Should good writing, legal or otherwise, be the sole province of lawyers?

When one learns how to dissect any argument, analyze available rules and construct cogent statements one realizes that these attributes are constant in our western society. 

Also, one must have, as the French would say, “l’esprit de synthèse”.  Translated literally, it would be the good capacity for synthesizing information, ideas, etc.  Of course, this wordy expression is far from the snappy little English phrase we are looking for.  So, let’s say it simply means having the ability to see the big picture. 

Food for thought: Emmanuel Berl, journalist, historian and essayist said “I don’t write to say what I think; but, I write to know what I think.” Would this be how one makes the transition from thinking to doing? 

Surely, everyone heard aboutPaul D.Clement Paul Clement’s “phenomenal” brief?  Donald Beaton Verrilli Jr. who had served in the Obama administration as Associate US Deputy Attorney General and now as US Solicitor General is the person who commended the indomitable Paul Clement’s writing to a group of lawyers as an example of how to write an effective brief.  Donald Verrilli and Paul D. Clement

On defending the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, Clement was Verrilli Jr.’s dueling partner. 

Let’s have a look at the requisite goals:

  1. Must state the theme of the case
  2. Must be short and specific
  3. Must flow from the opening paragraph through the fact section
  4. Thus, land on the conclusion

The theme: “the individual mandate rests on a claim of federal power that is both unprecedented and unbounded.”

  • You’ll notice that words such as “unprecedented”, unbounded”, “limit” or “limiting” appear numerous times throughout the case; therefore, the theme is omnipresent. 
  • He is a master at exploiting what is called antithesis; for, he has no objections forcing the Court to choose between his view of the case and his opponent’s. 
  • He does not overlook utilizing the power of creative examples.  His short, concise sentences provide balance and draw the reader’s attention.
  • An occasional cliché to mimic the commoner is a brilliant effect.
  • His evocative, provocative references jolt the listless individual out of an unconscious ennui. 
  • His active voice is heard.
  • His colorful, vivid language depicts the provocative images of an artist. 
  • To highlight a point, he does not hesitate to begin a sentence with short, light conjunctions. 
  • He respectfully derides (what an oxymoron!) Congress with the gentle exasperation of an aristocrat. 
  • His straight forward simple ability to shed perfect light on every aspect of the bill, leads the way to the desired effect/conclusion.
  •   He has mastered the art of persuasion. 

Local breaking news:  

The California Western School of Law team submits top brief at ABA event where Emily M. Cunningham and Sara J. Staninger, coached by Deputy Attorney General, Elizabeth M. Carino, submitted the highest scoring legal brief in the regional round of the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition. 

Here is a question for California Western School of Law alumni: is it safe to say that top Cal Western students can, not only excel; but also, surpass the writing skills of students from Ivy League schools? 

Please do share your point of view.  Thank you. 



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