Law and Law School in Six Words

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Category: Legal Writing, Public

One of the things we try to teach our law students is how to write concisely. And nothing is more concise than a story in six words. If you aren’t familiar with six-word stories, let me briefly (in six words) explain.  Ernest Hemingway wrote one; won bet.  Okay, more fully, it’s said that in the 1920s, Hemingway’s colleagues bet him he couldn’t write a story in six words.  He wrote:  For sale: baby shoes, never used. Some say that Hemingway considered it his best work. (But see here for evidence that Hemingway never wrote those six words.)

Writing a six-word story is creative and fun—and great practice at being concise. Here are several six-word stories about law school or other law-related themes, contributed by faculty and students. My goal is to continue to collect such stories and post them as they come in. Please consider writing your own six-word story and posting it as a comment. Or email it to me at

Answer:  “It depends”


most days

Professor Rebecca Blemberg


Old dog, new liberalism; Antonin Scalia.

Gil Simpson, 2L


I loved fearlessly, despite the law.

Professor Ed Fallone


Fourteenth circuit moot court is real.

Brittany Kachingwe, 3L


Cost-benefit analysis rules the case.

Professor Melissa Greipp


Personal jurisdiction in six words? Ha!

Professor Irene Ten Cate


UPDATE (9/21/13):  The six-word stories keep rolling in.  Here are some more.  Please keep them coming!

Don’t outsource, let our lawyers work.

Angelina Joseph


“Habeas Corpus,” the third-year student cried.

Professor David Austin, California Western School of Law


Hanging shingles, he fell into debt.

Professor David Austin, California Western School of Law


Legal writer, for sale, bores family.

Submitted by the children of Professor Ruth Anne Robbins, Rutgers School of Law – Camden


Friday night, legal writing: the usual.

Submitted by the children of Professor Ruth Anne Robbins, Rutgers School of Law – Camden


I worked hard. It paid off.

Professor Candace Centeno, Villanova


Perseverance in law: Constance, Thurgood, and Desegregation.

Professor Bernadette Gargano, SUNY Buffalo Law School


No better preparation for serving humanity.

Professor Kirsten K. Davis, Stetson University College of Law


“Heads full of mush” learn clarity.
Professor Sue Liemer, School of Law, Southern Illinois University


Students never saw Paper Chase, alas.

Professor Bruce Ching, Michigan State University College of Law


Ruth Anne Robbins submits the following, written by her 2L and 3L students:

1L: scared; 2L: burnt; 3L: done.

2L. One month deep, doggy-paddling. Quicksand?

Sanity sustained by pounds of coffee.

Work Harder Than Ever, No Guarantees.

1L, 2L, 3L, Bar Exam, Floor.

Should have read the “Slacker’s Guide.”




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41 Responses to “Law and Law School in Six Words”

  1. Writing is passe. Just use Twitter.

  2. John DeStefanis Says:

    Aiken spoke in paragraphs, not sentences.

  3. I am not sure which of these is more central to what I do as an appellate criminal defense lawyer:

    (1) Facts often matter more than cases.

    (2) Judges hate emotions– but have them.

    (Maybe they really are two sides of the same coin.)

  4. Law school. My personal debt crisis.
    (Submitted by a 2L who wants to remain anonymous.)

  5. Mitchell Scott Says:

    He babbled on; she silenced him.

  6. Love my job; policy wonks rule.

  7. Professor Blinka, teaching evidence through parable.
    Cathy Zillgitt

    Background search for bar application – STRESSFUL.
    Brittany Kachingwe, 3L

  8. Rick Sankovitz Says:

    Adolescent felons, whose shackles fall off

  9. Twelve jurors, nine votes, life changed.

  10. Judgment of conviction, overruled. Life restored?

  11. Moved admission. Rested. Dismissal is granted.

  12. Vanessa Paster, 2L Says:

    The reasonable man is an illusion.

  13. 3L’s parent: retirement nest egg imperiled.

  14. Jeffrey Morrell Says:

    Learned to hate rational basis review.

  15. One hundred twenty thousand in debt.

  16. Marisa Kasriel Says:

    Don’t worry Mom, I’ll marry rich.

    (In response to Katy Kasriel’s post, above.)

  17. Empowered: belittler or advocate? Choose wisely.

  18. Too much thinking; too little judgment.

  19. More six-word story submissions!

    As promised, I have more six word stories.

    Brittany Kachingwe, 3L, is really on the six-word story bandwagon. Here are several she submitted:

    The Framers should’ve been more specific.

    You only three L once. #YO3LO.

    Coffee for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Someone needs to invent coffee IVs.

    My umbrella paragraph keeps me dry.

    Professor Ruth Anne Robbins ( at Rutgers School of Law – Camden has long been a fan of six-word stories. One of her upper-level students, Robert Norcia, submitted this:
    The socratic method: torturing 1Ls worldwide.

    Another of her students, Erika Page, submitted two:
    Didn’t do the reading, uh oh.

    Summer Associate? 6 Figures? Yeah right.

    And one from me:
    Falling leaves, rising stress: outline time.

  20. Anthony Procaccio Says:

    Six 6-word stories to sum up the last 3 years of my life.

    Welcome to Milwaukee, here’s a beer.

    Sleep? I’m not familiar with that.

    Congratulations, graduates. Don’t forget to donate.

    I was told JDs open doors.

    One soy latte coming right up.

    Regret enrolling? Not even a little.

  21. Cassady Toles Says:

    Before law school I was employable.

  22. Who needs family when there’s books?

  23. Just give us the rule, please.

  24. E and E’s; Salvation lies within.

  25. Will this be on the final?

  26. Professor David Austin at California Western School of Law submits the following six-word stories from his students:

    Two cases, identical facts, opposite holdings…

    Law Student: “What is free time?”

    Learning to argue to solve arguments.

    1l life: unreasonably minimal social contacts.

    No time for writing stories, silly.

    Brain so fried, I can’t even count.

    Professor Austin adds that he particularly loves the last story “since the student actually added an extra word to prove the point.”

  27. What is “ATL”? –Class of ’72

  28. Law professors love unadopted model codes.

  29. Motion struck. Oops. Pesky local rules!

  30. “Never hide the ball.” –Socrates (Deathbed)

  31. Tyler Leverington Says:

    Tired, stressed, absolutely love the grind.

  32. I’m still working on writing one of my own, but for now it occurred to me that the last line of the song “Annie Waits”, off the album Rockin’ the Suburbs by Ben Folds, works well as a six-word story:

    “Annie waits, but not for me.”

  33. Note to self: professor cold-calls.

  34. Gabriel Peterson Says:

    Possession is nine tenths the problem.

  35. Gabe Peterson Says:

    Law is reason, free from passion


  36. I’m Professor of Law at U of Pittsburgh and author of 41 books:

    Buy my books. Feed my children.

  37. Adam Koenings Says:

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Yes, please.

  38. Make sure you check out some six-word stories written by my 1Ls here:

  39. C. Ann Harper Says:

    Your Voice, Your Words: Our Edits

  40. From an anonymous 2L:
    Made 12(e) motion in class. Denied.

  41. Melissa Greipp Says:

    Linear motion controls litigation’s dynamic chaos.

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