Elegant Legal Writing shares tips for writing clear, logical, and inviting legal prose. Its author is litigation attorney Ryan McCarl (of Rushing McCarl LLP). McCarl’s book Elegant Legal Writing was recently published by the University of California Press. The book has received rave reviews from both practitioners and law professors. In its first week on the market, Elegant Legal Writing led the legal-writing genre on Amazon — even outselling the Bluebook citation manual.
Drawing on ideas from cognitive science, stylistics, and litigation strategy, Elegant Legal Writing teaches practical techniques by example using fast-paced chapters. One reviewer described it as a book “to study and savor. Its non-intimidating and readable format exposes law students and lawyers to a plethora of crucial concepts to transform their writing from passable to great.”
Legal readers (especially judges) are overwhelmed with tedious reading tasks and have limited time or appetite to slog through documents such as procedural motions. A client’s litigation objectives often depend on their lawyer’s ability to get the judge’s attention and tell the client’s story concisely and compellingly. Elegant Legal Writing addresses that need.
Elegant Legal Writing originated in the curriculum McCarl developed for an Advanced Legal Writing seminar at the UCLA School of Law. McCarl read many books on writing style, then condensed what he had learned into resources for his students.
McCarl continues studying legal writing and experimenting with argument techniques through his litigation practice at Rushing McCarl LLP. The firm’s unorthodox legal briefs — which stand out for their storytelling, document design, and readability — have contributed to its growing reputation as an elite litigation boutique. Rushing McCarl made national headlines twice in recent months — first by filing a brief co-signed by 1,700 University of Michigan alumni, then by becoming the first law firm to file a putative consumer class-action suit against the manufacturer of Stanley tumbler cups for failing to disclose the use of lead in its drinkware.
Subscribe for free to receive new posts in your inbox:
Please share this resource with your colleagues and students:
Ryan McCarl, a founding partner of the business litigation firm Rushing McCarl LLP, has taught legal writing to audiences including the ABA Litigation Section and the State of Texas Office of the Attorney General. His book Elegant Legal Writing was published in February 2024 by the University of California Press and became the bestselling work in its genre.
Before co-founding Rushing McCarl LLP, McCarl researched AI and taught Advanced Legal Writing at the UCLA School of Law, clerked for the Honorable David M. Ebel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and worked as a litigation attorney at WilmerHale and Hueston Hennigan. He has published articles about topics ranging from claim preclusion to creditors’ remedies in outlets including the Stanford Journal of International Law and Cincinnati Law Review.
McCarl earned a J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School and holds M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan as well as a B.A. from the University of Chicago.