Elegant Legal Writing is a free blog and email newsletter by litigation attorney Ryan McCarl (of Rushing McCarl LLP) that shows lawyers and law students how to convey their ideas in a clear, logical, and inviting manner. The book Elegant Legal Writing will be published next year by the University of California Press.
Elegant Legal Writing provides practical tips to help lawyers make their writing as readable and engaging as possible. It aims to help attorneys who understand the fundamentals elevate their writing from passable to elite.
Legal readers (especially judges) are overwhelmed with boring reading tasks and have limited time or appetite to slog through documents such as procedural motions. But a client’s litigation objectives often depend on their lawyer’s ability to get the judge’s attention and tell the client’s story in a concise and compelling way. Elegant Legal Writing addresses that need.
Elegant Legal Writing originated in the curriculum I developed for an Advanced Legal Writing seminar at the UCLA School of Law. I read as many books on writing style and legal writing as I could, then condensed what I had learned into resources for my students. I have since continued to study and experiment with effective writing and argument styles through my litigation practice at Rushing McCarl LLP. Our unorthodox court filings — which stand out for their storytelling, document design, and readability — have helped the firm build a reputation as an elite litigation boutique.
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Ryan McCarl is an experienced litigation attorney who has taught legal writing to audiences including the State of Texas Office of the Attorney General. Before co-founding the litigation boutique Rushing McCarl LLP, McCarl researched artificial intelligence and taught Advanced Legal Writing on the faculty of the UCLA School of Law, clerked for the Honorable David M. Ebel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, worked as a litigator at WilmerHale and Hueston Hennigan, and wrote publications about complex legal topics ranging from claim preclusion to sovereign debt arbitration. He earned a J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School and holds M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago and University of Michigan.