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Ryan M. McCarthy senior associate in the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen. Ryan M. McCarthy senior associate in the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen.

Inspiration for this article struck during a routine virtual hearing. As I was jotting notes on my legal pad, I glanced up and observed the judge’s eyes rapidly scanning from left to right, as my adversary made his argument. Counsel was rattling off the names of filings, dates and cases with limited relevance to the underlying issue—an open-book exam approach that has spawned from the presence of the computer screen while arguing from the home-office desk chair. Ostensibly, the judge was scouring the parties’ motions for the answer to the all-important question (or a form of it): what is the issue, and how do these lawyers contend I resolve it? I thought to myself, maybe a key to effective advocacy in this “new normal” is not so new at all: clear and cogent legal writing.

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