- Paperback: 376 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0190268581
- ISBN-13: 978-0190268589
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.1 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Point Taken: How to Write Like the World's Best Judges 1st Edition
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"Guberman's Point Taken is--by far--the best book I've seen on judicial writing. He explains the craftsmanship these exemplary judges use. And he provides solid guidance for how you could at least attempt to do similar work. Any judge who studies the book will become a better writer. And an already talented writer who reads the book will also become a better judge." -Steve Leben, Court Review
"Ross has selected some of the best snippets from the world's best judicial opinion writers to teach and inspire readers." Lady (Legal) Writer
"If I were a judge, I'd make this required reading for my law clerks. Point Taken is an invaluable resource for any judge who cares about the craft of writing opinions." -David Lat, Managing Editor, Above the Law
"In Point Taken, Guberman has done both the wonderful and the impossible. He's done a wonderful job synthesizing the craft of writing judicial opinions. His insights and techniques are extraordinary, and he demonstrates great discipline in presenting a menu of approaches rather than dictating a particular style. He provides a superb tool for judges and arbitrators (and, yes, law clerks) to do their jobs better while cultivating a style that suits them. He also achieved what I thought was impossible: he transformed legal writing into a guilty pleasure. The book is fun, which is rare for any work that teaches so much." -Noah Messing, Lecturer, Yale Law School and AAA Arbitrator
"In this essential book, Ross Guberman urges judges to 'go bold' -- and he follows his own advice. Guberman unflinchingly critiques and praises the opinions of judges ranging from Richard Posner to Elena Kagan. In the process, he offers practice points that any judge should embrace, such as 'Judges of the world, declutter!' and 'The more sentences per page, the better.' Ross's practical advice to judges will vastly improve American jurisprudence, and lawyers and journalists who read this book will learn a thing or two as well." -Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent for The National Law Journal
"Ross Guberman has long done a true service to the legal profession by teaching writing excellence to lawyers. With Point Taken, he's gone the extra mile by teaching it to judges as well. But this book has something to teach every lawyer-indeed, every writer-about how to craft a persuasive argument, how to sharpen one's prose, and how to dissent eloquently and effectively. I learned a lot from Ross's book, and I think any reader would." -Michael H. Schill, Dean, and Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
About the Author
Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro. From Alaska to Paris and Hong Kong, he has conducted more than a thousand workshops on three continents for many of the world's largest and most prestigious law firms, for judges and courts, and for corporations and governmental agencies. He has spoken at several judicial conferences, has trained both new and experienced federal judges, and has worked with many judges abroad as well. Mr. Guberman is a graduate of Yale, the Sorbonne, and The University of Chicago Law School. He is the coauthor of Deal Struck: The World's Best Drafting Tips (Legal Writing Pro Press, 2014) and the author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates (Now in its Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2014).
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The rules (and their exceptions) are not much different from the rules of good writing generally, but a judgment of a court has specific objectives. It determines the rights of the parties and lays down the orders that they have to obey. To achieve this, the judgment and orders must not only be reasonable and right, they have to be clear. Secondly, the judgment ought to explain why the judge ruled as he did. To do this, the facts must be set out and the dispute clearly enunciated.
Guberman’s book helps judges perform this basic task with effective advice and some fine examples. If judges read this book and can discipline themselves to follow it recommends, there will be few badly written judgments. A judgment must not only be right; it must read right.
Steve Armstrong, co-author of Thinking Like a Writer: A Lawyer's Guide to Effective Writing and Editing (3rd edition)
Now, Guberman has a new book out, Point Taken – How To Write Like The World’s Best Judges. Just as Point Made was an instruction manual on writing briefs for lawyers, Point Taken is an instruction manual on writing opinions for judges. While I’m no judge, and unlikely to ever be one, I still found the book to be informative and helpful, just as with Guberman’s previous work.
Point Taken follows a similar format to Point Made – as opposed to merely telling the reader how to write well – it shows them with numerous examples taken from some of the most well written opinions in history and today. Then, Guberman breaks down the examples and offers tactical advice for applying the techniques to one’s own writing.
The first half of the book is devoted to technicalities of crafting the opening of an opinion, the facts, and the legal analysis. The second half of the book is devoted to “style.” Parallelism, types of transitions, rhetorical devices, analogies, and more are all covered.
Guberman then goes on to break down various techniques used to craft a memorable facts section of an opinion, using examples from the opinions listed. Just as with Point Made, the reader is exposed to many opinions they would have likely never have read. The quality of writing on display is excellent and varied. The lessons given can help any writer – whether judge, lawyers, or layperson.
Improving your writing is of paramount importance. Writing is thinking. The better your writing, the more clear your thoughts. If you want to communicate effectively, you have to work at it. Beyond that, your writing needs to be engaging. Guberman quotes Lord Denning, which I will reproduce here:
"No matter how sound your reasoning, if it is presented in a dull and turgid setting, your hearers – or your readers – will turn aside. They will not stop to listen. They will flick over the pages. But if it is presented in a lively and attractive setting, they will sit up and take notice. They will listen as if spellbound. They will read with engrossment." – Lord Denning, The Family Story 216 (1982)
All writers wish to be so fortunate. And while nothing will get you there except for continuous writing, Guberman’s books can certainly help you along the way.