SC Lawyer, May 2004, #7. May 2004 The Scrivener Judge Bell's top ten rules of writing Part One.

AuthorBy Scott Mo\xEFse

South Carolina Lawyer


SC Lawyer, May 2004, #7.

May 2004 The Scrivener Judge Bell's top ten rules of writing Part One

South Carolina LawyerMay 2004May 2004 The Scrivener Judge Bell's top ten rules of writing Part OneBy Scott MoïseJudge Randall T. Bell served on the Court of Appeals for eleven years, during which he wrote opinions that became widely known for their clarity, thoroughness, and substance. Judge Bell was well educated, having earned degrees from William and Mary, Oxford, Harvard, and Harvard Law School. Judge Bell then worked for the Attorney General of South Carolina, the McNair law firm, and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1983 and the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1994. Tragically, Judge Bell died of unexpected heart complications nine days after his election to the supreme court. He was only 49 years old.

Judge Bell's superior communication skills were not confined to writing. Even after leaving the law school as a full-time professor, he returned to teach as an adjunct faculty member and to give his famous "Law School is Different" speech every year at the first-year law student orientation. During that orientation, new law students entered the auditorium full of false bravado. The instant Judge Bell spoke, however, that bravado fell away, and we hung on his every word. When he told us that our previous scholastic successes meant nothing, we believed him. When he said that we would never again sit back while teachers did all the talking and all the work, we knew those days were truly over. When he told us that one in three of us would be gone before graduation, all of us knew in our hearts that we would be one of the unlucky ones waiting tables again instead of graduating. By the end of that speech, the refrain of "law school is different" was burned into our minds forever. Similarly, his writing also stayed with us because of his talent for getting straight to the point in the simplest, most forceful manner.

Over pimento cheeseburgers recently, Steve McKelvey-one of Judge Bell's former law clerks-regaled the lunch table with stories from his clerkship. Steve also revealed that Judge Bell had a "top ten" list of rules of writing. Fortunately, Steve retained a copy of that list; unfortunately, the list contains only the bare rules, and not...

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