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The Fraternity of Legal Style

Chew, Alexa, The Fraternity of Legal Style (December 5, 2023). 20 Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD 39 (2023), UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 4655190, Available at SSRN:
“This article examines the writing experts cited in—and exalted by—legal style books. Legal style books help lawyers refine their writing, learn new techniques, and get motivated. These books, such as The Elements of Style by Bryan Garner and Point Made by Ross Guberman, are for lawyers who already know the basics of legal writing. They tend to pass along inspiration from other great legal writers—perhaps some sage advice from Jerome Frank or a delightful paragraph by Oliver Wendell Holmes. By drawing on other expert writers’ words, these books invite the lawyers who read them to join this venerable fraternity of legal style. This article is the first empirical study of the experts cited in legal style books, and it shows that the vast majority of experts cited in the most popular books are men. This gender disparity is greater than the gender disparities among real-life legal writers like federal judges, tenured law professors, and even U.S. Supreme Court advocates. And like the lawyers in these high-status writing positions, the most-mentioned legal style experts are white men who attended elite law schools. That legal style books overwhelmingly elevate men to expert status contributes to the discursive gender disparity in law.”

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