Firm Ignores Biglaw Special Bonus Trend, Gives Associates The Gift Of Takeout Food

Listen, you can’t blame Biglaw associates for being antsy about bonuses. Special bonuses are sweeping their way through Biglaw firms, and if your firm *hasn’t* announced yet, well, you’re probs a bit nervous.

So, when folks at Quarles & Brady, a firm with $274,602,000 gross revenue in 2019 making it 118th on the Am Law 200, got an email from firm leadership advertising “a token of our appreciation,” well, you can’t be faulted for hoping for the best — a match of the special bonus numbers.

But alas, that wasn’t to be. Instead, it was a $30 voucher for GrubHub/UberEats.

The nice thing is that the token of appreciation was sent to everyone, attorneys and staff. But as commentary from tipsters reveal, it hasn’t gone over well, with associates keeping their fingers crossed for special bonuses.

Coming in hot with a $30 Uber eats gift card for lawyers and staff after beating precovid revenue projections in FY20.

At least it’s better than a hat.

Yeah, it’s not firm swag, so there’s that.

Please help us help you when it comes to bonus news at other firms. If your firm given out bonuses or other “tokens” let us know! When your firm’s bonus memo comes out, please email it to us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Bonus”) or text us (646-820-8477). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via text or email if you don’t want to forward the original PDF or Word file.

And if you’d like to sign up for ATL’s Bonus Alerts, please scroll down and enter your email address in the box below this post. If you previously signed up for the bonus alerts, you don’t need to do anything. You’ll receive an email notification within minutes of each bonus announcement that we publish.


headshotKathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

Enter your email address to sign up for ATL’s Bonus & Salary Increase Alerts.

Biglaw Firm’s ‘Hybrid’ Working Model Includes Working From Home Up To 60% Of The Time

Remote working for a long period under the spectre of the pandemic has not been easy for anyone, but it has brought with it many benefits too, many of which our people have consistently told us they value highly.

We also know that people miss working together in a physical office space and as a firm we are keen to maintain the very many benefits that face to face interactions and collaboration brings to us and our clients. We think our hybrid working model will allow for the best of both.

— Rob Hill, Clyde & Co U.K. board chair, commenting on the firm’s plan to close one of its London offices under the auspices of a transition to new “hybrid” working model, where employees will work from home up to 60% of the time and sign up to book spaces in team “neighborhoods” while in the office. The firm is eliminating 82,574 square feet of office space, a reduction of 36%.


Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Roger Stone Quit Paying His Taxes Because DEEP STATE

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Let’s stipulate from the outset that Roger Stone has already admitted he owes money to Uncle Sam. Donald Trump’s longtime buddy is currently howling about “politically motivated charges,” but in May of 2017, he entered into an agreement with the IRS to start chipping away at $1.5 million in unpaid taxes through monthly payments of $19,485.

It was only after he got indicted in 2019 for lying to Congress that he quit paying. That was right about the time he “sold” his personal residence to a family trust. Only the family trust had no assets, so it needed an infusion of cash from an LLC of which Stone, his wife, and his son were the only members and which the family used as a clearinghouse for personal bills.

DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM HERE?

On Friday, the government sued Roger Stone and his wife Nydia in the Southern District of Florida claiming almost $2 million dollars in unpaid taxes and penalties, a suit which Stone was quick to characterize as harassment by evil Deep State Democrats.

“This is yet another example of the Democrats weaponizing the Justice Department in violation of the rule of law,” Stone said Friday night. “I will fight these politically motivated charges and I will prevail again.”

Which is a bit confusing, since the last time he “prevailed” by getting a presidential pardon after being convicted by a jury of his peers — and that option looks somewhat less likely today than it did a year ago.

But the government’s case isn’t at all confusing. Stone and his wife acknowledged the debt in May of 2017 and began making payments out of a Wells Fargo account in the name of Drake Ventures, LLC, of which Nydia Stone is the only member. They also deposited personal checks directly into the LLC and used the funds to pay “a substantial amount of their personal expenses, including groceries, dentist bills, spas, salons, clothing and restaurant expenses,” which may not be illegal, but it’s not going to win you any points if you’re trying to argue the LLC is a separate legal entity.

