Monday, November 27, 2006

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).

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