Oft-Overlooked Legal Writing Genres
posted by Miriam Cherry
After considering statutory poetry, consider these other muted, oft-overlooked legal writing genres:
The Law Review Cover Letter. Goal of the author: Sell your article to the law review. This article is novel, fun, it will change the world, revolutionize the genre, become more popular than all the rest of the articles in the pile, no, more popular than any law review article ever. It will garner the journal ooodles of citations, thus leapfrogging the journal over everyone else on the W&L law review rankings website. Oh, and simultaneously, the author needs to say all of that modestly, without sounding like a pompous egotistical windbag, because the goal isn’t to have the law review editors burst out into riotous laughter. (Good luck!)
The NastyGram. More the stock in trade of practicing attorneys, rather than lawprofs, the goal here is to make the person reading it have a really, really, really bad morning/afternoon/evening. My favorite nastygram, actually, wasn’t written by an attorney, but rather by Frank McCourt as a child in Angela’s Ashes. He pens a dunning letter for a local seamstress. In the course of the letter, he employs the words “inasmuch,” threatens that the debtor will “languish in the dungeons of Limerick jail,” and ends with the signature line, “Yours, in litigious anticipation,” the perfect closing line for a nastygram.
I’ll have more on other overlooked genres in another forthcoming post.