BriefCatch Blog

Writing Tips & Legal Writing Articles

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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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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: “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 the screen 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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