More Criticism Leveled At Poor Legal Writing

Wayne Schiess, a specialist in legal writing, maintains a blog at Legalwriting.net and has this quote from fellow legal writer Joseph Kimble:

Although lawyers write for a living, most legal writing is bad and has been for centuries; most lawyers recognized this failing from what they read, but still fancy themselves to be rather good writers, thank you; likewise, most lawyers strongly prefer other writers’ prose to be plainer, simpler, shorter, clearer, but they also strongly resist changing their own style (that’s the great disconnect); every possible rationalization for traditional legal style has been discredited; and the costs of our bad writing and funny talk—the time and money wasted and the public disrespect—are incalculable.

[Legal writing is] a stew of all the worst faults of formal and official prose, seasoned with the peculiar expressions and mannerisms that lawyers perpetuate.

Kimble, Joseph, Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language xi (Carolina Academic Press 2006).

Our dialogue is filled with harsh criticism targeted at poor legal writing. Let’s turn our attention to finding a cure.

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