Friday, April 26, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (07): Legal writing and oral advocacy

Bryan A. Garner is the editor-in-chief of all current editions of Black’s Law Dictionary. In 2010, he interviewed the US Supreme Court Justices. The transcripts of these interviews are available from Scribes Journal of Legal Writing Volume 13; excerpts from the interviews are posted below.

Justice Clarence Thomas:
I’d love one day for someone at a gas station who is not a lawyer to come up to me and say to me, “You know, I read your opinion, and I don’t agree with you.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? “I’m not a lawyer, I read your opinion, I understood it, I don’t agree with you, but thanks for making it accessible.” So we talk of it in terms of accessibility.

Justice Stephen Breyer (in reply to Garner’s question, “Do you think it matters whether ordinary people can understand judicial opinions?”):
If an ordinary person who is not a lawyer can understand it, I think that gives weight to what the Court does, and law is supposed to be intelligible. They should be able to follow it without having to take special vocabulary courses. And the purpose of an opinion is to give your reasons, and you give your reasons both for guidance, but also it should be possible for readers to criticize the writer. Now, people can’t criticize what I say, they can’t explain why they think it’s wrong, unless they can understand.

Chief Justice John Roberts on the topic of legal writing (interview by Garner)

A Crash Course in Legal Writing by Bryan A. Garner

Quick Tips on Oral Advocacy by Judge Richard Gabriel

How to Speak like a Veteran Lawyer in 11 minutes

2008 Davis Moot Court Winning Oral Argument

How to speak so that people want to listen | Julian Treasure

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