Legal Writing in Plain English A Text with Exercises

ISBN-10: 0226284182

ISBN-13: 9780226284187

Edition: 2001

Authors: Bryan A. Garner

List price: $18.00
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Admirably clear, concise, down-to-earth, and powerful-unfortunately, these adjectives rarely describe legal writing, whether in the form of briefs, opinions, contracts, or statutes. In Legal Writing in Plain English, Bryan A. Garner provides lawyers, judges, paralegals, law students, and legal scholars sound advice and practical tools for improving their written work. The book encourages legal writers to challenge conventions and offers valuable insights into the writing process: how to organize ideas, create and refine prose, and improve editing skills. In essence, it teaches straight thinking—a skill inseparable from good writing. Replete with common sense and wit, the book draws on real-life writing samples that Garner has gathered through more than a decade of teaching in the field. Trenchant advice covers all types of legal materials, from analytical and persuasive writing to legal drafting. Meanwhile, Garner explores important aspects of document design. Basic, intermediate, and advanced exercises in each section reinforce the book's principles. (An answer key to basic exercises is included in the book; answers to intermediate and advanced exercises are provided in a separate Instructor's Manual, free of charge to instructors.) Appendixes include a comprehensive punctuation guide with advice and examples, and four model documents. Today more than ever before, legal professionals cannot afford to ignore the trend toward clear language shorn of jargon. Clients demand it, and courts reward it. Despite the age-old tradition of poor writing in law, Legal Writing in Plain English shows how legal writers can unshackle themselves. Legal Writing in Plain English includes: *Tips on generating thoughts, organizing them, and creating outlines. *Sound advice on expressing your ideas clearly and powerfully. *Dozens of real-life writing examples to illustrate writing problems and solutions. *Exercises to reinforce principles of good writing (also available on the Internet). *Helpful guidance on page layout. *A punctuation guide that shows the correct uses of every punctuation mark. *Model legal documents that demonstrate the power of plain English.
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Book details

List price: $18.00
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 6/5/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

Principles for All Legal WritingFraming Your Thoughts
Have something to say—and think it through
For maximal efficiency, plan your writing projects
Try nonlinear outlining
Order your material in a logical sequence
Use chronology when presenting facts
Keep related material together
Divide the document into sections, and divide sections into smaller parts as needed
Use informative headings for the sections and subsections.Phrasing Your Sentences
Omit needless words
Keep your average sentence length about 20 words
Keep the subject, the verb, and the object together—toward the beginning of the sentence
Prefer the active voice over the passive
Use parallel phrasing for parallel ideas
Avoid multiple negatives
End sentences emphatically.Choosing Your Words
Learn to detest simplifiable jargon
Use strong, precise verbs
Minimize is, are, was,and were
Turn -ion words into verbs when you can
Simplify wordy phrases
Watch out for of
Avoid doublets and triplets
Refer to people and companies by name
Don't habitually use parenthetical shorthand names
Use them only when you really need them
Shun newfangled acronyms
Make everything you write speakable
Principles Mainly for Analytical and Persuasive Writing
Plan all three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end
Use the "deep issue" to spill the beans on the first page
Don't overparticularize
Introduce each paragraph with a topic sentence
Bridge between paragraphs
Vary the length of your paragraphs, but generally keep them short
Provide signposts along the way
Unclutter the text by moving citations into footnotes
Weave quotations deftly into your narrative
Be forthright in dealing with counterarguments
Principles Mainly for Legal Drafting
Draft for an ordinary reader, not for a mythical judge who might someday review the document
Organize provisions in order of descending importance
Minimize definitions
If you have more than just a few, put them in a schedule at the end—not at the beginning
Break down enumerations into parallel provisions
Put every list of subparts at the end of the sentence—never at the beginning or in the middle
Delete every shall
Don't use provisos
Replace and/orwherever it appears
Prefer the singular over the plural
Prefer numerals, not words, to denote amounts
Avoid word-numeral doublets
If you don't understand a form provision—or don't understand why it should be included in your document—try diligently to gain that understanding
If you still can't understand it, cut it
Principles for Document Design
Use a readable typeface
Create ample white space—and use it meaningfully
Highlight ideas with attention-getters such as bullets
Don't use all capitals, and avoid initial capitals
For a long document, make a table of contents
Methods for Continued Improvement
Embrace constructive criticism
Edit yourself systematically
Learn how to find reliable answers to questions of grammar and usage
Habitually gauge your own readerly likes and dislikes, as well as those of other readers
Remember that good writing makes the reader's job easy; bad writing makes it hard
How to Punctuate
Four Model Documents
Research Memorandum
Appellate Brief
ContractKey to Basic Exercises
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