Writing to Win: The Legal Writer.Writing to Win--The Legal Writer Steven D. Stark Doubleday 1540 Broadway New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , NY10036 283 pp., $15.95
Steven D. Stark's new book, Writing to Win--The Legal Writer, belongs next to your easy chair at home. It's a book you'll want to sit down with and read. It doesn't belong in your office, next to your desk. It doesn't even pretend to be a work of reference. So if you're having trouble figuring out whether the past participle past participle
A verb form indicating past or completed action or time that is used as a verbal adjective in phrases such as baked beans and finished work of "plead" is "pleaded" or "pled," or whether you can start sentences with conjunctions, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Stark ranks as one of the country's leading authorities in the field of effective legal writing. A graduate of Yale Law School Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1843, the school offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars and several legal research centers. , he lectured at Harvard Law School Harvard Law School (colloquially, Harvard Law or HLS) is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Law is considered one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States. for 12 years, teaching upper-level courses on legal writing. He has also taught writing in seminars to thousands of lawyers across the country.
If Writing to Win has a weakness--all books do--it's probably found in the slim treatment given to writing style. About all we get is traditional advice on using strong verbs, writing with short words, shortening sentences, and avoiding the passive voice. Pretty standard stuff. It's as if the author felt he had to have something on style, so he added a small chapter, maybe to satisfy an editor. This weakness, however, is the outweighed by the strength of the book.
The strength of Writing to Win lies in the perspective the reader gains both on the process of legal writing and its various genres. Perspective becomes clear through Stark's use of real-world examples. Many come from actual cases. When he urges writers to grab the reader's attention by starting with the conclusion, he illustrates how many lawyers stub A small software routine placed into a program that provides a common function. Stubs are used for a variety of purposes. For example, a stub might be installed in a client machine, and a counterpart installed in a server, where both are required to resolve some protocol, remote procedure their toes right from the beginning. These first few sentences of a brief to the Fifth Circuit surely won't rival the opening sketch in the latest
James Bond flick:
Appellee initially filed a motion to strike appendices to brief for appellant on July 22,1983. Appellant filed a brief in response, which appellee replied to. Appellant has subsequently filed another brief on this motion, Appellant's Reply to Appellee's Brief in Response to Appellee's Motion to Strike Appendices to Brief for Appellant (appellant's most recent brief), to which the appellee herein responds.
And when Stark urges writers to use short words, he illustrates the point with short words from Justice Robert Jackson's dissent in Knauff v. Shaughnessy: "Now this AmeriCan citizen is told he cannot bring his wife to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. but he will not be told why. He must abandon his bride to live in his own country or forsake his country to live with his bride."
Perspective becomes broad through Stark's use of ideas from other professions. One set of ideas is right on the money, though the suggestion might not sit well with many members of the legal profession: Stark urges us to mimic the writers of advertisements. That's right. On page 64, Writing to Win sets out the "four principles of advertising all lawyers must know." When you purchase a copy of this book and read it, you'll learn that advertising theorist Rosser Reeves Rosser Reeves (1910–24 January 1984) was an American advertising executive and early pioneer of television advertising. He was committed to making ads that were simple, direct, and often annoying. His most typical ad is probably that for Anacin, a headache medicine. and Harvard Law School professor David Rosenberg both preached the same message: Distill dis·till
1. To subject a substance to distillation.
2. To separate a distillate by distillation.
3. To increase the concentration of, separate, or purify a substance by distillation. your case down to a two-sentence statement. Reeves would call it "the unique selling proposition The Unique Selling Proposition (also Unique Selling Point) is the marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern among successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. "; Rosenberg, "the core of your case."
In the section on the art of storytelling, Stark begins his discussion with an actual article from the New York Times. "Casey Bathelmess, 80 years old, once a bronco bronco: see mustang. buster and a cowpoke, shifted on his crutches outside the depot. He tried to sound uninterested in what had happened."
The reader is captivated cap·ti·vate
tr.v. cap·ti·vat·ed, cap·ti·vat·ing, cap·ti·vates
1. To attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence. See Synonyms at charm.
2. Archaic To capture. from the opening sentence--in much the same way a judge should be with the opening sentence of a brief or motion. "Think of yourself as a storyteller," Stark advises. "Write about people," he admonishes. "Plot is overrated Overrated was a Horde World of Warcraft guild, based on the US Black Dragonflight Realm. On November 2 2006, the majority of the guild members were indefinitely banned from the game for use of (or directly benefiting from) a third-party "wall-hack", used to bypass content ," he reminds. "Create word pictures that make the story come alive," he nudges.
And he follows his own advice. When instructing us to "write about people," Stark relates "the story of a Maryland lawyer who kept calling the defendant by his first name, Bobby. When the jury came back, the foreman announced, `We find Bobby not guilty.'" When discussing the use of word pictures, he delves into the thoughts of Hemingway and the techniques of Fitzgerald. When encouraging us to distill the theory of the case down to a two-sentence ad-copy slogan, he quotes the brief by Alexander Bickel Alexander Mordecai Bickel (December 17 1924 – November 8 1974) was a law professor and expert on the United States Constitution. One of the most influential constitutional commentators of the twentieth century, his writings emphasize judicial restraint. in the Pentagon Papers case: "A criminal statute chills. The prior restraint Government prohibition of speech in advance of publication.
One of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the freedom from prior restraint. freezes."
More than half of Writing to Win deals with various legal genres. Separate chapters teach us how to write facts, arguments, trial and appellate briefs, complaints and answers, discovery, technical documents, memos, letters and e-mail, contracts and rules. Separate treatment of these various types of writing sets the book apart from most others in its field. Each chapter lists a set of rules--for example, "The Fourteen Rules on Technical Writing"--each with discussion and the ever-present examples.
This is not the stuff of law school training in the art of legal writing. And that's what makes it so good.
C. Edward Good is counsel and writer-in-residence at the intellectual property firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner in Washington, D.C.