The Power of Brevity: Adopt Abraham Lincoln's Habits

27 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009  

Julie A. Oseid

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: Fall 2009


Drawing inspiration from Abraham Lincoln's writing and writing habits, this article focuses on the use of brevity in legal brief writing. Part I defines “brevity.” Part II focuses on the persuasive power of brevity in legal writing. Part III reviews Lincoln’s legal career, focusing in particular on his use of brevity. Part IV examines Lincoln’s use of brevity to persuade as President by considering three speeches: the First Inaugural, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural. Part V explores Lincoln’s writing and editing habits, and it urges lawyers to adopt Lincoln’s habits of writing early, visualizing audience, and ruthlessly editing. Lincoln worked hard for his eloquence and persuasiveness, and by adopting his habits we lawyers can also increase our eloquence and persuasiveness.

Keywords: legal writing, legal rhetoric, writing habits, brevity, Abraham Lincoln, persuasion, First Inaugural, Second Inaugural, Gettysburg Address

Suggested Citation

Oseid, Julie A., The Power of Brevity: Adopt Abraham Lincoln's Habits (Fall 2009). Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Vol. 6, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Julie A. Oseid (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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