BriefCatch Blog

Writing Tips & Legal Writing Articles


Microsoft Word’s New Editor: Lawyer Beware?

By Ross Guberman / January 16, 2021 /

You’ve probably seen a spell checker turn “tortious interference” to “tortuous interference.” Ouch! But how does MS Word’s new Editor handle more-sophisticated editing suggestions in legal documents? We report below; you decide.

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Is the Impeachment Resolution’s Prose Unimpeachable?

By Ross Guberman / January 11, 2021 /

  Impeachment language is stuffy and overwrought, and the middling BriefCatch scores for the new Resolution reflect that:     But even if we can’t punch up the prose here, all hope isn’t lost. We could fix this verb-form error and punctuation glitch:     We could use American punctuation conventions, clarify sources, and reconsider…

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What Kind of Writer Is Judge Merrick Garland? Seven Clues

By Ross Guberman / January 6, 2021 /

Originally written in March 2016 We’ve heard a lot about Merrick Garland’s sterling CV and seasoned age, but how does he fare as an opinion writer? For clues, I pored over his 2013 opinion in ACLU v. CIA, a Freedom of Information Act case about whether the CIA could refuse to confirm or deny that it had records related to…

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Winter-Spring 2021: Part-Time Paid Internships at Legal Writing Pro and BriefCatch

By Ross Guberman / December 29, 2020 /

These paid internships are for law students and recent graduates with a strong interest and exceptional skills in legal writing, research, and legal tech. Projects will include these and others: Research and writing related to completing new editions of Point Made and Point Taken Testing legal documents using BriefCatch Creating and formatting e-learning on legal…

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The Drafter’s Dilemma: “The Greatest of Me, Myself, AND I”? “The Greatest of Me, Myself, OR I”?

By Ross Guberman / December 29, 2020 /

Would you put “and” or “or” in the blank here? How much do you care? And how much would you bet that you’re right? DoorDash’s S-1 statement: “We would cease to be an emerging growth company UPON THE EARLIEST to occur OF: (i) the last day . . . (ii) the date we . .…

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Slasher Fiction? The Federal Circuit Breathes New Life Into the Slash

By Ross Guberman / December 28, 2020 /

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, can an ingredient in a patented drug depend on what the meaning of a slash is? The Problem Bracco Diagnostics patented a formulation for sincalide, a drug used to diagnose disorders of the gall bladder and pancreas. It later sued Maia Pharmaceuticals for infringing the patent. Bracco prevailed at the district…

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If the Judges of Yesteryear Were As Hip As Judges Today . . . .

By Ross Guberman / December 10, 2020 /

Today’s judges pepper their opinions with nods to Marie Kondo, Breaking Bad, Bob Dylan, and Dr. Seuss. Were the old-timers missing a populist touch? You be the judge. I did some pop-culture research to predict how three great opinions might have read differently. Marbury v. Madison (1803) Just as Johnny Appleseed has the last word…

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The Court of Chancery “Edits” a Material Adverse Effect Definition That’s “Obviously Wordy and Full of Synonyms”

By Ross Guberman / December 5, 2020 /

In the holiday spirt, the Vice Chancellor Laster just sent contract drafters a gift: His new blockbuster COVID-related decision “edits” the Material Adverse Effect definition driving the M&A dispute. Here’s the original, the court’s discussion, a redline, and a revised version. Do you agree that the language the Court of Chancery suggests cutting is “obviously…

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50 Advocacy Writing Exercises

By Ross Guberman / November 19, 2020 /

Here are 50 writing challenges based on the 50 techniques in my Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates. Enjoy! Introductions Brass Tacks. In one sentence each, answer these five questions about a dispute: Who are the parties and what is their relationship? What question does the dispute seek to answer? When…

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Can Virtual Teaching Beat Live Teaching? Seven Tips from My Summer of Zoom

By Ross Guberman / July 26, 2020 /

A natural extrovert with thousands of live workshops under my belt, I was as skeptical of Zoom and WebEx training as anyone. Yet dozens of virtual workshops later, I’ve become a Zoom convert. Two tricks: condition yourself to see the remote format as an opportunity, not a hurdle, and capitalize on Zoom’s interactive tools. If…

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