The common denominator among the bar-failers in my class at Yale Law School—and there were a few—was a complete inability to comply with senseless rules; they weren’t the best students, but they were the tartest and the sharpest people—and the least likely to accept the constraints of Big Law that make neither financial nor intellectual sense: the fifty-state survey to prove a negative, the memo to nowhere, the repetitive brief that says nothing and gets read by no one.Hey! That's one sentence. It's got 3 dashes, a semicolon, 3 commas, and a colon. Let me step back from the big meta- critique and extrapolate one easily followed item of advice: Write short sentences! Human beings grade bar exam essays. I have graded bar exam essays. It's hell. I was trapped in a hotel conference room and not allowed to leave until I'd graded a pile of exams that, as a lawprof, I'd take a couple weeks to grade (with refreshing breaks for snacks and walks and blog posts).
Wurtzel goes on to claim that the practice of law would be better if the sharp, tart folks who resist senseless rules had the advantage in seeking access to the profession. Imagine the access ritual that would vault them to the front of the line. I would try to do that for you right now if I weren't distracted by thinking that writers of short sentences are the ones to be encouraged. Don't write a long sentence unless you have a good reason. And don't use a semicolon unless you'd be willing to pay $5 for the privilege of using a semicolon. Each time. That's just a test I made up. Now, stop annoying me. And don't make things more difficult than they need to be. That's a rule. It's not a senseless one. It is a rule brimming with sensibility.