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Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates [Paperback]

by Ross Guberman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 23, 2011 0195394879 978-0195394870 1
With Point Made, legal writing expert Ross Guberman throws a life preserver to attorneys, who are under more pressure than ever to produce compelling prose. What is the strongest opening for a motion or brief? How to draft winning headings? How to tell a persuasive story when the record is dry and dense? The answers are "more science than art," says Guberman, who has analyzed stellar arguments by distinguished attorneys to develop step-by-step instructions for achieving the results you want.
The author takes an empirical approach, drawing heavily on the writings of the nation's 50 most influential lawyers, including Barack Obama, John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Ted Olson, and David Boies. Their strategies, demystified and broken down into specific, learnable techniques, become a detailed writing guide full of practical models. In FCC v. Fox, for example, Kathleen Sullivan conjures the potentially dangerous, unintended consequences of finding for the other side (the "Why Should I Care? " technique). Arguing against allowing the FCC to continue fining broadcasters that let the "F-word" slip out, she highlights the chilling effect these fines have on America's radio and TV stations, "discouraging live programming altogether, with attendant loss to valuable and vibrant programming that has long been part of American culture."
Each chapter of Point Made focuses on a typically tough challenge, providing a strategic roadmap and practical tips along with annotated examples of how prominent attorneys have resolved that challenge in varied trial and appellate briefs. Short examples and explanations with engaging titles-"Brass Tacks," "Talk to Yourself," "Russian Doll"-deliver weighty materials with a light tone, making the guidelines easy to remember and apply.

Frequently Bought Together

Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates + The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts + Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges
Price for all three: $99.51

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The only way to teach students how to be effective legal writers is to immerse them in as much outstanding legal writing as possible. By concentrating so much great written advocacy so compactly--and by focusing readers' attention so precisely on the qualities that make the selected texts so compelling--this book supplies an indispensable tool to those engaged in the craft of making excellent lawyers."
--Dan Kahan, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Yale Law School


"Effective advocacy consists of a skillful blend of clear language and a sense of dramatic structure. Guberman's exemplars demonstrate again and again how to transform an otherwise ordinary case into a morality tale with a happy ending."
--Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson


"A must for the library of veteran litigators and aspiring moot court competitors. Ross Guberman teaches the art of persuasive legal writing with lively quotes from top-notch briefs, coupled with his own insights and recommendations."
--Stephen Shapiro, Senior Member, Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation group, Mayer Brown


"I love this book and recommend it for everyone. Ross Guberman's bag of tricks will spiff up your writing. He shares 50 techniques, and then-the fun part-he offers choice nuggets to show you how the hot shots pull it off."
--Ronald Marmer, Chair-Elect, ABA Section on Litigation; Partner, Jenner & Block


"Point Made is writing-nerd nirvana...It instantly won a place on my short list of favorite legal-writing books." --Jay O'Keeffe, DeNovo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog


"Entertaining and informative...a smart approach to writing persuasive legal briefs. Rather than lecturing the reader about what to do, Point Made shows you how the headline lawyers do it." --Steven R. Merican,Illinois Appellate Lawyer Blog


"[Guberman] doesn't just tell you what to do: he shows you...I learned a lot from reading Ross's book; I think you will too." --Raymond Ward,the (new) legal writer


"I've seen no other book so clearly provide concrete and diverse examples of 'what this stuff' should look and sound like when it's done right... [my] revision radically improved...incredibly helpful." --Wendy McGuire Coats, the Ninth


"I am loathe to come across so effusive in my praise of the book, as to appear biased. But I can't help but highly recommend the book, it's that good. If you want to improve your legal writing, pick up a copy of Point Made ." --Keith Lee, An Associate's Mind


"Just by reading the book, lawyers and legal writers at all stages of their careers can cull from Guberman's advice valuable lessons that are easy to remember and simple to apply. For these reasons, Point Made would make an excellent addition to any law school, law firm, court, or academic library collection." -- Julie Graves Krishnaswami, Law Library Journal


"Both novel and helpful...Point Made provides much food for thought for the experienced advocate...Guberman provides sound advice supported by the practice of the best in the business." -- ABA


