Writing Tips

Legal Writing

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Never Confuse a Fact...

Avoiding Irrelevant Facts in the Fact Statement

. . . with a Relevant Fact.

Just because something happened does not mean you have to shoehorn it into your brief. Be selective. All facts suggest issues; when we include irrelevant facts, they’re still suggesting issues, which confuses judges because they don’t know those facts are irrelevant.

Note the difference when we remove the irrelevant facts:

In July, 1986, When the Jeffersons arranged to sell sold their house for $259,500 to the Congers on a real estate contract., The the principal balance owing on the loan at that time was approximately $126,000.

If your sole purpose in writing these two sentences is to compare the value of the house to the balance remaining on the mortgage, why would you invite the judge to memorize a useless date, wonder if the house sold, ask “Who are the Congers?”, recall problems that arise using real estate contracts, and suspect you might be hiding something by modifying “balance” with the specific word “principal”?

 

Nobel Laureate Ernest Hemingway once said, “I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.” Here’s the part that still fascinates me: “Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg .” Think about that. If you know something about a story, your story becomes stronger when you leave it out. Hemingway said The Old Man and the Sea could have run to over a thousand pages. He had seen marlin mate in those waters off Cuba. “So I leave that out.” He had seen a pod of fifty sperm whales and harpooned one. “So I left that out . . . . But the knowledge is what makes the under-water part of the iceberg.”

 

So research, discover, know what you’re talking about; then captivate your judge and focus his attention by selecting only the salient facts you need to tell your client’s story and support your issues.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.