Catchy Headlines and Openers

Just as blogs get more readers than e-mails, articles with catchy headlines and enticing openers are more likely to be looked at than, well, boring ones.

Here is a post from LinkedIn that illustrates the point:

A recent case from the ONSC clarifies the law on whether municipalities can regulate boathouses and whether the Building Code Act applies to same, finding that (i) municipalities have jurisdiction to zone Ontario lakes and apply zoning by-laws to lakes, regulating construction of boathouses and other structures; and (ii) the Building Code Act applies to such structures, where not otherwise prohibited by the by-laws and the Public Lands Act.

Descriptive and relatively clear (despite the legalese) – but so dull! Especially when the underlying facts are so good: Toronto lawyer objects to a neighbouring cottager’s rogue boathouse, municipality and province refuse to step in and regulate, lawyer sues governments, judge clarifies ‘murky waters’ (his phrase) of planning rules for boathouse construction.

Or consider these examples from Lexology, which tell the reader nothing and provide little incentive to find out more:

US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System approves final rule amending Regulation D
Shearman & Sterling LLP
On June 18, 2015, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System adopted a final rule amending Regulation D (Reserve Requirements of Depository…

“Reasonable time” in FRCP 60(b) is measured between notice and filing.
Jenner & Block
In Bouret-Echevarría v. Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Corp.,784 F.3d 37 (1st Cir. 2015) (No. 13-2549), the First Circuit addressed the…

Ironworkers Dist. Council of Phila. & Vicinity Ret. & Pension Plan v. Andreotti, C.A. No. 9714-VCG (Del. Ch. May 8, 2015) (Glasscock, V.C.)
Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP
In this memorandum opinion, the Court of Chancery granted a motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s derivative complaint under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, and…

Probably nothing could save that one from Jenner & Block, but you get the point. Lexology just shows a headline and the opening words of your piece, so make them enticing.

And let’s rewrite the Ontario update along these lines: Judge clears up ‘murky waters’ – you can’t just build a boathouse wherever and however you want.

Next tip: gruesome twosomes.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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