The Power of Brevity: Adopt Abraham Lincoln's Habits
Julie A. Oseid
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
October 31, 2008
Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors
Final published version at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1434735
This short article focuses on the persuasive power of brevity in legal writing, using Abraham Lincoln as a role model. Lincoln's eloquence was grounded in his ability to express much with few words. He learned the power of brevity while practicing law.
The article reviews Lincoln's legal career, and examines Lincoln's use of brevity to persuade in three of his presidential speeches. I explore Lincoln's writing and editing habits. I urge modern lawyers to adopt Lincoln's habits of writing early, visualizing audience, and editing with ruthlessness to increase eloquence and persuasiveness.
Keywords: legal writing, Abraham Lincoln, persuasive writing, presidential speeches
Date posted: November 3, 2008 ; Last revised: July 1, 2010