These are the 5 best legal writing books of all time. Whether you’re a law student or practicing attorney, these legal writing books will help you draft legal briefs and memoranda that are concise, effective, and persuasive.
** Updated for 2019 **
Best Legal Writing Books
Point Made: How To Write Like The Nation’s Top Advocates
Ross Guberman’s legal writing masterpiece, Point Made: How To Write Like The Nation’s Top Advocates, is first on the list of the 5 Best Legal Writing Books Of All Time for good reason: it will make you a better legal writer.
You’ll love Point Made because it provides immediate, actionable tips and techniques to make your legal writing better on day one. Guberman refers to these tips and techniques as the “Fifty Techniques.”
Point Made is divided into five, easy to read sections: (1) The Theme; (2) The Tale; (3) The Meat; (4) The Words; and (5) The Close.
In each section of Point Made, Guberman walks you through the Fifty Techniques for improving that section of the brief, as well as countless examples of how the Fifty Techniques have been used by top legal writers in the profession, including: John Roberts, Ted Olson, Alan Dershowitz, Frank Easterbrook, and Barack Obama, to name just a few.
To help you practice taking your legal writing skills to the next level, the book concludes with 50 writing exercises corresponding to the Fifty Techniques.
Simply put, Pointe Made is the best legal writing book on the market today.
Legal Writing In Plain English: A Text With Exercises
Legal Writing In Plain English teaches you the nuts and bolts for crafting excellent briefs and legal memoranda by showing you how to organize your ideas, create and refine your voice, and improve your editing skills.
Garner divided Legal Writing In Plain English into five masterful sections: (1) Principles For All Legal Writing; (2) Principles Mainly For Analytical And Persuasive Writing; (3) Principles Mainly For Legal Drafting; (4) Principles Of Document Design; and (5) Methods For Continued Improvement.
Each section of Legal Writing In Plain English walks you through these principles and methods by reviewing dozens of real-world writing samples. Garner’s common-sense approach to legal writing will help you crystallize the skills that all great legal writers possess.
Making Your Case: The Art Of Persuading Judges
Co-authored by the late Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, Making Your Case: The Art Of Persuading Judges, is a phenomenal book about advocacy and the art of persuasion.
The conversational style of Making Your Case gives it a fresh and punchy flow. In fact, you’ll find the back-and-forth banter between Scalia and Garner to be nothing short of entertaining.
Comedy aside, Making Your Case pulls back the curtain on what motivates the court by walking you through the essential areas of persuasive mastery: (1) General Principles Of Argumentation; (2) Legal Reasoning; (3) Briefing; and (4) Oral Argument. Each area is discussed, dissected, and delivered with a level of expertise that all legal practitioners should strive to attain.
Making Your Case truly shows you how to “make a complex case simple, not a simple case complex.”
The Winning Brief: 100 Tips For Persuasive Briefing In Trial And Appellate Courts
The Winning Brief: 100 Tips For Persuasive Briefing In Trial And Appellate Courts is my favorite Bryan Garner book. It’s the essential guide to drafting compelling, effective briefs. In fact, it’s the kind of reference guide that you’ll refer back to again and again during your legal career.
The Winning Brief includes 100 Tips for drafting compelling briefs. Here’s a complete run down of Garner’s famous “100 Tips”:
- Prologue (Tip 1)
- Composing in an Orderly, Sensible Way (Tips 2-10)
- Conveying the Big Picture (Tips 11-19)
- Marching Forward Through Sound Paragraphs (Tips 20-26)
- Editing for Brisk, Uncluttered Sentences (Tips 27-43)
- Choosing the Best Words (Tips 44-56)
- Punctuating for Clarity and Impact (Tips 57-62)
- Becoming Proficient in Designing Text (Tips 63-69)
- Sidestepping Some Common Quirks (Tips 70-84)
- Capitalizing on Little-Used Persuasive Strategies (Tips 85-91)
- Hitting Your Stride as a Brief-Writer (Tips 92-100)
Another excellent feature of The Winning Brief is the summary checklist you’ll review at the end of each tip. Keep these checklists by your side as you draft substantive briefs. In sum, The Winning Brief is worth every penny and is definitely one of the best legal writing books of all time.
The Elements Of Style
Although not strictly a legal writing book, The Elements Of Style is the classic guidebook for all things grammar and clear writing. That’s why it’s one of the best legal writing books of all time.
The Elements Of Style embodies the timeless philosophy of great writing: make every word count. This philosophy is especially important for law students and attorneys, who are often forced to labor under the thumb of oppressive word counts and page limits.
You can pick up a copy of The Elements Of Style on Amazon for around 5 bucks. After you do, you’ll understand why it’s been on the desk of expert writers for nearly 100 years.
P.S. Check out my definitive guide to the Best Law School Supplements.