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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Top Ten Legal Writing Hints When the Audience is a Cranky Federal Trial Judge

For some time now, people have been taking notice of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf's entertaining blog - Hercules and the Umpire.  Credit goes to Legal Blog Watch for bringing it to our attention.  Kopf has already been noticed for publishing several top ten lists, some of which critique the Supreme Court itself.  Last week Kopf provided ten nontraditional tips for modern brief writing. It is a little coarse, but it is useful to see inside the head of one, rather outspoken, federal judge.  Kopf's tips include:
  • Unless you are retrograde or the judge won’t allow it, hyperlink to cases and citations to the record.  Remember, 9 out of 10 times a law clerk—not the trial judge—is the only one closely reading your stuff.  (Oh, don’t pretend to be shocked!)  The easier you make it for the law clerk, the less you have to worry that the clerk will go wild.
  • Is it too much to ask you to read and follow the local rules?  Remember the venerable Latin legal maxim:  Rules are the opposite of sucks.
  • I have always appreciated the writing style used in the “Dick and Jane” books...even I could understand the prose without having to read a sentence twice.  I wish that were true of most of the verbiage you send me.
  • Get a good editor.  Never send me something unless someone less dumb than you has read it first.
Read all of Judge Kopf's tips HERE.