Practice Tip #10: Keep it short

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On writing, from the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, page 25: “Edit yourself.”

Really. Do it. If you don’t, someone else will have to edit your work for you, and that’s, well, embarrassing.

Further, shorten your sentences.

After I write a brief, I go back and re-read it, concentrating solely on matters of style. I read each paragraph to see if it has a topic sentence. I read each sentence to be sure that it is no more than three and one-half typed lines long. (The average reader can keep the beginning of a sentence in mind for only three and one-half typed lines. If the sentence runs on for five or six lines, the reader will lose his thought and be forced to go back and re-read the beginning of the sentence. This is no way to persuade.)

What are you as a lawyer if not a persuader? So go back to that sentence or paragraph you loved, the one where you waxed eloquent for several pages, and cut it down. Find the passive voice, and replace the verb “to be.”

No one will complain for having to read less to get the same point.

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