BriefCatch Blog

Writing Tips & Legal Writing Articles

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Don’t Cheat on Me: The Healthy Way to Meet Word and Page Limits

By Ross Guberman / June 27, 2020 /

A court recently sanctioned counsel for Amazon for fiddling with formatting rules to squeeze in more words. The new filing is excellent, but even the revision could have been tighter. Thirteen examples from BriefCatch’s five-second review: “And cases are legion where courts . . . “ = “Many courts have . . . “ “motion…

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25 Ways to Write Like Chief Justice Roberts

By Ross Guberman / June 27, 2020 /

Who doesn’t need some inspiration these days? On the writing front, consider Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion in Buck v. Davis. Here are 25 ways to write like him. Or do so automatically. A Sense of Time 1.   Replace full dates with phrases. Two months later, Buck returned to federal court . . . Within days, the Texas…

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Just Between You and Me

By Ross Guberman / June 27, 2020 /

Looking to start a fight between two corporate attorneys? Ask whether an agreement is made between Tom, Dick, and Harry—or among Tom, Dick, and Harry. Many lawyers cling to junior-high grammar rules, which would dictate agreements between two parties and among three or more. Think metaphorically instead: Is a multi-party agreement more like “sand between the toes” or a “disagreement among friends”? It’s…

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Winning Feedback: Four Examples

By Ross Guberman / June 19, 2020 /

Good feedback does more than just boost morale. It can make you a magnet for better work product. To inspire change, recast your feedback as something the writer could do on a computer the next time, not something you want a draft to be. That means getting beyond squishy mantras and circular adjectives. What does…

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Adverbs on Trial: Innocent on Two Counts, but Guilty on Three More

By Ross Guberman / June 17, 2020 /

The Wall Street Journal put adverbs on trial some time ago. Witnesses for the prosecution: Stephen King (“The adverb is not your friend,” says he), a slew of anti-adverb judges, and legions of legal writing teachers. Witnesses for the defense: famed adverb lover Justice Scalia, an academic “legal anthropologist,” and the author of the article,…

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When Feedback Falls Flat

By Ross Guberman / June 16, 2020 /

I often work with attorneys who are several years into their careers. They’ve received lots of feedback, but why hasn’t it generated the results their supervisors intended? Attorneys often resist feedback because they don’t understand what’s behind it. Explain your advice so they’ll more likely heed your suggestions. You say: “Be more concise.” They think:…

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