As the government writes:

There is a unity of interest between the Stones and Drake Ventures, which does not exist as a distinct entity. Rather, Drake Ventures exists as a vehicle to receive income that belongs to the Stones and pay their personal expenses. Indeed, the Stones treat Drake Ventures’ assets as their own.

In January of 2019, Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, and the couple faced mounting legal bills. At that point, they established the Bertran Family Revocable Trust, of which Nydia Stone is both the sole grantor and sole trustee. The Trust then secured a mortgage to purchase the Stone’s Fort Lauderdale condo using $140,000 transferred from the LLC as a down payment. The LLC also transferred $70,000 to the attorney handling the transfer.

The IRS characterizes this as a sham transaction, shuffling the Stones’ personal residence from one pocket to another in an effort to “shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties.”

The Stones intended to defraud the United States by maintaining their assets in Drake Ventures’ accounts, which they completely controlled, and using these assets to purchase the Stone Residence in the name of the Bertran Trust.

If the government’s account is correct, the Stones’ conduct was pretty brazen. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that they put all their chips on executive action that would not only wipe out Roger Stone’s criminal perjury and witness tampering convictions, but expunge the couple’s tax liability as well.

And while Stone is yammering about weaponizing the Justice Department, there’s a strange reference to a release of the original lien on July 8, 2020, just two days before then-President Trump commuted his sentence.

On July 8, 2020, a Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien (file no. 2020 R 374146) and Revocation of Release of Federal Tax Lien (file no. 2020 R 374043) were filed in reference to the NFTL with file no. 2010 R 719422. On August 27, 2020, a Revocation of Release of Federal Tax Lien (file no. 2020 R 481201) were filed in reference to this NFTL.

You know, in case the Justice Department revoking its own sentencing recommendation after Bill Barr lost his shit wasn’t strange enough.

In the end, Stone got a full pardon in December of 2020 for all his convictions. But his old buddy Donald Trump failed to do anything about the tax case, so now the OG ratf*cker may be SOL.

You love to see it.

US v. Stone [Docket via Court Listener]


Elizabeth Dye (@5DollarFeminist) lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

Law School Commencement Time Again! Who’s Speaking?

Law school graduation ceremonies in the age of COVID are a lot different than usual, but Above the Law would like to get back to tracking the speakers at law school commencements around the country. There will be some in-person ceremonies this year, though more folks are still going to have to work with virtual gatherings to celebrate the end of their schooling.

We know some speakers, but we’re not clairvoyant. We need your help filling out this list. Hit us up at tips@abovethelaw.com and tell us who’s speaking at your graduation. We’ll update the list accordingly.

Albany: Legal Services Corporation President James Sandman
Berkeley (University of California at): Bryan Stevenson
Boston University: Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey
Brooklyn: Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
Colorado (University of): Stacey Abrams
Columbia: Secretary of State Tony Blinken
Fordham: Hillary Clinton
Harvard: Senator Elizabeth Warren
Georgia (University of): Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton
Lewis & Clark: Rep. Earl Blumenauer
New York Law School: N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James
Pittsburgh (University of): Above the Law columnist (among other things) Brian Cuban


HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

Learning And Leverage: Modern Must-Haves

I have worked in Biglaw, in-house, and as the CEO of a legal tech business, and throughout these different environments, I have noticed some patterns. Patterns of success if you will. But they aren’t highly complicated. And, they do not include zigzagging between 18-hour workdays and three different jobs. They are simple — yet effective — patterns. Two of the most powerful of these factors for success are learning and leverage.

Learning — The King Of The Hill

We are in the later stages of the transition from a degree-based economy to a skills-based one. Your qualifications are gradually becoming worthless because businesses have begun valuing what you can do more than where you studied. Now more than ever, hirers are paying attuning to the small sections of your CV listing your skills and other abilities. Applicants who have taken some online programming courses may be hired over a person with an IT degree, simply because they are more proficient.

In some ways, this shows a greater initiative to build up several “micro-credentials” for yourself, suggesting that it would be highly valuable to learn a variety of new things. Employers increasingly seek out this level of initiative. With the advent of online learning platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, and Brilliant, upskilling has never been easier.

