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August 2, 2008

Font Picky Picky -- with consequences

From a thread about correct citations on a law professors' blog (not the lawprofessorblog -- a private one) comes the following:

...Am I off in terms of the importance to these details? I will tell you that this summer I worked on an amicus brief for a state Supreme Court that was rejected the first time it was filed because it was in the wrong font -- Times Roman instead of Courier. A mere detail? The attorney doing the filing didn't check the rule.

December 20, 2007

Million Dollar Commas

If you ever imagined -- even for a minute -- that commas don't really matter, read this article.

Ross Guberman, owner of "Legal Writing Pro," is a consultant to law firms whose managers look for writing training for their lawyers. He conducts more than 200 seminars each year on subjects including "Secrets of Briefwriters" and "Advanced Transactional Drafting."

November 30, 2006

What do Partners really want?

Legal Writing is so important that there are consultants around the country who earn thousands of dollars teaching new (and not-so-new) lawyers how to do it.

Ross Guberman of Legal Writing Pro, surveyed his clients and the results of his "What do Partners want" survey is at http://www.legalwritingpro.com/articles/partner-survey.html

If you take the time in Law School to hone your research and writing skills, your future employers will see you as superstars.

October 31, 2006

A "writing test" may be part of your job application

FROM NALP EMAIL -- We recently asked finalists for one of our divisions to turn around a writing exercise in 48 hours, which we found extremely helpful in distinguishing between several excellent candidates. Having the opportunity to compare and contrast the writing samples knowing that our candidates all had the same timeframe within which to do the work was extraordinarily valuable.

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This is part of a (mini) tidal wave from employers who are trying to discover what kind of skills their candidates have before wasting valuable time in interviews. I have heard of this with both law firms and judges.

Law Firms The first law firm to do it was a Chicago litigation boutique which spun out of a Giant Law Firm. The always-helpful-but-extremely-expensive publication OF COUNSEL explained that the firm planned its growth around cherry-picking junior laterals from Giant Law Firm Litigation Departments. The boutique’s managers assumed that laterals with the credentials good enough for Giant Law Firms could actually write. After finding that assumption to be flawed, those managers instituted a writing test before the first face-to-face interview.

Judges Many judges will put their candidates in a room with some documents and a laptop and ask that they write a bench memo that becomes part of their application package.

The main work of most law-trained people is reading, writing, talking on the phone and going to meetings. Most of the reading and writing is done somewhere between in-a-hurry and shriekingly-close-to-the-statute-of-limitations. Asking students to provide a time-limited writing sample that is unambiguously their own work provides employers with good preview of their candidates' skills and provides those of us in career development an opportunity to remind students and alumni of the primacy of legal writing.

May 19, 2006

Who Values Legal Writing and Analysis?

Employers do, and you should, too.

Employers make hiring decisions based on the quality of your writing. You might be everyone's favorite law clerk, but get no offer because of your writing. You might be everyone's favorite lawyer, but with a reputation for poor writing, senior attorneys will stop giving you work. This is a professional kiss of death.

Employers put such a premium on legal writing and analysis that -- often at substantial cost -- they routinely hire outside professionals to teach it to summer associates and new lawyers. One of them, Ross Guberman of Legal Writing Pro, whose clients include national and international law firms, federal and state agencies, bar associations and CLE providers, has generously offered to share his "Ten Tips for Summer Writing Success."

At one of the very few schools with a three-year-writing requirement, you have a series of opportunities to improve your writing before you go to work, beginning with a Legal Writing Program designed by Prof. Brad Clary, who has 25 years of experience hiring, training and supervising new lawyers, and moving through journals, moot courts, clinics and seminars. When you go to work with a clear understanding of the importance of writing and analysis and the good skills that you have begun to develop, you will have improved your chances of being perceived as a "star."