Jeff Skilling’s Appellate Brief: A Piece of Good Legal Writing

The Wall Street Journal blog has published convicted Enron executive Jeff Skilling 237 page appellate brief.

Like most Americans, I did not follow the case closely and have not carefully reviewed the evidence against him, but I assume he is guilty because a jury convicted him. (From a documentary I saw, I could convict him of first-degree arrogance in about 3.4 seconds.) Anyway, I am linking to this brief because, after reading about 10 pages, it is obvious Jeffrey Skilling picked lawyers who are fantastic writers. The best way for lawyers to become better writers is to read good legal writing.

You may wonder how these lawyers got around the requirement in the Federal Rules that a brief may contain only 14,000 words. His lawyers filed a motion asking the appeals court to accept a longer brief. One blog, Talk Left, said that: “Jeff Skilling is serving 24 years in prison. The trial lasted several months. If his lawyers say they need 237 pages to present his arguments, I say let them.” While I suspect the guy is guilty, I could not agree more.