Will I Ever See the Day When Lawyers Write without Clichés?, 20 Scribes J. Legal Writing 119 (2021–2022). Clichés abound in legal writing, especially in brief-writing. That’s not just bad for your writing style; it’s bad for your thinking. In this article, I examine clichés as a species of metaphor to show how clichéd writing is both an effect and a cause of clichéd thinking.
The Science Behind Plain Language, 19 Scribes J. Legal Writing 181 (2020). This article describes some of the scientific evidence showing that plain language is more persuasive than legalese and offering a theory of why that’s so.
Insider’s Guide to the Louisiana Appellate Courts, Appellate Practice Compendium 733 (ABA 2012). This reference is the complete insider's guide to appellate practice rules and procedures of all 50 states and Washington DC, all federal circuit courts, and the U.S. Military Appellate Court. I contributed Chapter 34, which deals with Louisiana's appellate courts.
Immortal Forms: The Vampires of Legal Writing, For the Defense 57 (DRI Jan. 2009). How misuse of forms can perpetuate bad legal writing and what you can do to use them properly.
Counting Each Shot: Techniques for Emphasis and De-emphasis, For the Defense 35 (DRI Nov 2008). Typographic gimmicks—boldface, underlining, all caps—are poor tools for creating emphasis. Here are some more sophisticated ways to play up the favorable material and to downplay the unfavorable material.
The Right Tool for the Job, Certworthy (DRI Winter 2008). Your computer is probably loaded with hundreds of typefaces. If you limit yourself to just one (such as Times New Roman) for everything, you're doing your readers and yourself a disservice. Typefaces, like tools, are each designed for a particular purpose. Using just one typeface for everything is like using a flathead screwdriver on a Phillips screw: it may work, but it's not the right tool for the job. This article discusses which typefaces are appropriate for various purposes.
How to Write an Appellate Brief, A Young Lawyer's Guide to Defense Practice 381 (DRI 2006). When faced with a case going up on appeal, some partners at some law firms delegate the task of writing the brief to an associate, reserving for themselves what they think is the more important task of oral argument. If you are an associate on the receiving end of this delegation, then this chapter has been written for you.
A Writ in Time, 51 La. B.J. 338 (Feb./Mar. 2004). When you are disappointed by a trial court's interlocutory ruling, how long do you have to apply to the court of appeal for a supervisory writ? This seemingly simple question has perplexed many would-be writ applicants. The purpose of this article is to help you determine your deadline to apply for a supervisory writ. To answer the question correctly, you must understand not only the procedural rules governing writ applications, but also the differences between interlocutory judgments and final judgments.
Standards of Review, A Defense Lawyer’s Guide to Appellate Practice 95 (DRI 2004). The standard of review is a function of the allocation of judicial power between trial and appellate courts. It is the degree of deference given the trial court's ruling by the appellate court. This degree of deference varies depending on the ruling at issue. This chapter provides an overview of the terminology often used by courts to describe standards of review and some tips for applying standards of review throughout the life of a case. (Co-authored by Louis C. LaCour Jr.)
Style, A Defense Lawyer’s Guide to Appellate Practice 205 (DRI 2004). Writing style is as individual as fingerprints, because writing is—literally—self-expression. Yet there are common characteristics that distinguish good, persuasive style from poor, less-persuasive style. This chapter discusses some of those characteristics.
Humility, Certworthy 7 (DRI Winter 2003). If there is one virtue that makes a good legal writer, it's humility. But how does this virtue manifest itself in legal writing? This article is my attempt to answer this question.
The Importance of Earnest Oral Argument, Certworthy 12 (DRI Summer 2009). Unquestionably, the written brief is the most important tool for persuading the appellate judge. But in emphasizing the importance of good written briefs, some of us may be tempted to downplay oral argument. That could be a deadly mistake. Substantial evidence shows that in a significant minority of cases, appellate judges change their minds based on oral argument. This article discusses some of that evidence.
Ledet v Seasafe, Inc.: To footnote or not to footnote?, Certworthy 15 (DRI Winter 2002). A casenote about one Louisiana appellate court’s internal skirmish over placing citations in footnotes.