Information And Relevance

Looks like Steve Rosenberg has been eating his Wheaties.  This post on Steve’s blog about law review articles is well-written and insightful: legal information has a fairly short shelf life, so to be of value, it must be accessible.  Information that contains a high barrier to access is like a concrete bunker with machine guns shooting out of it — you will bypass it in favor of information that is easier to get to. Also, thanks to Steve for the nice compliment about my blog in this thought-provoking post. 

Access, of course, implies more than just whether it is easy to find something on a topic, but also whether you care to read it.  When I first started practicing, having recently come from journalism, I got into it with some partner who tried to tell me my style of legal writing lacked gravitas.  I recall one sentence that set him off was actually pretty conventional, nothing at all like some of the techniques I now use.  It went something like this: "The economic loss doctrine, according to the court, arose out of product liability law and has not yet been extended to construction defect cases in this state."  This was a guy whose favorite word was "hence," and he just couldn’t stand it that I deviated from orthodoxy by putting that attribution in the middle of the sentence, something journalists do frequently to vary the rhythm and cadence of a story.  I still remember exactly what he said: "This is not journalism, Dave!"  My response? "Obviously not." I completely reject any manner of thinking about writing that places the needs of the writer above those of the reader.  The most important thing is to communicate a message: what the delivery system for that message is, I don’t particularly care as long as it works, nor do I believe in subordinating the message to a desire to look smart or full of gravitas.

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One Response to Information And Relevance

  1. Three Out of Three Commentators Agree: Law Reviews Have Made Themselves Irrelevant

    Well, I don’t know. Did I hit on something that was already percolating in the zeitgeist a few weeks ago when I addressed the increasing irrelevancy of law reviews in a post, or does someone at the New York Times…