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Thinking Like a Writer: A Lawyer's Guide to Effective Writing and Editing (Fourth Edition)

Author(s): Timothy Terrell, Stephen V. Armstrong, Jarrod F. Reich
Practice Area: Legal writing, drafting, and negotiation, Professional development
Date: May 2021 i Other versions can be found in the Related Items tab.
ISBN: 9781402437724
PLI Item #: 239134

Thinking Like a Writer provides practical advice to help lawyers strengthen their writing skills by “thinking like a writer” as effectively as they already think like a lawyer. The book highlights guiding principles for writing clearly about complicated material and establishing credibility with demanding readers, and then turns those principles into specific techniques that apply to many types of documents and audiences.

Part I introduces the approach and principles that can guide lawyers in “thinking like a writer.” Part II applies the guiding principles to a document’s organization, while Part III applies them to specific types of legal writing: letters, memoranda, and emails; briefs; and judicial opinions. Part IV applies the principles to the smaller scale of paragraphs and sentences. Finally, Part V applies the principles to the editing process, for both self-editing and editing the work of others. Throughout, chapters include many before-and-after examples to demonstrate how writing and editing can be improved by following the advice offered in the book.

Stephen V. Armstrong, for the past fifteen years, has taught writing programs for judges and lawyers in the United States and Canada under the sponsorship of such groups as the Federal Judicial Center, the Practising Law Institute, ALI-ABA, the American Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and the judicial education offices of several states. He has also taught writing in law firms and worked extensively with the writing of practicing lawyers, and has published widely on the topic of continuing professional development for lawyers. Presently the Director of Career Development at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, an international law firm based in Washington, D.C., he has held similar positions at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and at Shearman & Sterling, both in New York City; taught in the English Department at the University of Alabama; and worked as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post. He was educated at the University of Sussex (England), Yale University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Timothy P. Terrell has been a member of the faculty of Emory University School of Law since 1976 and has been a visiting professor at the law schools at the University of Iowa, the University of San Diego, and the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in England. He has taught a wide range of courses but now focuses on legal theory, legal ethics, and property law. He has published extensively in all these areas. He has also maintained connections with law practice, often presenting continuing legal education programs in ethics as well as writing at law firms, courts, and government agencies, and for organizations such as PLI, ALI-ABA, and NITA. He served for several years as the Director of Professional Development at the law firm of King & Spalding in Atlanta. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Maryland, his law degree is from Yale Law School, and he has a graduate law degree from Oxford University.

Professor Reich joined the School of Law in Fall 2020, and he teaches Legal Communication and Research. Prior to joining UM Law, he served on the faculty at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he taught Legal Practice and a Law Fellow Seminar, and where he served as a coach to the mock trial team and a facilitator for Georgetown’s innovative Lawyers in Balance program. He previously taught at Florida State University College of Law and as an adjunct at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he taught classes in legal writing, appellate advocacy, alternative dispute resolution, and seminars for judicial and in-house externs. Additionally, while at Florida State, he won the Open Door Teaching Award for his mentorship and advising work.

Professor Reich focuses his scholarship and service on lawyer and law student well-being. He currently serves as the Chair of the AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education, his scholarship on this topic has appeared in the Villanova Law Review and Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession's journal, The Practice, and he has presented on the topic throughout the nation. In addition to this scholarship, he is the co-author (with Stephen Armstrong and Timothy Terrell) of the forthcoming fourth edition of Thinking Like a Writer, the premier legal writing book for practitioners (as well as a forthcoming law school edition of the book), and has provided workshops on effective legal writing to practitioners both nationally and internationally.

Prior to joining the academy, Professor Reich spent eight years as a litigator at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, focusing his practice on complex litigation. During his tenure there, Professor Reich represented a wide range of clients in domestic and international matters—most notably, he was on the team representing the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the historic case for marriage equality—and briefs on which he worked while at the firm currently appear in several legal writing textbooks. Professor Reich also clerked for Judge William J. Haynes, Jr. (ret.) of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, and graduated Order of the Coif from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was managing editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review.