concrete ways to improve legal drafting fina ways to improve legal...  concrete ways to improve...

Download Concrete Ways to Improve Legal Drafting FINA Ways to Improve Legal...  Concrete Ways to Improve Your

Post on 04-Jun-2018

215 views

Category:

Documents

1 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

  • Concrete Ways to Improve Your Legal Drafting

    ChrisBowers

    GovernmentLawSectionDallasBarAssociation

    September 13, 20131

  • AttorneyDisclaimers

    Strictlymyviews

    Consultyourattorney

    Useatyourownrisk

  • Whatislegaldrafting?

    Sometimes asking the oppositequestion is more helpful.

    3

  • ExampleofIllegaldrafting

  • Manylawyersdraftpoorly

    94%offederalandstatejudgessurveyedreportedthatbasicwritingproblemsroutinelymarredthebriefstheyread.

    SusanH.Kosse &DavidT.ButleRitchie,HowJudges,Practitioners,andLegalWritingTeachersAssesstheWritingSkillsofNewLawGraduates:AComparativeStudy,53J.LegalEduc.80,8586(2003).

    5

  • ManylawyersdraftpoorlyThissearchinWestlawsAllFederal&Statecasesdatabase

    POOR!SLOPP!AWKWAR!BAD!DEFECTIV!CARELES!NEGLIGEN!SLAPDASHSLIPSHODSHODD!INEPT!AMATEU!CLUMS!INELEGAN!DEFICIEN!DREADFU!TERRIBL!AWFUL!THOUGHTLES!HORRIBL!APPALL!WORSEWORSTINADEQUAT!INFERIO!/5DRAFT!WRIT!COMPOS!/6DOCUMENTINSTRUMENTORDINANCELAWCODELEGISLATIONSTATUTEREGULATIONPROVISIONRULEBYLAWBYLAWRESOLUTIONCONTRACTAGREEMENTDEEDEASEMENTLEASE

    retrieved4,527casesinJune2013,withthemostrecenttwobeing10daysold.

    6

  • DraftingisimportantAn American Bar Foundationsurvey of practicing lawyersconcluded: [o]ral and writtencommunication skills are deemedto be the very most importantskills necessary for beginninglawyers.BryantG.Garth&JoanneMartin,LawSchoolsandtheConstructionofCompetence,43J.LegalEduc.469,50809(1993).

    7

  • DraftingisimportantThe ABF survey also concluded:[Law firm] partners expect thoseskills to be possessed by theassociates, even though they arenot much taught in the lawschools.BryantG.Garth&JoanneMartin,LawSchoolsandtheConstructionofCompetence,43J.LegalEduc.469,50809(1993).

    8

  • Whyisgoodlegalwritingimportant?

    Writingisattheheartofthelegalprofession

    "Goodwritingresultsfromgood,disciplinedthinking.Toworkonyourwritingistoimproveyouranalyticalskills."

    BryanA.Garner,"TheMad,MadWorldofLegalWriting,"GarneronLanguageandWriting.AmericanBarAssociation,2009

    9

  • Whyisgoodlegalwritingimportant?

    2reasonstowritewell

    helpyoudoyourjobbetter

    advanceyourcareer

    10

  • Whatisgoodlegalwriting?Goodwritingissimplyspeechheightenedandpolished."BryanA.Garner,LegalWritinginPlainEnglish:ATextwithExercises49(2001)(quotingJudgeJeromeFrank,AMansReach:thePhilosophyofJudgeJeromeFrank38(1977))

    Goodwritingisclearthinkingmadevisible.QuotationvariouslyattributedtoAmbroseBierceorBillWheeler

    11

  • Whatisgoodlegalwriting?

    Goodwritingsatisfiestheneedsanddesiresofthereadingaudience

    Goodlegalwritinghelpsthereadertomakeimportantdecisions

    MarkK.Osbeck,WhatisGoodLegalWritingandWhyDoesitMatter?,4DrexelL.Rev.417,42526(2012)

    12

  • Whatarequalitiesofgoodlegalwriting?

