United States: Effective Insurance Recovery Lawyers And The Importance Of Brevity - Video

Last Updated: April 21 2017
Article by Mark Miller

In today's blog post, Miller Friel attorney Kimberly Wehle wraps up her four-part series: Four Tips for Advocating Insurance Coverage Disputes. In this fourth and final installment, she discusses how effective insurance recovery lawyers approach motions practice. Sophisticated insurance recovery lawyers follow this rule when writing: short is good, but shorter is better. Insurance recovery briefs should succinctly explain a client's position on both the facts and the law. Brevity comes from careful editing and intelligent analysis, and, it is an essential part of good legal writing. Brevity is especially important with motions practice. Unlike lawyers litigating a case, judges simply don't have time to think through every nuance of the case. Insurance recovery lawyers need to do that for the judge, and present to the judge a brief and concise argument as to why their client is entitled to coverage.

We have included a transcript of the video below:

FOUR TIPS FOR ADVOCATING INSURANCE COVERAGE DISPUTES

#4 Short Is Good, But Shorter Is Better.

In what we call motions practice, where lawyers write briefs and file briefs in court that explain their position, both on the facts and on the law, shorter is better. The instinct is to write as much as possible to make sure that you've preserved all of your issues for appeal, that you've addressed everything possible that the judge would like to hear about. But the task of a sophisticated written advocate is to include all that detail but see the forest for the trees. To convey things in a way that the judge wants to read. Judges like brevity. They have very big dockets. They have a lot going on. They don't have the time to spend on the details that the lawyers do.

It needs to be in there, but it needs to be drafted in a way that the court gets the bottom line, the three to five bottom lines, fairly quickly with all the detail in there. In theory, when the judge sits down to write a decision in your favor, his clerk or her clerk doesn't have to do any additional research. It's all in your brief, but it's written in a way that the court accepted it or understood it very quickly and we see this in oral advocacy as well. You might go to the podium a few days before with 15 pages of notes, but walk up there with three points and those are the points that are conveyed over and over again to the panel or to the judge if you're arguing a motion or if you're arguing an appeal.

Writing is very similar to that. Shorter is better, punchy, accessible language, conversational language that's professional but not wordy. Not lawyerly. It doesn't go on for sentences and sentences. It's easy to get in the weeds. It's easy in complex cases to end up with sentences that make sense to you, but not necessarily to a reader. Even a reader that is highly sophisticated and highly educated like a judge or another lawyer. Good writing is your take on it but with more editing. The shorter it gets, the cleaner it gets, the better it gets.

Miller Friel, PLLC is a specialized insurance coverage law firm whose sole purpose is to help corporate clients maximize their insurance coverage. Our Focus of exclusively representing policyholders, combined with our extensive Experience in the area of insurance law, leads to greater efficiency, lower costs and better Results. Further discussion and analysis of insurance coverage issues impacting policyholders can be found in our Miller Friel Insurance Coverage Blog and our 7 Tips for Maximizing Coverage series.

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