Friday Legal Writing Question August 9, 2018

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Annie Spratt

Today’s legal writing question is about the work you do before you write.

Specifically, what research tool or tools do you use? Do you invest in Westlaw or Lexis? Or, do you take advantage of free services like FastCase and Google Scholar? I use Westlaw, and have a feature called Related Documents that allows some limited access to briefs, secondary sources, and trial level pleadings. Do you feel you get your money’s worth if you pay, and do you feel you’re getting what you need if you are using free services?

Reading briefs in other cases helps me structure my arguments, particularly when I haven’t written about a topic I also enjoy reading the opinions in the cases for those briefs because they often differ wildly from the arguments made by counsel in their briefs. Of course, what matters is the reported opinion, but looking at how arguments are crafted is rarely wasted research time.

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Friday Legal Writing Question August 3, 2018

Today’s Friday Legal Writing Question is:rainier-ridao-569546-unsplash
Rainier Ridao

Do your appellate brief first-drafts run longer than the page limit? My first drafts are rarely  longer than the page limit. Does this mean I am a master at stating my arguments with precision? Not necessarily, but digging into how I organize my research and writing could provide an answer. I tend to research a lot before writing a word, and then, as I find my key arguments, pull quotes and cases into my draft to work around. This works for me, but I would like to experiment some with writing more free form in my first draft and cutting back instead of building brick-by-brick.

Do you write unencumbered in your first draft, or is every line a struggle? Do you like to put every thought on the page and cut, or do you build arguments like a brick wall? When editing, do you slash with abandon or agonize over each cut? Do you play with fonts and margins? If your briefs are short, do you think you make your point clearly or could you use more analysis?