Articles Posted in Writing

Overwhelmed by the white screen? Let Oscar Peterson’s piano massage your creative synapses with this 1964 version of C Jam Blues. (Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums.)

And remember this tried and true method to forge through writer’s block: What happened next; what happened next; what happened next …


We are nothing if not current.

An article published in 2003 about effective subheadings, available here for the clicking, was referenced at the top of a “legal writing” Google search I just did. Authors Kara Thompson and Zach Brez for the Writing Center at the Georgetown University Law Center, did a fine job in this short piece explaining the importance of the “point heading.” (Except please don’t make subheads all caps; typical sentence style, boldfaced, is better.)

Don’t be lazy about drafting the subheadings. Sometimes they will be the most important part of your brief.

The Appellate Lawyer Representatives’ Ninth Circuit Practice Guide is available for the downloading from the Ninth Circuit’s web site. It’s a how-to for preparing and filing a brief in the federal appellate court out yonder in California. But it’s chock full of good tips no matter what jurisdiction you find yourself in.

You’ll want to look at the Top Technical Flaws In Briefs. Some of these are more than just technical. Don’t make one of these head-shaking mistakes.

Get the whole guide by clicking here.

Peggy Lee Hall claimed she was injured when she slipped on ice in a parking lot owned by Naper Gold Hospitality LLC. She sued Naper, but the company got summary judgment because Hall did not show facts that there had been an unnatural accumulation of ice.

Hall appealed Naper’s summary judgment. But the Second District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the appeal “because of the flagrant and, frankly, appalling violations of supreme court rules committed by plaintiff’s [Hall] attorney … and his law firm … in the handling of this appeal.”

These were Hall’s violations:

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

Always thinking about you and devising unique reading and viewing experiences for our audience, Illinois Appellate Lawyer Blog announces a new series:

♪♪♪ Two Tips ♪♪♪

Two Tips, offered by legal writing and strategy experts, will suggest ways you can improve your brief writing. The tips will be in various formats – written, podcast, video, extra sensory perception, Vulcan mind meld.

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.

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.