Joe Regalia Profile picture
Dec 6 11 tweets 4 min read
When imagining the best legal writers, you might think of big names at big firms.

But small firms have powerhouses, too.

Case in point: A ridiculously good brief penned by a plaintiff's attorney at the boutique Hilton Parker LLC.

Check this out. 1/X
In the introduction:

☑️ You need no background to get into the story.

☑️ Facts do the heavy lifting instead of opinions.

☑️ Readers aren't bogged down by case law.

☑️ Storytelling is center stage (as are emotional facts); sentences are about actors carrying out actions.
After those two warm-up paragraphs make the legal pitch, the lawyers weave in their emotional one.

Once you've explained how the law favors you, include the why—why would adopting your position be a good thing?
Do the hard work for readers by explaining first before making them juggle the details and complexity.

Notice how the first sentences throughout the brief dish up the specific, persuasive points (rather than bland topic sentences).
Examples are a superpower. Need to illustrate a complicated legal doctrine? Share a quick hypothetical or emblematic case.

Need to show your readers the line drawn by the law? Share an example of both when the law is satisfied and when it's not.
Need to drive home a critical point? Share several examples that build to a single conclusion.
Then there's the small-picture style.

In this example, notice how the lawyers use active voice to paint the opposing party as a bad actor, and they use passive voice to put the victim on the receiving end of those bad acts.
The lawyers use concrete verbs throughout the brief.

Verbs are an easy way to make your writing simpler, easier to understand, and more forceful.
Simple sentences sell. The same goes for familiar, everyday language that we can all process without effort. Many of the sentences in this brief require little to no punctuation because they are so simple.
Check out the whole brief here.…

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More from @writedotlaw

Nov 10
What do EPA point-source rules, radio stations, and court-appointed receivers have in common?

They are all the subject of some great legal writing penned by the pros at @GlaserWeil!

Check out 7 simple strategies to elevate your legal prose, straight from these experts. /X
Head(ings) I win! 

Pick up a random brief, and chances are the headings will tell you little (if anything) that matters.

☑️ The authors here tell you everything about a section in a quick heading. You know what court decision matters, why it matters, and the result.
In that same brief, the lawyers include three magic ingredients you'll nearly always find in great introductions:

☑️ Background context that orients readers to the dispute.
☑️ A clear illustration of where the parties disagree.
☑️ A persuasive pitch for resolving the dispute.
Read 9 tweets
Oct 28
Sending $500m on accident is sensational enough. The legal teams @HoganLovells @Mayer_Brown for Citibank kept things concrete and common sense from the start.

And that paid off.

A brief that saved half a billion must have some legal writing lessons worth looking at... 1/X
Legal readers are busier than ever: Craft an elevator pitch that sells them.

✔️ The first sentence orients readers from ground zero

✔️ The law is woven in with conversational language (ordinarily...)

✔️Em dashes highlight the hardest-hitting fact

✔️Appeal to common sense
Great fact headings like these are hard to find.

✔️ Headings stand out: Highlight details you care about

✔️ Consider what story your headings will tell in the TOC (without reading the brief)

✔️ What do you want readers to remember from each section/group of facts?
Read 11 tweets
Aug 30
By popular request, let's explore some legal-writing tricks courtesy of the all-star @Twitter team in the Elon Musk complaint!

Legal folks often ignore that complaints can be good for more than just leaping the pleading hurdle. They can persuade, too. 1/X
Use movie trailers. Readers crave frameworks before details. Give readers the bones of the story so that as they dig into the specifics, they already know where everything grafts onto. And use your best style out of the gate to make the best first impression. Image
Develop characters with choice details. What do we know about good stories? It's usually all about the characters. The characters are what get us to care, to sympathize, and hopefully, to lean toward the decision we want. 

Twitter clearly had goals for Musk's character... Image
Read 10 tweets
Jul 18
With a slew of #SCOTUS opinions comes lots of great #legalwriting examples!

In Justice Kagan's Wooden v. U.S. opinion, let's break down three simple tools we can all use:

1. TLDR Intros
2. Simple Sentences
3. Trendy Transitions

TLDR Intros (quick intros that dish the key points in a document) are now common with judges and lawyers alike.

How do the greats craft them?

1. Give readers context - why is this dispute here?
2. Insert choice details to prime
3. Highlight your legal pitch
In a paragraph, Justice Kagan orients you to the situation and highlights several charged facts:

(1) that the defendant faces a hefty 15-year sentence,

(2) that the lower court is piling on 20 years after the fact, and

(3) this was a single facility on a single evening.
Read 9 tweets
May 24
Another set of legal writing lessons from @Kirkland_Ellis's Paul Clement that I so wish more folks would use. It's not that hard (sorry Paul), and you can do it too! This is all from an everyday cert petition (linked at the end). 1/X
First, Clement shows us how to put the question/issue presented to good use. Crafting a good issue-presented is true art: You've got a few sentences to capture the nub of the dispute--all while trying to frame things favorably, but not too favorably.
Clement was faced with the sort of mind-twister of an issue that many legal writers would fumble with. But he uses a well-placed emdash to juxtapose the two positions at odds--while subtly framing the dispute in favor of his client. Image
Read 11 tweets
Mar 31
Why I often use Justice Kagan to teach good writing.

You can randomly pick up just about anything this Justice writes and find dozens of simple, repeatable moves that so very much help readers.

Someone challenged me to do that with the first few pages of her decision today.
Introductions that instantly give readers context and help them understand the stakes.

Perhaps the best distiller of complex concepts that I've ever found.
Quick shorthands and naming conventions so that readers are never bogged down.
Read 11 tweets

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