Some Hard Lessons I Learned about Pleading

Previously pleading was critical to the practice of law. Errors in pleadings caused judges to dismiss cases with prejudice. Pleading determined the relevance of evidence and the relief the court could award. I attribute much of the fault for pretrial contentiousness, longer trials, and the unconscionable cost of legal services to the decreased emphasis on pleadings by lawyers and judges. Most lawyers today not only do not understand pleading, they do not understand what a pleading or its pur… Read More

Lawyers and Writing

"If you were limited to oral persuasion or written persuasion, which would you choose?” I recently put this question to our Lawyers’ Lunch Table. These lawyers chose written persuasion four to one. I agree with the writers. I find good writing leads to good results. I credit good writing for my firm's outstanding results over the past year. If we prefer written persuasion and we know good writing leads to good results, why are we as lawyers such bad writers?

The poor writing I see i… Read More

Why Laypersons and Litigants Hate Lawyers and Judges

I love lawyers and judges. I come from a family of lawyers. I married a lawyer from a family of lawyers. My heroes–David Bruck, Jimbo Morton, and Judy Clarke–are lawyers. My best friends are lawyers. My grandfather served as acting chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. My parents served as magistrates. A brother-in-law is a federal judge.

For years I could not understand why litigants, laypersons, and the public dislike, detes… Read More

Why the Client Should Pay the Fired Lawyer

I wrote a client demanding payment of her $2,600 past due account. She promptly responded by discharging me as her attorney with an e-mail message asserting I did not respond promptly and that I over billed. I responded explaining the need for an order relieving me as attorney of record, why the accusations are incorrect, strongly suggesting that she promptly get a new lawyer, offering to do anything I can to help the new lawyer, and wishing her the best of luck.

I continued to think ab… Read More

A Lawyer’s Bookshelf

The books on other lawyers’ bookshelves interest me because they provide insights to the lawyer’s interests, influence, and intellect. I cannot find the author for attribution, but one of my favorite quotations is “Reading makes the educated person but writing makes the precise person.” To maintain one’s professional education, one must continue to read. I enjoy writing, often quoting from what is on my bookshelf, so my thinking and expression will be precise. Because most of what I… Read More

About The Authors

Thomas F. McDow's Profile Image
Thomas F. McDow is the author of Debating SC Family Law, a blog devoted to discussing family law and appellate court issues in South Carolina. Read More
Erin K. Urquhart's Profile Image
Education: Spartanburg Public SchoolsWinthrop University, B.A. 2003University of South Carolina, J.D. 2006 Admitted: All South Carolina courts and the United States District Court for South Carolina, November 13, 2006 Professional Activities: South C… Read More

Recent Comments

I received the following from Professor Stuckey who gave me permission to post it as a comment: Thomas, Thank you for bringing th...

Thomas F. McDow on 04/26/2015
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Shawn, I appreciate your interest in negotiation. Lawyers must understand that negotiation involves the proper use of knowledge, p...

Thomas F. McDow on 04/24/2015
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These are great book suggestions. As both a family lawyer and mediator, I’m always interested in negotiation strategy. Here are...

ShawnLReeves on 04/24/2015
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Nathan, I should have expected this from someone who loves trial work as much as you do. I got the first edition August 12, 1999....

Thomas F. McDow on 04/23/2015
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The Lost Art: An Advocate’s Guide to Opening Statements and Closing Arguments by The Hon. Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. A must have f...

NSheldon on 04/23/2015
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