Legal Writing Institute Updates – Finding Your Voice as a New Attorney: Thoughts From The Employer And The Court

Today’s Legal Writing Institute update contained this interesting article from the Honorable Gerald Lebovits and Martha Krisel in the Nassau Lawyer, Volume 58, No. 11 (2009) addressed to new attorneys. Martha Krisel is Chief Deputy County Attorney for Special Projects for the Office of the
Nassau County Attorney. The Honorable Gerald Lebovits is a judge for N.Y.C. Civil Court and an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University School of Law. Ms. Kisel and Judge Lebovits each present a hypothetical scenario in which a young associate might find themselves: one in which the attorney is faced with his or her first writing project for the boss and one in which the attorney is writing for the court. The advice presented is sage and practical – write clearly, plainly and professionally at all times. I could paraphrase the entire article for salient points, but I instead suggest you follow the link and download the article so that nothing is missed. I quote below one particularly valuable passage from each writer. From Ms. Krisel:

Effective writing reaches an unequivocal conclusion as it identifies pitfalls and weaknesses. Effective writing assesses the combined impact of the facts and the law, as synthesized from the correspondence and documents that form its basis. Effective writing eliminates unnecessary words with edits that simplify the information for which your busy boss is waiting.

From Judge Lebovits:

Your writing matters to judges and supervisors only because the better your work product, the better their final work product. The better your draft, the less work your supervisor will need to do to turn your work into something acceptable.The same is true for judges: The better your work, the less the judge will need to do to write the decision quickly and correctly. But your writing process matters to you: Your writing will affect your clients and your professional future.

I can’t say it any better than that.

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