Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates

Overview


With Point Made, legal writing expert, Ross Guberman, throws a life preserver to attorneys, who are under more pressure than ever to produce compelling prose. What is the strongest opening for a motion or brief? How to draft winning headings? How to tell a persuasive story when the record is dry and dense? The answers are "more science than art," says Guberman, who has analyzed stellar arguments by distinguished attorneys to develop step-by-step instructions for achieving the ...
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Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates

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Overview


With Point Made, legal writing expert, Ross Guberman, throws a life preserver to attorneys, who are under more pressure than ever to produce compelling prose. What is the strongest opening for a motion or brief? How to draft winning headings? How to tell a persuasive story when the record is dry and dense? The answers are "more science than art," says Guberman, who has analyzed stellar arguments by distinguished attorneys to develop step-by-step instructions for achieving the results you want.

The author takes an empirical approach, drawing heavily on the writings of the nation's 50 most influential lawyers, including Barack Obama, John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Ted Olson, and David Boies. Their strategies, demystified and broken down into specific, learnable techniques, become a detailed writing guide full of practical models. In FCC v. Fox, for example, Kathleen Sullivan conjures the potentially dangerous, unintended consequences of finding for the other side (the "Why Should I Care?" technique). Arguing against allowing the FCC to continue fining broadcasters that let the "F-word" slip out, she highlights the chilling effect these fines have on America's radio and TV stations, "discouraging live programming altogether, with attendant loss to valuable and vibrant programming that has long been part of American culture."

Each chapter of Point Made focuses on a typically tough challenge, providing a strategic roadmap and practical tips along with annotated examples of how prominent attorneys have resolved that challenge in varied trial and appellate briefs. Short examples and explanations with engaging titles--"Brass Tacks," "Talk to Yourself," "Russian Doll"--deliver weighty materials with a light tone, making the guidelines easy to remember and apply.

In addition to all-new examples from the original 50 advocates, this Second Edition introduces eight new superstar lawyers from Solicitor General Don Verrilli, Deanne Maynard, Larry Robbins, and Lisa Blatt to Joshua Rosencranz, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Judy Clarke, and Sri Srinvasan, now a D.C. Circuit Judge. Ross Guberman also provides provocative new examples from the Affordable Care Act wars, the same-sex marriage fight, and many other recent high-profile cases. Considerably more commentary on the examples is included, along with dozens of style and grammar tips interspersed throughout. Also, for those who seek to improve their advocacy skills and for those who simply need a step-by-step guide to making a good brief better, the book concludes with an all-new set of 50 writing challenges corresponding to the 50 techniques.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The only way to teach students how to be effective legal writers is to immerse them in as much outstanding legal writing as possible. By concentrating so much great written advocacy so compactly--and by focusing readers' attention so precisely on the qualities that make the selected texts so compelling--this book supplies an indispensable tool to those engaged in the craft of making excellent lawyers."
--Dan Kahan, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Yale Law School

"Effective advocacy consists of a skillful blend of clear language and a sense of dramatic structure. Guberman's exemplars demonstrate again and again how to transform an otherwise ordinary case into a morality tale with a happy ending."
--Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson

"A must for the library of veteran litigators and aspiring moot court competitors. Ross Guberman teaches the art of persuasive legal writing with lively quotes from top-notch briefs, coupled with his own insights and recommendations."
--Stephen Shapiro, Senior Member, Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation group, Mayer Brown

"I love this book and recommend it for everyone. Ross Guberman's bag of tricks will spiff up your writing. He shares 50 techniques, and then-the fun part-he offers choice nuggets to show you how the hot shots pull it off."
--Ronald Marmer, Chair-Elect, ABA Section on Litigation; Partner, Jenner & Block

"Point Made is writing-nerd nirvana...It instantly won a place on my short list of favorite legal-writing books." --Jay O'Keeffe, DeNovo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog

"Entertaining and informative...a smart approach to writing persuasive legal briefs. Rather than lecturing the reader about what to do, Point Made shows you how the headline lawyers do it." --Steven R. Merican,Illinois Appellate Lawyer Blog

"[Guberman] doesn't just tell you what to do: he shows you...I learned a lot from reading Ross's book; I think you will too." --Raymond Ward,the (new) legal writer

"I've seen no other book so clearly provide concrete and diverse examples of 'what this stuff' should look and sound like when it's done right... [my] revision radically improved...incredibly helpful." --Wendy McGuire Coats, the Ninth

"I am loathe to come across so effusive in my praise of the book, as to appear biased. But I can't help but highly recommend the book, it's that good. If you want to improve your legal writing, pick up a copy of Point Made ." --Keith Lee, An Associate's Mind

"Just by reading the book, lawyers and legal writers at all stages of their careers can cull from Guberman's advice valuable lessons that are easy to remember and simple to apply. For these reasons, Point Made would make an excellent addition to any law school, law firm, court, or academic library collection." -- Julie Graves Krishnaswami, Law Library Journal

