Writing Tips

Legal Writing

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One of the Top Three No-Nos

Why Lawyers Shouldn't Argue in Their Fact Statements

Arguing in the Fact Statement

We use the Fact Statement to tell a judge our story. But Fact Statements serve another, more subtle purpose: establishing credibility with the judge.

As Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit has written:

Circuit Rule 28(d)(1) requires that . . . ‘the statement of facts . . . shall be a fair summary without argument or comment.’

If we want a judge to look favorably upon us and our case, we start in the Fact Statement by removing all argumentative words, like “devastating,” “substantial,” “difficult,” even “tall,” because they are opinions, not facts.

The Angola Diamond Contract is certain enough . . . .

The agreement also clearly stated . . . .

Argumentative words in the Fact Statement make a judge want to decide against us, because these words “feel” like we’re puffing, evading, and being disingenuous. How can he trust us? Instead of using the self-serving, argumentative words above, replace them with the “certain” and “clear” language from the agreements. That language is a fact.

 

When you write a Fact Statement with not one argumentative word, you convey this message to the judge: “Don’t listen to me, Your Honor; listen to the facts.”

On October 22, 2012, Plaintiff Geraldo Einstein smashed the glass of a candy and chips vending machine with a tire jack to retrieve a bag of chips stuck in the dispenser.

(A real case, by the way.) Geraldo’s lawyer might pretend she does not understand why your client had to terminate Geraldo, but the judge gets it from the first sentence. And you have credibility.

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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.