Let the ice cube melt

The other day I had to have my eyes dilated. As they slowly came back into focus, I tested them on this week’s issue of The New Yorker. One of the essays focused on Allison Janney, currently starring on Broadway in “Six Degrees of Separation.” Janney’s character in the play owns a Kandinsky (Wassily Kandinsky, one … Continue reading Let the ice cube melt

Soft rock didn’t work

It’s that time of year when I spend hour upon hour upon hour reading and commenting on law students’ draft briefs. To do this, it’s necessary to have a personal “culture of commenting.” I’m borrowing that phrase from a wonderful writing book, Hilton Obenzinger’s How We Write: The Varieties of Writing Experiences (2015). In the … Continue reading Soft rock didn’t work

Lawyers as heroes

Some clients are heroes—or plausibly can be portrayed as heroes in legal briefs. The lawyers remain in the background, telling the story without inserting themselves into it. Another type of legal writing I study and teach is legal blogging. What I’ve noticed in reading lots and lots of legal blogs is that some lawyers portray themselves … Continue reading Lawyers as heroes

Listening to punctuation

Thanks to Julie Schrager, counsel and legal writing coach at Schiff Hardin, for this guest post.  I have been desperately trying to find a way to write about exclamation points. I grew up in a time when they were reserved for exclamations: “Congratulations on winning that game!” or “That’s the reason he got that promotion!” Lynne … Continue reading Listening to punctuation

Future trial lawyers, take heart

Listen Like a Lawyer will be delving into communication and writing in the next few posts. One reason this blog is generally dedicated to listening is that there are already many excellent legal-writing blogs available for the legal community. (For example: Forma Legalis, Lady Legal Writer, Law Prose, Legible,  and Ziff Blog, just to cite … Continue reading Future trial lawyers, take heart

Silence and group work in legal education

I wasn’t able to attend the AALS (Association of American Law Schools) meeting this year—an annual gathering of thousands of law professors. As a sort of substitute, I’ve been saving an article to read from the Journal of Legal Education, the AALS’s journal on legal education, the legal profession, legal theory, and legal scholarship. The … Continue reading Silence and group work in legal education

From “The Education of a Lawyer”

With bar results coming in from many states this week, it's an opportune moment to recommend resources for newly minted lawyers. One good resource is Gary Muldoon's book The Education of a Lawyer: Essential Skills and Uncommon Advice for Building a Successful Career. It has many good passages; here's an anecdote on being receptive to feedback. Muldoon recounts … Continue reading From “The Education of a Lawyer”

What lawyers say, and what they actually do

How do lawyers transfer their knowledge? Lawyering scholars have been talking about “tacit knowledge” since the early 1990s. A recent ABA publication encouraged law students to use their externships and other practical experiences to interact with lawyers and try to glean some of that tacit knowledge via “extensive personal contact, regular interaction, and trust.” I … Continue reading What lawyers say, and what they actually do

Listening for summer associates

A successful summer-associate experience means doing good work and creating good social impressions. Listening skills can help with both. The assignment and the work The most obvious place to talk about listening and work product is in the incredibly important meeting where the senior lawyer communicates the assignment.Here’s a checklist for listening while taking an … Continue reading Listening for summer associates

Do you know it when you hear it?

  When taking a deposition, can you immediately recognize the testimony you want to quote in a later dispositive motion? Do the words jump out at you like a “nugget” in a “treasure hunt”? Legal writing and nonfiction writing have a lot in common, as a recent New Yorker article by John McPhee suggested. I … Continue reading Do you know it when you hear it?