Step 10.2 Review your document carefully

Review your writing several times by checking separately for each tip listed below,437 rather than checking your writing against different tips all at once. By reviewing your writing separately for each tip, you reduce your chances of overlooking something.438 A tip followed by 'WS' shows that you can use WordStyler to help you implement the tip. You can also use StyleWriter439 for many of these tips.

check CHECK

Tip 42. Follow all current Rules of Court and Practice Directions,440 including rules on:

  • binding
  • citation method441
  • color (for example, the color of the cover)
  • deadlines
  • whether double-sided or single-sided
  • electronic format
  • font size
  • fonts
  • information contained on front cover
  • length (word, line, and page limits)
  • margins
  • matters to include and exclude
  • the order and arrangement of the matter
  • paper
  • spacing

Tip 43. Compare your citations with the original cases, or at least with a reliable table of cases.442

Tip 44. Eliminate misspellings, typographical errors, and grammatical and punctuation errors:443

Spelling or grammatical errors in an otherwise competent brief 'makes the judge go back to square one in evaluating the counsel'.444

Tip 45. Make sure your document looks neat and professional.445

Tip 46. Quote accurately;446 compare each quote against the original.447

Tip 47. Double check references to the record.448

Tip 48. Number every page correctly, including attachments.

Tip 49. In the Table of Contents, make sure the page numbers match the correct pages.

Tip 50. Number headings and subheadings correctly.

Tip 51. Number Tables and Figures correctly.

Tip 52. Include all necessary attachments.

Tip 53. Where you must submit photocopies, submit only clean photocopies.449

Tip 54. Make sure you have written cross-references, including references to footnotes 'above' and 'below', correctly.

Tip 55. Format lists consistently.

Tip 56. Get rid of unneeded modifiers (such as 'clearly' and 'obviously').450WS

When you use words like 'obviously' and 'clearly', fair advocacy 'often gives way to inappropriate (and weak) argument … These adverbs are telltale signals of weak or non-existent record support'.451

Tip 57. Depending on your audience, eliminate hedge words like 'sort of' and 'possibly'.452WS

Some psychological research suggests that qualified statements persuade people who know your area of expertise (for example, judges) more than unqualified statements; but the reverse applies to people who do not know your area of expertise (for example, jurors).453

Tip 58. Get rid of needless legalese and other jargon.454WS

Tip 59. Avoid unnecessary nominalizations (for example, 'carrying out an analysis', 'making an application').455WS

Tip 60. Prefer verbs to nouns (for example, 'analyze', 'apply').

'Verbs are the voltage of clear thinking and persuasive writing'456 because they make your writing clear, direct, and engaging.457

Tip 61. But avoid forms of the verb 'to be'.

Since 'is', 'are', and 'be' convey no action, these verbs 'serve the good writer very little when contrasted with true working verbs like "agree", "think", or "dissent"'.458 So, when editing your work, try replacing 'to be' (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been) with an active verb.459

Tip 62. Prefer the active voice to the passive voice.

In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs action on the object of the sentence (for example, 'The Judge decided the issue'). In the passive voice, the object performs action on the subject (for example, 'The case was decided by the judge'). Sometimes, the passive voice excludes the subject entirely (for example, 'The case was decided'), which can confuse the reader. The active voice makes your writing more persuasive because it makes your writing more clear, direct, and engaging.460 So, where you can, prefer actives to passives.

Tip 63. Put subjects, verbs, and objects close together to make your writing clear and more direct.461

Tip 64. Avoid clichés.462WS

Tip 65. Get rid of 'throat-clearing' phrases (for example, 'It is significant that', 'It is important to note that').463WS

Tip 66. Cut needless words.464WS

Tip 67. Eliminate redundancies (for example, 'excess verbiage').465WS

Tip 68. Where possible, turn negative phrases (for example, 'he did not remember') into positive phrases466 (for example, 'he forgot').WS

Tip 69. Avoid using abbreviations;467 at the very least, define all abbreviations.468

Tip 70. Make sure you have written dates and numbers accurately.

Tip 71. Include pinpoint page references in your citations; double check them.

Tip 72. Use capitalization consistently.469

Tip 73. Avoid ALL-CAPITAL LETTERS.470

Their uniform size makes them hard to read, which slows reading.471

Tip 74. Format quotations correctly.472

Tip 75. Use hyphens consistently.473

Table 75: Editing checklist

After Step 10, you will have edited and organized a 'story' and drafted a legal argument with maximum persuasive effect.

