BriefCatch Blog

Writing Tips & Legal Writing Articles

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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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Kagan’s Power of Examples

By Ross Guberman / July 10, 2020 /

“Kagan May Be Dangerous,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s “Best of the Web” early on in her tenure. More politics as usual? Not at all. The popular right-leaning blog meant “dangerous” as a grudging compliment to our new left-leaning Justice, who had just issued her first dissent, attacking the majority for failing to find standing…

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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: 1. “And cases are legion where courts . . . ” = “Many courts have . . . “…

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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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