Redlines

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Another kick at dates and procedural detail (PDF)

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Spring 2019 | Volume 103 Number 1

This isn’t the first time I’ve gone after unnecessary dates and procedural detail. (See the Autumn 2017 and Summer 2018 columns.) And it probably won’t be the last.

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The Wonderfully Versatile Em-Dash (PDF)

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Spring 2022 | Volume 106 Number 1

We all know that legal writing could benefit from more periods. A strong contender for the second most neglected punctuation mark in legal writing is the em-dash, the long dash.

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The importance of signposting — and following through

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Fall/Winter 2021-22 | Volume 105 Number 3

Signposting is easy to illustrate. Not this: “The defendant claims . . . . The defendant also claims . . . . Finally, the defendant claims . . . .” […]

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Another plea to hold the acronyms

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Summer 2021 | Volume 105 Number 2

First, a technical distinction: an acronym is pronounced as a word (“scuba” = self-contained underwater breathing apparatus); an initialism is pronounced letter by letter (“IBM”). Informally, “acronym” is often used for […]

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Revising an Order

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Winter 2016 | Volume 100 Number 4

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At Least Do The Easy Stuff

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Spring 2021 | Volume 105 Number 1

In these two examples, I have done very little rewriting. I simply used plain words and cut unnecessary words (including the egregiously unnecessary parentheticals). And in the second one, I […]

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Hold the Parentheticals, Please

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Spring 2017 | Volume 101 Number 1

Our writing guru Joseph Kimble offers tips for enlisting the dash and for avoiding legalese and silly, distracting parentheticals. Original According to the Plaintiff, Defendants Exxon Mobil Corporation (“Exxon”), Badger […]

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A better first paragraph, please

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Summer 2017 | Volume 101 Number 2

Start strong. Our writing guru, Joseph Kimble, breaks down an opinion’s first paragraph to show a better way. Original Pending before the Court is a letter motion by plaintiff Amy […]

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On Names, Pronouns, and Paragraphing

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Fall/Winter 2020–21 | Volume 104 Number 3

Lawsuits involve people. And rather than turn them into a disembodied “Plaintiff” and “Defendant,” opinions might better use their names. The opinions will be more direct and more human. (Of […]

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Headings, please. The more, the better

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Summer 2020 | Volume 104 Number 2

REDLINES If there’s a good reason why many judicial opinions don’t use informative headings, I haven’t heard it. For readers, headings are a boon to navigating through the opinion. And […]

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