10 tips for lawyers …


… Or, what NOT to do (a plain language guide)

LEAFING through my law student daughter’s books the other day, I came across this perfectly delightful list of rules, headed

 Please do not take the following advice:

Principles of Legal Writing

1. Never use one word where 10 will do.

2. Never use a small word where a big one will do suffice.

3. Never use a simple statement where it appears that one of substantially greater complexity will achieve comparable goals.

4. Never use English, where Latin, mutatis mutandis, will do.

5. Qualify virtually everything.

6. Do not be embarrassed about repeating yourself. Do not be embarrassed about reapeating yourself.

7. Worry about the difference between “which” and “that”.

8. In pleadings and briefs, that which is defensible should be stated. That which is indefensible, but which you wish were true, should merely be suggested.

9. Never refer to your opponent’s “arguments”; he only makes “assertions” and his assertions are always “bald”.

10. If a layperson can read a document from beginning to end without falling asleep, it needs work.

Now, if only all the practising lawyers I’ve ever known would take heed …

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This entry was posted by stevieg on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 at 12:22 pm and is filed under General . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. kelvin mcmaster says:

    I cannot put it more succintly than Charles Dickens. “The law is an ass”

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