If you have ever had the itch to write something like the title of this post into a brief, you might enjoy “What Lawyers Can Learn from Edgar Allan Poe,” one of the latest legal papers available from the Social Science Research Network. Will it really teach you how to write a brief that resembles a horror story? No. But the abstract does suggest it will teach you how to employ the elements relied on by Poe to write successfully. Here’s the abstract:
Treat yourself to a spine-tingling Edgar Allan Poe sensation by reading about the synergy between stories of horror and legal writing. Poe defined a short-story writing technique and named four qualities—brevity, unity, focus, and brilliant style—as critical. These exact same qualities are familiar to lawyers because they are just as critical for persuasive briefs. This article examines Poe’s critique of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales, reviews some of Poe’s own work, and applies Poe’s advice about great short-story writing to legal writing.
I never liked reading nineteenth century authors, which made college prep high school English class a bit of a challenge. But I may still take a look at the paper.