Owl Lex

  • Owllawyeropti

Clawk Fox

  • Fox5x6_2

Alltop Feed - Law

Alltop

  • Featured in Alltop

Great Books

Wear Clawk Fox and Owl Lex

Syndication

« The profession of half-empty glasses: The unique personalities of lawyers and an antidote | Main | Blog Glob: "The Billable Hour Turns People into Workaholics" »

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341cad7153ef00d834dc1e7453ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Interview of Dr. George D. Gopen: WRITING FROM A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE:

Comments

Wayne Schiess

I recently read your interview of Dr. Gopen, and I'd like to comment. I teach legal writing. I was troubled by a certain passage in which he declared that our writing teachers give us bad advice. Apparently, I'm one of the them. I've inserted my comment:

Almost all the advice we got from our writing teachers is wrong:

"Avoid the passive." Wrong.
COMMENT: So does Dr. Gopen recommend the passive voice? The dry, deadening, lifeless passive voice that pervades legal writing?

"To make it better, make it shorter." Wrong.
COMMENT: I disagree. Shorter is almost always better.

"Write the way you speak." Wrong.
COMMENT: I never got this advice, I've never heard this advice, and I never give this advice. Seems like a straw argument.

"Vary the way you begin your sentences to keep your reader interested." Wrong.
COMMENT: I've never heard this either. Do writing teachers really give this advice? Or is this a straw argument?

"Always begin your paragraph with a topic sentence that states the issue and point of the paragraph." Wrong.
COMMENT: Dr. Gopen inserted the word "always" to make this one easy to knock down. Take the word "always" out and put in "generally."

Even the advice in that delightful classic, Strunk & White's Elements of Style, cannot help you write better. "Avoid needless words"? How do you know which are "needless"?
COMMENT: The assertion that The Elements of Style cannot help you write better is demonstrably false because it has already helped many people write better. And as for "omit needless words," how should I react to this sentence I recently received from one of my students? "The witness acted as if he were not all completely there." The advice to omit needless words seems to apply, no?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Regarding Guest Bloggers

  • Please do not contact me about writing a guest blog post. In the rare instance when I do have guest-written posts, I invite the writers. Thanks very much!
My Photo

Please Read

  • Full Disclosure:
    Due to a conflict between the Colorado legislature and Amazon, those of us in Colorado are no longer Amazon Associates. The law is being challenged in federal court.