Attorney Evaluations

Workshop Evaluations

Tom asks for anonymous evaluations of his legal writing programs. Below is a representative sample of the attorneys’ evaluation comments.

General Comments on Programs

"Most helpful.

  • The presenter’s energy & format
  • The program was well organized—rules in morning, collaboration & group synthesis in afternoon.
  • Group work, application of each concept learned in exercises = Great! = Provided opportunity to practice, test knowledge."

"The examples were great! Presentation was clear, simple, and concise."

"Very clear teaching materials. I liked them. Topical and easy to grasp."

"Everything was informative and appreciated. Presenter was eager to answer all questions.

  • Thanks for the energy & enthusiasm & willingness to answer questions.
  • The format & breaks made the time fly.
  • The presenter set a very informal, personable environment."

"Tom was an engaging presenter. An overview of structure was helpful. Tom’s take on bad writing was also useful."

"Parts of presentation that helped me the most:

  • Focus on crafting tests/rules.
  • Slide presentations on brevity and clarity of sentences, transitioning between sentences and paragraphs, and editing and proofing tips.
  • Receptiveness to questions and dialogue.
A very strong presentation."

"Great program! Your humor and speaking style made time fly!"

"I found the following to be most helpful.

  • Handouts
  • pre-workshop assignment materials
  • exercises during workshop and accompanying answer sheets (opportunity to apply skills learned)
  • PowerPoint very organized
  • Moving from “big” → “small” (conceptualizing the process of written argument).
Thank you! I learned a lot and had the right amount of review."

"The teaching materials were really helpful. The powerpoint and examples were all clear and helpful."

"Speaker was excellent and engaging."

"So much was helpful. Organization of the arguments. How to be concise because I think it’s an important skill in legal writing. How to organize a statement of facts because it’s still not a skill often practiced in law school."

"Very well-organized. Four hours went by fast. Worth the time. Would recommend to others."

"Examples were well thought out & helpful."

"All of the presentation was helpful. It was a great presentation."

"You obviously care a great deal about being a good teacher, and it shows."

  • "Brevity and clarity in sentences
  • I learned new stuff! Also learning to frame your rules narrowly or broadly
  • Put it all together in a way I hadn’t considered.
  • Really emphasizing the difference between how to write for a law FIRM vs. school
  • Because otherwise we’d never know!"
Liked your presentation very much.

"I thought the exercises were very helpful in a number of ways (e.g., kept us engaged and really solidified the concepts)."

"Your session was great! Good way to get started at assignments for the summer!"

"All of it was great; intelligent, insightful & spot on."

"Good teacher."

"Great advice!"

"Great presentation!"

"Exercises were helpful! Interactive discussions with everyone was good. Overall structure of writing workshop was good."

"Session had a nice balance, challenging us to think on our toes, lecture, and group discussion."

"All of the presentation was very helpful. Thank you!"

"Excellent Course!"

"Enjoyed the presentation."

"Good presentation. Four hours is a long time to stay interested so the Power Point, voice inflection, participation, and whiteboard helped."

"All parts of the presentation were helpful. You nailed all the important topics."

"Your teaching style is very clear and interesting which kept my attention."

Programs on Crafting Persuasive Introductions and Statements of Fact

"The sample introduction and statement of fact was a helpful, concrete way to think about your tips. Difficult to make a full presentation in a truncated session, but I thought the points were made cogently. Very helpful."

"I thought the ‘tricks’ at the end [of the session] about tailoring facts depending on which side of the case I am on were great. This type of ‘practical’ lawyering skill should be very helpful."

"I found the discussion of passive/active voice writing techniques when introducing old and new facts most helpful. This is an area of my writing that constantly gives me trouble, and thinking about these techniques is very illuminating for me."

"Looking at structure of intro paragraphs—particularly useful for identifying the role certain sentences/points play in writing—like diagramming a sentence."

"Enjoyed discussing the exemplars with colleagues & hearing everyone’s insights. It was good to address differences in approach for different briefs. Ex: intro to reply vs. intro to opening papers."

"I liked the annotated handout on the persuasive statement of facts and how it broke down what each sentence/paragraph was trying to accomplish."

"Good use of examples and explanations of rationale for choices. Different styles are effective as long as thought out."

"The bracketed notes in the examples were helpful notes in reading."

"Explanations of importance of introductions & statement of facts were fantastic."

"Concrete examples were good. Summaries of techniques also helpful."

"Very entertaining and informative, particularly considering the subject matter."

"Best parts were strategic tips—parentheticals in intro—writing argument first before statement of facts. Great job! Thanks Tom."

"Great focus on drafting facts to be implicitly persuasive while explicitly not. Excellent."

"Excellent program. Helpful to practitioners at any level of experience."

"Mr. Holm speaks clearly & his examples are excellent!"

"Discussion on how to downplay bad facts in a statement of facts was really helpful. Great job! Thanks for your effort and time."

" Liked analyzing the writing samples—shows writing techniques in practice."

"Enjoyed your pace and language examples."

"Excellent course!"

Programs on Writing Persuasive Rules, Discussions of Authority, and Factually Explicit Arguments

"I most appreciated the concrete & specific examples, with inserted notations in various sentences. I liked how the briefs are broken down as this helps illustrate your points & how we can easily implement them."

