The Apple of Our Eye: Scoring the Apple v. Samsung Openings

In one of the greatest patent cases of all time, Apple v. Samsung, Apple won a stunning billion-dollar verdict. But did Apple prevail on the writing front as well? Let’s see how many points each party racked up in the opening paragraph of its respective trial brief. Apple’s Opening Paragraph Samsung is on trial because it […]

The Three Great Cuts

Want to lighten your prose? Hunt for phrases that often clutter the page. Let’s consider three such phrases from filings in the Scooter Libby case. 1. There Is, There Are Original: Indeed, there exist documents, some of which have been provided to defendant, and there were conversations in which defendant participated, that reveal a strong desire by many, including multiple […]

Too Hot to Handle

The Delaware Supreme Court reprimanded a lawyer for “disruptive, disrespectful, degrading, [and] disparaging rhetoric.” As the court put it, “[l]awyers are not free, like loose cannons, to fire at will upon any target of opportunity.” Here are three takeaways you should be aware of: 1. Avoid Comparing Parties to Animals of Any Kind. Just because the […]

Five Ways to Write Like Ted Olson and David Boies

Ted Olson and David Boies, opponents of California’s Prop. 8 had some unlikely allies to thank. Although the two men famously faced off in Bush v. Gore, their differences don’t end there. Olson argued against allowing women into the Virginia Military Institute; Boies once represented filmmaker Michael Moore. Olson served as Bush 41’s solicitor general; […]

Free Martha? Not with These Headings!

In 2006, the Second Circuit rejected Martha Stewart’s appeal, which sought to overturn her conviction. Yet while Stewart’s appeal proved unsuccessful, the government’s briefing was far from so. In defending Stewart’s conviction, the government uses fact-section headings masterfully. Most lawyers include no headings in their fact sections at all. Even those who include headings often […]

Opening Act: Do Your First Words Fall Flat?

Imagine a judge digging into the next motion on her stack—your motion. Could she have written your opening just by glancing at the caption? For most motions and briefs, the answer is yes. How Many Lawyers… How many lawyers, when opening a motion for summary judgment, simply proclaim that the other side has failed to […]

Four Motion Mistakes

A federal judge in Florida once “corrected” dozens of errors in a routine motion. He mainly fixed typos, but he also marked up several types of errors that many excellent writers make. Here are four examples; the sample sentences are from the judge’s corrected version. 1. Faulty Capitalization of ‘Order’ and ‘Motion’ Throughout the judge’s mark-up, […]

Judges Gone Wild

Is the country’s malaise affecting our judges as well? The Seventh Circuit has referred a lawyer to the state ethics board for possible suspension of his license. His sin? “Rampant grammatical, syntactical, and typographical errors” (full opinion). A federal judge in Texas once issued a “Kindergarten Order” comparing the lawyers in a discovery dispute to […]

Five Ways to Write Like George Conway III

When you hear the name George Conway III, do you think “Kellyanne” or “That Twitter Guy”? My goal is to make the association “Peerless Securities Litigator” or “Crack Legal Writer.” Let’s take two routine briefs Mr. Conway signed at Wachtell: a reply brief in a case about quartz countertops and a motion to dismiss for Lionsgate. And now let’s turn […]