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Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner Speak at USF

February 07, 2014

United State Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and lawyer and lexicologist Bryan Garner spoke about persuading judges and interpreting the law to nearly 800 attendees at two campus events at the USF School of Law on Jan. 31.

Scalia Garner Story
Bryan Garner (left) and Justice Antonin Scalia (right) spoke at several USF School of Law events on Jan. 31. See more photos from the Law Review Symposium keynote address and from the evening book discussion and signing.

In the afternoon, Justice Scalia and Garner delivered the keynote address at the 2014 USF Law Review Symposium, which had the theme Legal Ethics in the 21st Century: Technology, Speech, and Money. During their lively and laughter-filled talk, they shared more than two dozen recommendations for sound legal reasoning, highlights from their book Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

“Today’s keynote address on the art of persuading judges and essential communications skills in legal writing and advocacy gives us a window into the minds of two of our profession’s best,” Dean John Trasviña said in his welcome remarks.

Justice Scalia said the book on legal writing is very much related to legal ethics, the symposium’s theme. “The first responsibility we have as lawyers is to be the best lawyer you can be,” he said. Garner added, “This book is about being prepared as an advocate. It’s about professionalism and all that goes into presenting arguments well.”

In the evening, Justice Scalia and Garner delved deeply into legal canons as they discussed their book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. They took audience questions that were moderated by Assistant Professor Grace Hum, director of USF’s legal writing program, and signed books. It was co-sponsored by the Litigation Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the USF School of Law Center for Law and Ethics. 

Dan Burkhardt, executive director of the Bar Association of San Francisco, said in his welcoming remarks, “We anticipate that this evening will be both thought-provoking and entertaining. For some of us, some of the ideas may be familiar; for others tonight may present entirely new ways of approaching constitutional, statutory, and contractual interpretation.”