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July 2009

It was a hot summer night ...

They call people like me “tall building lawyers,” not because I’m especially tall, but because the building I work in has 50 floors,1 which makes me think I should have put a hyphen between “tall” and “building.” In any event, high above the sweltering streets of New Orleans, where two-inch-long cockroaches regularly violate the laws of aerodynamics by actually flying, and where the natives know that anyone wearing Mardi Gras beads during Lent is a tourist, I sit in my four-walled chamber, where the HVAC keeps things as cool as a meat locker in Greenland. On my computer screen appears a post by Coleen Barger on Legal Writing Prof Blog, who scooped me on this story like I was a tub of Rocky Road at Baskin-Robbins. The 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction awards had been doled out, and Coleen beat me to the punch, like Sugar Ray Leonard sparring with Helen Keller.


1 I remember the time this hot number asked me how many stories were in my building, and I said, “Babe, it’s got 50 floors and a million stories.”

Lessons in style

If you know and follow the rules of grammar and usage—good. If you’ve ditched legalese and strive to write in plain English—good. If you know who Bryan Garner is and try to do most of what he teaches—good. You’re ready for the next step: developing style. To learn what style is and how you can begin to acquire it, read What Attorneys Can Learn from Children’s Literature, and Other Lessons in Style. It’s by Ben Opipari. He knows what he’s talking about.

DRI Appellate Advocacy Seminar

If you’re a lawyer looking for first-rate appellate CLE, then please consider registering for the DRI Appellate Advocacy Seminar, to be held November 5–6, 2009 in La Jolla, California (near San Diego), at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. Here’s the lineup:

To download the brochure, click here.

Beyond memos and briefs: An annotated bibliography

There’s much more to real-world legal writing than memos and briefs—for example, affidavits, contracts, e-mail, jury instructions and verdict forms, letters, motions, and pleadings. Professor Carrie W. Teitcher (Brooklyn Law School) has compiled an impressive list of resources to help both students and practicing lawyers with these writing tasks. So see Legal Writing Beyond Memos and Briefs, an Annotated Bibliography, available on SSRN.

It’s also available on JALWD’s web site (that’s the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors). Go there and look for volume 5. Right now, you can find it under the current issues tab, but by next year it may be moved to archives and have a different URL. Until then, here’s a direct link.