RBG on Writing

Former two-time law clerk for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Post:

Most of what I know about writing I learned from her. The rules are actually pretty simple: Every word matters. Don’t make the simple complicated, make the complicated as simple as it can be (but not simpler!). You’re not finished when you can’t think of anything more to add to your document; you’re finished when you can’t think of anything more that you can remove from it. She enforced these principles with a combination of a ferocious—almost a terrifying—editorial pen, and enough judicious praise sprinkled about to let you know that she was appreciating your efforts, if not always your end-product. And one more rule: While you’re at it, make it sing. At least a little; legal prose is not epic poetry or the stuff of operatic librettos, but a well-crafted paragraph can help carry the reader along, and is always a thing of real beauty.

Even paraphrased, that’s a satisfying approach.

When Ginsburg was in law school, she was passed over for clerkships literally just because she was a woman. Later she became one of the most influential justices on the supreme court while consistently applying the principles of equality and fairness to her jurisprudence.

American law didn’t just change during her lifetime, she helped make those changes.

What a legacy.

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