The Art of (Not) Quoting

Posted: January 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Talking About the Cases, The Argument or Analysis | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Quote Sparingly.

Judges and senior attorneys want you to summarize the cases for them. Quote from cases only if the language is extremely significant.

Introduce Quotations with Substantive Sentences

The sentences that introduce your quotation should summarize the quoted language. For example, introduce a quotation with a sentence, such as In Smith v. Jones, the First Circuit also outlined the factors that determine whether more than a corrective disclosure is required. An effective introductory sentence spares the reader the agony of actually reading the quote. Avoid introducing quotations with bland phrases that tell nothing about the material to follow, such as In Smith v. Jones, the court held that. . . .

Avoid long quotations.

Long quotations beg not to be read. Readers love block quotes because the block format highlights just what part of the page they can skip. And skip it they will. If you must include a long quote, consider breaking it up into smaller parts so that you can keep it in your paragraph. Begin with The court stated that. . . . Continue with The court explained that. . . . Conclude with The Court cautioned that. . . .

But if you must quote a long passage, put it in a block.

If you must quote a passage of fifty words or more, set off that quote in block format: double space before and after the quote, single space within the quote and indent five or ten spaces at the left and right margins.


P. S. My Book, The Lawyer’s Essential Guide to Writing: Proven Tools and Techniques, contains many more scintillating tips like this!


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