"Guberman has assembled example after example of creative, clever, clear, common-sense legal writing. He's compiled in one book the great writing that will cause a legal writer to
sigh, 'I wish I'd written that.' But he did not stop there. Guberman has written a useable handbook that will aid the writer in crafting similar envy worthy moments of argument...Guberman's techniques provide immediate ways to improve, tighten, and enliven the language and persuasive force of your prose."
--Wendy McGuire Coats, Appellate Issues Spring 2012, ABA


About the Author


Ross Guberman is president of Legal Writing Pro, an advanced legal-writing training and consulting firm. He has worked with thousands of attorneys at more than 100 of the world's largest and most prestigious law firms and for dozens of state and federal agencies and bar associations. Guberman is also a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, and he holds degrees from Yale, the Sorbonne, and The University of Chicago Law School. Before founding Legal Writing Pro, Guberman worked as a musician, lawyer, translator, editor, and journalist. He has also commented on law, business, and lawyer development for major newspapers, radio stations, trade publications, and television networks, and he has addressed several major international conferences as well.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (March 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195394879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195394870
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ross Guberman is the founder and president of Legal Writing Pro, an advanced legal-writing training and consulting firm. He has conducted more than a thousand programs on three continents for many of the largest and most prestigious law firms and for dozens of state and federal agencies and bar associations.

Ross is also a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School.

He holds degrees from Yale, the Sorbonne, and The University of Chicago Law School.

An active member of the bar, Ross is also a former professional musician, translator, and award-winning journalist. After the federal takeover of Fannie Mae, Slate called his 2002 investigation of the company "brilliant and prescient."

He has commented on business, law, writing, and lawyer development for major newspapers, radio stations, and television networks, and he has also addressed several major international conferences.

The American Society for Training & Development has awarded Ross its Certified Professional in Learning and Performance™ credential for passing an eight-part test and submitting his standardized writing assessment.

A Minnesota native, Ross lives with his wife and two children outside Washington, DC. He can be reached at ross@legalwritingpro.com.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good with a caveat... February 7, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an experienced appellate advocate who has argued over a hundred cases, written several hundred briefs, edited several hundred more, and collected the literature in the field, I am always skeptical of new books on legal writing. Even the best books essentially just rehash the same advice: stay away from the passive voice, block quotations are bad, use footnotes sparingly, etc. Point Made does that too, but to his credit, the author gives these by-now hoary concepts colorful little names to make them easier to remember, for example, "Russian Doll," for nested subheadings. The real selling point, however, is the use of examples taken from briefs of the nation's top appellate litigators. And therein lies my caveat. While most of the examples are excellent, some are not, and the whole enterprise reaks of boot licking and log rolling. Several advocates who give the book glowing reviews noted on the back cover are those whom the author has selected for inclusion in the book as among the best appellate advocates in the country. (The late, beloved Spy magazine used to call this "log rolling on our time" and featured examples from the world of fiction. The Point Made examples are no less egregious.) And another troubling point for me is this: How many of these noted, brilliant, and esteemed folks actually wrote the examples? Come on now. Should we, as a profession, really continue to pretend that most, if not all, of these hot-shot lawyers or judges write their own stuff? A lot of former law reveiwers who work for noted, brilliant, and esteemed appellate lawyers and judge would quietly tell you otherwise.

But enough sermonizing by me. This is overall a good book on legal writing--not as good as books by Bryan Garner, Stephen Starks, and Judge Aldisert--but worth a look.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best and not just for lawyers March 2, 2011
By Peter
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm an engineer and have done a lot of writing to sell my proposals and ideas. Many of us with technical backgrounds have great ideas but have trouble selling them simply because our writing is often not very persuasive. And if you can't be persuasive your ideas aren't worth anything. I've taken various technical writing seminars but this book is hands down the best tool I've come across for improving my writing. This book offers lots of help, and showed me how to write about the facts using more compelling and varied sentences. It's very practical, easy to read and offers great ideas for getting your point across. Unlike many "how to write" books, this one is enjoyable to read and educational, with a lot of stories about well-known legal disputes. It will definitely make you a better writer and enable you to sell your ideas more effectively.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This goes on my shelf next to Strunk & White. February 17, 2011
Format:Paperback
I'm both a lawyer and an author, so writing is my business, and I found this really useful. First of all, it's not just a set of abstract suggestions; it's packed with short, easy-to-digest examples from famous advocates. And I do mean "packed": you get examples, usually several, on pretty much every page. I think most people learn best by example, and these are good ones. Second, the book's organization is user-friendly. The subtitle should've been "Writing Like the Nation's Top Advocates--in 50 Nutshells," because that's what you get. The 50 lesson organization makes it easy to refer back to this or that point after you've read the book. In fact, I find the table of contents itself useful because you can just skim it over to remind yourself of the lessons. Third, believe it or not, this is fun to read. He makes good writing interesting (in part through good writing).

