Don't Be That Guy.

COMES NOW The Lawyerist (via Legal Blog Watch) who duly notes that a heretofore unknown bankruptcy judge ("Judge") from Minnesota has issued prophylactic guidelines on proceeding forthwith ("PF") in terms of filings and/or Legal Briefs in Judge's Honorable Court, with all due respect as hereupon outlined by The Undersigned:
  • Guideline No. 6 -- Capitalization: Lawyers apparently love to capitalize words. Pleadings, including proposed orders, are commonly full of words that are capitalized, not quite randomly, but certainly with great abandon. Please limit the use of capitalization to proper names. For example, do not capitalize court, motion, movant, debtor, trustee, order, affidavit, stipulation, mortgage, lease or any of the other numerous words that are commonly capitalized.
  • Guideline No. 7 -- Use of articles: Lawyers apparently disfavor articles, both definite and indefinite. Use the articles “the,” “a,” and “an” as appropriate. Write the way you would speak. So, “the debtor,” not “debtor,” “the trustee,” not “trustee.”
  • Guideline No. 8 -- And/Or: Never use “and/or.”
  • Guideline No. 9 -- Superfluous Words and Phrases: Eliminate superfluous words. They serve no purpose other than to make the document sound more legal, which is exactly the opposite of the goal that I am trying to accomplish. Examples of such words are: “hereby,” “herein,” “in and for,” “subject,” “that certain,” “now,” “that,” “undersigned,” “immediately,” “heretofore entered in this case,” “be, and hereby is” -- the list goes on and on.
  • Guideline No. 12 -- Undersigned: Never use the word “undersigned.”
The entire guidelines are a must-read and are here.

While we're cranking out on stupid things lawyers do, here's another that's been on my mind:

If you are in court or a professional setting and you're wearing ostentatious, distracting cuff links that promote your school or some personal hobby or idiosyncrasy of yours, you're a d@*k.

It's like putting a bumper sticker on your suit. Why not paint your face with your school colors while you're at it?

Ok, so you're living vicariously through the crushing and dominating football victories of your Alma mater, we get it.

But why do we need to know that?

You're in court, or in a office at a deposition, not chugging beers with your frat buddies.

Keep your extra-legal personal interests to yourself, trust me no one gives a crap.

Also, if your kid is savvy enough to "text-message" or "Facebook" Santa, she's probably doing it to humor you and you ought to just let the whole thing go already.

God you sound like a tool.

Wow, how'd we get here so early on a Friday?


  1. Must be the rain, SFL. Good stuff.

  2. Seriously SFL, why can't I use "undersigned". Give me another way to write the following without involving yourself too much in a pleading:

    _____________, by and through undersigned counsel,

    On _______, 2009, counsel for the plaintiff told undersigned counsel that she would ________________

    As to and/or:

    This stipulation meant that the ______________, _______________, and/or ______________, could be used as evidence to prove ______________ during trial.

    What about:


    Do I now have to write "I hereby certify"?

  3. "by and through undersigned counsel" is implied so I would eliminate.

    I guess the judge wants "me" or "I" in the other contexts?

    Seems a bit informal I agree.

  4. SFL: who peed in your pomade?

  5. Not to quibble…but for those Bluebook junkies, “court” must be capitalized if you’re referring to the court that’s reading the document.

  6. this is what a REAL lawyer focues on for his client:

    "But lawyer Marc Nurik said he plans to contact trustee Herbert Stettin Friday to tell him he believes the photos belong to Rothstein's family.

    ``We want to pick up those photos,'' Nurik said. ``I don't know why his personal photos have to be auctioned off, and I'm going to talk to the trustee about that. His personal items should be returned to him.''

    what a f*&%ing clown nurik is.

  7. The phrase that always makes me nuts is "this Honorable Court." Such patronizing bullshit. Here are a few more rules:
    1. Identify every word that is more than four syllables and try to re-write it.
    2. don't use plaintiff, defendant, trustee, etc. These people have names. It humanizes your writing.
    3. Remember the Page Six Rule. Most judges do not read past page six of whatever brilliant legal treatise you think you have written so say it fast and effectively. Otherwise, you are just shadow boxing.
    4. If you still can't figure it out, lock yourself in a room with every book Hemingway wrote and read them. Then read them again.

  8. I think the judge has too much time on his hands to be worrying about such mundane matters as capitalization and punctuation. If he knows what you mean, rule on it, if not enter an order telling you to clarify your pleading. There are too many important issues in today's society to be worrying about what words should be capitalized and what words should not.

  9. To 1:30 pm. I could not disagree more. Good writing is the same as good grooming and dressing well in court. It is a reflection of our manners and the respect that we have for others and the way we expect to be treated. It may not seem important but these little things are the bedrock of a civilized society.

  10. putzrtpb, Xrumer mod , PaskJvZ.


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