Learning is not just done online, however, it is done by building experience, as well. You can plan as much as you like, thinking about things from every conceivable angle, but I can guarantee that, when it comes down to making your plans happen, there will be factors that surprise you. Things that you did not expect would happen or even things that you did not know existed. Sometimes the fastest way to learn is just to dive head into it and wait for the mistakes to start teaching you.

The secret to being the King (or Queen!) of the Hill is to keep growing, to continue upskilling. Your knowledge should not just grow in terms of depth, but breadth, as well. You want to master your field but should be competent in other ones too. This doesn’t just give you job security; it gives you options.

Leverage — Accept The Augmentation

Then there is leverage, which is something of a hot topic in the corporate world. This is not new. The basic idea is that you utilize one thing to achieve something greater. If you have leverage, you’re an aerodynamic leaf with sails, and you won’t just be caught up in the wind, you’ll harness it.

Currently, the biggest form of leverage is technology. Developments such as the internet, AI, and blockchain have allowed you to do things you never would have been able to before. When it comes to technology, you cannot deny its impact. That is not to say that you must embrace all of it, nor that technology is always the answer.

Leo Cherne once said, “The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation.” Leverage is marrying skills and advantages. They make a power couple. Like AI and contract review, or musicians and apps like Spotify. As a lawyer or an employee, you leverage yourself by doing the things that machines can’t do, making yourself indispensable by taking on roles that can be neither automated nor eradicated.

Adding Value — The Pinnacle

The culmination of learning and leverage is found in the basic principle of adding value. Whether you are an employer, employee, or freelancer, at the end of the day, you are paid to add value. That may be through a service you offer, or the unique input and perspective you bring to a meeting. Whatever it is, you can add value by learning and then leveraging yourself and your abilities. Learning a new programming language could help you recognize flaws in your system or taking a course on public speaking could increase your sales. Even something like researching empathy could improve what you bring to the table.

For you, the modern lawyer –- or the modern employee in general –- upskilling, outworking, and expanding will put you a cut above the rest. Leveraging your unique selling points and technology will catapult you leagues above where you are now. Such is the power of the simplistic patterns of learning and leverage, the two main components in the framework of adding value.


Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to participate on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board Seat and Fundamentals of Smart Contract Security. You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.

Is The Problem With The Writer Or The Reader?

One of your colleagues at your law firm prepared an exhibit for use at trial.  The exhibit is a timeline where you’ll run through a series of items to build the timeline before the jury’s eyes. You ask your expert witness to comment on the timeline.

“I don’t understand the fourth entry. What are we trying to say there?”

“You’re right. I don’t understand that entry either. Let me talk to my colleague and get back to you.”

The sixth entry on the timeline poses problems, too. The expert can’t understand it. But you can: “Oh! I know what that one means.” And you go on to give a 30-second explanation of what the entry means.

A partner looks at a draft brief. The partner circles a sentence and writes:  “I’m not sure what this means. What are we driving at?”

When you next see the partner, you explain what the sentence means.

What’s the problem in all of these scenarios?

Your reaction is wrong.

If you, or someone else, doesn’t understand what’s trying to be communicated in a written document, then it’s not your fault. It’s the writer’s fault. The words are no good. The words shouldn’t be explained; they should be rewritten to be comprehensible.

In my first scenario, where neither you nor the expert understands the entry in a timeline, what are the odds that a judge or jury will understand what’s being said — zero in a hundred, or zero in a thousand?

If, as in my second scenario, only your expert doesn’t understand the words, what’s the chance that you’re communicating with a person of average intelligence? Your expert is presumably of above-average intelligence. Your expert knows what the case is about. And your expert doesn’t understand what’s being said. Your expert wins: Rewrite the entry.

Perhaps you can explain the entry. Or perhaps, as in my third scenario, you can explain what a sentence in a brief means — because you wrote the sentence, and it would be remarkable if you couldn’t explain words that you had written.

So what?

The idea is not for a person with intimate knowledge of your case to be able to understand your words. The idea is for a person of average intelligence with little or no knowledge of your case — that is, an overworked judge or a bored jury — to instantaneously grasp the meaning of the words. If the words require explanation, the words have flunked that test. Period.

