the point. Wydick targets grammar, substance, and style, with tips ranging from avoiding nominalizations to punctuating carefully to arranging sentences to keep the subject, verb, and object close. Wydick also includes exercises at the end of the chapters for readers to practice their skills.

These are a few of my favorite reads! Do you agree, or do you have other favorites?

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