“It’s Judges’ Fault” If Legal Writers Mimic Their Jocularity

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
July 15, 2022

“You have an informal writing style.” How do you take that? Compliment, or criticism?

This is hard to answer, says legal writing pro Ross Guberman. There is a strong trend in favor of more direct and approachable legal writing—and in this sense, “informal” is a compliment. But there is also a trend among judges—and lawyers following suit—toward the pithy (Twitter-ready), the precious (pop-culture-referencing), and even the biting (Judge VanDyke’s McDougall concurrence).

While there is something to be said (good or bad) about the attention-grabbing lines, Ross explains what really takes skill—and achieves persuasion—is to write as though you were having a conversation.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 33 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. The full episode is available here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at www.CALPodcast.com, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at www.tvalaw.com/articles. His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at tkowal@tvalaw.com or (714) 641-1232.