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Reflecting on Writing Better Judgments, March 2018

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The Writing Better Judgments program was recently held at the Supreme Court in Western Australia on 19-21 March 2018.   The Program was fully subscribed and was attended by local and interstate judges, magistrates and tribunal members.  The purpose of this program is to help participants to write clear, concise, comprehensive, coherent and convincing (“the 5Cs”) well-structured judgments in a timely fashion, as well as build confidence so that judgment writing becomes a positive and rewarding experience.

Prior to the March program, the Committee and an experienced legal educator reviewed the Program to help improve learning outcomes and program deliverables.  The revised Program offers more practical support in terms of one-on-one discussions and group work.  The overall aim is to help participants to identify areas within their judgment writing that could be improved, particularly with framing the factual and legal issues.  Workshops were facilitated by experienced senior judges and writers who have substantial experience in writing or teaching judgment writing.  Throughout the Program, the facilitators offered guidance and constructive feedback, and participants analysed each other’s judgments so they could also gain broader knowledge about writing issue-based judgments.  Through these interactions participants soon discovered they are not in this alone and that they face the same challenges when their writing judgments.

Presentations accompanied the interactive sessions and formed the basis of discussions.  Topics covered the importance of planning, research, language and style, writing to convince parties to the proceedings, as well as managing procrastination and competing priorities more effectively.

Feedback from attendees suggests the program was immensely helpful in the practical sense and rich with useful tips.  The group work was seen as particularly beneficial in terms of getting new ideas, gaining constructive feedback, identifying issues and shortcomings, and for receiving messages for improvement.

Some testimonials received were:

  1. The group feedback was really constructive, helpful and positive.  It was particularly useful to get feedback from others who don’t practice in my jurisdiction as they approach it from a different perspective.
  2. I was interested to see the different points of view.  I enjoyed seeing other participants work and enjoying their journey.  The group sessions were a tangible display that this approach is a universal one that does fit all types of judgments.
  3. I was very grateful to every one of my colleagues for taking time to offer positive and thoughtful comments about my rewrite.