"Ah, the lazy days of August – the last opportunity to get in some summer reading. Sure, you could take a John Grisham novel to the beach, but why not take one of these appellate-related books along instead and improve your practice along with your tan?
Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates (Oxford University Press 2011)
Legal writing coach Ross Guberman uses excerpts from briefs written by 50 of the nation’s most well-known advocates to illustrate key concepts of strong persuasive writing. This is a compact book of writing tips – the primary book I recommend to all of my firm’s nascent appellate associates, as well as anyone who wants to improve their appellate writing. Reading a set of well-written appellate briefs can teach you a lot about good writing; having a guide like Guberman to take you through those briefs and explain why they work is even more effective. Among his tips: “Why Should I Care?: Give the court a reason to find for you” and “Wish I Were There: Start each paragraph by answering a question you expect the court to have."
Guberman highlights the work of some high-profile advocates – including Seth Waxman, Carter Phillips, Kathleen Sullivan, Ted Olson, David Boies, and other High Court luminaries. One of the standout briefs he refers to throughout the book is that of now-Chief Justice John Roberts in Alaska v. EPA, a classic federalism fight between the states and the federal government over environmental regulation. Roberts was defending
'For generations, Inupiat Eskimos hunting and fishing in the
The story of Red Dog Mine is a page turner in its own right.
Typography for Lawyers: Essential Tools for Polished and Persuasive Documents (Jones McClure 2010).
Once you have a well-written brief, you need to figure out how best to present it. Matthew Butterick can help you with that. Butterick, a typographer turned lawyer, reminds us that as lawyers we are publishers with a specific goal: to persuade our readers. Typography, he explains, is for the benefit of the reader not the writer, and should reinforce the meaning of the text. Typography is about more than the choice of font; it is about arranging white space and text on a page in a way that holds the reader’s attention. In Typography for Lawyers, Butterick covers everything from the optimal use of hierarchical headings to how many spaces to insert at the end of a sentence (one, not two, contrary to traditional lore). This is the book you never knew you needed until it appeared. My law partner and in-house formatting guru Rick Derevan took this book home as soon as we got it and began to implement strategies to improve the look of our appellate briefs.
An Appeal to Reason: 204 Strategic Tools to Help You Win Your Appeal at Trial (BenchPress Publishing 2011).
OC appellate lawyer Donna Bader, creator of the popular Appeal to Reason blog, has filled a niche in appellate law books with her take on appellate strategizing and positioning before and during trial. This book is like a mini-seminar on record preservation, presenting 204 trial court turning points that might impact a subsequent appeal. Appeal to Reason is a good resource for trial lawyers; it is also a good reminder for appellate lawyers about the areas we need to caution the trial lawyers we partner with about, as far in advance as possible. Appellate lawyers, after all, are increasingly part of the trial team. This book reflects that trend."