Thanks to Elizabeth Sadowski for this great tool for legal writers. Nothing irritates trial judges more than a brief that is too verbose and is otherwise poorly written and/or organized. Because our trial briefs are our first opportunity to explain the facts of the case and the applicable law, nothing could be more important than making sure that the trial brief doesn't simply annoy the judge or referree. A succinct statement of the chronology and a brief explanation of applicable law will make a great first impression. Liz wrote on the State Bar of Michigan's Listserv yesterday:
I ran across this interesting piece on writing skills for academics (that means us, I believe) on the State Bar’s Newslinks page. It’s an article about Prof. Helen Sword, who wrote two books on academic writing, The Writer’s Diet and Stylish Academic Writing.
Professor Sword posted a free on line tool to test whether your writing is “fit” or “flabby”. Give it a try, if you like. [I just copied and pasted part of a brief into notepad to remove the Word elements that interfere with html. I excised quotes from cases I cited so that I was testing only my own writing.]
She makes the point that as students, we were rarely taught how to write lean and mean professional prose. We just flounder about without much guidance on how to write well in our professions. * * * Prof Sword discusses techniques that successful academic writers use in producing engaging, masterful prose, and gives tips and tricks to make dull writing “pop”.
Liz said: "I’m thinking of buying at least one of her books. Anyone who can use “stylish” and “academic” in a title must know a thing or two about writing."
I enjoyed testing out my writing on Professor Sword's "fit or flabby" page. It was enlightening.