Judicial Writing- A Benchmark for the Bench

Course Duration

5 Days
9.00 — 16.30hs

Course Structure

On each of the 3 training days:

● 4 hours of lectures with PowerPoint presentation (9.00–13.00hs)
● 1 hour lunch break (13.00–14.00hs)
● 2.5 hours of discussion, exercises, questions, and answers (14.00–16.30hs)



Course Overview

To validate their institutional continuance as a branch of government, judges and magistrates must make sound decisions. They must also articulate and express those decisions efficiently and comprehensibly.

Judicial Writing: A Benchmark for the Bench demonstrates how to attain mastery in judicial writing. The program will help judges, magistrates, arbitrators, and other decision-writers master the art and science of judicial writing.


Course Objectives

Judicial Writing: A Benchmark for the Bench will enable you reach just and sound decisions by:

  1. sharpening your analytical skills;
  2. honing your issue-spotting acumen; and
  3. deepening your precedent-application prowess.

Target audience

  • Arbitrators
  • Grand Kadis and Kadis
  • Judges in Federal High Courts, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, and State High Courts
  • Judges in the National Industrial Court
  • Judicial Assistants
  • Justices of the Supreme Court
  • Justices of the Court of Appeal
  • Justices of the Customary Court of Appeal and Sharia Court of Appeal
  • Magistrates
  • Tribunal Judges and Commissioners

Course Content

Thanks for your interest in Judicial Writing: A Benchmark for the Bench.

The course features the following:

  • Introduction
  • Anatomy of a Judgment
  • Issues for determination (Reformulate the issues and answer them with reasons)
  • The Introduction (Write an executive summary)
  • Facts and Procedural History (Narrate the pertinent facts and procedural history: recount only information relevant to your analysis of the outcome)
  • Analysis and Discussions (Analyze, discuss, and synthesize the parties’ arguments, authorities, evidence, facts, and law. Explain your reasoning and point to your conclusion.)
  • Conclusion and Disposition (Close your decisions by granting, modifying, or refusing relief,; issuing directions; or remanding the case.)
  • Logic and Clear Thought
  • Language and Style

At the workshop, you will:

  1. learn that judging entails professional writing and demands literary skills;
  2. learn to prepare a table of contents to structure your judgment;
  3. learn to minimize obiter dicta in your judgment;
  4. master the anatomy of a judgment- table of contents, issues for determination, the introduction, facts and procedural history, analysis and discussion, conclusion and disposition, and bibliography;
  5. understand why you need to reformulate the issues and answer them with reasons;
  6. learn how to reformulate an issue by finding governing law and isolating legally significant facts;
  7. learn the methods of drafting issues and unlearn the most of them;
  8. learn how to present issues; use deductive logic to render doctrinal holding; forget circumstances of this case; and prefer legal to procedural juxtapositions;
  9. learn how to start your judgment with an introduction by writing an executive summary;
  10. learn how to state the facts and procedural history of a case by telling a story with the pertinent facts without interpreting or interrupting;
  11. learn to shun the dating game and other data mess by avoiding excessive dates in the facts section;
  12. learn to call parties and witnesses their names and assign substantive description to data;
  13. learn to fit facts to law by aligning your facts with your analysis;
  14. learn to summarize the procedural background by recounting the filings and proceedings in story form.
  15. learn to write your analysis and discussion with effective organization, structure, and posture through outlines, point headings, roadmaps, topic sentences, transition, bridging, and paragraphing;
  16. learn to concur and dissent with style on a multi-judge bench;
  17. learn to minimize citations and quotations;
  18. learn to write easily comprehensible conclusions and dispositions;
  19. learn logic and clear thought for sound judicial reasoning and judicial writing;
  20. learn to write well; eschew legalese and verbosity; and proofread and edit your drafts.

Course Syllabus

1. Introduction
2. Gender Equity in Modern Communication

(a) Distinguish sex from gender.
(b) Use the appropriate pronouns for persons under the law.
(c) Flee linguistic sexism while remaining readable.
(d) Learn the 15 Commands of Gender Balance.
(e) Use alternatives for sexist terms.
(f) Avoid political correctness on steroids. Revise hypercorrection.
(g) Are there ladies at the bar and on the bench?
(h) Miss or Mrs—what’s the court’s business?
3. Let’s laugh legalese and verbosity out of court and out of hearing.
4. Mylward v Welden
5. “I give you that orange.”
6. Client care, customer service, and democracy are inhospitable to legalese and verbosity.
7. Write with your readers in mind.
8. Use the 5C+2E formula for writing success.
9. Plain English respects business and legal terms of art, but resists hocus-pocus incantations.
10. Plain English retains the dignity, even majesty, of educated prose.
11. Typical purposes of business and legal writing: (a) to advise, explain, or instruct; (b) to persuade, and (c) to memorialize.
12. Focus on your audience, message, and purpose.
13. Emphasize more with structure, syntax, and vocabulary than with formatting.
14. Adopt a professional tone throughout. Forget your failed comedy career.
15. Seek deliverance from leprous legalese.

16. Beware of clichés.

17. Implement whiz-deletion.

18. Ban and/or.

19. Prefer the active voice. Don’t hide the subject. Don’t bury your verbs in abstract nouns and adjectives.

20. Fear not to begin sentences with Toby’s Fanta conjunctions (then, or, but, yet, so, for, again, nor, thus, and).

21. Eschew intensifiers. (A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude. He pounces.)

22. Learn transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs.

23. Appreciate phrasal verbs and their corresponding nouns.

24. Use mostly short sentences and paragraphs. Use thesis or topic sentences to introduce most paragraphs. Use transition to enhance flow.

25. Embrace and implement parallel structure.

26. Use possessives to introduce gerunds and solve fused-participle difficulties. Situate your modifiers to eliminate confusion. Avoid awkward separation.

27. Use nominative and objective pronouns correctly.

28. Watch whiches and wizthats.

29. Strike ‘fatuous lawyerisms,’ elegant variation, and inelegant fixation.

30. Supplant redundant expressions with concise alternatives.

31. Expel expletives. Minimize comment clauses and metadiscourse. Moderate authorial self-reference.

32. Learn proper use of abbreviations, acronyms, clippings, hybrids, and initialisms.

33. Master modern business communication: emails, letters, memos, and reports.

34. Master punctuation: apostrophes, braces, brackets, bullets, colons, commas, ellipses, em-dashes, en-dashes, exclamation points, guillemets, hyphens, parentheses, periods, question marks, quotation marks, semicolons, and slashes.

35. Construct lists and build tables with aplomb.

36. Use mostly digits for your numbers.

37. Format minimally with boldface, capitalization, and italics. Never underline anything.

38. Cite and quote like a pro.

39. Deepen and broaden your learned vocabulary.

40. Cultivate an appreciation for semantic nuance and subtle distinctions.


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