"Both novel and helpful...Point Made provides much food for thought for the experienced advocate...Guberman provides sound advice supported by the practice of the best in the business." -- ABA

"Guberman has assembled example after example of creative, clever, clear, common-sense legal writing. He's compiled in one book the great writing that will cause a legal writer to sigh, 'I wish I'd written that.' But he did not stop there. Guberman has written a useable handbook that will aid the writer in crafting similar envy worthy moments of argument...Guberman's techniques provide immediate ways to improve, tighten, and enliven the language and persuasive force of your prose."
--Wendy McGuire Coats, Appellate Issues Spring 2012, ABA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199943852
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/4/2014
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 180,260
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ross Guberman is president of Legal Writing Pro, an advanced legal-writing training and consulting firm. He has worked with thousands of attorneys at more than 100 of the world's largest and most prestigious law firms and for dozens of state and federal agencies and bar associations. Guberman is also a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, and he holds degrees from Yale, the Sorbonne, and The University of Chicago Law School. Before founding Legal Writing Pro, Guberman worked as a musician, lawyer, translator, editor, and journalist. He has also commented on law, business, and lawyer development for major newspapers, radio stations, trade publications, and television networks, and he has addressed several major international conferences as well.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction xxiii

PART ONE
The Theme 1
1. Brass Tacks: "Explain who, what, when, where, why, how"
2. The Short List: Number your path to victory
3. Why Should I Care? : Give the court a reason to want to find for you
4. Don't Be Fooled : Draw a line in the sand

PART TWO
The Tale
5. Panoramic Shot : Set the stage and sound your theme
6. Show, Not Tell : Let choice details speak for themselves
7. Once Upon a Time : Replace dates with phrases that convey a sense of time
8. Headliners : Use headings to break up your fact section and to add persuasive effect
9. Back to Life : Center technical matter on people or entities
Interlude: Gauging your brief's readability
10. Poker Face : Concede bad facts, but put them in context
11. End with a Bang : Leave the court with a final image or thought

PART THREE
The Meat
Using Headings
12. Russian Doll: Nest your headings and subheadings
13. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose : Argue in the alternative
Interlude: Love "because"
Structuring the Sections
14. Sneak Preview : Include an umbrella paragraph before your headings and subheadings
15. Wish I Were There : Start each paragraph by answering a question you expect the court to have
16. Sound Off : Start the paragraphs with numbered reasons
Analogizing
17. Long in the Tooth : Say "me too"
18. Peas in a Pod : Link your party with the party in the cited case
19. Mince Their Words : Merge pithy quoted phrases into a sentence about your own case
20. One Up : Claim that the case you're citing applies even more to your own dispute
21. Interception : Claim that a case your opponent cites helps you alone
22. Rebound : "Re-analogize" after the other side tries to distinguish
Distinguishing
23. Not Here, Not Now : Lead with the key difference between your opponent's case and your own
24. One Fell Swoop : Distinguish a line of cases all at once
25. Not So Fast : Show that the case doesn't apply as broadly as your opponent suggests
26. Authority Problems : Suggest that the case deserves little respect
Using Parentheticals
27. Ping Me : Introduce your parentheticals with parallel participles
28. Speak for Yourself : Include a single-sentence quotation
29. Hybrid Model : Combine participles and quotations
Introducing Block Quotations
30. Lead 'Em On : Introduce block quotations by explaining how the language supports your argument
Using Footnotes
Interlude: Citations in footnotes
31. Race to the Bottom : Use footnotes only in moderation to address related side points and to add support

PART FOUR
The Words
Liven Up the Language
32. Zingers : Colorful verbs
33. What a Breeze : Confident tone
34. Manner of Speaking : Figures of speech
35. That Reminds Me : Examples and analogies
Jumpstart Your Sentences
36. The Starting Gate : The one-syllable opener
37. Size Matters : The pithy sentence
38. Freight Train : The balanced, elegant long sentence
39. Leading Parts : Two sentences joined as one
40. Talk to Yourself : The rhetorical question
41. Parallel Lives : The parallel construction
Creative Punctuation
42. A Dash of Style : The dash
Interlude: The hyphen
43. Good Bedfellows : The semicolon
44. Magician's Mark : The colon
Seamless Flow
45. Take Me by the Hand : Logical connectors
110 Transition Words and Phrases
46. Bridge the Gap : Linked paragraphs
Visual Appeal
Interlude: Looking good
47. Join My Table : Tables and charts
48. Bullet Proof : Bullet points and lists

PART FIVE
The Close
The Last Word
49. Parting Thought : End the argument with a provocative quotation or pithy thought
50. Wrap-Up : Recast your main points in a separate conclusion

Appendices
The Top Fifty Advocates: Biographies
How to Write the Perfect Brief: Fifty Techniques
Step One: The Theme
Step Two: The Tale
Step Three: The Meat
Step Four: The Words
Step Five: The Close
Twenty Best Quotes from Judges
Annotated Models
Before-and-after section from Jones v. Clinton
Alaska v. EPA
MercExchange v. eBay

Index

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