New Rule: Wider is Better

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New Rule for all PowerPoint users: If you’re presenting on a widescreen, switch to 16:9 slides. Otherwise, you get big black vertical bars on either side of your presentation that amount to nothing but wasted space. Open it up from small screen to big screen. And if you don’t know how to do that, spend the 2.8 seconds and 5 nano-joules of energy required to run a Google search and find out. Your audience will be grateful.

Size Matters

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As I always say to lawyers, teachers, and presenters of any kind, if the audience can’t see, read, decipher, or otherwise make sense of your visual aids, then you’re wasting time, energy, and precious A/V real estate. Enlarge the font, enlarge the font, enlarge the font. Please.

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Snapshot of CNN coverage of the Owen Labrie trial. August 19, 2015.

New Rule #8: Check Your Biases at the Door

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Just something to think about.  Interesting story in the ABA Journal from a few weeks ago. Law partners were asked to review a legal brief and analyze the writing.  Even though all participants read the exact same legal brief, they were given different information about the supposed author: More

New Rule #7 … Proofread!

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While I understand that the news media outlets all want to be first, I think this one probably could have spared the extra few seconds it would have taken to correctly spell “fire” and “working.”  Darned speed-typing!  Gets ya every time… More

New Rule #6: What NOT to Say

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New Rule!!!  Legal writers, never use the word “witnesseth” again.  Ever.

Even though I differ a bit from Bryan Garner on the use of footnotes, I think he’s right on the money when it comes to overused, archaic legalese.  Here’s Garner’s latest article on the topic.  He explains why these words/phrases should be retired from the legal lexicon:

  • and/or
  • herein
  • deem
  • know all men by these presents
  • provided that
  • pursuant to (I must admit I’m guilty of using this one)
  • said
  • same
  • shall
  • whereas
  • witnesseth
  • such

New Rule #5

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Hey all you Tennessee medical negligence lawyers (yes, both sides):

New rule.  If you’re drafting your expert’s affidavit, don’t start until you’ve read Kennard v. Townsend at least thirty-eight times in four languages, and don’t stop until you’ve highlighted every possible medically-relevant similarity between your city and your expert’s. Also, find a way to get your expert challenges out of the way long before your designation deadline (I know … next to impossible) so you’ll have time to hire a new expert when you get kicked out of court.

Or if you’d like to skip the scary stuff altogether, just hire an expert from the same city where your case arose (I know … next to impossible).

New Rule #4

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Never begin a pleading with “Comes now” … It’s painfully archaic.  Besides, most lawyers never figured out that when multiple parties are pleading, it should be “Come now” (plural conjugation).  But never mind that.  Abandon outdated form language altogether, and instead just start with a regular sentence like a normal professional (not a lawyer robot).

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