Sunday, March 12, 2006

clearly

You likely tell your legal writing students to delete "clearly," and its cousins ("evidently," "obviously," even "manifestly") from their drafts.  You also tell them to delete similar phrases, like "it is clear that."  To increase students' interest in this particular detail of good editing, try telling them to look for these locutions in their opponents' documents, because that's where their opponents will be unconsciously tipping their hand.  Explain that when an uncareful writer states something is "clear," that's where they're least confident it actually is, because they have to assert that it is.  So that's one place a legal writer should look carefully for weaknesses in the other side's arguments.  Competitive law students will remember this tip better when you present it to them in terms of strategy. (spl)   

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