Posts Tagged ‘benefit’

Good Legal Writing

30 Jul

What is good legal writing?

I want you to think about this question … hard and long!

What is your goal?

  • Impress the judge?
  • Confuse the opponent?
  • Or, win the case?

Everything we do in life has in one sense or another a particular goal. Some things we do are automatic, like breathing, yet there is always a goal. In business, the goal is to provide a benefit to others. In sports, the goal is to perform to the highest of our athletic ability. In law, the goal is to make a winning record in writing!

Many lawyers and most pro se litigants miss this point … they get sidetracked with unimportant distractions!

Every word spoken in a courtroom or written on paper filed with the clerk or served on the other side must aim toward this specific goal.

All words that aren’t aimed at making a winning record must go!

Since 1997 when Jurisdictionary began, people have sent documents for review. In all but a few the punch, power, and persuasive effect could be improved by eliminating 90% of the words and by keeping only those aimed at making a winning record.

Most of what came for review read more like the writer was trying to tell a story, rather than trying to make a winning court record of relevant facts and controlling law!

Learn from Jurisdictionary step-by-stepLegal writing is NOT story-telling!

Any fact that’s not “relevant” and any law that’s not “controlling” should be eliminated.

I rebuilt a few car engines in my youth. I removed bolts, nuts, gaskets, and pins. I placed the removed parts on a sheet of cardboard on the floor of my garage. All was arranged neatlyin order. When the time came to put the engine back together, every part had a place, and that’s where I put each part … in its place!

A place for every part. Every part in its place.

I didn’t add any parts! I didn’t leave any parts out!

That’s good legal writing!

Every word has a purpose … to make your winning record.

More years ago than I like to remember, I worked as a reporter for the Tampa Times newspaper. My city editor was ruthless with my writing. I learned from him. Since being admitted to the bar in 1986, I’ve applied what he taught me. “Say what needs to be said then stop!

What was true for newspaper writing is doubly true for legal writing.

Say what needs to be said and stop!

Write like you were “speaking” to an 8th grader. You aren’t Jimmy Buffet. You don’t need a “novelist’s eye” or a “bartender’s ear”. You aren’t telling a story! You’re assembling essential parts of a powerful engine.

That’s what good legal writing does! Each part has a specific purpose.

What I teach will empower your legal paperwork and give you the competitive edge you need to win!


Piggybacking on Students’ Free WEXIS Access by Practitioners: "No can do" says Utah State Bar

04 Jan

It’s a widespread and fairly well-known practice that one “benefit” of hiring a law student as a law clerk is access to free WEXIS legal search. However, under Westlaw’s “Educational Purposes” and Lexis “Academic Purposes” licensing agreement clauses with law…


Copy, Credit, Meals

16 Sep

This is addressed to my professional actor friends, full members of the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, and Equity.

It is to say that I am tired of being invited by student directors to act in their videos, or films, for their benefit and for nothing.  This is a huge step backward to the very beginnings of these esteemed organizations, back to the twenties and thirties.  Student actors, go ahead.  Professional actors, STOP!

Yes, we are entering a new era in the film making process. Yes, the old rules are a-changing. But no, what remains unchanged is the cold hard fact that we need to earn a fair amount of money to survive. SAG and AFTRA and AEA were conceived to ensure that this happens. But what has taken its place?

I am told that I may perform in an AEA condoned "Equity Waiver" theatrical production. That means that I have the opportunity to "practice my craft" for not much more than car fare.

I am told that I may perform in a SAG or AFTRA condoned  "student production" to "practice my craft" for a copy of the result "for my reel".  My reel has become an essential adjunct in the job-hunting process.  Job hunting has become the premier industry in today’s Hollywood (and New York). Hundreds of websites have come into being, offering job hunting services for a price. And so, the poor actor’s pockets, bare due to the near impossibility of getting paid these days, is made even more bare by the new necessity to subscribe to these websites.

The dignity of the professional actor is severely threatened. The new image is that of a young actor, with pleading in his eyes, one hand out, and the other behind his back, to protect it, I guess. While the producer/director wields his traditional authoritarial stick over the actor, ensuring the continuance of a feudal system tolerated since the dark ages. And the middle men, the managers, the agents, the lawyers, and some teachers and casting directors, earn their living in dependence upon the actors lack of confidence, "teaching" said actors "new tricks".



25 Aug

Wikipedia would consider the LA Times to be a “reliable source” in their category “Biographies of Living People”. After all, they were the only ones attending the trial to report on it. So let’s analyze the newspaper’s report, forensically, for the sake of the record, just to investigate whether they are reliable. This is what I wrote immediately after the news appeared:
March 13, 2001
These were the low-lifes that the Los Angeles Times was responsible for concocting this story, although only Roug covered our trial.
The press seems to maintain an unholy alliance with celebrities, probably because they are the source of countless future interviews and collaborative undertakings of mutual benefit, and their unfortunate spouses are not. And as for the general public, they would really prefer not to know any bad things going on in the lives of their favorites, which is understandable, but neither should they be misinformed with celebrity white-washing by the media.
Because I wanted the press to be present at the trials to report on the truth of what was going on for the all important reason that my reputation was at stake, I was glad to meet up front with Louise Roug, sent by the Times. I took her out for lunch. I wanted to know where she was coming from, I wanted to free up her mind in case it was set already. I discovered that she’s full-blooded Danish, as was my mother. We got on fine, and I thought I had an ally in truth. She attended for several days, and had access to the facts.
I had been living for two years under the effects of the stunningly awful reports in the press and television media of what a cad I had been, and I was defending Lynn and my kids by not speaking up. Now the truth was about to be revealed, under oath at trial. What better way for me to clear my name. And to do this, unavoidably without a lawyer, I thought at least would attract attention. The air would be cleared, and I could get on with my life. She attended for several days, and had enough of the facts to create a real story. (As a side note, interesting that not one member of the public dropped by to take a look over the entire ten days of trial.)
Instead, to my utter astonishment, she presented this biased and misrepresented account against me in the service of celebrity Lynn, and to please her editors in support, I now see, of her ambition to become a serious journalist with a foreign posting (at this time, unbelievably, she’s reporting for them from Iraq!). Her publicized view of me still sticks as part of the false view held by Lynn’s fan club. At least that was true until now, where I have a chance to reveal the smoke and mirrors surrounding the case, and provide context with this blawg. If, that is, people will read it.
The account of this trial, of course, belonged on the Business page or the News pages where other trials are reported for the enlightenment of serious readers, not the Entertainments page.
I filed this document with all of its ersatz dirty laundry as part of my Appeal. And it’s on the public record, so that other media, like CNN, could read it.
Bear in mind that much of the detail is for the benefit of others contemplating divorce, to correct the serious smear to my reputation, and to show what the courts can do to you if you are not represented. I don’t think anyone else has the stomach to do this.
I risk revealing the details of how they play dirty with pro per defendants. They may be emulated by opposing professional attorneys, but I know that their law-schools already taught them the same tricks.
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