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Category Archives: Writing

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An Initial Problem about Initials

Posted in Writing

A lawyer wrote me yesterday with an interesting question. The lawyer is writing a Brief of Appellant where the client was convicted of child molestation. The lawyer’s question was whether it was proper to use the victim’s name in the Brief. Are there any rules or traditions that govern the use of the victim’s name?… Continue Reading

Scalia’s and Garner’s New Book Suggests Principled Approach

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Writing

Readers of this blog may be surprised to know that I am a Scalia fan. Criminal defense lawyers who don’t like Jusice Scalia just don’t understand him yet. There is much to commend Jutice Scalia to a criminal defense attorney. He penned some of the most significant opinions in the last decade on the Confrontation… Continue Reading

An Update to the Typography Post

Posted in Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, Writing

This week, I received an email from Don Roch at Bowers & Roch in Canton, Georgia, in response to a post on a CLE talk I gave on typography. He took issue with my claim that, in Georgia appellate courts, you are stuck with Courier New 12 or Times New Roman 14. Don did a… Continue Reading

My Controversial Talk on Typography (No Kidding)

Posted in Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, Uncategorized, Writing

If you read this blog regularly, it is no secret that I am a recent convert and evangelist for Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers. I have a long way to go in my legal writing before I reach a point of mastery, but I am happy to be paying attention. One of the chairs for… Continue Reading

Uniform Rule on Electronic Court Filing: A Step in the Right Direction For Georgia

Posted in News, Supreme Court of Georgia, Writing

Yesterday, I noticed that there is a proposed rule from the State Bar of Georgia to provide for electronic filing in Georgia courts. Of course, it’s just a proposed rule (PDF). And what comes of it may be simply a model rule for trial courts to follow if they choose to allow electronic filing. But… Continue Reading

What to do When You Get to Write the Order

Posted in Writing

This week’s theme has been orders. Every now and them, you are lucky enough to win. And when you’re even luckier, you get to prepare the winning order. Sometimes, though, you get asked to draft an order, and your opponent does, too. Drafting an order in that situation is a little tricky, because you have… Continue Reading

Bryan Garner’s SCOTUS Interviews Now Available in Print

Posted in Writing

It is now the talk of the appellate bar nationwide. Bryan Garner has recently released transcripts of his interviews with 8 United States Supreme Court Justices. If you plan on doing any legal writing (whether it’s before the SCOTUS, another appellate court, or any where else), you need to download the interviews, available at The Scribes… Continue Reading

Read Steven Pressfield’s New Book if You Want to Write Better Briefs

Posted in Writing

Appellate writers face some of the same challenges that novelists and other artists face. Those things include procrastination, anxiety, self-defeating thoughts, and even alcoholism and other types of drug abuse. A brief is a peculiar type of artistic endeavor, and such things are tough. To make things worse, if you represent the appellant, the finder… Continue Reading

The Changing Craft of the Appellate Brief

Posted in Writing

Ben Kerschberg, wrote yesterday about his experience as a paralegal in the mid-90s in the appellate litigation section of Sidley Austin. More particularly, he wrote about the process of getting briefs ready to file in the United States Supreme Court in the pre-pdf era. True, the technology has now developed to the extent that it… Continue Reading

Interview with Ross Guberman, Author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates

Posted in Writing

There’s a new book on my shelf. I’ve placed it right next to McFadden’s book on Georgia Appellate Practice, Aldisert’s Winning on Appeal, and Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers. That book is Ross Guberman’s Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates. Unlike many books on the subject, this one takes legal writing from… Continue Reading

Lessons I Learned About Doing Appeals from the Georgia Appellate Practice Seminar

Posted in Georgia Court of Appeals, Writing

Every now and again, I attend a CLE that does more than satisfy the hours requirement. Occasionally, there is a seminar where I walk out of the room with a new set of tools to become a better lawyer. Such was the case with the Georgia Appellate Practice Seminar sponsored by the Appellate Practice Section… Continue Reading

Should Appeals Lawyers Write for the Screen or the Page?

Posted in Writing

With the Georgia Supreme Court, Georgia Court of Appeals, and other courts moving to e-filing, an important question arises. Should appellate lawyers write for the page or for the screen? Much would turn, it seems, on whether workflow within the courts matches the way work flows to the courts. Are the judges and justices reading… Continue Reading

How I Use Evernote in my Appellate Practice

Posted in Writing

Being an appellate lawyer is pretty much the same thing as being a professional writer – with a few notable exceptions. Writer’s block and procrastination are not really an option in the kind of writing I do. The penalty for incurable writer’s block isn’t mere artistic angst. Consequences for writer’s block include a client’s anger,… Continue Reading

My First Georgia Appeals Brief Since Buying Typography for Lawyers

Posted in Writing

I just finished my second draft of a Brief of Appellant for a case I will soon be filing in the Supreme Court of Georgia. It is the first brief I have filed since I purchased and read Matthew Butterick’s fantastic book, Typography for Lawyers. I’ve written about this book already, and I don’t want… Continue Reading

Georgia Appeals Court Rules “Mandate Ugliness”

Posted in Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, Writing

In his blog yesterday, Kendall Gray referenced the Rules of the Georgia Court of Appeals, citing it as “a jurisdiction with rule-mandated ugliness.” Kendall’s blog post comes at a time when I am reading Typography for Lawyers by William Butterick. I’ve learned a great deal about fonts and layout and was all excited about using… Continue Reading

How Your Brief Looks is Nearly as Important as What You Say

Posted in Writing

Design is an important part of brief writing. And the font and layout you choose will have an impact on how the Court receives your brief. It certainly shapes how I feel about writing the brief and submitting it. I cannot see the Courier New Font without thinking of the research, writing, and advocacy in… Continue Reading

The Importance of Managing Anger in the Practice of Law

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship, Writing

Anger is not a good mix with the practice of law. Yet, law is a profession that puts the practitioner in a position where things could make him angry all the time. Litigation, even appellate litigation, is a business of fighting and arguing. Ideally, it’s done in a very scholarly collegial way. Arguing in real… Continue Reading

4 Great Non-Law Blogs that Help My Appellate Practice

Posted in Writing

There are some great law blogs out there, and I read many of them daily. But there are also some important blogs that are not intended for lawyers that help to make me a better lawyer. I think that these blogs will help you, too, no matter what your legal specialty is.   Presentation Zen… Continue Reading

Being OCD and Doing Criminal Appeals in Georgia

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship, Writing

Today I found myself in a meeting with a prospective client’s family discussing handling a direct appeal in the Supreme Court of Georgia. The family is very organized and proactive and already had the trial transcript ready to go. To make things even better, trial counsel was present in the meeting to discuss things with… Continue Reading

Stop Treating Motions for New Trial Like a Rubber Stamp (Even if They Are)

Posted in Motion for New Trial, Preservation of Error, Record on Appeal, Writing

Judges seldom grant motions for new trial. I have various theories about why. And they range from being sympathetic to the judge to utter cynicism. Sometimes, there just wasn’t any harmful error. Sometimes, the judge couldn’t fathom that he made a mistake. Sometimes, it’s just too dang expensive to try the thing twice. And some… Continue Reading