Justice Kagan: Master of the Topic Sentence

by Yvette Brown 1. July 2013 14:55


“She is a master of the topic sentence (“A trip back in time begins to show why”) and the stylish dig (“wrong, wrong, and wrong again”). Yet what puts her in a class by herself is her combination of down-to-earth writing and the ingredients essential to influential opinions: conceptual insight, penetrating legal analysis and argumentative verve.”

For more highlights of Justice Kagan’s writing style see The Talented Justice Kagan by Lincoln Caplan in the New York Times.   

To add more style and grace to your own prose or to join the ranks of the Masters of the Topic Sentence consult one of the many writing resources PSL Law Library provides.

For example, Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates provide helpful tips and advice on the art of writing a good topic sentence in Just Writing : Grammar, Punctuation, And Style For The Legal Writer.

Topic Sentence Example From Just Writing:

“The court extended these protections in Rosenbloom, holding that plaintiffs in a defamation action would have to prove actual malice if the published statements were of public or general interest.  Rosenbloom v. Metromendia, 403 U.S. 29 (1971).”

As Enquist and Oates note, the above topic sentence “introduces the point the paragraph will make.”  It also “demonstrates an excellent method for writing topic sentences that introduce a new case:  It begins with a transition that relates the point from the new case to the previous discussion and then follows with a paraphrase of the holding."

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