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Writing a Pleading or Judgment in Five Easy Steps



8:15 - 8:30 Registration

8:30 - 9:30 What Makes Good (Legal) Writing Good?


This lecture identifies traditions that make much legal writing inaccessible to the people who most need to read it, including the legal profession itself, and offers practical alternatives based on considerations of audience, purpose, structure and style. Overview of the five-step issue-driven approach, illustrated with a before-and-after example.

9:30 - 10:30 Step One: Identifying the Issues

This lecture distinguishes between the overall issue (a.k.a. “the question presented”) and the “constituent issues”—the questions of fact and law that must be analyzed in resolving the overall issue. It distinguishes between issue-identification from the perspectives of the moving party and the responding party, in criminal and civil law, and in trial and appellate proceedings. Application Exercise: Workshop in pairs or small groups.

10:30 - 10:45 COFFEE BREAK

10:45 - 11:45 Step Two: Phrasing and Arranging the Issues


This lecture explores the phrasing of issues as a skill that can in itself determine the outcome of a case. It explains how to turn issue-statements into headings that result in a pleading or judgment that is both readable and “raidable.” It illustrates how this issue-based approach can accommodate outlines required by rules for appellate procedure and similar court-issued directives. Application Exercise: Workshop in pairs or small groups.

11:45 - 12:30 LUNCH

12:30 - 1:30 Step Three: Writing a Beginning


Illustrated with numerous examples, this lecture demonstrates the strategic importance of opening paragraphs in pleadings and judgments.

Application Exercise: Workshop in pairs or small groups.

1:30 – 2:30 Step Four: Analyzing the Issues


This lecture distinguishes between questions of law, questions of fact, and questions of judicial discretion. It provides strategies for analyzing each type of question and the differences between writing as a judge and writing as counsel. It distinguishes between civil and criminal law in the analysis of questions of fact. Application Exercise: Workshop in pairs or small groups.

2:30 – 2:45 COFFEE BREAK

2:45 - 3:45 Step Five: Writing a Conclusion


This lecture distinguishes among different sorts of concluding paragraphs and identifies situations in which each might be appropriate. The session concludes with an open-ended Q&A regarding any topics covered in the earlier sessions.

3:45 Close
[Prof. Raymond] was a very good lecturer with impressive grasp of the challenges lawyers face in trying to write clearly and persuasively. He also incorporated many of the audience’s comments effortlessly into his presentation. Prof. Raymond was great . . . He had a great manner - a way of conveying very useful information with just the right amount of humor and just the right amount of memorable war stories. . . .