Everything Kelly J.C. Gallinger Learned About Legal Writing She Learned from Justice Karla Gray

We recently interviewed Kelly J.C. Gallinger, a partner at Brown Law Firm in Billings, Mont., who practices insurance defense and litigation. Gallinger spent 11 years in the Montana Army National Guard, and one year teaching ESL in South Korea--which you can read about in the latest issue of Mountain States Super Lawyers.

Here, Gallinger talks about how retired Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Karla Gray--the first woman in the state elected to the post--was instrumental in whipping Gallinger's legal writing into shape:

GALLINGER low res.JPGI clerked for Karla Gray for a year and I probably learned more from that than my three years of law school. She was a tough boss but a great boss. She taught me more about legal writing and legal research than I learned in law school, or the Public Land & Resources Law Review, or anything. I was on the Law Review and I had gotten good grades in law school, and I thought I was a pretty coherent, straight-forward, logical writer.

I was terrible.

It's shocking to me that I ever got on the Law Review. I would do a draft of an opinion and it was like [Karla] spilled a bottle of red ink. She would mark it up. But there was no ego involved. She was a tough boss and she would do it in not a very diplomatic way by pointing out: "Why do you even think you need these three pages, this adds nothing to your argument. This is what we're trying to say." And as blunt as it was, it was the best way for me to learn to become a good writer. I have utter respect for Karla Gray.

--Adrienne Schofhauser