    Fourqualitiesofgoodlegalwriting Clear Concise Engaging Elegant

    MarkK.Osbeck,WhatisGoodLegalWritingandWhyDoesitMatter?,4DrexelL.Rev.417,422(2012)

    13

  • 1.Usethe4stepwritingprocess

    1. Madman2. Architect3. Carpenter4. Judge

    BettySueFlowers,Madman,Architect,Carpenter,Judge:RolesandtheWritingProcess, 58LanguageArts83436(Oct.1981)

    14

  • Usethe4stepwritingprocess1. Madman/brainstormer/researcher

    Writedownall ideas

    Askothersfortheirideas

    Withholdjudgmentaboutideas

    15

  • Usethe4stepwritingprocess

    2.Architect/Organizer/Outliner

    Selectbestideas

    Arrangeideasinpatterns

    Putmostimportantideasfirst

    16

  • Usethe4stepwritingprocess3.Carpenter/builder/writer

    Putideastogetherlogically

    Ensureeachsentenceisclear,contributestotheargument,andleadsgracefullytothenextsentence

    Fillindetails,butdonotedit!

    17

  • Usethe4stepwritingprocess

    4.Judge/editor/qualitycontrolinspector

    Editpunctuation,spelling,grammar,andtone

    Askotherstoedit

    18

  • 2.Organizeyourwriting

    Thecourtgrantedthedefendantsmotiontodismissforseveralreasons,includingpoororganization, stating:Acomplaintmaybesopoorlycomposedastobefunctionallyillegible.

    Duncanv.AT&TCommunications,Inc.,668F.Supp.232,234(S.D.N.Y.1987)

    19

  • Organizeyourwriting

    Organizematerialtoservethereader'sneeds

    Useintroductoryparagraph

    Usetransitionalphrasesbetweenparagraphs(e.g.,however)

    20

  • Organizeyourwriting

    Begineachparagraphwithatopicsentence

    Limiteachparagraphtoonetopic

    Summarizemessagewithconcludingsentenceorparagraph

    21

  • Organizeyourwriting

    Breakuplengthydocumentsbyusing

    shortheadingsandsubheadings

    short,numberedlists

    bullets

    tableofcontents

    22

  • OrganizeyourwritingBreakuplengthydocumentsbyusing

    Cutins

    Tables

    Mathematicalformulas

    Diagrams

    23

  • Organizeyourwriting

    Typeofheading

    Whatitis Howitlooks

    QuestionHeading

    Aheadingintheformofaquestion WhyDoWeUse

    Headings?

    StatementHeading

    Aheadingthatusesanounandaverb

    HeadingsHelpGuideaReader

    TopicHeading

    Aheadingthatisawordorshortphrase Headings

    Three types of headings

  • OrganizeyourwritingOrganizematerialbyusingoneofthesemethods:

    Chronology

    Logic(causeandeffect)

    Problems/Solutions

    Actorsactions

    Witnessesobservations

    Issues25

  • Organizeyourwriting

    Stategeneralrulefirst,thenexceptions,conditions,andspecializedinformation

    Putcontextfirst,thendetails

    26

  • 3.Writethewayyoutalk!

    Writefortheaveragereader Usepronouns Usepresenttenseifpossible Usefamiliar,concretewords Usecontractionswhennatural

    27

  • 4.Usetransitionwords

    Type oftransition Description Examples

    Pointingwords Referdirectlytosomethingalreadymentioned

    This,that,these,those, the

    Echolinks Wordsorphrasesechoapreviouslymentionedidea

    This highlyunusualmaneuver

    Explicitconnectives Wordswhosechiefpurposeistosupplytransitions

    Further,also,therefore

  • UsetransitionwordsEXPLICIT CONNECTIVES

    When adding a point: also, and, in addition, besides

    When giving an example: for instance, for example, for one thing.

