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
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.
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