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March 07, 2011

Jim McElhaney: Write and Practice to the Ear.

In several of its decades, in my view, Jim McElhaney was the only person or thing that saved the ABA from being 24/7 the shamefully uncreative Robot-Suit Wankfest that it still generally is. The Reason? It followed--never led. The Good News? The best lawyers in America were--and often still are--members. The Irony? Those lawyers were employed by the very same firms that were turning the legal profession into a cynical ruse and dodge--even for to-die-for corporate clients we all sought and still seek to service.

No one had learned to reconcile the two hard facts that law was morphing into both (a) a profitable business and (b) a profession. No one even tried. These two facts still collide for clients. The simple question was begged for two decades or more: how do we now align client interests with our own? "Value" to customers was never discussed. Real "class" was never a goal.

McElhaney, a teacher of trial skills, and an ABA star and stalwart, had loads of both. He was the only reason I stayed a member for 15 years or so. Remember him and others in the great "Litigation" quarterly? I still have them all. But I am not an ABA member now; I am a member of four state bars, one international lawyer group I am very proud of, two non-lawyer groups I am also proud of, and the IBA, which makes more sense for me and mine.

See in January's ABA Journal "Listen to What You Write: Your Ears Will Tell You If You’re Communicating Ideas Effectively. It concludes:

Polish the piece again and again. Keep asking yourself, “If I were reading this for the first time, would I understand everything it says?”

Then read it out loud to as many people as you can make listen—one at a time. Your ear will catch the little mistakes and omissions your eye skipped over. And if anything sounds awkward or strange, even if it looks OK, fix it so it sounds right.

Write to the ear so your readers will hear what you have to say.

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Posted by JD Hull at March 7, 2011 04:26 AM

Comments

Judging by the way you write, you seem like a professional writer.

Posted by: Electric Horseman Spammer at March 13, 2011 01:44 PM

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