Standing in the Judge's Shoes: Exploring Techniques to Help Legal Writers More Fully Address the Needs of Their Audience

50 University of San Francisco Law Review Forum 479 (2016)

U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-23

9 Pages Posted: 12 May 2016 Last revised: 24 May 2016

Date Written: May 11, 2016

Abstract

Legal documents are not read for the purpose of entertainment or even to provide the reader with general information. Rather, legal writing serves the purpose of helping its readers — often judges — make legal decisions. Moreover, a legal writer must determine how best to deliver her message to persuade the reader to reach a particular decision. As such, a legal writer’s ability to consider and incorporate the legal audience’s needs into her written work is of the utmost importance. Yet, while many attorneys understand the importance of writing in anticipation of the legal audience’s response, even experienced attorneys may struggle to see their case from a different perspective and to identify the challenges of their case. Through a deliberate process, legal writers can work to detach from their advocate role and commit themselves to the role of the decision-maker in order to better understand this perspective. Strategies such as those discussed in this Essay help writers to step outside of the attorney role and stand in the shoes of the decision-maker, and thus provide important steps toward better legal writing.

Keywords: legal writing, legal audience, novice legal writers, practice oral argument

Suggested Citation

Keene, Sherri Lee, Standing in the Judge's Shoes: Exploring Techniques to Help Legal Writers More Fully Address the Needs of Their Audience (May 11, 2016). 50 University of San Francisco Law Review Forum 479 (2016), U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-23, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2778660

Sherri Lee Keene (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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