Brief Writing Tip #2 – Know Your Judge

In law school I consistently scored higher grades than people I considered to be more intelligent.  This is because my arguments were clear, my issues were labeled and I knew my audience.  I knew exactly what would persuade the professor.  Since we cannot all sit in a judge’s courtroom day after day determining what he considers persuasive, we have to rely on his past decisions.

Know your judge. If it is an appellate case, chart the panel’s past decisions.  Who leaned which way? Is the dissent now the majority? What did they find persuasive? Does dicta suggest they would have ruled differently given slightly different facts?

When you win a motion in trial court, take note of the judge’s reasoning and keep a chart.  Next time you appear before him, use the same reasoning.

This sounds like a lot of extra work, but for a research and writing attorney, it is just another day at the office.  My research goes beyond black letter law.  I sometimes research the current atmosphere of the court, whether they are looking to make a change or trying to protect the status quo.

               

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