So, as I asked in the title to this column: Is the problem with the writer or the reader? Unless you think that your reader is far below average in intelligence, and so your reader’s reaction is unreasonable, the reader is always right, and the writer is always wrong.

If people don’t understand things, do not explain those things. Rather, rewrite them, so that the words explain themselves.


Mark Herrmann spent 17 years as a partner at a leading international law firm and is now deputy general counsel at a large international company. He is the author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law and Drug and Device Product Liability Litigation Strategy (affiliate links). You can reach him by email at inhouse@abovethelaw.com.

The Great Law Firm Reopening Tracker: Back To Work, But Still Working From Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every facet of life. The times we live in are now uncertain, and nothing will ever be the same as it was before. Lawyers and legal professionals have been cloistered inside their homes for more than a year, and now that vaccinations are widely available, states across the country are reopening their economies, lifting their shelter-in-place guidance, and even removing their mask mandates.

With all this taking place, major law firms — many fresh off a second round of special bonuses to keep their attorneys as happy as possible — have been weighing their plans to get their employees back into the office. As firms try to establish a market standard for what their return to work will look like, it should be noted that associates overwhelmingly support their firms’ remote work policies, and hope that a full-time office presence will no longer be necessary going forward.

Just as we’ve done in the past when it comes to raises, bonuses, and austerity measures, we are compiling a table of all the firms that have announced reopening guidelines in these strange times. We want you to see exactly how the legal profession is dealing with this new phase of the coronavirus crisis.

Help us help you. Let us know what your firm is doing to protect employees and adjust to the new normal during this unprecedented moment in time.

As a little reminder, we love covering law firm news, but we need your help. As soon as you find out about reopening plans at your firm, please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Office Reopening”). We always keep our sources on stories anonymous. There’s no need to send a memo (if one exists) using your firm email account; your personal email account is fine. If a memo has been circulated, please be sure to include it as proof; we like to post complete memos as a service to our readers. You can take a photo of the memo and attach as a picture if you are worried about metadata in a PDF or Word file. Thanks very much.

Firm Reopening/WFH Policy
Orrick Firm is targeting a September return to work (post-Labor Day), and those who are able to do their jobs remotely will not be required to return to the office five days a week
Ropes & Gray “Permissive office usage” will continue in U.S. offices until Labor Day in September; thereafter, the firm will provide “at least 45 days’ notice before moving from permissive usage to a broader office return”
Wilson Sonsini The firm will not require its attorneys to return to the office in 2021
Willkie Farr The firm will not require its attorneys to return to the office in 2021

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Despite The Plain Language Of Federal Law, Police Accountability Can Only Happen At The State Level

(Image via Getty)

There has been a lot going on with our federal judiciary that should trouble all Americans. The gross hypocrisy over the nomination process to the nation’s highest federal court is certainly one problem. The other problem is this is only seen as a problem to some. Because the implementation of such scorched-earth tactics to ensure conservative ideological control is not without positive effect, if only for a select chosen few Americans. Indeed, a radically new (and legally dishonest) conservative shift on the court has occurred where fundamental procedural rules are now being disregarded to ensure positive outcomes for politically favored groups. All of this should undermine the court’s legitimacy as an objective body.

Of course, that’s not how conservatives would describe the situation. At their confirmation hearings, conservative justices tell the public time and again their job is not to make policy but to follow the law. Conservative judges have insisted it is the other side (liberals/living constitutionalists) who are wrong because they “prefer to have philosopher-king judges swoop down from their marble palace to ordain answers rather than allow the people and their representatives to discuss, debate, and resolve them.” I kid you not, they say those who disagree with them are really complaining about “our democracy.”

But here is the thing about conservative rhetoric of following the law as written and about not making policy: in practice conservative judges do the exact opposite. In practice conservative justices regularly reject the law as written to further personally preferred policy and to target politically disfavored groups (today it’s social media companies who are being targeted, who knows whom it will be tomorrow). Nowhere is conservative judicial activism more blatantly apparent, however, than in cases where citizens are attempting to hold police officers accountable.

