Persuasion: what not to do
Techniques that fail with judges are--
- throwing in the kitchen sink instead of picking winning arguments and developing them;
- attacking opposing counsel and other judges (even when they deserve it);
- offering up a historical treatise instead of arguing an issue;
- writing facts in a conclusory way;
- using adverbs and adjectives instead of nouns and verbs;
- using intensifiers and qualifiers;
- shouting at readers with false emphatics like italics, underlining, bold, and capitals;
- not applying fact to law;
- overstating anything, because understatement is a key to persuasion;
- using long quotations or, worse, misquoting and misciting;
- not opening with an orientation, or roadmap, to tell readers where they're headed; and
- dwelling on givens.
Gerald Lebovits, Legal-Writing Myths-Part I, N.Y. State B.J. 55, 56 (Feb. 2006).