Happy new year!
With every new year come resolutions to do better, be nicer, eat healthier, exercise more, work harder …. How about be a better writer (or demand that your attorneys write for a changing audience)!
At the DRI’s annual insurance coverage meeting in New York last month, one of the most interesting topics for me was one about changing how we write for Judges because so many Judges now read lawyers’ briefs on a computer screen – at their office or on a tablet on the road. The speaker’s suggestions included not only remarks on content, but on how the briefs look:
· shorter paragraphs,
· different font,
· bullet points,
· graphics within the text.
Step farther away from legalese. Simplify. Tighten up the writing. Consider how it looks. Consider its flow. Develop a more modern approach to how ideas, arguments and positions are communicated.
On the content side, Judges are looking to the internet* and even “Wikipedia.”** (*See e.g., MacKinnon v. Truck Ins. Exchg., 31 Cal.4th 635, 651, fn 5 (2003) (in reviewing what a layperson would understand as to the meaning of terms used in a pollution exclusion, court consulted with a database that consists of more than 8,600 English language news sources, including newspapers, magazines, and wire services).
Lawyers need to keep in step with change. To keep the Judge’s attention, and present the arguments in the best manner, adapt how you write, taking into consideration the audience and use an expanding tool box to make your points.
If you are interested in learning more writing tips, check out: http://www.texasbar.com/flashdrive/materials/managing_your_law_practice/Special_ManagingYourLawPracticeCLE_LegalWritingRewiredBrain_Dubose_FinalArticle.pdf