It’s nearly time for the newest crop of summer associates (or, to the non-legal world, “interns”), to flood law firms across the country. “Summers,” as they’re called, need a lot of care if lawyers expect them to bloom into the highly sought-after combination of brilliant legal mind and burning desire to work around the clock.
Young Conaway makes a very organized effort to help the summer class acquire as much substantive knowledge as possible by assigning work from actual (as opposed to academic) cases, while still placing “getting-to-know-you” time at a premium. I’m a graduate of our summer-associate program and take a great deal of pride in both the program and the great lawyers that it helps to produce.
In my opinion, the best thing about our summer program is the writing component, led by John Paschetto. Lucky participants have their work reviewed by the world’s kindest editor and, by the end of the summer, are writing at a level far beyond where they started a few months earlier.
John mentioned that he was compiling a list of helpful websites and online resources for use in his writing program this summer. Being the compulsive list maker that I am, I couldn’t help but lend a hand. I’ve compiled a list of 50 of the best legal-writing resources on the web, plus 25 “just-for-fun” blogs about the horrors of spelling, grammar, and style gone wrong. (Remember the “fun” component, after all.)
I’m glad to share the list with our readers, regardless of how long it’s been since you were a summer associate. The entire list is reprinted below but, if you’re in a rush, here’s a copy in PDF for your research file. Don’t forget to share it with your favorite summer associate!
- Adams Drafting by Ken Adams, the authority on drafting legal contracts.
- Ariana R. Levinson’s Blog, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Kentucky.
- Disputed Issues. “Controversies in legal research, analysis, and writing.”
- Fairyland Castle, by Martin Magnusson. “On the language of law and politics.”
- Legal Writing Profs Blog, a member of the Law Professor Blogs Network.
- Set In Style, by Mister Thorne. “Lawyers are authors and law firms are publishers.”
- The (New) Legal Writer, by Ray Ward. “A collection of resources for lawyers and other writers.”
- Typography for Lawyers, by Matthew Butterick. “Revolutionizing the effectiveness of legal documents.”
- Wayne Schiess’s Legal-Writing Blog, “Making legal writing clear, correct, direct.”
- Writing, Clear and Simple, by Roy Jacobsen. “ Offering writing tips to legal and non-legal writers alike.”
- ALWD Citation Manual
- AP Stylebook (paid subscription required for access to the full online edition).
- The Bluebook (paid subscription required for access to the full online edition).
- CALI, Citation Form for Briefs and Legal Memoranda
- The Chicago Manual of Style (paid subscription required for access to the full online edition).
- Interactive Citation Workstation, Bluebook Exercises, by LexisNexis.
- Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2010), by Peter W. Martin, Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.
- New England School of Law Bluebooking Guide
- Suffolk University Law School’s Bluebook Guide
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Barger on Legal Writing, Short Form Citations.
Grammar and Style
- Paul Brians, Washington State University, Common Errors in English.
- Garbl’s List of Writing Resources, listed by topic, including Grammar, Style and Usage, Words, Fat-Free Writing, and others.
- Guide to Grammar and Style, Jack Lynch, Rutgers University.
- Grammar Girl, Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Podcast).
- Marc A. Grinker, Chicago-Kent College of Law, The Legal Writing Teaching Assistant: The aw Student’s Guide to Good Writing.
- HyperGrammar, an electronic grammar course by University of Ottawa.
- Joseph Kimble, “Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please”.
- The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).
- William Strunk, Elements of Style (the original).
- Eugene Volkh, UCLA Law School, “Eschew, Evade, and/or Eradicate Legalese” (word replacements).
Online Legal Research
- American Law Sources On-Line (ALSO!), includes links to search engines for each State and Territory, Amicus Curiae Briefs, Uniform Laws and Model Acts, Scholarly Publications, and others.
- Georgetown University Law Center, Free & Low Cost Legal Research.
- MegaLaw.com, Legal Research Search Engine.
- Pace Law School, Free and Low Cost Resources for Legal Research.
- Thurgood Marshall Law Library, Guide to Legal Research, 2009-2010 (with links to PDF versions of the entire Guide).
- University of Chicago Law School, Legal Research Using the Internet, by Lyonette Louis-Jacques.
- University of Washington School of Law, Introduction to Legal Research on the World Wide Web
Other Collections of Resources
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Barger on Legal Writing.
- University of Chicago Writing Program, Grammar Resources.
- University of Maryland School of Law, Legal Writing Resources, Appellate Advocacy and Brief Writing.
- University of Washington, Legal & General Writing Resources.
- Center for Plain Language, “a nonprofit, U.S. tax-exempt membership organization, promotes the use of plain language in the public and private sectors.”
- Clarity, a “worldwide lawyers’ group and interested lay people campaigning for the use of good, clear language by the legal profession.”
- Garbl’s Plain Language Resources (part of Garbl’s Writing Center).
- The Green Bag: An Entertaining Journal of Law
- Plain Language Action & Information Network
- Plain Language Association International; and see Articles, Tutorials, and Web Links by Plain-Language Specialists page.
- Plain Language.gov, “Improving communication from the federal government to the public.” See also, Federal Plain Language Guidelines and Writing Effective Letters.
- Scribes: The American Society of Legal Writers
Just-for-Fun Writing, Grammar, & Language Blogs
- Apostrophe Abuse
- Banterist: Grammar Cop
- The “Blog” of Unnecessary Quotation Marks
- Cake Wrecks
- The Copy Edits of J. Alfred Proofreader
- Engrish, Funny Typos, and Bad Grammar
- Grammar Bit**es
- Grammar Cop
- Grammar Blog: I Get Gerund
- The Grammar Vandal
- It’s Your Damned Language
- Language Log
- Literally, a Web Log
- lowercase L
- Mighty Red Pen
- Mr. Rewrite
- The Perplexicon
- The Punctuator!
- Red Pen Brigade
- Red Pen, Inc.
- Terribly Write
- Throw Grammar From the Train
- A Walk in the WoRds
- Words at Work