The "Art" of Legal Writing

January 06, 2021 4:23 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

Greetings ALA friends!

Some of you might recall that I was an appellate law clerk for Justice Susan Fayette Hutchinson for nearly 20 years. But it was not until I joined the Appellate Lawyers Association in 2007 that I truly experienced both camaraderie and professionalism within an organization. Each month, I looked forward to the ALA luncheons and the other activities, where I met some of the best lawyers and jurists in the state and where I learned to be a better appellate practitioner.

I relocated to South Florida five years ago, whereupon I seized an opportunity to take a painting class. I used my love of Gregg Shorthand, which I learned before law school, and began to create artworks using the shorthand as a narrative abstraction.  To my complete surprise, people seemed to like my work. Within months, I was exhibiting in group shows. Since then I have had two solo exhibitions, a special guest exhibition at a new hotel, representation with the finest gallery in South Florida, commissioned requests for public art projects, and some wonderful media exposure. You can see some of my work on Instagram; Facebook; my website; and the Paul Fisher Gallery website.

As appellate lawyers, we are readers, researchers, critical thinkers, writers, and collaborators. As a text-based artist, much of my inspiration and practice was borne through my experience as an appellate lawyer. Before I pick up my paintbrush, I research my subject to attain a better depth of knowledge and understanding. I think about how best to express my feelings about the subject. I create a number of prototypes, akin to editing a draft, even engaging in discussions with other artists to gain a different perspective. The skills I learned as an appellate lawyer continue to shape my work in this new endeavor.

My most recent work shown here, The Constitution, is a complete transcription of the U.S. Constitution and all of the amendments into Gregg Shorthand. I painted the text in shades of gray, but I also breathed new life into it with a touch of turquoise. The canvas is linen and approximately 7’ x 9.5’ in size. Living in Florida, a swing state, politics consumed our attention over the past two years. Misinformation and disinformation polluted our consciousness. It seemed as if political theater moved from the stage to the U.S. Capitol. So this past year I reacquainted myself with the U.S. Constitution. Doing so reminded me of the many conversations with my ALA friends, especially my former coworker and ALA member, Charlie Ingrassia, about cases and decisions, old and new.

Since I finished the work, I have garnered serious inquiries for prints. So I am going to have a limited number of prints made. The process entails high-resolution digital scan-back photography, a color-correcting proofing process with multiple proofs, and printing on acid-free archival fine art paper. Each print will be approximately 36” x 44” and signed by me with the particular print number. I am offering the print for $500, but for any ALA member, I would like to share with you a 20 percent reduction in cost, so each print would run $400.

If you would like a print or have any questions or concerns, I invite you to email me. My email is

Thank you so much, and I hope you have a happy and healthy 2021.

Warmest regards,

Stacey Mandell

DISCLAIMER: The Appellate Lawyers Association does not provide legal services or legal advice. Discussions of legal principles and authority, including, but not limited to, constitutional provisions, statutes, legislative enactments, court rules, case law, and common-law doctrines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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