Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Advice from Samuel Johnson
“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
Lawyers: you are what you read, and most of what you read in law school was mediocre at best. Stated less charitably, the cases you read were incomprehensible. That legal scholars still find new interpretations to Erie Railroad demonstrates that the seminal cases we read - the ones we read over and over in preparation for class - were far from models of persuasive writing.
A lesson: when you read, read well because to write well, you need to read well. Stack your nightstand with a few political books. Study how the author builds the argument around a theme. Or, even read a John Grisham novel. Learn how to weave a compelling narrative through the use of vivid, direct prose.
Because if you don't read well, you write briefs in the mold of Erie.