I’m starting the new year by reading Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing by Michael R. Smith (2d ed. 2008). There’s actually a third edition out now, but it’s pricey. So I’m reading a “used” copy of the second edition that I picked up for $14. (Used is in quotation marks because it arrived in mint condition.) I’ve read enough of it to recommend it and to add it to the book list on the right side of this blog. The author, Professor Smith, believes the same things I do about persuasive legal writing: he bases his recommendations on classical rhetoric (logos, pathos, and ethos) and modern science, including cognitive psychology and linguistics. I’m only about 100 pages into it, and I’ve already learned some things I can apply to my next brief.
Next on my reading list is A Clearing in the Forest by Steven L. Winter (2001). I’ve been reading a lot lately about metaphor, including metaphor in legal writing.* Everything I’ve read about metaphor that’s been published since 2001 cites this book as the definitive study of metaphor in legal writing. Like any good researching lawyer, I like to go to the source.
A question and a challenge: What are you doing in 2021 to improve your writing skills?