McGeorge School of Law

Estrich Argues For Return to English In Legal Writing

March 15, 2010

Susan Estrich

Estrich Argues For Return For English In Legal Writing.

Susan Estrich, a nationally known author, legal expert and television personality, spoke on March 4, 2010, to students and faculty at McGeorge. The Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law, Estrich is a partner at Quinn Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and moonlights as a legal commentator for Fox News.

Estrich stressed the importance of writing to a successful legal career. Arguing for a "return to English in legal writing," Estrich said, "there's only one way to improve your writing and that's to write more often. Write and rewrite, making sure to ditch the legalize language. Advocacy doesn't mean idiocy -- don't oversell, don't over argue. Determine the most advantageous aspects of your case or brief, then find a way to tell the story in a simple, sympathetic fashion."

Estrich also talked about her early days in the legal academy. After being the first female editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review as a student, she became the youngest woman ever tenured at Harvard Law School following a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. "It was ironic that my tenure piece when I was on the faculty was rejected by the Harvard Law Review," she joked. Ironically, the article was accepted by the Yale Law Journal, and later Estrich expanded it into a book, Real Rape, which drew critical acclaim and is considered to be one of the most influential works ever produced on rape law.

In addition to her many accomplishments in the legal profession, Estrich has been a political consultant on four presidential campaigns.