Ask judges and senior lawyers to identify the most disturbing things about younger lawyers and they will reply in one voice: “They can’t write.”
Recently, I took part in an Educational Conclave convened by the Virginia Supreme Court and attended by a number of judges, law school deans and professors, and lawyers involved in bar leadership. The #1 issue raised at the conference was the fact that recent law school graduates seem to emerge from their education with such poor writing skills.
Taking a blogger’s liberty and departing from my usual subject matter, I wanted to write about an excellent new book I just finished called Writing to Win: The Legal Writer by Steven Stark. The first edition was published twelve years ago. The new addition includes substantial revisions including sections on writing in the digital age (sorely needed).
Mr. Stark has taught legal writing at Harvard Law for over a decade so he is well-qualified to speak with authority. As he points out, lawyers who improve their writing also improve their credibility and their attractiveness to potential employers.
This book is a pleasure to read because Mr. Stark infuses his own writing with examples of excellent and terrible writing samples from real life along with a good mix of memorable quotations which illustrate his points. I can’t imagine any lawyer (myself included) who wouldn’t benefit from a careful reading of this very timely and effective book.
I hope, if Mr. Stark reads this review, he will not be too critical!