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Empathy for the Reader: Persuasive Legal Writing in Plain Language

(366 reviews)

Produced on June 16, 2018

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$ 79 Legal Research & Writing and Litigation In Stock
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Course Information

Time 1h 16m
Difficulty Beginner
Topics covered in this course: Legal Research & Writing Litigation

Course Description

The problem with most legal writing is that it’s written for the writer’s benefit—not the reader’s.

That’s why it's notorious for convoluted sentences, ad hominem attacks, pompous vocabulary, and conclusory analyses. And, unfortunately for the writer, these are traits that most readers—including judges—hate.

Presented by appellate attorney Dana Heitz, this presentation relies on case law to illustrate the fundamentals of writing that’s easy to understand and more likely to stick—in other words, we learn from courts themselves how to write in a reader-friendly way. After discussing the perils of bad writing, we explore why writers should keep themselves out of the spotlight and how they can, then review strategies that simplify a message. Finally, we look at empirical and anecdotal evidence which underscores the impact that plain-language, reader-focused writing can have on a client’s case.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe bad habits that pervade the legal profession; identify characteristics of good writing
  2. Recognize discrete steps within the writing process necessary for a well-structured, polished product
  3. Explore the extent to which bad writing impacts a reader’s assessment of an argument’s credibility, and identify specific instances where confusing writing has had practical costs

This course originally appeared as a part of our June 2018 Bridge the Gap Event.

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Dana Heitz

Heitz Legal

Dana E. Heitz is an appellate attorney with Heitz Legal, P.C. She has argued at all levels of New York State courts as well as in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the Second Circuit. In her free time Dana researches and presents on effective persuasive writing techniques.

Dana graduated cum laude from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA, and holds an M.A. in international affairs from The New School in New York City. She is an Ironman triathlete, has qualified for the Boston Marathon, and won several triathlon awards, both age group and overall.

Dana is a member of several bar associations, including:

  • New York Women’s Bar Association (Newsletter Committee)
  • New York City Bar Association (Small Law Firms Committee)
  • New York County Lawyers Association (Appellate Courts Committee / Chair, Amicus Subcommittee), and NYCLA UN Representative, 2017-2018
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Co-organizer, Deliberate Solos


Ubeyd R.

Great bits of advice. Definitely learned some tactics to improve.

John S.

Highly recommend this clear and practical presentation. Thank you.

Jose C.

Ingrid S.

Terrific and interesting

Roy C.

I like that she had a few concrete ideas as to process. I also liked the to be or not to be concept.


Thank you

Maria B.

Truly helpful. Very interesting, at times riveting. I commend Lawline for offering such an outstanding presentation.

Michael R.

Great lecturer

Peter O.

Great presenter!

Jenifer D.

Excellent program.

Paul A.

I enjoyed this tremendously. Extremely well done

Rebecca S.

Fabulous presentation.


Good class

Harold S.

I liked the Madman, Architect, Carpenter Judge structure advice.

Jennifer B.

Very well done. Good tips.

Elisa A.

Really excellent course. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mary Ann D.

Enthusiastically High Marks! One of the best Lawline speakers. Extremely useful content for all professionals.

Jonathan F.

More lawyers should take this course.

James M.

Great presenter!

Lee H.

Excellent presentation!!

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