Articles Posted in Appellatology SM

These two tips are from Ross Guberman, the president of Legal Writing Pro and the author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates. Ross also is an Appellatology panelist. His short bio is here.

These Two Tips, with examples, are drawn from the brief for the states signed by Paul Clement in the “Obamacare” case.

Tip One

Use more enumerated lists, and not just in your introductions and preliminary statements. For example:

The federal government attempts to sidestep the tax power problem it would create by insisting that the Court has “abandoned the view that bright-line distinctions exist between regulatory and revenue-raising taxes.” … But that is doubly irrelevant. First, there is no analogous doctrine under which Congress treats penalties as taxes . . .

Tip Two

To add speed to your writing and to project confidence, change every “however,” “nonetheless,” or “nevertheless” to “but” or “yet.” For example:

The modern commerce power is a broad one, as there is little left of the “distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local” under the Court’s present-day notions of “commerce.” … But even as the Court has expanded its conception of “commerce,” it has not wavered from the notion that the power to “regulate” is the power to prescribe rules for commerce, and it has never suggested that power includes the power to compel the existence of commerce in the first place.

Ross put 140 comments on the Solicitor General’s “Obamacare” brief. They’re all right here.

Bravo to Wayne Schiess for his candid and succinct seven suggestions for improving your writing. The title of the series, “Improving Your Writing Throughout Your Career,” speaks to one of the important themes every lawyer and writer should accept. Legal writing is a process, not an event, requiring continual refinement throughout your career.

A writer does not peak in the sense that an athlete might. Good writers know they can always get better, and that the improvement process is a career-long journey.

Wayne’s seventh suggestion is especially near to my heart ― accept critique. That’s a lesson I learned about a hundred years ago as a young associate at Big Firm. Today I run a service called AppellatologySM. We’re devoted to helping lawyers improve their appellate briefs. We do that by offering professional advice on how the persuasiveness and readability of your appellate brief can be improved. Our panel of senior lawyers, legal writing experts, retired judges, and scholars conference your brief online, so you can revise it before you file it. You can read more about AppellatologySM by clicking here.

And you can read Wayne Schiess’s seven suggestions at his most excellent blog,, by clicking here.

Guilty as charged. We’re obsessed with good writing and engrossed by lucid argument. Superior writing plus absorbing argument gives us the Ahhhhh of the first cup of morning coffee.

Appellatology is great legal thinkers and writers devoted to helping lawyers write better briefs.

How do we do it? Our panel of mock judges ― senior lawyers, scholars, retired judges, and legal writing experts ― analyzes your draft and confers with you and other mock judges, and tells you how to improve it. We answer your questions, discuss your issues, and give you our independent evaluations. And it’s all done online without the hassle, cost, and expense of leaving your office.

Why should you do it? Because most appeals are decided on the briefs, before you ever set foot in the courtroom. So your brief has to make your case. If your case is worth appealing, or defending on appeal, you should know whether your brief does the job it must ― before you file it.

Click here to learn more about Appellatology and how to improve your chances on appeal.

Appellate lawyers are belt-and–suspenders types. We read the rules; then re-read the rules; then just to be sure, read them again. We check our cites; re-check our cites; then just to be sure, check them again.

We agonize over the legal briefs we write. And for good reason: more than 90 percent of appeals are decided on the briefs. We think our facts tell the story our judges need and want to read. We think our issues and arguments leave no room for doubt.

If there were a way to know if your brief does what you think it does, would you take it? Would your client want you to? If there were a way to know if your brief addresses the facts and the law appellate judges expect, would you take it? Would your client want you to?

Appellatology offers the way. We let you ask them. And you do it from the comfort of your office (or anywhere else you have a web connection).

Using the latest in web conferencing software, Appellatology puts together a mock panel of retired judges, senior lawyers, and academics to conference your brief, just like your appellate panel will. Only this time, you’ll hear it all before you file your brief.

We’ve stripped the process of unnecessary overhead expense. We’ve set it up so you can ask questions during the session. And everything will be recorded for your easy access, so you and your colleagues and your client can see and hear the session anytime.

What better way to tighten your belt and suspenders?

Learn more by clicking on the Appellatology button at the top of this page, or right here if you prefer. Rather talk to someone? Call me at the Steven R Merican PC Unashamed-Toot-Your-Horn-Marketing Department, 630-579-6460.

More Mock Appellate Judges Wanted
• Do you like reading the law?
• Do you have superior powers of analysis?
• Do you know good writing?
• Can you communicate your ideas and are you willing to speak your mind?

Then maybe you should be an Appellatology panel member.

Appellatology is building its mock appellate judge panel, and needs retired judges (trial or appellate), senior lawyers, and academics to fill the bill.

Why should you do it?
• Good pay.
• No travel.
• Geography not an issue because we do everything over the internet. (And you don’t need new software.)
• Enjoy the excitement of being part of a new service and working with other bright and terrific people.
• And it’s fun.

Call (630-579-6460) or email me ( if you’re interested. I’ll be happy to tell you more.