Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Fall 2015, Vol 41, No. 3 - Page 21

by Stephen A. Reynes, Esq. & Professor Greg Johnson The Connection Between Writing Effective Briefs and Remaining Fully Human This article arose from the experience of presenting an annual guest lecture on effective brief writing to first-year students in Professor Greg Johnson’s class at Vermont Law School. With many years of experience as a lawyer in both the private and public sectors, I thought it might be interesting to add some thoughts at the end of the class on the topic of being an effective lawyer while remaining fully human. Just those words tend to draw a variety of reactions, which might be categorized under the heading of “Good luck with that.” Yet, over time I came to see the two topics as not only related, but part of the same cloth. This is not just wishful thinking. Although it may not often be expressed this way, advocacy through civility and restraint is consistent with the wisdom and experience of judges and others who have read many briefs, decided many cases, and know what is effective. Being fully human makes you a better lawyer. This article will offer some reflections on how good attributes of being human—including civility, respect and humility—are also essential to effective advocacy. A good starting place is to reme X