Capital letters do not make words more interesting

… nor do they make the writer more interesting.

Over The Years, It’s Become Painfully Clear To Me That Lawyers Like Their Capital Letters. It’s Almost Like They JUST CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES.

Maybe they put themselves in the shoes of the Founding Fathers (founding fathers?), whose Declaration of Independence is a hallmark of random capitalization. (And why is that? Read what this writer Says About That. And Slate covers the topic of capitalization and the Tea Party here.)

Nothing grabs the eye in a declaration of independence like random capitalization.

Nothing grabs the eye in a declaration of independence like random capitalization.

What got me thinking about this topic was Susie Salmon’s January column in Arizona Attorney Magazine. In it, she examines when you need to capitalize, and when you simply Should Not.

At the magazine, we routinely receive People-item press releases that show a trigger finger for capitalization. For example, if your law firm has a practice group called the Environmental Remediation and Asbestos Prevention Practice Group, or a department called the White-Collar Crime and Cybersecurity Department, by all means, have at it with the capitals; that’s the name of the group or department, after all.

But if “Robert ‘Bob’ Scharansky practices in all areas of Civil Litigation, with an emphasis on Environmental Remediation and Asbestos Prevention,” … No. Just no.

And Bob’s firm is not a Full-Service Firm committed to the Best Outcome for the Client.

Nor does Bob practice in Bankruptcy, or Aviation Law, or Employment Law, or even in the Federal Courts. He does not Focus his Practice in Immigration and Criminal Law. No No No. Those are not real things, or at least not things that demand a proper noun.

Embrace the little things in life. And begin with your typing choices. We all would Appreciate It.

capital letters My Magnificence Cannot Be Contained In Mere Lowercase Letters-page0001

I hope this is now Clear to Everyone.

A vintage Independence Day card wishes you an explosive holiday.

A vintage Independence Day card wishes you an explosive holiday.

So you’re home today (I hope) or doing some enjoyable traveling. Maybe you’d like to watch something uplifting.

(No, I don’t mean the slightly odd vintage holiday card posted above. But go here to Mashable to see more.)

Via an Arizona lawyer I know named Alex Benezra and a great Facebook conversation he started, it occurred to me we should be declarative today—the Declaration of Independence, in particular.

Alex mentioned that he had just listened to the Declaration being read, and what a great experience that was.

Watching it recited can be moving, as well. So take a few minutes to enjoy some famous actors recite the Declaration (yes, the video opens with Mel Gibson; sorry about that, but the piece is a few years old).

And then enjoy a clip from the HBO series on John Adams. If you’re pressed for time, the 3:00 mark is a good place to jump in.

Have a marvelous Independence Day.

One day to the American declaration of freedom from British tyranny? That’s all we give?

Respectfully, I dissent.

Edward Savage and/or Robert Edge Pine, “Congress Voting the Declaration of Independence,” c. 1776. Copyprint of oil on canvas, courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, on the occasion of a nation’s unalienable love for hot dogs and hamburgers, I posted a brief speech uttered by Judge Learned Hand that I thought touched well upon the sentiments that underlie our Oath of Allegiance. You may read it here.

Today, the revelry isn’t done. I enjoyed an item that came my way via the great folks at the Library of Congress.

As they say:

“The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and heavily amended by the Continental Congress, boldly asserted humanity’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the American colonies’ right to revolt against an oppressive British government. Jefferson’s ‘original Rough draught’ illustrates Jefferson’s literary flair and records key changes made by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and the Continental Congress before its July 4, 1776 adoption.”

(Taken from Our Nation’s Archives: The History of the United States in Documents, edited by Erik Bruun and Jay Crosby, Black Dog & Levanthal Publishers Inc. 1999)

To make your perusal easier, I’ve broken the document into three images.

The annotations reveal a few fascinating things to me:

  • The strengths and ideal concepts that characterize our republic were hard fought and hard negotiated.
  • Because writing is thinking made visible, then I plan to scan every line of these images, which may reveal “what might have been.”
  • Writing students who insist that their first draft is “good enough” are not only lazy and deluded—they are far from Revolutionary.

To see the image on the Library of Congress page, go here.

It has become a welcome staple of many civic events on the Fourth of July to read the Declaration of Independence aloud. Events like that gather students, teachers, community leaders and others in a shared recitation of one of our nation’s essential documents.

This week, I came across one of the most poignant examples of this. In this video, watch as the document is read by military personnel stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. They include sailors, soldiers, a Marine, an airman, and a U.S. civilian contractor, all reading this year.

Happy Independence Day.

A gift from our Founders

As you wheel between the grill and some fireworks on Independence Day 2011, here are two brief items that may make your day of commemoration even a little better.

Both, by coincidence, are from the same site, housed in our 50th state. Civil Beat provides a variety of interesting content, and I hope you linger even after today.

The first essay explains the role lawyers played in the founding of our country. You may already be aware of all that, but it is a great refresher. And it’s only eight short paragraphs, so explore it while you wait for the burgers to be done.

The second piece published some reader responses to their question: “If the Declaration of Independence were written today, what about our society would future generations look back on and question?”

Don’t like the responses, all by ACLU interns? Then write your own; they’re seeking your response.

And while you’re there, you may want to test your “Freedom IQ” by clicking on a 20-question quiz. If that seems too much like work, save it until you’re back in the office tomorrow.

Happy Independence Day.