Plain English

From the Met Online Collection

In law school, one of my textbooks for legal research & writing was Plain English for Lawyers by Richard C. Wydick. As the title suggests, it is about writing in a way that people who aren’t trained in the law can understand what they’re reading. It shaped how I write for my clients and they respond favorably.

This article on lawyerist.com called Write Better Legal Documents with an Editing Checklist by Evan Schaeffer is another excellent and succinct brief resource on editing when you don’t have another person to review your work.

When I give my interns writing assignments, I tell them to take whatever they have written and cross out every third word, then try to rewrite their memo eliminating as many of the marked words as they can. People are busy. Few of us want to peruse read a five-page paper or spend time trying to remember what a word means.
My pet peeves: utilize, wherefore, herin, heretofore, and hereinunder.
What are yours?

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