    When restating: in other words, that is, in short, put differently, again

    When introducing a cause: because, since, when.

    When introducing a result: so, as a result, thus, therefore

  • UsetransitionwordsEXPLICIT CONNECTIVES

    When contrasting: but, however, on the other hand, still, nevertheless

    When conceding or qualifying: granted, of course, to be sure, admittedly

    When pressing a point: in fact, indeed, of course, moreover.

    When explaining a sentence: that is, then, earlier, previously

    When summing up: to summarize, to sum up, to conclude, in short

    When sequencing ideas: First,Second,Third,Finally,

  • 5.Makeitshorter!Lease:[Thetenantshall]whenwhereandsooftenasoccasionrequireswellandsufficiently...repairrenewrebuildupholdsupportsustainmaintainpavepurgescourcleanseglazeemptyamendandkeepthepremisesandeverypartthereof...andallfloorswallscolumnsroofscanopiesliftsandescalators...shaftsstairwaysfencespavementsforecourtsdrainssewersductsfluesconduitswirescablesgutterssoilandotherpipestankscisternspumpsandotherwaterandsanitaryapparatusthereonwithallneedfulandnecessaryamendmentswhatsoever....

    Ravenseft PropertiesLtd.v.Davstone (Holdings)Ltd.,1AllEng.Rep.929(1979).

  • Makeitshorter!

    Thetenantmustrepairthepremises

  • Makeitshorter!OneofAustraliasleadingbanksusesastandardmortgagehasaclausewith763words;theclausecontains2commas,1semicolon,3setsofbrackets,butnootherpunctuation.

    ANewZealandbanksstandardguaranteeformfeaturesanentirelypunctuationlesssentencewith1,299words

    42U.S.C. 1396a(a)Medicarestatutehasasentencewith13,854words.

  • Makeitshorter!

    Plaintifffiled465pagecomplaintwith54claims

    Defendantfiledmotionformoredefinitestatement

    PresidioGroup,LLCv.GMACMortgage,LLCetal.,Civ.A.No.:0805298RBL,2008WL2595675at*1(W.D.Wash.July27,2008)

  • Makeitshorter!Courtruling

    Plaintiffhasagreatdealtosay,ButitseemsheskippedRule8(a),HisComplaintistoolong,Whichrendersitwrong,Pleaserewriteandrefiletoday.PresidioGroup,LLCv.GMACMortgage,LLCetal.,Civ.A.No.:0805298RBL,2008WL2595675at*1(W.D.Wash.July27,2008)

  • Makeitshorter!TheNinthCircuithasdeclared:

    Inordertogivefairconsiderationtothosewhocalluponusforjustice,wemustinsistthatpartiesnotclogthesystembypresentinguswithaslubbymassofwordsratherthanatruebrief.Enoughisenough."N/SCorp.v.LibertyMut.Ins.Co.,127F.3d1145,1146(9thCir.1997)

  • Makeitshorter!

    Short headings

    Short paragraphs

    Short sentences

    Short words

    Lincoln'sGettysburgAddressrequiredonly275words,and196ofthemhadonlyonesyllable.

  • 6. Eliminateunneededwords

    Empty words

    Jargon and Buzzwords

    Legalese

    Wordy idioms

    Double negatives

  • Eliminateunneededwords

    Empty words

    There areIt is As stated previously,I might addIt should be noted that

    Replace "There are kids swimming in the lake" with "Kids swim in the lake."

  • Eliminateunneededwords

    Empty words

    I would like to point out thatI would argue thatthe fact that In factthe course ofIt has been determined that

  • EliminateunneededwordsJargon and Buzzwords

    Reconceptualize Ideation

    Demassification Impactful

    Attitudinally Value-added

    Incentivize Paradigm shift

    Leverage Price point

  • Eliminateunneededwords

    Legalese

    A