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The Seven Writing Strategies of Highly Effective Trial Judges, by Ross Guberman, Legal Writing Pro Blog


Asked to name the world’s best opinion writers, traditionalists might rattle off Lord Denning, Learned Hand, or Oliver Wendell Holmes. Modernists often prefer Antonin Scalia or Richard Posner. And the trendy might cite new kids on the block like Lord Sumption or Elena Kagan.

Those august names all deserve heaps of praise. But the fame that these judges enjoy raises questions of its own: Can you write a ‘great’ opinion if you’re a judge who’s not a household name, or even especially influential? And can you write a ‘great’ opinion in a case that’s not a high-profile constitutional crisis, but just another run-of-the-mill dispute in an overflowing docket?

I say ‘yes’ on both counts. No matter how routine a case, and no matter how little time you have, you can write a great opinion. It may not be ‘great’ for the ages, but it can offer readers a clear, accessible, and easy-to-follow analysis of your reasoning, with even a bit of flair or personality for good measure. . . .