A Sampling of Our Seminars

We specialize in designing programs tailored to our clients’ needs, which we identify through consultation with our clients, questionnaires for the seminar participants, and, whenever possible, editorial reviews of the participants’ writing samples.

We also tailor our programs to make the best use of the time our clients can devote to them. All our programs are available in two-, three-, and four-hour versions, with the exception of the 90-minute Editing your Colleagues’ Work.

Click the name of a seminar below to learn more about a specific program.

Recent programs designed for legal writers

Seminar Audience Overview
Writers, Readers, and Transactions Transactional attorneys, all levels Drafting to create readily understandable provisions within a useful structure
Writing a Compelling Brief Litigators, all levels Telling the client’s story, framing an effective argument, and making these two elements work together persuasively

Recent programs tailored for legal or business writers

Seminar Audience Overview
Deadline Writing New professionals Managing the writing process; organizing complex material; revising and editing under time pressure
Writing Persuasively All writers Defining the who and the what of persuasion; making the case; appealing to the reader’s interest; inspiring the reader’s trust
Writing for the Marketplace All writers Choosing a marketable subject and anticipating the readers’ needs; writing a good opening; clarifying the message and streamlining the language
Something Is Wrong Here. . . All writers Reviewing common grammar and punctuation problems and their solutions
Editing Your Colleagues' Work Advanced associates and partners; supervisors Making assignments and reviewing drafts to achieve professional quality without damaging professional relationships

Deadline Writing

This program helps writers at the beginning of their careers make the transition from academic to legal or business writing. It describes a process for producing high-quality work when they have only a few hours to complete their research and draft, revise, edit, and proofread a document. Participants learn to get to the point on page one and support their conclusions with the best evidence, analysis, or argument they can muster.

Getting Organized, Getting Started, Writing the Rough Draft

  • how professional writers manage the writing process
  • why a document’s success depends on a well-defined purpose and a sense of the reader’s interests and needs
  • which time-saving techniques help writers organize their ideas and produce a rough draft

Revising the Rough Draft

  • why revision is a crucial but overlooked stage in the writing process
  • why paragraph one matters, for writer and reader alike
  • how to shape all the paragraphs that follow
  • how to check and refine the structure of longer documents

Editing the Revised Draft

  • how to make the most of the time available for editing
  • how to give sentences a meaningful shape
  • which refinements of style yield the best results
  • how writers most often fall afoul of the rules of grammar and punctuation

Formatting and Proofreading the Final Draft

  • how to format to clarify a document’s structure
  • how to proofread to capture errors and inconsistencies

Editing Your Colleagues’ Work

Reviewing a colleague’s document requires time and tact. This workshop focuses on guidelines and techniques to ease the task, so that supervising attorneys and managers can guide their colleagues to produce documents of professional quality—and do so eventually without an editor’s aid.

Assigning work

  • What a writer needs to know to write well
  • How to assign work to ensure a good product

Deciding when to edit

  • When it makes sense for an editor to intervene
  • How the writer can assist the editor’s work

Deciding what to edit

  • What a professional editor considers: content, structure, style, and mechanics (grammar, punctuation, layout)
  • What a reviewer pressed for time can most productively do

Marking the text

  • The relative value of rewriting the document versus guiding the writer to do the rewriting
  • The balance between criticism and encouragement

Fostering Good Work

  • What firms or companies can do to encourage good writing

Something is Wrong Here . . . A Grammar Review for the Puzzled

It is easy to forget how possessive apostrophes work or what a participle looks like when it dangles. This refresher about grammar and punctuation is designed for writers who want to avoid distracting their readers with avoidable errors and to recognize the difference between genuine rules and matters of opinion.

