Book Review: Make Space on Your Shelf for Ryan McCarl’s ‘Elegant Legal Writing’

February 29, 2024
The Legal Intelligencer

Types : Bylined Articles

This book is for anyone who writes legal documents. It focuses on litigation and offers many examples from litigation documents, but it also contains tips for transactional practitioners and other writers.

California litigator Ryan McCarl has burst onto the legal writing scene as a new authority. His first book, “Elegant Legal Writing,” which debuted on Feb. 6, offers timely, practical advice to practitioners trying to improve their writing craft. The buzz about the slim, 180-page book has included comparing McCarl to established legal writing experts like Bryan Garner (“The Winning Brief,” 2003) and Ross Guberman (“Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates,” 2011).

That’s because McCarl—in sections on writing style, substance and process—expertly explains why the best legal writing is so good. When you read a brief once and can immediately explain the facts, the requested result, and the reasons for it, it is probably because the writer followed the guidelines explained in ”Elegant Legal Writing.” Following them will likewise help you avoid leaving your readers frustrated, annoyed or confused about your arguments.