“Potshots and hyperbole”?

Did you hear about the federal judge who called out the “potshots and hyperbole” in a motion and asked counsel to refile? BriefCatch and I spent about an hour trying to help. Here’s the result if you simply cut hyperbole, repetition, and over-quoting while streamlining the rest. View on FlippingBook.com.

Justice Ginsburg the Writer: Something in Between

“Delighted to see the Supreme Court is interested in beer drinkers,” wrote Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then the 42-year-old head of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and a professor at Columbia Law. Her correspondent: Fred Gilbert, counsel for Oklahoma college student Curtis Craig. Craig had challenged an Oklahoma statute allowing 18-year-old women to drink 3.2% beer—midway […]

Hyphen Nation

What’s the difference between a “little used car” and a “little-used car”? Between “more critical attacks” and “more-critical attacks”? Or, for that matter, between “toxic tort litigation” and “toxic-tort litigation”? Friends don’t let friends worry about what modifies what. That’s why grammarians invented rules for multiword phrases known as “compound modifiers” or “phrasal adjectives.” In […]

The Best Briefs: What AI Reveals

Curious what top brief-writers do differently from the rest of us? This AI-powered study shares concrete, practical solutions. View on FlippingBook.com.

Lighten Up: John Roberts the Brief-Writer

An easy way to make your brief-writing more appealing? Shun deadweight openers—however, additionally, consequently, accordingly. That technique has worked wonders for the Chief Justice, who Justice Ginsburg once said was the greatest appellate advocate of his generation. Back in his brief-writing days, he showed how a lighter touch—thus, so, but, also—propels the reader forward and […]

What Makes for “Brilliant” Writing?

Democratic stalwarts Seth Waxman and Lloyd Cutler, along with 156 prominent lawyers, signed a letter attesting to John Roberts’s reputation as a “brilliant writer.” Thanks to Roberts’s recent confirmation, many people now know about the letter. But what is it that makes Roberts’s writing so brilliant? Let’s explore that question below. Smith v. Doe Consider […]

Five Ways to Write Like Then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan—United States v. Stevens

As the nation’s first female Solicitor General, current Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has signed her name to several first-rate briefs. One of her best was in United States v. Stevens. The case began when Congress decided to ban the distribution of “crush videos,” which appeal to fetishists who enjoy watching high-heeled women stomp small animals to death. […]

The $500 Million Appellate Brief: Five Takeaways

Appellate hotshots from Hogan Lovells and Mayer Brown won a Second Circuit reversal of an order allowing Revlon to keep $500 million that Citi had accidentally wired to its account. Talk about a return on investment! According to my math, their brief was worth about $10 million a page. Here are five takeaways (besides double-checking every wire […]

Talk to Yourself: The Rhetorical Question

I used to think that rhetorical questions in briefs were pompous, if not offensive. I shuddered at the thought of a lawyer penning this rhetorical question from Justice Scalia’s dissent in PGA v. Martin, the case about whether disabled golfer Casey Martin should be allowed to use a golf cart during tournaments: I am sure that […]