My good friend Don Keenan is not only a great trial lawyer but a generous one.  He freely shares his ideas about trial  practice. His blog is a source of helpful ideas which I look forward to. See: At the risk of Don accusing me of plagiarism I would like to call your attention to his last posting “The 7 Rules of Safety Rules. He captures the concept so well it ought to be required reading for all plaintiff trial lawyers.  I think it important enough to give you a very brief summary. See Don’s blog for the full article.

His first rule is to put “safety” in the rule. He says to always use the word safety before the word rule: “Safety rule No. 1.”

His second rule is that it must be short and simple.

His third rule is that it should be aspirational and not negative. He explains it is the difference between sayings “Tractor trailer drivers must not be unqualified to drive their rigs” and “Tractor trailer drivers must be qualified to drive their vehicles.” The first is negative and latter positive.


His fourth rule is what he calls the rule of 2 “P’s” The rule has to say what conduct is to be “prevented” and who the rule “protects” – the two P’s.

His fifth rule is that it “must awaken the reptile.” By that he means it must protect the public, the community, everyone etc.

His sixth rule is that it must first prevent and then protect. He says the structure of the rule must always state the conduct that is being prevented first and second who the safety rule protects.

His seventh rule is that cadence counts. That is the wording of rules should end with the same language. If you used “protect” that should be consistent.

So, here’s an example of a proper rule Don gives: “Tractor trailer drivers must be qualified to drive their rigs so as to protect all in the community.”

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