Sometimes relationships can be really difficult. I was reminded of this fact last night upon realizing that I am probably the only person in the entire state of Florida uninterested in watching the Florida Gators beat the Oklahoma Sooners (24-14) to win Florida's third BCS title. As I asked my Significant Other, can't we just watch the recap on Sports Center? His response was to turn up the volume several decibels without comment.
Scalia: ....the average practitioner is not going to be reading Grant
Gilmore and Charles Alan Wright and Lon Fuller. He’s going to be
reading some miserable judge who issued a terribly written opinion, the
only virtue of which is that it’s authoritative. And that is, as we
point out in the book, one reason legal writing is so turgid and
generally so bad—because we are reading the worst instead of the best.
What we must read is not selected on the basis of whether it’s
well-written or even, for that matter, on whether it’s well-reasoned.
It’s authoritative and that’s why we have to read it. You read enough
of this stuff, and you begin to write that way.
One of the more important recommendations in the book is that
lawyers read other stuff. Read good literature, good current
literature. If you read only legal opinions, you’re going to write like
legal opinions—which is not what you want to do, generally.
Other topics discussed include brevity of briefs, knowing your audience, oral arguments, use of humor, and awareness of when a judge is trying to help you out. ABA Journal also has an excerpt from the book with some writing tips (n.b. Scalia and Garner acknowledge that their advice often differs from that of other authorities), as well as a transcript of the complete interview in text and audio. Whatever you think of Scalia, if the interview is anything to go by, the book will be an enlightening and enjoyable read.
The library's copy of Scalia and Garner's book is on its way!
The editors of the Bluebook are seeking input as they embark upon revising it for the 19th edition. Visit their survey to provide your feedback and suggestions. Ten responses will be randomly chosen to win a free copy of the new edition and a one-year subscription to Bluebook Online. For those of you taking finals, you can respond by June 30.
The Legal Times via Law.com reports that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will soon join the Supreme Court Authors Club. Scalia is working with Black's Law Dictionary to produce a volume tentatively titled Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges. The book will cover use of both written briefs and oral argument. An interesting teaser from Garner:
Asked if Scalia, in advising lawyers how to persuade judges, warns
against citing legislative history -- one of his pet peeves -- Garner
replies, "There is a section on legislative history, but it will
surprise you." Garner did not spoil the surprise.
Thanks for the tip to our director, Lisa Smith-Butler.
I laughed out loud when I saw The Dictionary of Legal Bullshit on the cart of new acquisitions in our administrative offices. Yes, it really exists, and it will soon be available for check out to patrons of the Law Library & Technology Center. Attorney and writer Randall C. Young has compiled a fun collection of plain English explanations of famous cases, legal Latin, and other high falutin' terminology used by members of the legal profession. Here are a few of my favorites:
headnote. A statement in which Thomson West Publishing Company's editors explain a one-hundred-page decision in one h
hornbook. A non-prescription sleep aid.
jurisprudence. Something that exists only so long as we have prudent jurists.
obiter dictum. Desultory passages of judicial decisions in which judges reveal their opinion of themselves.
quash. The coolest word in the legal lexicon. Half the subpoenas issued have been challenged just to give the lawyer an excuse to say "quash."
stare decisis. Latin for "being a United States Supreme Court justice means never having to say you're sorry."
wise guy. One who is a participant in organized crime. The term mafioso fell out of favor as progressive criminal enterprises embraced the virtues of ethnic diversity.
At the end of the book, Young has written "an abridged taxonomy of lawyers" including the think-they-know-it-alls, the crusaders, and the rednecks in white collars; a short list of songs featuring lawyers; and a directory of pre-eminent law firms. Somehow, Car Talk counsel Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe was left out of the latter!
Want more? Check the new book cart behind the reference desk in a few days.