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Drafting pleadings is both art and science. The science considers the legal proofs necessary to sustain the desired outcome of the pleading. The art is the method of conveying the information persuasively. This article focuses on the persuasive aspects of drafting but don’t forget the science of the pleading. Consider the following when starting a drafting project:

  • What relief am I seeking? What am I asking the Judge to do for my client?
  • What is my authority? (statute or rule authorizing relief)
  • What facts do I need to allege to support my relief?
  • What is my legal standard of proof?

Continue Reading Motion Practice #2: Drafting Persuasive Pleadings

In honor of the 209th birthday of the great Illinois lawyer and President, here are Mr. Lincoln’s notes found by his secretaries, Hay and Nicolay, after his death. These notes are thought to have been written in 1850. Despite his modesty, this great lawyer’s advice on the practice demonstrates that good ethics, integrity, and honor in the practice are timeless:Notes on the Practice of LawI am not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite as much material for a lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in those wherein I have been moderately successful. The leading rule for the
Continue Reading Notes on the Practice of Law

While most trial advocacy instruction focuses on trial skills, courtroom lawyers spend most of their time in pretrial court hearings known as motion practice. Pretrial motions can apply to both procedural and substantive matters.This will be the first in a four part commentary on motion practice. This article will evaluate when to file motions (and when to refrain).  My follow up article will provide drafting tips and next I will address how to respond to opposing party motions. I will conclude with a discussion of effective oral presentation techniques.When a pretrial issue arises, one must assess whether to address it
Continue Reading Motion Practice #1: What to consider before filing

As a young lawyer I struggled with something I called “Sunday night disease.” Sunday night disease was my euphemism for the anxiety I felt anticipating the upcoming week. I know I was not alone. When a friend of mine became a Judge, I congratulated him and he told me that the best part of assuming the bench was the redemption of his Sundays–they were no longer miserable. Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to a podcast by Tara Brach who spoke about conquering the fear of failure, and it occurred to me that Sunday night disease was just performance
Continue Reading Overcoming Sunday Night Disease

One of the ways I stay sane in the often insane world of family law is by studying Stoic philosophy daily. I was exposed to stoicism by reading Ryan Holiday’s great book, “The Obstacle is the Opportunity,” which is an extended essay on historical figures’ reliance on Stoic principles to overcome adversity. I highly recommend it. After reading Ryan’s book, I subscribed to the dailystoic blog ( and bought several books on stoicism. The core tenet of stoicism is that we need to determine what is within our control and what is outside of our control.
Continue Reading Turning Obstacles into Opportunity: The Stoic Lawyer

Two years ago I discovered an application called Slack (shout out to Lee Rosen for exposing me to it). Slack is a platform that connects teams working on any projects, including lawsuits. Launched in 2014, Slack is the fastest growing business application in history. Basically Slack allows lawyers, their staff (and potentially clients) to all communicate regarding the case on a Facebook like channel dedicated to a particular matter.
At my firm we have set up channels for all of our active clients. Each team member posts regularly on the progress of the case, keeping everyone else in the loop.
Continue Reading My Best Tech Move Ever!