“There are two things wrong with legal writing. One is style.  The other is content.” 
Judge Mark P. Painter, 31 APR Mont. Law (April 2006).


            We lawyers are not known for being good writers.  Perhaps that is because writing is hard.  Someone once said writing is easy—just open a vein!

            I am going to be writing more frequently over the next several weeks, to talk about legal writing, and how I have held off the madness lurking in my brain from having an appellate brief or two due every month for the last 30 years.  Here goes.

             Plan your writing process in the way you build a house, starting with the foundation. To build a foundation for solid legal writing, you must:

      1. identify all of your tasks;
      2. plan how long the entire process will take;
      3. estimate how much research is required;
      4. estimate how long the writing will take; and
      5. decide who will do each task.

            If others are involved, you should consider their schedules. Most importantly, give the planning process priority in your schedule. Block off time on your calendar for reviewing the record, researching, and writing, just the way you would schedule a meeting with a client. Do this several weeks in advance, especially when the appellate record is voluminous. Try not to take phone calls or to allow too many interruptions during these blocks of time to improve your efficiency.

            A good house starts with a solid foundation. The planning process is your foundation for a good appellate brief. In next blog post, I’ll discuss the legal writing version of the building blueprint—an outline.