Block Quotations in Legal Writing
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Block Quotations in Legal Writing

6. If you need to use block quotes, be sure to use indentation and single space. Quotes of 50 or more words should be indented about half an inch on the left and right edges. They must be entered in single-space format, and the quote for the quote must be placed two lines lower from the end of the quote and at the original left margin. Do not enclose such a quote in quotation marks: the reader will know that it is a quotation because you have indented it. However, if there are quotation marks in the blocked quote, use quotation marks around those internal quotation marks. Here`s an example of a properly blocked citation of 50 words or more. Here is an example of a strong introduction, followed by a compelling block quote from a case filed in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, such as ross Guberman`s in Point Made, 2nd ed. (2014): When you write an introduction for a block quote, ask yourself, “Why do I want to use this quote? What relevance does it have? How does this support my argument and undermine my opponent`s? » Attend the most popular CLE seminar of all time. More than 215,000 people – including lawyers, judges, trainee lawyers and paralegals – have benefited since the early 1990s. You will learn the keys to professional writing and acquire simple techniques to make your letters, memos and letters more meaningful. Explanation: The second example is more desirable because it makes the background point with much fewer words. In addition, an over-reliance on citations from older sources can lead to text that seems archaic.

As legal writing expert Bryan Garner explains in The Winning Brief, 3rd ed. (2014), there are four reasons why you should say in advance “what the quote does for you”: 3. Quote words of special meaning or eloquence. From time to time, you come across a sentence or sentence that is so well written that it would almost be criminal to paraphrase it. Other sentences may have become part of the tradition of legal writing, and to the discerning reader, a paraphrase would seem silly. These phrases are rare, but if you find them, feel free to quote them. They can be particularly effective when a memorandum or brief is prepared for a court. Sometimes the effectiveness of the quotation would be lost unless it was left autonomous. In this case, the general rule against autonomous quotations should be disregarded. Here are some examples. 5. Try to avoid using quotation marks of 50 words or more.

Many readers skip quotes en bloc because they are looking for explanations of the law and not just accentuation. Don`t use bulk quotes unless (i) there`s simply no other way to write what you want to convey (extremely rare) or (ii) the words are so eloquent that a paraphrase would seriously undermine the persuasive power of your text. It is not surprising that the authors of these famous words are Judges Harlan, Holmes and Brandeis. Along with Judge Cardozo, Chief Justice Marshall and perhaps a few others, they are considered the legends of American legal history. In persuasive writing, it never hurts to quote a legend. Professor Garner will give you the keys to get the most out of your writing skills – in letters, memos, pleadings, etc. The seminar covers five essential skills for persuasive writing: 9. Avoid introducing quotes with a colon. Using a colon to introduce a quote is only appropriate if the words following the colon are really meaningful.

Instead, try incorporating some of the quote into your own sentence. (See point two in this section.) 1. Be careful not to quote excessively; paraphrase whenever possible. New law students sometimes mistakenly believe that they should always quote a judge`s words. After all, so the reasoning, the judge must know how best to express the law. However, excessive citation is a poor substitute for analysis. Your job as a lawyer is to analyze precedents, not just repeat them. Therefore, your writing should explain to your reader why and how a precedent is important to your client. You cannot perform this important interpretative function by stringing only quotation marks. In addition, the sequence of citations of cases and secondary sources tends to result in a jerky and inconsistent text.

It`s usually best to use your own words so that the text you write has a logical progression and consistent style from sentence to sentence. 2. When making a quote, avoid standalone offers. As a general rule, when quoting, it is better to incorporate this quote into your own sentence rather than quoting an entire sentence from a case. Consider the following. Avoid lazy introductions that do not lead to anything, as in “The Court ruled the following” or “The witness testified as follows”. 8. If you incorporate quoted material into your own sentence, make sure that the result is a grammatically correct sentence. If you add someone else`s words to yours to create a sentence, the combined product must be grammatically correct. When determining if the sentence is grammatically correct, temporarily skip the quotation marks and ask yourself if the sentence would be correct if all the words were your own. Otherwise, you will either have to rewrite the part of the sentence you created, or delete the cited material and use a paraphrase. Can`t do our live webinar? Try our online self-study seminars.

The effective lawyer resists, as Guberman points out, the urge to introduce the quote with the lame words: “As the court so aptly put it.” Also note that the use of an ellipse indicates that the author only used the core of the citation. Remember: The starting point is your claim. The quote is his support. “It is repugnant to have no better reason for a state governed by the rule of law than the one it was established in the time of Henry IV. It is even more repugnant when the reasons why it was established are long gone and the rule persists simply by blind imitation of the past. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Way of the Law, 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457, 469 (1897), cited in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, 199 (1986) (Blackmun, J., deviant). “The creators of our constitution.

Granted, as far as the government is concerned, the right, let alone to be left alone – the most complete of all rights and the right most appreciated by civilized people. To protect this right, any unwarranted interference by the government in the privacy of the individual, regardless of the means used, must be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478 (1928)(Brandeis, J., deviant). Sometimes you may need to quote four or more lines (50 words or more) of text from a major source, such as if the exact wording relates to a particular statute or regulation. And from time to time, a court makes such a perfect – and appropriate – point to your argument that presenting the statement word for word gives a powerful impact to the words you used to make your claim. A paraphrase is the expression of someone else`s ideas in their own words. You can paraphrase existing material as long as you specify a correct citation after the paraphrase. You should not enclose circumscribed items in quotation marks. The quote indicates that the ideas come from another source; The absence of quotation marks indicates that the words chosen to express these ideas are yours. Well-paraphrased material changes the majority of the keywords in the original source.

If your paraphrase retains words of particular importance from the original source, place only those words in quotation marks. True: The Supreme Court said, “One of the functions of free speech in our system of government is to invite disputes. In fact, it can better serve its noble purpose when it causes a state of turmoil, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even angers people. “Terminello vs. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4 (1949). He teaches dozens of techniques that make a big difference. Most importantly, it shows you what`s not working – and why – and how to cultivate dexterity. But before you throw a quote on the page that is so long that it requires indentation, be sure to give it a memorable introduction that explains why the next section of text is important. Link the offer to your case; Tell the reader why they should plough it. Paraphrase/summary desirable with only cited keywords: 7.

Use a comma after “said”, “explained”, “proclaimed” and similar terms when introducing a quote; In other cases, add the word “that” and don`t use a comma. It is sometimes difficult, as with the word “held” in the second example below, to determine whether it is acceptable to use an introductory term with a comma (e.g., “says”) instead of an introductory term with the word “that” (e.g., “writes that”). In case of doubt, use the latter option (judged that, written that, found that, came to the conclusion that).

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