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Litigation

Cal. Litig. 2015, Volume 28 Number 1

A Path to Writeousness: What the Seven Deadly Sins Might Teach Us About Written Advocacy

By Richard H. Nakamura Jr.

Richard H. Nakamura, Jr.

What does a sixth-century list of human foibles have to do with 21st century written advocacy? Everything. More than we realize, the written fare of practicing law today is rife with ancient temptations.

Circa 590 CE, the Roman Empire had fallen and the Vatican was emerging as the new "Big Government." But the faithful were going sideways, and Pope Gregory I desperately needed an advertising miracle — a catchy catechism to woo back the wayward. Enter the Seven Deadly Sins. As a call to virtue, the list of "don’ts" — Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, Greed, Envy, and Lust — has always been more honored in the breach than in the observance. As a literary device, however, the Seven Deadly Sins list has been a godsend for screenwriters, authors, and speakers looking for clever ways to frame their topics. So forgive me, reader, for I too am weak and cannot resist temptation.

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