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Drafting affidavits - how to make it less mind numbing and dull


PzabbytheLawyer
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PzabbytheLawyer
  • Lawyer

Hi all,

So I have my pet peeves with law. And I love parts of it. One pet peeve is drafting affidavits. I just hate the structure, the fact finding, the flipping back and forth between documents and the draft, etc, and find it's the least interesting writing/thinking part of civil litigation.

I've had one lawyer disagree with me.

So, in the chance that there's something I'm missing, what do you enjoy about it? If you also hate it for similar reasons, how have you made it more tolerable for yourselves?

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Rusty Iron Ring
  • Lawyer

If it's complicated enough that I have to draft it myself, it's usually enjoyable.  It's an exercise in getting inside the judge's head to anticipate what they are going to be concerned about, what questions they are going to have as they read, and in what order, how to answer those questions as quickly as they arise, and generally what will make them absolutely convinced by the end of the affidavit that not only are we right, but we are so unbelievably precise, professional, and transparent, that we can be relied upon absolutely in every detail and, in fact, could never conceivably be wrong about anything.  

Also an exercise in getting into the head of opposing counsel to anticipate what evidence they will lead, what arguments they will make, what attacks they will try, and then systematically heading each of those approaches off before they can be tried. 

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Jaggers

There are obviously some dull ones, and since I made it only five years into working at a law firm, I did a lot of those. But when the facts really matter to the adjudication, I love the story-telling opportunity and the challenge of painting every single fact in a way that is both honest, and helpful to your case. (Obviously you can't do that with every fact, but the challenge of figuring out where you can and where you have to downplay or explain is half the fun.)

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Jaggers

I also often liked interviewing witnesses for the process. While most people are genuinely trying to be honest and helpful, even the most honest person has their own, somewhat self-interested view of the facts. Figuring out how that might differ from other people's evidence and asking the tough questions (in a nice way, they're your client after all, or at least their employee) was always enjoyable for me.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Ruthless4Life
  • Lawyer
On 5/20/2022 at 8:31 AM, Jaggers said:

There are obviously some dull ones, and since I made it only five years into working at a law firm, I did a lot of those. But when the facts really matter to the adjudication, I love the story-telling opportunity and the challenge of painting every single fact in a way that is both honest, and helpful to your case. (Obviously you can't do that with every fact, but the challenge of figuring out where you can and where you have to downplay or explain is half the fun.)

Totally agree with you that it’s really a story telling process.

Of course if one is simply looking at the law and writing merely the basic facts pleading the legal requirements then yes it can be dull and mind numbing. 

But for other cases (especially family related cases) the issue is really fact specific and many times you are telling a story of someone’s life - how to say this in a person’s voice, is true advocacy. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
MOL
  • Lawyer

Yep, gamify it. How concisely and with as few words as possible can you tell a compelling factual story that hits all the elements you need to prove.

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easttowest
  • Lawyer

I actually really enjoy writing affidavits. You get to tell a story! With documents that show you where to go! 

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You guys are giving all these thoughtful replies and I’m gonna suggest throwing in a monthly challenge like “In July every affidavit has to reference a fruit” etc. 

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Rusty Iron Ring
  • Lawyer
12 hours ago, Hegdis said:

You guys are giving all these thoughtful replies and I’m gonna suggest throwing in a monthly challenge like “In July every affidavit has to reference a fruit” etc. 

A colleague and I used to have a game where before every firm meeting we would assign each other a word that we had to work into a sentence during the meeting. Highly recommend. 

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15 hours ago, Hegdis said:

You guys are giving all these thoughtful replies and I’m gonna suggest throwing in a monthly challenge like “In July every affidavit has to reference a fruit” etc. 

Only if we agree that any use of the apples to oranges reference is a non-starter as being too easy......

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QueensDenning
  • Law Student

As a summer student I get first crack at drafting most of the affidavits for the partners that trust me. It's a lot more fun than briefing documents and very rewarding on the few occasions where my work isn't ripped apart with red lines.

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