He sees you when you're sleeping/
He knows when you're awake/
He knows if you've been bad or good/
So be good for goodness' sake!
The fountainhead of legal writing wisdom, Bryan A. Garner, is touring in February, March and on April 1. He'll be giving his Advanced Legal Writing and Editing Seminar in
Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami, Louisville, Nashville, Little Rock, Houston, Austin, Phoenix and Dallas. In Phoenix and Dallas, he will be additionally offering Advanced Legal Drafting the day after.
I took the writing and editing seminar a couple of years ago. He knows things that I have yet to learn, in spite of my having had years of experience and having been a high school English teacher. It was humbling; I was the grammar and usage maven in my world when I was a young man.
When I applied what I had learned at the seminar on my job, my boss's boss was unhappy with it.
Still, more and more of the judicial opinions that I read have the characteristic Garner touches: "fair but persuasive issues that have only one answer", hyphenated phrasal adjectives (Examples: 20-year-old sister, common-law claim, plain-view doctrine), and powerful conclusions. Garner turned me on to John R. Trimble's Writing with Style, the most helpful and enlightening book on writing that I can remember.
Why does a traveling Garner bring to mind Santa Claus at his most judgmental? Because few knowledgeable legal writers have not felt as Bryan Rutherford did in his haiku, which won Honorable Mention in the Texas State Bar Appellate Section Contest of 2004:
syllables and, yet, Garner
could make it shorter.