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Sketches on Legal Style


Sketches on Legal Style book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material

Sketches on Legal Style

by Mark Cooney

2013 $20.00 110 pp paper ISBN: 978-1-61163-415-0 LCCN 2013014829

Tags: First Year, Legal Writing

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Who says legal writing is a dull subject? This collection of lively, offbeat short pieces explores legal style like no book you’ve read before. But be warned: you just might learn something while you’re smiling. Through a colorful cast of characters, learn how legal writers can use plain language and careful syntax to produce clearer, stronger, and more persuasive documents.

Will legalese devotee Ebenezer Scribe change his ways after receiving visits from four clarity-minded ghosts?

Will Colonel Ketchup’s passive-voice phrasing obscure whodunit?

Will Editor Man defeat his most formidable foe yet: a dense block of statutory text containing, among other things, a 142-word sentence?

And much more . . .

But this book isn’t all fun and games. It weaves in real-world examples and commentary from judges and writing experts, giving fresh insight into how readers—especially judges—view the rote style choices that many legal writers never question. You’ll also find helpful tips and before-and-after comparisons. In short, whether a legal professional, a law student, or a writing fan of any kind, a reader will learn concrete lessons—backed by authority—on the best practices for legal writing. And although this book isn’t intended to replace a traditional textbook, teachers can use these vignettes and essays to reinforce classroom lessons and make challenging concepts more accessible to students. 

“Prof. Cooney's mantra-like theme is that clarity equals persuasion. He also readily demonstrates the converse; that inflated writing is distracting and easily put down. This lesson in precision should strike a chord with litigators of all flavors. …What makes Prof. Cooney's book notable is his use of story to teach these points. As trial lawyers, we know that stories are compelling. Stories are absorbed and remembered. Stories are powerful. And Prof. Cooney is a master of the craft.” — Chad Engelhardt, Michigan State Bar's Negligence Law Section E-News

“[Cooney's] new book, Sketches on Legal Style, is fun, easy reading. It’s a collection of essays on legal writing, each delivered in a unique, humorous style. Two examples: “A Legal-Writing Carol” in the style of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”; “The Pleading,” a poetic lament in the style of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” Speaking of Dickens, this little book would be a great stocking stuffer for the law student or legal-writing geek in your life (including yourself!).” — the (new) legal writer blog

“I just finished reading Sketches on Legal Style by Mark Cooney, and I loved it. Lots of practical advice in a readable, engaging book. I recommend it.” — Wayne Schiess, Legalwriting.net Blog 


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