Mister Thorne

Mister Thorne
San Francisco, California, USA
A skilled and experienced editor. I do for your appearance in print what a stylist and tailor do for your appearance in person.

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Like cats to mice in motion, tragedies, catastrophes, oddities grab our attention. And they make us think, at least for as long as it takes a cat to realize, “that wasn’t a mouse; that was a just a maple leaf dancing to the breeze.”

Someone sent me a link to… Read full post »

You might say that Marilyn Bush LeLeiko has lots of experience as a legal writing consultant: she’s been at it since 1987, and she’s helped attorneys at more than half of the top 100 AmLaw firms improve their legal writing skills.

And you might say she knows how to satisfy clients,… Read full post »

JUNE 10, 2010 1:17PM

Why Attorneys Need Editors

Consider this statement from a draft of an article authored by an attorney:

“Business associates†are individuals or entities that provide services for covered entities needing access to protected health information.

What we have here is an example of the misplaced modifier.

The modifier —… Read full post »

JUNE 8, 2010 12:34PM

Whatley Watch II

I began this discussion (here) by noting that Nathan Whatley either 1) doesn’t bother to read what his firm writes about him, or 2) doesn’t care what his firm writes about him.

Whatever his motive, Whatley demonstrates a failure to apply due diligence. He lets his image and his good… Read full post »

JUNE 7, 2010 2:10PM

Obama’s Failure to Act

Years Ago

I was a sailor on an aircraft carrier, and I was standing watch in a place known as Central Control.

I was sitting at a small desk. Its top was a Plexiglas plate. Beneath the plate was an array of notices and warnings. There was an intercom box mounted… Read full post »

JUNE 2, 2010 12:54PM

Law Firms Violating Copyrights

Consider this statement about copyright:

A copyright provides the author of an original work the rights to prohibit others from reproducing (copying), adapting (making a derivative work), distributing, performing, and displaying the work.

That’s quite a stretch (suggesting people need to get permis… Read full post »

JUNE 1, 2010 11:57PM

Wake Up Whatley

It’s been a bit of time since we last spoke of Whatley and his lack of attention to detail, which is beginning to seem to be persistent.

Remember: when you write something, be it a client alert or a blog post or something decidedly monstrous, look at it when it’s published.… Read full post »

MAY 27, 2010 7:26PM

Quote of the Day

Today’s quote comes from an article titled “Why Is Business Writing So Awful?

The article was written by Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals, a Chicago-based software firm, and co-author of Rework, a book that has earned considerable praise.

From the article:

When you write like

Read full post »
MAY 21, 2010 9:32AM

Friday Morning Quickie

One of the things I do is respond to emergencies. A newsletter has to go to the printer, or a proposal has to be submitted by the end of the day, and I’m called in to drop everything else to make sure the author or the publisher or both look their… Read full post »

You’re in-house counsel, and you’re looking for information about hiring summer interns. That’s what your company is planning on doing, and management wants your advice before it moves forward.

You could take a crash course on employment law (your client is a high-tech firm, and you… Read full post »

MAY 18, 2010 2:10PM

Audience Analysis — Part I

Why do people attend seminars hosted by law firms?

To learn.

What is the purpose of these seminars?

To teach.


I thought about that recently.

I was attending a seminar on employment law, and I was wondering why the attorneys were doing what they were doing — for the first… Read full post »

Many attorneys think formal (old fashioned, fluffy, and bloated) copy is more impressive than less formal copy.

Well they’re wrong, and they’ve been wrong for some time.

Consider this introduction to a firm’s recruiting materials:

For more than 55 years, Acme Legal, LLP has successf

Read full post »

No, this isn’t a series of lessons I’m running — it’s a webinar Bryan Garner is running tomorrow.

The editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, and a highly regarded legal writing expert, Garner regularly hosts these seminars to help attorneys develop their writing skills:

When President Obama announced Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, he made it clear that the reason she was nominated was, in large part, because of her sex.

He said she was the first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School, and the

Read full post »

Seems as if some law firms are going against the flow.

While companies around the world are following Apple’s lead in making everything simple and easy to use, law firms touting their deep and abiding commitment to excellence are, to some extent, treating their clients like machines rather than… Read full post »

MAY 3, 2010 3:24PM

Type Image & Motion

Let’s look at four web sites that use Flash to cycle through comps.

And let’s do this: let’s look at how each site does that for one minute. (Set your computer’s clock to display seconds so you can easily meaure one minute.)

Mouse over a comp, then click and view (for… Read full post »

This post is one in a series on cutting verbiage in
things like proposals for legal services.

In the last three episodes, we cut substantial amounts of copy from all sorts of things written by attorneys — from proposals to pleadings.

Why bother to do that?

Because the audience for these… Read full post »

This post is one in a series on cutting verbiage in
everything from briefs to proposals.

In our last episode, we cut one sentence of a legal memo in half.

In the episode before that, we cut one sentence of a proposal for legal services in half.


Because (1) we’re… Read full post »

APRIL 27, 2010 7:37PM

More Less is More — Example #2

This post is the third in a series on cutting verbiage in legal writing.

Today, our goal is to cut the fat out of the following sentence:*

Secondary meaning occurs when a descriptive mark acquires distinctiveness, that is, proof that it has become distinctive as applied to the mark owner’s goods

Read full post »
APRIL 26, 2010 10:21PM

Less is More — Example #1

This post is the second in a series about proposals to provide legal services.

Consider a proposal to handle IP matters for some new company planning to do business around the world.

The proposal describes the firm’s trademark practice. Here’s a snippet of it:

By virtue of the breadth and

Read full post »
APRIL 26, 2010 1:20PM

Less is More

When it comes to proposals, attorneys need to do just the opposite of what many believe they should: they need to be brief. And this is generally so*, whether lots of firms are submitting proposals, or just a few.

Very often, the shortest proposal has a distinct advantage over all others… Read full post »

APRIL 15, 2010 7:40PM

First Cut and Last Cut

Some of you who keep up with Set in Style use RSS and such.

You should know that — very often — my first cut at something isn’t my last cut.

Sometimes I’ll post something. Then, after it’s posted I’ll spot an error.

And I’ll wonder — Did some RSS contraptio… Read full post »

APRIL 15, 2010 4:23PM

Busy, Busy, Busy, But . . .

Not to fear. I haven’t abandoned this blog. But I’ve been so danged busy with too many projects all at once.

Check back next week for tips on producing top-notch seminar materials
(Joe Beachboard, you really should pay attention),
responding to RFPs
(Rose Ors, are you listening?),
makin… Read full post »

Read the following three paragraphs, and then I’ll ask you a question.

Innovation is what drives our people.  In our world, innovation begins with listening.  We listen acutely to our clients’ aspirations.  We value the opportunity to work with amazing clients in an atmosphere that

Read full post »
APRIL 2, 2010 12:19PM

Today’s Blooper of the Week

April Fool’s Day was great fun for some. Even the Pope participated, washing 12 pairs of feet with water and (who knew?) a solution that made those feet itch like mad 10 minutes later.

The Turk participated in a big way, fooling the Wall Street Journal and the New York TimesRead full post »