All the information the writer wishes to convey is in this paragraph, but in the wrong order. First the writer gives the other side free airtime, restating the insurer’s contention that the hiring of consultants to test groundwater shows knowledge of contamination. Then the writer makes a no-no statement (“This is untrue and Insurer X is unable to muster … blah blah blah”). So far, the score is one to nothing for Insurer X, and ABC Co. is 38 words into the paragraph.

Changing the order of presentation avoids giving the insurer free airtime and eliminates the no-no statement:

ABC Co. retained environmental consultants because RCRA mandated quarterly groundwater testing, not because ABC Co. knew of or even suspected groundwater contamination as Insurer X contends.

As in the first version, the writer presents the insurer’s position and the company’s position, but the order is different. In the revised version, the writer provides the explanation first, so when the reader sees the insurer’s position, it is with the explanation in mind. Not all no-no statements are this easily eliminated, but many are.

A second example appeared as the opening paragraph of an appellate reply brief:

Respondent argues that, for this Court to reverse the trial court, it must repudiate the holding in Smith v. Jones. Respondent is mistaken. Contrary to Respondent’s argument, this Court need not challenge the holding in Smithin order to find in Appellant’s favor. Smithis silent on federal law. It does not mention ERISA or cite even a single federal case.

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