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Legal Writing

Drafting Guidance

Opinion Writing (Ruggero J. Aldisert, 2012)
Opinion Writing, written by a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, is geared toward appellate court opinion writing. The book is broken into four parts: (1) theoretical concepts underlying a judicial opinion; (2) the anatomy of an opinion; (3) writing style; and (4) opinion writing checklists. The checklists are particularly useful and designed to be photocopied so the writer can have a copy at their side as their writing progresses.

Judicial Opinion Writing Handbook (Joyce J. George, 2007)
This handbook provides exposure to a number of methods, styles, and techniques for opinion writing. It addresses the different writing tasks of the trial judge and the appellate judge and has sections on effective writing, word usage, and style, plus helpful writing exercises.

Point Taken: How to Write Like the World's Best Judges (Ross Guberman, 2015)
This book delves into the work of some the best judicial opinion-writers and offers a step-by-step method for judicial opinion writing based on practical examples. This title is also available as an ebook (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE).

Judicial Writing Manual: A Pocket Guide for Judges (Federal Judicial Center, 2013)
This manual for judges and law clerks on good writing "distills the experience and reflects the views of a group of experienced judges, vetted by a distinguished board of editors." It takes a functional approach to opinion writing and describes the considerations that arise at each stage of the writing and editing process.

Ruth C. Vance, Judicial Opinion Writing: An Annotated Bibliography, 17 Legal Writing 197 (2011)
"This Bibliography seeks to supply legal writing professors, students, judicial law clerks, and judges with a list of resources that will be helpful for both opinion writing and for those preparing to work with or write for judges." Each entry includes a detailed annotation with information on the resource's content.

Jennifer Sheppard, The "Write" Way: A Judicial Clerk's Guide to Writing for the Court38 U. Balt. L. Rev. 73 (2008)
This article examines the types of documents that judicial clerks most frequently are asked to draft - opinions, bench memoranda, jury instructions, and orders. The author identifies the purpose and goals of each of these types of documents and provides advice on drafting them.

S. I. Strong, Writing Reasoned Decisions and Opinions: A Guide for Novice, Experienced, and Foreign Judges, 2015 J. Disp. Resol. (2015)
This article provides a structured and content-based method of writing fully reasoned decisions and opinions. 

Gerald Lebovits and Lucero Ramirez Hidalgo, Advice to Law Clerks: How to Draft Your First Official Opinion, 36 Westchester Bar Journal 29 (2009)
This article offers ideas on how to better understand the underlying case, discusses the drafting process, offers advice on reviewing and editing a draft piece of writing, and gives tips on dos and don'ts in opinion writing.

Gerald Lebovits et al., Ethical Judicial Opinion Writing, 21 Geo. J. Legal Ethics (2008)
This article strives to show how form and substance in legal opinion writing must be accompanied by ethical considerations.

Citation Guides

ALWD Guide to Legal Citation (Carolyn V. Williams, 2021)
This resource from a legal writing professor and the Association of Legal Writing Directors, an association of legal writing instructors, focuses its attention on legal citation for legal practice, codifying the most common legal citation rules. It also notes differences in the rules of academic citation, with clear visual signals to prevent confusion. It includes guidelines for citing sources not specifically addressed in the rules.

The Bluebook Uncovered (Dionne E. Anthon, 2020)
Perfect for law students preparing for the All-Journal Write-on Exam or anyone trying to improve their citation sentences and footnotes, this slim volume features a practical rearrangement of Bluebook topics in descending importance.

Legal Citation in a Nutshell (Larry L. Teply, 2021)
Highlighting the key issues of legal citation and the differences between Bluebook and ALWD conventions of legal citation, either of which writers might apply depending in different jurisdictions.

Understanding and Mastering The Bluebook (Linda J. Barris, 2020)
This instruction manual for using the Bluebook lays out the basic rules of legal citation. It does not focus attention on the many exceptions to Bluebook rules or less common rules. It helps readers cite to cases, statutes, constitutions, regulations, procedural and court rules, secondary sources, and litigation documents. 

User's Guide to The Bluebook (Alan L. Dworsky, 2021)
This pamphlet, revised for the 21st Edition of The Bluebook, provides plain language interpretations of citation rules for practitioners (from the Bluepages) such as when and when not to underline words. It provides a brief overview of the rules in general, and goes into depth on commonly cited documents such as cases and statutes.