Most lawyers spend a good deal of time writing. I enjoy the writing process, especially when I have time to think carefully through whatever issue I’m dealing with and can take time to draft clear and hopefully persuasive documents. That process is actually a lot of fun.
During the summer, when there is a bit less running around with the kids on sports and activities and the pace of law practice abates a bit, I like to kick up my reading about the writing process. I’ve lately been reading one of the best books on writing I’ve come across, Garner on Language and Writing, by Bryan Garner, a well-known professor of law at the University of Texas. Justice Ginsburg calls this book a "must read" and she is right. I think trial lawyers would greatly benefit from this wonderful book of essays that includes such points as these:
- to be a better writer, read widely, but especially read good writing (such as the New Yorker, The Atlantic and The Economist)
- keeping a daily journal will make you a better writer
- poor writing is the result of poor thinking
Maybe the very best chapter is Chapter 19, where Garner lists his recommended books on a wide variety of topics, including legal style and usage. He also lists fiction and non-fiction by great writers. Reading those books would certainly greatly improve any writer’s substance and style.
If you have any other recommendations for good books on the writing process, please comment and share with us.