Understanding Voice: Writing in a Judicial Context

20 Legal Writing 189 (2015)

43 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2015  

Andrea L. McArdle

CUNY School of Law

Date Written: May 2015


This article argues that the concept of judicial voice is a valuable analytic and interpretive resource. After examining various conceptualizations of voice in literary writing and legal writing generally, it identifies two complementary dimensions of judicial voice: one (genre-based) is tied to recurring features of appellate opinions as well as the advocacy briefs and bench memoranda that are related textually to these opinions; the other (authorial) is linked to an author’s signature rhetorical choices and expressive style. The article develops an analytic framework that draws on both of these dimensions of judicial voice, and then applies the framework to illustrate that becoming attuned to how an opinion is voiced, and how it resonates, is an important analytic tool that can aid our understanding of a judicial writing’s deeper structure s of meaning.

Suggested Citation

McArdle, Andrea L., Understanding Voice: Writing in a Judicial Context (May 2015). 20 Legal Writing 189 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664443

Andrea L. McArdle (Contact Author)

CUNY School of Law ( email )

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