My Finely Tailored New Year’s Resolution: Pens & Pinstripes

Writing and legal writing in particular are the actual topics of this post.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t actually make any resolutions for the new year.  But I’m a sucker for a catchy title, so I’m going to say this series is about New Year’s resolutions anyway.  One of my year-round goals ( i.e., my resolutions),  is to improve my writing skills.  Today there is no more powerful tool than the written word.  The written and spoken word is today’s pinstripe suit.  


Most of my court appearances today are made via a teleconference with the judge and opposing counsel also on the phone.  It is not uncommon for me to meet a client in person for the first time after having counseled them for more than a year.  With the phone and e-mail, face-to-face encounters have become less and less common. 

As a result, the image of the lawyer in the perfectly presentable pinstripe suit carries far less significance.  If you never see the lawyer, what he or she is wearing becomes close to irrelevant.  What you do “see” is your lawyer’s words.  Which is why it is important to me to maintain a proper “word wardrobe,” if you will.

I won’t deny that I still love a well-made suit, pinstripe or not, and I won’t pretend that I have the slightest intention of abandoning my devotion to fashion.  But I recognize that it will suit me best to invest in today’s most important accessories–my writing and language skills. 

In this multi-part series, I’ll talk about various ways to improve this valuable accessory and the resources that can help.  For today, here are the ways I work on my writing annually, quarterly, and daily. 


I attend one writing seminar a year.  The best I’ve ever attended, without a doubt, was one by Bryan A. Garner.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of his Legal Writing seminars, you should drop whatever you are doing and sign up.  It can revolutionize your writing.  Especially if you’ve read his books, his seminars are great for putting that theory into practice.


Then, a few times a year, I ask other writers to read and comment on my work.  Our writing-guru-in-residence, John Paschetto, in particular, is an amazing resource.  I can say, without hesitation, that John is the most skilled writer I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  In addition to being a partner in our firm’s Business Planning Section, and a remarkably skilled editor, he also has a way of commenting on the written word in such a way that makes the recipient want to get better. 


And, on a daily basis, I turn to the internet, where writing resources are diverse and plentiful.  Of course, I utilize the current and timely content available in the blogosphere.  I also employ a variety of content-rich websites that cover every topic imaginable and serve as inspiration and motivation when writing becomes more of a chore than a pleasure.   

In subsequent posts in this series, I’ll divulge my list of the best resources the web has to offer those who want to improve their writing.  The posts will include:

  1. 10 of the Funniest Blogs About Bad Writing;
  2. 20 Online Dictionaries;
  3. 30 of the Best Blogs About Writing;
  4. 40 of the Best Books About Writing; and
  5. 50 of the Best Writing References Online.
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