437 For other editing checklists, see Terry Hutchinson, Researching and Writing in Law (2nd ed, 2006) 181–9; Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 301; Bernard McKenna et al, Corporate Communication: Effective Techniques for Business (2nd ed, 2007) Ch 6; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 309; Tom Goldstein and Jethro K Lieberman, The Lawyer's Guide to Writing Well (2002) 229–35; Ruggero J Aldisert, Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs and Oral Argument (2nd ed, 2003) 240–42.

438 See further, Bernard McKenna et al, Corporate Communication: Effective Techniques for Business (2nd ed, 2007) 134.

439 www.editorsoftware.com.

440 Kenneth Hayne, 'Written Advocacy', paper delivered as part of the Continuing Legal Education Program of the Victorian Bar, 5 and 26 March 2007, 3–4; Frederick Bernays Wiener, Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (1961, 2001 reprint) 39; Andrew Goodman, Influencing the Judicial Mind—Effective Written Advocacy in Practice (2006) 34; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 159.

441 The USA has two main citation manuals, The Bluebook and the ALWD Citation Manual. I do not know if the UK has equivalent citation manuals. In Australia, the Melbourne University Law Review's Australian Guide to Legal Citation is becoming the standard. But some courts still prefer counsel to cite authorities using the court's particular house style.

442 F Trowbridge Vom Baur, 'The Art of Brief Writing' (1976) 22 The Practical Lawyer 81, 82; E Barrett Prettyman, 'Some Observations Concerning Appellate Advocacy' (1953) 39(3) Virginia Law Review 285, 295.

443 Lucille R Kaplan, 'Writing that Persuades: No Quick Fix for the Advocate' (1984) 20 Trial 44, 47; Patricia M Wald, '19 Tips from 19 Years on the Appellate Bench' (1999) 1 Journal of Appellate Practice and Process 7, 22; Frederick Bernays Wiener, Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (1961, 2001 reprint) 64. For 16 common grammatical errors to avoid, see Bernard McKenna et al, Corporate Communication: Effective Techniques for Business (2nd ed, 2007) 48–64. For a list of commonly confused words, see the free online compilation by Paul Brians, Common Errors in English at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/index.html (accessed 14 November 2007). See also Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed, 2002) Ch 5; Christopher Lasch, Plain Style: A Guide to Written English (2002) Ch 4; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers. For a long list of common misspellings, see Bryan A Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (2002) 101–4. For help on punctuation, see Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) Ch 9.

444 Patricia M Wald, '19 Tips from 19 Years on the Appellate Bench' (1999) 1 Journal of Appellate Practice and Process 7, 22.

445 Jonathan K Van Patten, 'Twenty-Five Propositions On Writing and Persuasion' (2004) 49 South Dakota Law Review 250, 273; Andrew Goodman, Influencing the Judicial Mind—Effective Written Advocacy in Practice (2006) 21.

446 E Barrett Prettyman, 'Some Observations Concerning Appellate Advocacy' (1953) 39(3) Virginia Law Review 285, 295–6; Frederick Bernays Wiener, Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (1961, 2001 reprint) 243, 245; Andrew Goodman, Influencing the Judicial Mind—Effective Written Advocacy in Practice (2006) 54.

447 Frederick Bernays Wiener, Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (1961, 2001 reprint) 243, 245.

448 Frederick Bernays Wiener, Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (1961, 2001 reprint) 202, 249.

449 Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 421.

450 Andrew H Baida, 'Writing a Better Brief: A Useful Guide to Better Written Submissions in Appellate Advocacy' (2002) 22 Australian Bar Review 149, 160, 178; Kenneth Hayne, 'Written Advocacy', paper delivered as part of the Continuing Legal Education Program of the Victorian Bar, 5 and 26 March 2007, 15; Jonathan K Van Patten, 'Twenty-Five Propositions On Writing and Persuasion' (2004) 49 South Dakota Law Review 250, 269; Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 363–4.

451 Andrew H Baida, 'Writing a Better Brief: A Useful Guide to Better Written Submissions in Appellate Advocacy' (2002) 22 Australian Bar Review 149, 160, 178.

452 Michelle Pan, 'Strategy or Stratagem: The Use of Improper Psychological Tactics by Trial Attorneys to Persuade Jurors' (2005) 74 University of Cincinnati Law Review 259, 261, 266; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 161.

453 See John C Reinard, 'The Role of Toulmin's Categories of Message Development in Persuasive Communication: Two Experimental Studies on Attitude Change' (1984) 20 Journal of the American Forensic Association 206; Paul T Wangerin, 'A Multidisciplinary Analysis of the Structure of Persuasive Arguments' (1993) 16 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 195, 207.

