Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the School of Law Jan. 31.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and award-winning legal author
Bryan A. Garner told USF law students exactly what to do if they want to
persuade a judge: avoid jargon, understand the weaknesses of their case, and
use only their strongest arguments.
Tips for winning
The two men delivered the keynote address at the USF Law Review
Symposium the afternoon of Jan. 31, and for more than an hour peppered an eager
audience of law students and San Francisco lawyers with tips on how to win
their case, telling them to leave their Hollywood court act at home, treasure simplicity,
and avoid big words.
“Your job is to make a complicated case look
simple, not to make a simple case look complicated,” Scalia said.
USF students who made up the majority of the symposium audience
found discussion engrossing because of its pragmatic advice on how to be an
effective legal communicator, said Elif Sonmez, symposium editor for
the USF Law Review journal, which sponsored the event.
Scalia and Garner returned to campus that
evening to discuss and sign copies of their book “Reading the Law: The
Interpretation of Legal Texts” at an event with the same name. Attendees,
mostly San Francisco lawyers who paid as much as $250 for a ticket, were kept
smiling by the duo who took friendly jabs at the
other’s political leanings (Scalia is conservative, Garner is liberal) and made
light of Garner’s admitted chagrin when pronouncing Latin legal terms. The
discussion was sponsored by USF’s Center for Law and Ethics and the Bar
Association of San Francisco.
About 400 students and San Francisco legal
professionals attended each event, filling the McLaren Conference Center to
“Justice Scalia and Garner's presentation to the Law Review
Symposium and book talk to the general community on legal writing and
interpretation were memorable, insightful, and educational," said Law
school Dean John Trasviña, who was thrilled with the popularity of both
by Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing »email firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @usfcanews