Let’s get into some necessary legal background. When it comes to holding government agents responsible, the plain language of federal law could not be more straightforward. 42 U.S. Code § 1983 is clear that any government agent who, under color of law, deprives a citizen of their constitutional rights “shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law.” Nowhere in this plain text can language be found establishing preconditions or immunity to such liability. Rather, the law as written simply provides a cause of action against government agents who deprive a citizen of their rights. But can you guess what conservative judges have done with this plain language?

Let me put it in terms some might understand: conservative philosopher-king judges have swooped down from their marble palaces to ordain that all kinds of preconditions and immunities exist to § 1983 liability, despite having no textual support for any of it. It is to the point that it no longer matters whether a citizen can show that a government agent (such as a police officer) knew they were depriving a citizen of their rights. All that matters under this made-up “qualified immunity” doctrine is whether philosopher-king judges have said it matters in previous decisions.

Of course, liberal justices have played an essential part in establishing qualified immunity. The difference is they didn’t play it while claiming their side is strictly adhering to the law as written. Moreover, our federal judiciary has not been controlled by liberals in almost 70 years. Blame for qualified immunity rightly rests with those who have been in control of the federal courts. Here is where I also tell you that I personally favor a plain-meaning approach to constitutional and statutory interpretation. But since the conservative-controlled federal judiciary does not apply a plain-meaning approach in practice (despite endlessly claiming otherwise), laws that are straightforwardly written to attach liability to bad-faith government actors have been transformed into made-up immunities. All because many conservative judges simply don’t like the policy of holding cops accountable. And more recent attempts to revisit the qualified immunity doctrine have failed.

The fact that things are hopeless federally, however, does not mean all hope at holding bad government actors accountable is lost. In fact, there is genuine cause to be optimistic but only because of actions taken by individual states. For example, last year, both Colorado and Connecticut took steps to limit qualified immunity — albeit with some significant loopholes when it came to the latter.

This year, New York City became the first city to end qualified immunity entirely, and New Mexico has also banned the use of qualified immunity as a defense. Such reform is badly needed. Qualified immunity has shielded police officers from being held accountable for violent and horrific abuses and outright robbery. Unfortunately, despite federal law plainly granting a cause of action, the only way Americans can hold police officers accountable is if more cities and states follow the examples of New York City and New Mexico. That’s both encouraging and tragic.


Tyler Broker’s work has been published in the Gonzaga Law Review, the Albany Law Review, and the University of Memphis Law Review. Feel free to email him or follow him on Twitter to discuss his column.

Lamar Jackson Sued For Using Multiple Pictures From His Time At Louisville

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy for his incredible sophomore season at the University of Louisville in 2016. While Jackson earned many accolades for his performance that season, he now finds himself as a defendant in a federal lawsuit based on using some of the photos that captured his accomplishments that year.

A photographer named Richard Barnes has initiated his lawsuit against Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, including a laundry list of causes of action such as numerous instances of copyright infringement as well as an allegation that Jackson engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Barnes included Jackson’s company, Lamar Jackson Enterprises Incorporated, and a man named Ronald Dupont as defendants. The copyright-related claims revolve around an allegation that Jackson, or someone acting at his direction, copied, published, displayed, distributed, created derivative works of, modified, offered for sale and/or sold unauthorized copies of one or more of Barnes’ photographs on Jackson’s social media pages, his YouTube channel and at his official merchandise website Era8Apparel.com.

The photographs were captured by Barnes during a September 9, 2016, match between Louisville and Syracuse. Louisville won that game 62-28, and Jackson threw for 411 yards with one touchdown in the air and four touchdowns rushing the ball into the end zone. Barnes says that the photographs he took during that game were all posted to a news outlet searchable archive and that the pictures included a watermark on the bottom portion that explained the images were subject to copyright protection.

Barnes takes issue with the fact that these photographs were later used on Jackson’s social media accounts with neither consent nor attribution. Barnes is also upset that content from one of his photographs was used within Jackson’s filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register a stylized design mark for use with the sale of bags and apparel, and that Jackson or someone acting at his direction has actually sold goods bearing the mark. Dupont will need to defend against a claim that he, or someone acting at his direction, created jewelry that bears the same mark.

