Here’s a blog for appellate lawyers and others who care about good writing: The Appellate Record. Its author, Kendall Gray, strives to provide “online community and virtual watering hole for appellate lawyers and anyone else who is comfortable with their inner law nerd.” One of Kendall’s favorite topics is legal writing; his posts on that topic are both informative and entertaining.
Wills may be the most commonly needed form of legal writing—everyone owning property at death needs one. So whether you write wills for clients, or whether the only will you’re involved in writing is your own, you should read Reflections on the Language of Death, a new article by Deborah S. Gordon. Gordon proposes that drafters of wills go beyond technical, formulaic language necessary to transfer the testator’s property, using expressive language to convey the testator’s reasons for her bequests and her literal last words to her survivors. Gordon’s article will be published in the December 2010 issue of the Seattle Law Review, but you can download a copy now on SSRN.
When interpreting one statute by reference to subsequently enacted statute, rationale for later statute cannot automatically be transformed by some thaumaturgical feat of rhetorical prestidigitation into rationale for preexisting statute. Denny v. Westfield State Coll., 880 F.2d 1465 (1st Cir. 1989).
When I get to work tomorrow, I’ll look it up to see if my guess was correct.
“As a colleague of mine once put it, ‘I never met a man who didn’t think he was a great lover or a lawyer who didn’t think he was a great writer. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they’re deluded.’”