Ross Guberman, Guest-Blogging

I recently read Ross Guberman’s Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates and found it very helpful; indeed, I’ll be assigning it to my First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic students as required reading. To quote the book’s Amazon blurb,

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.

I’m pleased to say that Mr. Guberman has agreed to guest-blog about legal writing, and in particular brief writing, this coming week; I much look forward to his posts.