R+W Legal Consultants

Research + Writing Tools for Today's Litigators

  • Victory

    Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit has drafted a good article on writing appellate briefs. If you want any chance of winning on appeal—and getting paid by your client—you should heed her advice. I have summarized her advice and added additional tips.

  • Although Professor Hazelwood of the University of Kentucky does not resolve the continuing debate between citations in the text or in footnotes, she has drafted a practical article on citing authority. Professor Hazelwood discusses four ways to unclutter your legal writing.

  • Skipping Stones

    You should avoid block quoting rules in your motions and briefs. Any lawyer or law student can block quote authority; it takes no talent. By including lengthy quotations in your writing, you imply that you were too lazy to paraphrase the quoted material—or, worse, that you did not understand it. Judge Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit admits that he does not even read block quotations.

  • Hobby Lobby

    I recently found a good posting at Lady (Legal) Writer that compares and contrasts the briefs from the Hobby Lobby case. Two well-known lawyers drafted the briefs—Paul Clement represented Hobby Lobby and Donald Verrilli represented the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). Recall that the issue was whether the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

  • Free Delivery

    As I discuss in my online CLE on free legal research, Justia now provides summaries of cases from all federal circuit courts and most state supreme courts. These summaries—which are delivered to your inbox—briefly describe the facts and holdings of each opinion and are tagged by practice areas.

  • Self Defense

    When drafting an answer to a civil complaint, you should assert all relevant affirmative defenses. If you don’t, the defense is usually waived in federal court and many state courts. Of course, waiving a relevant defense may subject you to an ethical complaint or a malpractice claim, or both.

    One good method to determine which affirmative defenses to raise is to categorize the available defenses. I have listed nine categories below, as well as common affirmative defenses for each category.

  • denied

    In litigation, you have to persuade judges that your client’s position is correct, but don’t forget about the gatekeepers. Your motions and briefs will probably be reviewed by a law clerk before it reaches the judge’s desk. I have spoken with several federal law clerks, and they told me that they have reviewed many motions and briefs where it appeared that the attorneys didn’t care whether their clients prevailed. I didn’t realize that attorneys would prefer to lose—not win—their case. If your goal is to lose your motion or brief, this sarcastic article is for you.

  • I tell my law students that they need to carefully proofread every document that they submit to a court or supervisor. I explain that attorneys lose credibility when their writings contain typos and other grammar mistakes.

  • You probably want to know how to write well—or at least decently. (If you don’t, then I hope that you can hire somebody who can write.) An article by Michael Bess of Winston & Strawn should help. His article offers 12 tips for writing better.

  • Google Sign

    In my online and live CLE on free legal research, I discuss the many benefits of using Google Scholar. This post addresses one of those benefits.

    Most free services do not allow users to run searches with proximity connectors. Thus, if you want to find cases where “warrantless” and “search” and “vehicle” appear in the same sentence or paragraph, you generally cannot. But Google Scholar has a little-known proximity connector—AROUND.

1 2 3

Subscribe to e-Persuasion

Receive monthly emails on CLEs, discounts, and popular posts