The Supreme Court as Your Legal Writing Inspiration?

Posted on 05-16-2018 by
Tags: legal writing , writing , Supreme Court

Inspiration is all about the power of persuasion. 


The Supreme Court is a place where we look for legal direction. It’s also a place where we can and should look for legal inspiration.

The writing offered by the Supreme Court often comes across as academic – statements so dry that we start to tune them out. We’ve come to expect that everything from the justices fits that mold. But then we miss the golden nuggets that the Justices provide us , like this inspiring quote by Sandra Day O’Connor:

Or these by Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Louis Brandeis, respectively:

Like our misconception about Supreme Court writing, legal writing has earned a reputation as dry and stale; far too academic to be interesting. But is that truly the case, or is that an unjust assumption?

Legal Briefs: No Longer a Drag

It’s a quick assumption that many will make: legal writing can’t be creative and interesting, let alone inspirational. But that’s jumping to a conclusion without considering an alternate possibility. When writing a brief, lawyers shouldn’t shy away from inspiration – it could be the difference in winning or losing a case.

Inspiration is all about the power of persuasion. I’d go as far as calling it the most powerful form of persuasion – ideally, you’re positively impacting the way your target audience thinks about something.

Coaches use it in sports constantly: the pep talk to inspire their team to win the big game. The right words can cause the team to unite and rally for a win. As a lawyer, the ability to inspire in the courtroom should look very similar, whether that’s through speaking or through legal writing. It comes down to using the right words.

Inspiration in Your Writing

Finding inspiration can be one of the biggest challenges of writing. Continuously reading the work of others often leads to some of the best results. The beauty of reading others’ work is that it’s not limited to one medium. Sure, inspiration can come from reading other briefs and cases, but don’t stop there. Read blogs, books and other forums to inspire your writing. Pull in things from conversations you’ve been part of or have overheard. Anything can provide inspiration to your legal writing if you open yourself up to it. Every medium offers something to inspire you. Here's some examples: 

By seeking inspiration, you can be an inspiration to your next reader, whether that be a client, employer, or judge. To inspire your writing, here are 7 inspiring quotes by notable writers and figures:

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