The RICO-related claims revolve around Jackson purportedly committing criminal copyright infringement through a pattern that poses a threat of continuity. A count for RICO conspiracy states that Dupont participated in the creation of the infringing jewelry in concert with, or under the direction of, Jackson.


Darren Heitner is the founder of Heitner Legal. He is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. You can reach him by email at heitner@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @DarrenHeitner.

When Your Only Contact With Readers Is Virtual, Writing Skills Matter More Than Ever

Picture this: A few weeks into a difficult matter, your toughest client tells you, “Well, I guess you really do know how to think like a lawyer.” You feel a momentary glow, because there’s at least a chance it’s a compliment, even if a grudging one. But then they add, “Yeah, and you write like a lawyer, too.” Ouch. You thought your writing was just fine: precise, logical and, even better, free of jargon. What’s the problem?

It’s not that you write badly, but that lawyers face a tougher task than most writers ever confront. Although your subject matter can be complex and technical, your readers are impatient, often irascible, and occasionally hostile. Some writers can simplify their content to keep their readers happy. You do not have that luxury. Some writers can expect their readers to follow along patiently until an analysis or story reaches its end. You cannot.

As a result, legal writing requires two key skills law schools seldom teach. The first: imposing on dense, complicated material an organization that is not only logical, but also makes it as easy as possible for readers to absorb and remember the substance. Even if your raw material is as convoluted as the Rocky Mountains, you are still obligated to make it seem as smooth to navigate as an interstate across the Great Plains. The second skill: crafting documents so they establish your credibility with readers from the start, especially by showing them promptly how your work will benefit them.

These are not “writing” skills in the law school sense — they are skills for communicating effectively with tough audiences through your writing. If your ability to communicate your thinking is to become as sophisticated as the thinking itself, you must learn to “think like a writer” with the same sophistication with which you think like a lawyer. Otherwise, you risk producing writing that looks just fine to you, but leaves your readers frustrated and unhappy.

What does it mean to “think like a writer”?

When you think like a lawyer, you do more than simply deploy precedents and interpret statutes. You also apply your understanding of the fundamental principles that govern an area of the law, and how those principles flow through all the cases, statutes, or regulations floating around within it. Similarly, thinking like a writer requires understanding the fundamental principles that govern, for example, how to organize a document or structure a sentence so it can be read easily and efficiently, and how to establish your credibility with demanding and skeptical readers. These principles rest on two foundations: what we know about how the brain processes complex information, and what rhetoric teaches us about establishing a connection with our audience. They lead directly to specific, concrete advice at all levels of a document, from its overall organization down to its sentences. They can also transform you into a much more incisive editor of both your own writing and the writing of others — and, if you supervise other lawyers, a more effective coach for their development as legal writers.

In the newly updated Fourth Edition of Thinking Like a Writer: A Lawyer’s Guide to Effective Writing and Editing (PLI Press), authors Stephen Armstrong, Timothy Terrell, and Jarrod Reich demonstrate how even first-rate writers can raise their writing to a new level of effectiveness. Like the earlier editions, this publication provides scores of illuminating before-and-after examples and applies its advice to specific types of legal writing (emails, memos, letters, briefs, and judicial opinions). The new edition has also been updated, however, to reflect the increased impatience and speed-reading habits of readers, and the profession’s increased reliance on email and forms of instant messaging rather than on formal memos or letters.


Practising Law Institute is a nonprofit learning organization dedicated to keeping attorneys and other professionals at the forefront of knowledge and expertise. PLI is chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York and was founded in 1933 by Harold P. Seligson. The organization provides the highest quality, accredited, continuing legal and professional education programs in a variety of formats which are delivered by more than 4,000 volunteer faculty including prominent lawyers, judges, investment bankers, accountants, corporate counsel, and U.S. and international government regulators. PLI publishes a comprehensive library of Treatises, Course Handbooks, Answer Books and Journals also available through the PLI PLUS online platform. The essence of PLI’s mission is its commitment to the pro bono community. View PLI’s upcoming live webcasts here.