Briefwriting Masterclass Program, 2-4 December 2015, Abuja

Guest of Honour: Hon. Justice Ishaq U. Bello
Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory

Day 1- Wednesday 2 December 2015

7.30-8.30 am: Registering and seating participants & distributing materials

8.30-9.00am: Introductions & Networking

9.00-10.30am: The Architecture of Argument- Issues for Determination

10.30-11.00am: Discussion, Questions & Answers

11.00-11.30am: Tea Break

11.30am-12.45pm: Task 1: Study Nobis-Elendu v INEC [2015] 16 NWLR (Part 1485) 197.
• Criticise the lead judgment’s attitude to the issues.
• Faced with the parties’ varying issue formulations, what should have been the Supreme Court’s attitude or approach?
• Using Garner’s deep-issue format, reconstruct the issues.

12.45-1.30pm: Task 1 Presentations

1.30-2.45pm: Lunch

2.45-3.15pm: The Introduction summarizing the brief

3.15-5.00pm: The facts and procedural history

5.00-5.30pm: Discussion, Questions & Answers

Day 2- Thursday 3 December 2015

9.00-10.15am: Task 2: Study Nobis-Elendu v INEC [2015] 16 NWLR (Part 1485) 197.
• Criticize the second paragraph of the lead judgment for its ‘he-said-she-said’ presentation of an aspect of the facts. How should the Supreme Court have introduced that paragraph?
• Criticize both the law reporter’s and the lead judgment’s presentation of the facts and procedural history.
• Recount the facts and procedural history in as interesting a manner as possible.

10.15-11am: Task 2 Presentations

11.00-11.30am: Tea Break

11.30am-1.00pm: The Argument section Part 1

1.00-1.30pm: Discussion, Questions & Answers

1.30-2.45pm: Lunch

2.45-4.00pm: The Argument section Part 2

4.00-4.30pm: Discussion, Questions & Answers

4.30-5.45pm: Task 3: Study Nobis-Elendu v INEC [2015] 16 NWLR (Part 1485) 197.
• Comment on the language, style, and substance of the lead judgment’s analysis on pages 220-225.
• Highlight the rhetorical deficiencies of the lead judgment, especially pages 220-225.

Day 3- Friday 4 December 2015

9.00-9.45am: Task 3 Presentations

9.45-10.15am: Think before you write

10.15-10.45am: Discussion, Questions & Answers

10.45-11.15am: Tea Break

11.15am-12noon: Case Theory, Themes, and Priming

12noon-12.30pm: The Rhetorical Triangle

12.30-1.30pm: Task 4: Study chapter II of Anatomy of a Brief by Chinua Asuzu.
• Why is Wole Soyinka’s Telephone Conversation of any interest or value in advocacy?
• What rhetorical device does Soyinka deploy so effectively in Telephone Conversation?
• What part of your brief can you improve using Soyinka’s technique in Telephone Conversation?
• How does priming help advocates? Explain cognitive conservatism in your own words.

1.30-2.45pm: Lunch

2.45-3.30pm: Task 4 Presentations

3.30-4.00pm: Logic and Clear Thought
4.00-4.30pm: Feedback, Testimonials, Certificates, Group Photos, and Closing

5 Benefits of legal-writing training you should know by Senator Ihenyen

The Write HouseToday, there is little or nothing a lawyer can do without writing; for judges, absolutely nothing. Writing well is the most critical and yet the rarest skill in law.

In his book, Legal Writing Fundamentals (2014), Chinua Asuzu, the CEO of the Write House and expert in legal writing, puts it this way: “Today’s legal world is writing-biased. Written argument is required at trial and appellate courts. Writing also dominates arbitration and alternative dispute resolution.”

Everyone needs sound training in legal writing. But most lawyers and judges do not think so. Many senior lawyers, particularly, don’t think they need any legal-writing training. At best, they recommend it to their junior colleagues. “Who needs legal-training at this stage!?” one senior lawyer within the premises of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, once remarked dismissively. But do you know that most lawyers who think they write well do not? Carl Felsenfeld, a learned writer, eloquently wrote in a U.S. Business Law Journal, “Lawyers have two common failings. One is that they do not write well, and the other is that they think they do.”

In Nigeria, the foundation for sound legal writing has never been strong. Only a negligible number of Faculties across the country teach it. Most law teachers lack the skills required to train law students–even in the Law School. As a pioneer writer, teacher, and consultant on legal writing in Nigeria, Chinua Asuzu believes that “…this (the lack of legal-writing training) is not a recent deficiency, Nigerian lawyers at all levels (including judges, legal-department heads, partners, professors, and SANs) generally write poorly.”

Well, now you know.

International best practices now require lawyers to prepare legal documents in clear language. It’s high time lawyers embraced open communication with their clients. This enables lay clients, readers, or users easily access legal documents. It’s important that they do. We need to realise that law is not just for lawyers alone. Law is for everyone. And it’s good business to write well. Yes, it’s like dressing smart.

The Write House is committed to filling the writing gap in Nigerian law (I’m proud to be part of that team). As Africa’s frontline team of legal-writing coaches, consultants, experts, mentors, and teachers, our experience has been that lawyers, judges, and legal personnel trained in legal writing benefit immensely, career-wise.

Mainly culled from The Write House Profile, I list 5 of these career-enhancing benefits as follows:

  • Legal writing training enhances your efficiency. For organizations, legal-writing training is sound

    economics. It improves economies of scale by enhancing efficiency and utilization. Fewer hands will complete more

    tasks in fewer hours.

  • It deepens your branding, credibility, employability, and ethos. For both individual attorneys and

    organizations, legal-writing training deepens branding, credibility, employability, and ethos. Good writing is

    directly proportional to good business manners, professional image, and brand differentiation.

  • Legal-writing training helps you write clearly and effectively, commanding respect. Trainees learn to

    prepare legal documents in plain English, dropping the legalese and verbosity that plague much legal writing.

    Refreshingly clear legal writing retains the majesty of legal language and commands the respect of modern readers.

  • It improves your expressive and persuasive skills. Express yourself and persuade effectively. Our

    training boosts trainees’ expressive capacity and persuasive force.

  • It exposes you to international best practices in legal writing. Heads, HR departments, and partners in

    law firms and legal departments should assess writing skills of applicants for legal positions. They cannot

    conduct this assessment unless they themselves are exposed to international best practices in legal writing, as

    taught by The Write House.

  • Participate in one of our legal-writing workshops. It will enhance your career greatly.

    Thank me later!