LovelyLadyLaw7

Consistency in Legal Writing: Make It the Same (to an Extent)

Starting a new job, whether as a lawyer or some other professional, is no easy business.  No matter how much education and prior work experience someone has accrued prior to starting a new job, each new job seems to come with its own set of challenges.  When I started my position as a judicial clerk, I was fortunate enough to have wonderful colleagues who were willing to show me the ropes; that said, it still took time and effort for me to scale those ropes. Of the various ropes I learned to climb during the course of my judicial clerkship, the most…

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LovelyLadyLaw7

Cohesion in Legal Writing: Make It Flow

In the world of science, the concept of cohesion refers to the "act, state or process of sticking together," as when, for example, a water molecule attracts to another water molecule.  (See http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Cohesion.)  In the world of legal writing, the concept carries essentially the same meaning, albeit in a different context.  While molecular forces act as the glue that holds molecules together in a substance, words in a sentence are what allow the sentences in a paragraph to stick together.  But, given that the concept of cohesion isn't exactly linguistically self-explanatory, how does a legal writer achieve cohesion in a…

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LovelyLadyLaw7

A Word on the Use of Third Person Pronouns

To use a pronoun or not to use a pronoun.  That is the question.  (Or at least it should be.)  People love their pronouns not only in writing (whether legal or otherwise) but also in conversation.  The problem, however, is that, although pronouns are generally valuable as shortcuts, they are also inherently ambiguous when the reader or the listener can't be certain about the intended antecedent of a pronoun.  For example, I can't count the number of times I've left a conversation feeling confused about the meaning of a pronoun (not to mention the number of times I've had to ask the…

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LovelyLadyLaw7

A Word on the Use of “That,” “Of,” and Variants of “It is”

As a judicial clerk, I quickly learned I enjoyed using the word "that."  I also apparently enjoyed using the word "of."  How do I know this?  My co-clerks, who were assigned the task of initially editing the drafts of judicial opinions I had written, weren't as crazy about those words and expressed their preference with red circles to indicate deletion.  In other words, those were words commonly edited out of my drafts (and for good reason).  For my part, I tried to avoid the construction "it is" or "there are" when not referring to an actual antecedent and partook in some circling…

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LovelyLadyLaw7

Concision in Legal Writing: Make It Brief (to an Extent)

As a reporter for the campus newspaper at my undergraduate university and the editor for one of the university's student-organization newsletters, I quickly came to realize the role of concision in news reporting.  As a reporter, I regularly skipped certain words (like "on" before a day of the week) in articles in order to meet the assigned word count; as an editor, I myself was forced to cut down on articles submitted to me so that I could make them fit on their assigned pages. In comparison to my experience as a news gatherer during my college years, I didn't…

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LovelyLadyLaw7

Legal Writing Skills: A Tool of the Lawyer’s Trade

An Introduction to This Column: Time to Take Out and Sharpen Those Pencils​ I was in the seventh grade when it happened to me.  As a seventh-grade social studies student, I had volunteered to represent the State in a hypothetical criminal trial and ultimately stood up in front of a jury of my fellow peers to argue that "the man" sitting before them (meaning a fellow peer who had volunteered to be the defendant) was guilty of kidnapping and grand larceny.  Every jury member then voted "guilty," and that was when it happened to me.  As I received the news that…

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LovelyLadyLaw7

Benefits of Blogging to Law-Minded Individuals

Have you ever had an idea and felt the burning desire to express it?  The idea hits you, and your mind starts to race while your eyes start to widen.  You may just even find yourself holding up your finger in a “eureka”-style moment for dramatic effect.  What do you do with all of that momentum?  A journal could work.  But what if you want your idea to have meaning?  What if you want to feel gratified for your idea and to find out if others actually think the same way too?  That is where blogging comes in.  As a…

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