Bloomberg Law Quotes Partner Adrienne Koch in Article About “Plagiarism” in Legal Writing

Bloomberg Law has quoted Katsky Korins LLP partner Adrienne Koch in its recent article, “‘Plagiarism’ Common in Brief-Writing, but When Is It Too Much?”

The article explores the practical and ethical issues around copying and pasting arguments and other information from prior briefs, including those of other attorneys. It also delves into the accepted practices lawyers generally follow when borrowing language during the brief writing process, as well as the sanctions that could arise should lawyers fail to follow them or use deceptive billing practices.

Koch said in the article that it is good thing for lawyers to use language that signals similarities to existing ideas, especially since a litigator’s chief objective is to persuade a court that the outcome their client seeks is the outcome that the law and precedent require.

“Brief writing is—I don’t want to say not creative—but originality isn’t exactly valued in the same way as a play or sonnet,” Koch told Bloomberg Law.

She added that while borrowing another’s ideas is considered a cardinal sin in academic writing, practicing lawyers will find themselves doing this regularly, especially when citing established legal standards. She said borrowing verbiage, reusing citations and paraphrasing language can all promote efficiency and better serve clients who generally do not want their lawyers to reinvent the wheel.

“Just about every firm has a mechanism by which lawyers can share their work” for others to review and borrow from, Koch said, before clarifying that a lawyer should still tailor any material they use — including from their own prior work — to the circumstances of each individual brief and matter to avoid potential trouble.

Koch, the president-elect of the New York County Lawyers Association, previously wrote about plagiarism in legal writing in an April 2019 article with the New York Law Journal (subscription required).

Koch has been with the litigation department of Katsky Korins since 1993, and has been a partner since 1998. She has a broad range of experience in all types and phases of commercial litigation and dispute resolution, both at the trial level and at the appellate level. She has handled cases involving issues of contract, real estate, defamation, and business fraud and other business torts – covering industries ranging from manufacturing, oil refining, and coal mining to finance, retail, and real estate management and development.