The workshop focuses on the most common grammatical problems in legal and business writing:

  • lack of agreement between subject and verb, and between pronouns and the nouns they replace
  • problems of coordination and subordination (mismatched structures, dangling modifiers, and overextended length)
  • confused diction, such as that vs. which, fewer vs. less, affect vs. effect
  • uncertainties about usage, such as Can infinitives be split? Can sentences end in prepositions?
  • troublesome punctuation, usually commas, semicolons, and possessive apostrophes

Writers, Readers, and Transactions

When legal writers draft agreements, they juggle competing demands. They must be thorough, as they imagine and express the circumstances that may affect the parties’ performance. They must also be clear, so that the parties can fulfill their obligations.

In many agreements, thoroughness trumps clarity, generating long, syntactically complex provisions that few readers can understand. This seminar demonstrates how drafters can avoid this problem and write provisions that their clients, not just other lawyers, can easily grasp.

How to clarify complex provisions

  • drafting practices that result in syntactically complex provisions
  • expressing even the most complicated arrangements in manageable sentences

How to streamline provisions

  • clarifying provisions by relying on strong verbs, minimizing negation, and avoiding repetition

How to use words without confusing readers

  • avoiding language that confuses or annoys readers of agreements
  • using words carefully (e.g., the verb comprise), unambiguously (e.g., shall, may, and will; that vs. which), and unpretentiously (e.g., minimizing here- and there- compounds; said, such, same)

How to put an agreement in order

  • structuring an agreement or assessing a pre-existing form’s suitability to a given transaction

Writing a Compelling Brief

Brief-writing requires a writer to command the different skills of telling a good story and making a convincing argument. This seminar focuses on both skills, so that writers can fashion the factual narratives and arguments that cooperate to realize a brief’s persuasive aims.

The first half of the seminar focuses on Statements of Fact:

  • Identifying the relevant facts of a case and shaping them into a narrative with a well-defined beginning, middle, and end
  • Using techniques of characterization and theme

The second half focuses on the Argument:

  • Recognizing the substantive and structural signs of an effective argument
  • Shaping paragraphs and sections to clarify the argument
  • Reconciling parts of an argument drafted by different writers
  • Avoiding common obstacles to effective argument, such as unnecessary repetition, overuse of quotation, and mishandled discussions of cases.

Writing for the Marketplace

Legal and business writers still attract or retain clients through traditional channels, such as newsletters, op-eds, and journal articles. More and more often, they also participate in the marketplace created by social media. This seminar focuses on developing the approach and stylistic flexibility to write successfully for readers in old and new media and turn them into clients.

Finding a subject

  • Determining what lawyers or business people know that readers want to read about
  • Choosing a subject that showcases the writer’s expertise

Engaging the reader

  • Writing an opening that encourages the reader to keep reading
  • Holding the reader’s attention by keeping the message simple, making its structure clear, and being brief

Handling the pitch

  • Deciding how to make and place the pitch
  • Leaving the reader with a good impression of the writer, the firm, or the company

Writing Persuasively

Persuasion is an essential skill for all legal and business writers, whether their work involves writing briefs or drafting agreements, preparing reports to stockholders or drafting company policy. As long as there are colleagues to be convinced about the writer’s good ideas or clients to be encouraged to act reasonably, techniques of persuasion will be put to good use.

The Elements of Persuasion

  • how persuasion depends on a strong argument, an appeal to the reader’s emotions or self-interest, and the writer’s self-presentation
  • why successful persuasive writers know exactly what they want and the reader from whom they want it
  • how to choose a persuasive strategy

Making a Strong Argument

  • which characteristics distinguish a strong argument from a weak one
  • how to clarify the line of an argument—and why it’s important to do so
  • how even a good argument can go awry and be set right

Moving the Reader to Think or Act as You Wish

  • how implicit and explicit inducements influence the reader
  • how rhetorical techniques—of emphasis, elaboration, repetition, connotation, imagery—can move the reader’s emotions

Presenting Yourself Effectively

  • how a writer can inspire a reader’s trust, or lose it irrevocably, through his or her self-presentation