Top Tips for Decision Writers, Part 3

This is the third, and final, post of tips for decision writers, based on a recent presentation I did in Ottawa.

15 After writing, put the decision aside for a few days before doing a final review. Fresh eyes will pick up flaws.

16 Get someone to review your decision who has some expertise (legal counsel or a respected colleague).

17 Get someone to read your decision who is not a legal expert.

18 A decision is not your child – once it is issued, let it go. If you have done your job, it will survive on its own and worrying about it will not help.

19 Beware of confirmation bias. If you make up your mind too early, you are not able to process information that is contrary to your initial determination.

20 Beware of the sunk cost fallacy. You may spend a lot of time writing part of a decision that ultimately leads nowhere or doesn’t add anything to the final analysis. Let it go. If you like, save it on your hard drive for another day but just because you spent time on it does not mean it needs to be in your decision.

21 Take a walk or listen to music. Clearing your head can be a great tool. Some studies have shown that we do our most creative thinking when walking. Other studies have shown that listening to music is one of the “most exquisitely effective ways of allowing you to enter the mind-wandering mode”, where a lot of creative thinking occurs.

22 And take all lists of tips with a grain of salt – decision writing is an individual activity and different techniques work for different decision writers.


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Columns published on

"Chapter 22: Unions and Collective Agreements", in Palmer and Snyder, Collective Agreement Arbitration in Canada, 4th edition, 2009 and 5th edition, 2013.

“Non-consensual expedited processes: the intersection of fairness and expediency”, Lancaster House.

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