Those who follow the rarefied world of United States Supreme Court practice are undoubtedly familiar with Paul Clement, the former Solicitor General who has argued sixty cases before the Court and whose most notable case was his representation of the twenty-six states in their attack against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Clement is primarily known for his superior oral advocacy skills, and just a quick listen to any one of his arguments confirm that his reputation is well-deserved. Indeed, I implore anyone interested in learning more about the fine art of oral advocacy to carefully study a few of his arguments.
Less widely known, however, are Clement's writing skills, which are equally crisp as his polished oral advocacy skills. Perhaps for this reason, legal writing expert Ross Guberman examines Clement's brief in the Obamacare case, and provides five basic tips for how lawyers can improve their writing style.
I won't summarize Guberman's excellent analysis for why Clement is such a gifted writer. I'll let his piece speak for itself. But, the overarching theme from Guberman's examination is this: the great legal writers of our time are not merely great legal writers, but they are, quite simply, accomplished writers whose prose can go toe to toe with that of other literary giants. As Guberman states, "[I]f you stripped this brief of its citations, you’d have an example of sterling English prose, not just an example of good legal writing."
That, my friends, is precisely the recipe for what constitutes great legal writing.