454 Raymond T Elligett, Jr and Hon John M Scheb, 'Stating the Case and Facts: Foundation of the Appellate Brief' (2003) 32 Stetson Law Review 415, 423; Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 175–8; Frederick Bernays Wiener, Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (1961, 2001 reprint) 64. For legalisms and their plain English alternatives, see Bryan A Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English (2001) 34–5; Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed, 2002) 191–2; 194–5; Bryan A Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (2002) 161–162; Guide to Legal Writing Style (3rd ed, 2004) 48–50; Girvan Peck, Writing Persuasive Briefs (1984) 25. See also Joseph Kimble, Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language (2006) 173–4; Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 2002) 60–63; Terri LeClercq, Expert Legal Writing (1995, 2002 reprint) 119–23; Harry Mills, Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds, and Influence People (1999) 138; Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 191–193; Christopher Lasch, Plain Style: A Guide to Written English (2002) 78–9.

455 See, for example, Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 191–4; Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) Ch 3; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 92.

456 Irving Younger, 'Romancing the Verb' (1986) 72(2) ABA Journal 94.

457 See also Christopher Lasch, Plain Style: A Guide to Written English (2002) 75–6.

458 Irving Younger, 'Romancing the Verb' (1986) 72(2) ABA Journal 94. See also Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 175–6, 218; Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed, 2002) 198–9.

459 Christopher Lasch, Plain Style: A Guide to Written English (2002) 76–7.

460 See, for example, Irving Younger, 'Romancing the Verb' (1986) 72(2) ABA Journal 94; Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 229–35; Christopher Lasch, Plain Style: A Guide to Written English (2002) 77–8; Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) Ch 4; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 86–7.

461 Andrew H Baida, 'Writing a Better Brief: A Useful Guide to Better Written Submissions in Appellate Advocacy' (2002) 22 Australian Bar Review 149, 177; Jonathan K Van Patten, 'Twenty-Five Propositions On Writing and Persuasion' (2004) 49 South Dakota Law Review 250, 266; Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 199–203; Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) Ch 6; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 96–7.

462 For a useful list of clichés to avoid, see Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 228–34; Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed, 2002) 204–5.

463 Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 210–11. For a list of throat-clearing phrases to avoid, see Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed, 2002) 53–4; Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing (2003) 168–9; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 104–5; Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates, The Legal Writing Handbook: Analysis, Research, and Writing (2006) 661–662; Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates, Just Writing: Grammar, Punctuation, and Style for the Legal Writer (2005) 125–27; Richard K Neumann Jr, Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing: Structure, Style, and Strategy (2005) 242; Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 216.

464 Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 212–15; Harry Mills, Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds, and Influence People (1999) 139; Irving Younger, 'Skimming the Fat off your Writing' (1986) 72(3) ABA Journal 92; Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) Ch 2; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 104–5.

465 For a list of redundancies to avoid, see, for example, Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 217–8; Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) 20; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 105–6.

466 Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed, 2002) 56; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 105–6.

467 Avoid creating your own abbreviations. They may save space, but they do not help communication. You can almost always find another shorthand (like 'the committee' for 'Committee on Plain English (COPE)'. See Joseph Kimble, Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language (2006) 155. See also Raymond T Elligett Jr and Hon John M Scheb, 'Stating the Case and Facts: Foundation of the Appellate Brief (2003) 32 Stetson Law Review 415, 424; Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 263–265; Andrew Goodman, Influencing the Judicial Mind—Effective Written Advocacy in Practice (2006) 24; Christopher Lasch, Plain Style: A Guide to Written English (2002) 68–70.

468 But do not create or define an abbreviation and never use it again; Joseph Kimble, Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language (2006) 155.

469 For guidance, see Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 59–62; Bryan A Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (2002) Ch 2.

470 Joseph Kimble, Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language (2006) 152; Bryan A Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2nd ed, 2004) 318–9.

471 For an example, see Neil James, Writing at Work (2007) 139.

472 Conventions vary. Consult the applicable Style Guide or house style. In Australia, see the Melbourne University Law Review's Australian Guide to Legal Citation 8–12. For an American guide, see, for example, Bryan A Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (2002) 17–21; Deborah E Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (2005) 44–5.

473 In Australia, use the latest edition of the Macquarie Dictionary to check if you should hyphenate a word. Readers from other places might consult their own national dictionary. See further, Richard C Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed, 1998) 103–5; Bryan A Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style 33–3.

  • End of Toolkit.

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