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Lawyer Billing, Agita, and the Absence of A [Year’s] Best Legal Writing Compilation


This recent post at f/k/a will take you to previous ones on lawyer billing, all worth reading. It will also take you to a definition of agita, a condition not unknown to those of us who don’t get a chance to get it all out of our systems (though blogging does help).

This leads me to my current lament (but no agita), which is: “why isn’t there a satisfactory legal equivalent to The Best American Science Writing?” (I’m working through the 2008 edition now.) Or is there?

There are a lot of “The Best American xxx Writing”: science and nature writing, short stories, mystery stories, comics, erotica, political writing, plays, sports writing, etc. Why not law?

I suppose you can take a look at most of the legal writing and figure out that it’s because most legal writing is for lawyers (on the whole a not very cheerful bunch) with an occasional article in the New Yorker, New York Times, or other popular periodical meant for the inquiring lay person (and Arts and Letters Daily is one place to look for quick links). There is also the Green Bag (which has their own “best of” the year) and the National Law Journal, both of which will not infrequently publish articles that remain free of useless jargon (vs. useful jargon), are productively provocative (vs. simply salacious), and, more to the point, are well-written, which makes them especially appealing to the intellectually curious layperson.

One day … surely it could be a fun and productive endeavor for a law-wonk to compile such a collection. I would hope someone other than an academic would do it, for obvious reasons (see Fred Rodell webpage, courtesy of HALT).

Note: The Green Bag’s “best of” includes an Oregon Court of Appeals decision, 210 Or App 315 (2006), Doherty v. Wizner, written by pro tem judge, Daniel Harris.

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One response to “Lawyer Billing, Agita, and the Absence of A [Year’s] Best Legal Writing Compilation”

  1. Lauren says:

    Laura, I think you raise an important point. Why is there not cogent and meaningful legal writing available for us all. I think the answer is that lawyers have become distant from the public. There is no real connection between the law and the public. Lawyers make their own rules without meaningful public input. Therefore, when lawyers write, they write with other lawyers in mind because they don’t have a thread to the public. We should open the intellectual door to the public.

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