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Five Resolutions for Litigators

Better Motions and Briefs

  1. Custom introductions.

    If, say, you’re moving for a protective order, don’t waste time accusing your opponent of being on a fishing expedition—that’s too trite and predictable. Explain instead why the document your opponent seeks isn’t helpful—or why producing it might cloud the issues.
  2. Lead with why.

    Turn each heading into a reason the judge should do what you want. In your first draft, include the word “because” in every heading and subheading.
  3. Show, not tell.

    In fact sections, replace characterization and opinion with record cites that lead to only one conclusion. “Plaintiff has engaged in dilatory tactics” is not a fact—and it’s not persuasive. “Plaintiff has missed three deadlines for responding to interrogatories” forces the same conclusion without the manufactured spin.
  4. Replace adverbs and adjectives with logic and proof.

    Let nouns and verbs make your argument. Clearly, patently, obviously, literally, and egregiously make your points seem muddled, uncertain, unclear, nervous, and defensive. Similarly, try replacing “Plaintiff makes numerous amorphous and conclusory arguments” with “Although Plaintiff insists that X, Y is the law.”
  5. Cut useless dates and definitions.

    Rather than providing a specific date, convey chronology in a way that gives the judge a sense of time. Replace “On January 8, 2005, Jones turned herself in” with “She turned herself in two days later.” And avoid “Defendant Widget Corp (hereinafter referred to as ‘Defendant’).” Judges catch the “Defendant” reference just fine without the definition!

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