Finally, though the book's about written advocacy, I've found it useful for all types of writing, including e-mails I toss off to my clients.

Anyway, highly recommended...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By LS 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
You've heard it since the first day of law school- research and writing, more research and writing, oh and by the way? Research and writing. With easy to remember concepts and actual, real life explanations you'll at least have one half of this all-powerful duo covered. As a third year associate, I'm happy to have a book in my office that I can actually use to make my writing better. And the best part is that Ross Guberman makes it simple; he shows you how to do it instead of telling you. The concepts are well organized and easy to follow, you can read the whole text or use it piece by piece. Guberman avoids the "legal treatise" model with juicy excerpts that make you want to read on and includes advice from judges on what they really want to see. This book is indispensable for 1L memo writers, new associates and partners, highly recommended.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that great legal writing exists on our planet January 28, 2011
Format:Paperback
As an author, I care a lot about good writing. As a lawyer, I have to endure a lot of bad writing. I'm hardly alone in wondering: why isn't legal writing better?

Nearly all lawyers think they're good writers. Most of them are mistaken. And worse, these lawyers often seek comfort in urban legends designed to protect their bad habits -- "this is how successful lawyers write," "this is what judges like to see," etc.

Ross Guberman's terrific book proves otherwise. Ross shows you that the best lawyers are truly excellent writers, and that judges truly prefer excellent writing. He makes his case with real-world evidence: hundreds of examples from actual briefs by well-known lawyers, and dozens of comments from judges.

Using this material, Ross methodically refutes many of the favorite habits of bad legal writers, including flabby sentences, vague headings, and a bête noire of mine -- overly long block quotations.

A solid, practical guide that will give any legal writer fresh ideas about how to improve their work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
I though the book was good. Very helpful. Whether you have practiced a lot or a little, it can help with the structure of the Brief.
Published 1 month ago by Southern Belle
5.0 out of 5 stars Good guide for any professional...
Great book, easy to read and can be used in our professional lives. Also, helps in distingushing between good and bad drafts. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hari S. Nair
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best legal writing book I've come across
Great book with practical application after practical application for the legal writer. The examples give life to the advice in the book and demonstrate how they have been applied... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jeremy M.
5.0 out of 5 stars The most useful book I read in law school
I began reading this book during my time as a summer associate. No material from law school proved as practically useful as Point Made. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Joe Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for advocates!
I find myself having to write motions from time to time and this book really helps punch up my briefs. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Melvin K. Patterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Another must-have from Mr. Guberman
Another Gruberman book! In this one, he teaches how to amp up your legal writing, by showing, not telling. He does this via the minds of some of the best lawyers in the business. Read more
Published 4 months ago by No Name Just Punch
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for new and experience attorneys!
Overall, just a great read and resource for any attorney -- litigators and transactional lawyers alike. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rene H DuBois
5.0 out of 5 stars So different
I absolutely loved this book. The best part is that the author provides so many examples from other great legal writers. If you do any legal writing, this is a must read.
Published 5 months ago by Daniel S. Willis
4.0 out of 5 stars Great examples
Great examples from very good brief writers. Buy the Kindle version so you'll have it as a reference well after school.
Published 6 months ago by JMG
4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid advice.
I was looking for some help with doing appeals, and this was helpful. I don't know why Amazon requires seven more word, but here they are.
Published 6 months ago by D. K. Davison
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Questions about the book, brief writing, or advocacy
I got directed to your product via Facebook ad. I probably think I'm a better writer than I really am. I seem to do really well at the trial court level with both trial advocacy and written advocacy, i.e. motion practice. I am not doing as well at the appellate level, however. What will your... Read more
Feb 8, 2011 by Gary D. Goudelock Jr. |  See all 3 posts
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