Friday, November 25, 2016

Opening statements

An excellent read on opening statements, from a legendary Oklahoma trial lawyer, of use to anyone with an interest in Oklahoma trial procedure.

Block Quotes

We've all seen them -- block quotes from other sources.  This writing technique has become a simple and way-too-easy method of adding sources and content -- to everything from a blog post to an appellate brief.  Content editors provide tools for indentation of your block quote, which can then be linked back to the original source.  I would say that this crutch has become overused, but the word 'become' would be out-of-place.  Twenty-two years ago, when reading and judging "write-on essays" for Texas Law Review, I found that at least a handful of my contemporaries would scarcely connect their series of block quotes with text, barely sufficient to connect their reasoning in some logical manner.  These law students were among the best -- law students, after all, at the University of Texas.  But their method of presentation became both a distraction and a reminder that their reasoning was borrowed.

The hallowed halls of UT Law placed great emphasis on original thought.  I spent a great deal of my third year editing articles by and about Prof. Philip Bobbitt, whose writings represent some of the most enduring in generations of law professors.  But some of his critics argued that Prof. Bobbitt's thoughts were not original.  Jack M. Balkin & Sanford V. Levinson, Constitutional Grammar, 72 Tex. L. Rev. 1771 (1994) was the academic equivalent of insulting a person's heritage on the playground.  See Philip C. Bobbitt, Reflections Inspired by My Critics, 72 Tex. L. Rev. 1869 (1994).
 With this emphasis on original thought, it became even more important to avoid the common practice of linking together a series of block quotes from other sources.

But what are the options for the legal writer -- who is so dependent upon sources and attribution, and whose original thoughts may well be critique of or commentary on other thoughts?

More after the break....

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Civility in motion practice

Oklahoma Civil Procedure: Civility in motion practice: I recently had occasion to review a seminar presentation that I gave ten years ago.  The topic was ethics in appellate and summary judgment ...