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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What This Blog Is Trying to Be and Do

On February 26, I read the best article on blogging I've ever read Joel Spolsky's final column in March's Inc. magazine. He recounts Kathy Sierra's observation that an entrepreneur s blog has to be about something bigger than his or her company or his or her product. Such a blogger needs to share knowledge about the common interest(s) of the blogger and the reader. Blogs about the exploits of the blogger or the blogger's business is boring. (Don't we blog readers know that!)

So, who is this blog for and what is it about?

I started with the idea of a blog for lawyers who were thinking about bringing or defending an appeal-- more specifically, trial lawyers who were trying to decide whether or not to bring or defend an appeal or some other appellate proceeding themselves or whether or not to hire an appellate lawyer to do it. Additionally, appellate courts are beautiful, weird, old-fashioned institutions. Some of their processes and practices will never change: they inhere in their mission. Many of their practices are antiquated and will have to change. The third area this blog is intended to address is legal writing. Legal writing is actually improving greatly over what it has been in the past. The only other time in the history of common-law law practice that writing appears to me to have improved was when the Federal Rules of Procedure were introduced and many appellate judges and law professors were embarrassed by how badly their writing sounded. Still, of any communications profession I know of, lawyers still write the worst.

There is a tradition among political actors in some southern states, Texas for example, to thank God for Mississippi. (Sometimes it might be, instead, my mother's home state of Arkansas or my wife's people's home state of Louisiana.) Thank God for Mississippi, otherwise we'd be last in education (or some other government service). I say thank God for technical writers. They make lawyers sound clear.

This blog has a point of view. It reflects my point of view. I generally believe in following constituted legal authority, including procedural and local rules. Do your homework-- that is, your legal and factual research. (In the past lawyers had few precedents, no typewriters, no copy machines, no computers, no phones and no fax machines. Lawyers and judges travelled by horse. What the appellate community produces should be a whole lot better than it used to be.) Don't put a wrench in a court's work by not taking cognisance of a court's internal operating procedures. Use checklists. And write pithily, with power. Don't beat around the bush.

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