"The discussion of formulating arguments was extremely helpful. The exercise at the end of the argument section also helped to solidify the concepts we covered. The discussion brought out many non-obvious ideas which will be very helpful in drafting my types of documents."

"Very helpful presentation. The portion of the presentation on test/case discussions was particularly helpful because it highlighted how a well stated test will not only assist in organizing the factual argument but also to analyze supporting case law."

"Liked the exercises. They help to make the suggestions practical. Overall a very good presentation."

"Everything was helpful. Organization of the arguments especially."

"I found that discussing organization techniques helped me the most (headings, impact of short v. long sentences, focusing on emphasizing on good case law and distinguishing negative case law)."

"Developing the test/rule for the analysis was the most helpful. Excellent presentation overall."

"The exercises were helpful. Just the right amount of exercises."

"The case analysis was the most helpful part of the presentation. In my legal writing course we did not develop the internal structure of a case analysis paragraph to the degree that you did."

"I especially appreciated the writing samples that followed the techniques."

"Good takeaway material booklet for future reference."

"The brief samples were very useful to discuss the presenter’s points."

"The following parts were the most helpful.

  • Practical examples of how specific techniques work in briefs.
  • Putting a specific name to techniques I already used, but perhaps didn’t use effectively for lack of specific consideration (e.g., parallel construction)."

"I appreciated the broad overview, balanced with specific examples. I’ve attended other writing seminars where the examples were too basic or not realistic enough. Also, the written materials are concise and helpful—more helpful than being handed a book, as has happened in prior writing seminars."

"The part of the presentation that helped me the most was the emphasis techniques with samples. They were very clear and instructive."

"I really liked how every slide was followed by an example."

"It has been several years since I took a writing seminar, and I liked how much ground you covered, even topics/points that are basic. I have a short list of “takeaways” to keep in mind as I draft and edit my next brief."

"The breakdown of moving party and opposing party arguments was helpful in understanding how to apply the different writing techniques."

"The teaching materials will be handy in the future & I’ll be referring to them regularly."

"I really enjoyed the last portion in which we discussed the different writing samples. It put context to the different tools provided during the session."

"The examples after introducing each technique for writing were great. Presentation was concise and to the point."

"It was informative to hear how you would have written some things differently."

"Appreciated the specific examples & that presentation was tailored to brief writing."

"The presentation segments that helped me the most:

  • Review of persuasive writing rules and paradigms.
  • Real examples that were not all perfect."

"Explanation of test statements was very helpful."

"The materials were concise and easy to read. I will refer to the examples provided in the future."

"I really enjoyed the structure aspect of the presentation. It was helpful to go into detail. It was also helpful to see examples of the theories in practice."

"Discussions about the sample briefs were helpful and amount of participation was right on."

"Learned some very helpful writing tips; I liked the breakdown of specific examples."

"The example paragraphs highlighting the use of different techniques in brackets is very helpful. Transitioning from old → new examples are good. I will utilize these in the future."

"The macro-organizational structure is an important refresh to establish the basics of legal writing. The examples provided clear guidance to apply the rules learned in law school to practical writing."

"As a litigator, the entire presentation as a whole helped the most."

"The teaching materials provided useful information that I can refer to in the future."

"The teaching materials were very helpful. Will look to examples for templates."

"I will use the teaching materials in the future."

"The ACLU brief discussion was very useful in terms of do’s & don’ts."

Programs on Writing and Editing Techniques

"Overall the entire presentation was useful. The creative suggestions related to paralleling and other strategies was most helpful."

"Enjoyed the morning info on use of words and punctuation. I learned new things and refreshed my memory on others. I thought there was a good balance between listening and doing exercises. I thought Tom did an excellent job. Thank you."

"First part of the presentation (writing techniques, grammatical rules) was very helpful and the sample exercises related to sentence clarity was very useful."

"Fundamental and advanced writing techniques are very helpful."

"Overall, the presentation was very helpful. The first part—grammar and sentence structure—was beneficial because technical writing proficiency contributes to better writing. The structural/writing was also good because it broke down the writing process into manageable sections."

"Really appreciated reviewing the sample answers provided in the context of the sentence brevity and clarity exercises. Excellent presentation."

"The general overview and writing tips were very helpful. Passive language, sentence structure, brevity, word choice, etc. are so important for good legal writing."

"One of the most helpful parts [of the presentation] include the brevity and clarity exercises because Holm reinforced the correct ways to use grammatical devices that are a regular part of everyday writing."

"The grammar portions and technical brush-up. As an associate, we rarely have time to school ourselves on the particulars, so this is a great review."

"The general overview and writing tips were very helpful. Passive language, sentence structure, brevity, word choice, etc. are so important for good legal writing."

"The entire presentation was very helpful, a great refresher course on how to improve my writing skills."

"I enjoyed the morning session. Word usage and punctuation reminders are always helpful."

"Great reminder about punctuality, clarity, brevity principles. Good brush-up on basic writing principles/rules."

"While I thought the entire presentation was helpful, I actually found the reminders at the beginning of the presentation re short sentences, clarity, active voice, etc., to be very helpful. It’s been quite a few years since I learned these techniques and the reminders are necessary."