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Writing Reasons: A Handbook for Judges, 4th Edition

This text is unique among works on legal writing in its focus on judgments, about which it offers guidance not only to adjudicators but to lawyers submitting written materials to the court.
Publication Language: English
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$65.00
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ISBN/ISSN: 9780433479642

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"Writing Reasons deserves a wider audience. Administrative tribunal members are obvious candidates for that audience: from the point of view of sheer numbers alone, their decisions affect the day-to-day lives of many more people than decisions of courts, and Berry's advice transposes well to the writing of administrative decisions.

Berry also makes the case that judges who give mostly oral judgments can benefit from some of the ideas in the book, and provides advice specifically for them. Lawyers who diligently craft written submissions would also do well to imagine themselves in the judge's role and revise with that role in mind; Writing Reasons would be a good place to start.

Finally, law schools, which traditionally have focused on other forms of legal writing –research memos, opinion letters, factums, pleadings, and essays – might want to consider the benefits of teaching judgment writing. Using the third edition of Writing Reasons, I did that for the first two years in an upper-year seminar course on the written judgment – and I have recently continued the practice with the fourth edition of Berry's excellent book."

Reviewed by John C. Kleefeld
Professor and Dean of Law, University of New Brunswick

See the review in McGill Law Journal – Revue de droit de McGill 63:1



To purchase the French version of the 3rd Edition, please visit the Les Éditions Thémis website.

As Edward Berry explains in the Preface to the fourth edition of Writing Reasons: A Handbook for Judges, this book is a dialogue about effective judicial communication; it suggests ways to communicate sufficient reasons effectively, to inform and persuade an audience. This text provides a review of the basic ideas of judgment writing and offers invaluable guidance for members of the judiciary and administrative tribunals, as well as lawyers.

A practical guide
Writing Reasons: A Handbook for Judges, 4th Edition is a helpful guide for adjudicators on how to comprehensively structure and write judgments. Written by Edward Berry, an experienced lecturer and well-recognized seminar leader on the subject of writing judgments, this text is unique among works on legal writing in its focus on judgments, about which it offers guidance not only to adjudicators but to lawyers submitting written materials to the court.

This book is particularly useful as it provides:

  • Practical content devoted to the art of effectively writing judgments;
  • Insightful commentary on structure, grammar and writing for your audience;
  • Tips for making writing both clear and personal; and
  • A series of exercises designed to test your ability to put into practice the principles of judgment writing, as well as an Appendix containing suggested "answers" to these exercises.

New in this edition
This fourth edition of Writing Reasons: A Handbook for Judges features revised content, including:

  • A new chapter on the "context first" strategy
  • A new chapter on developing a personal style
  • An expanded treatment of introductions
  • New exercises to test knowledge and understanding

A valuable reference for

  • Judges and members of administrative tribunals who need a reliable resource that will help them write well-structured, clear and concise judgments
  • Litigation lawyers who will find this guide essential to determining what judges and tribunals are looking for in pleadings and other court documents
  • Law libraries that want to add this volume to their collection to assist lawyers, judges, students, legal writing professors and tribunal members

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Table of contents

Chapter 1: Context First
Chapter 2: Introductions
Chapter 3: Organization
Chapter 4: Conciseness
Chapter 5: Paragraphs
Chapter 6: Sentences
Chapter 7: Words
Chapter 8: Punctuation
Chapter 9: Widening the Audience
Chapter 10: Developing a Personal Style
Chapter 11: Revising