Monday, September 19, 2011
Professor Douglas E. Abrams of the Univeristy of Missouri has witten an article that appears in this month's issue of The Nebraska Lawyer, the magazine published by the Nebraska State Bar Association. His article (on page 17) is on "Effective Written Advocacy Before Generalist Judges: Advice from Recent Decisions." He notes that judges often lack familiarity with many areas of law and that lawyers who live in those specialized fields may have to dial back their use of jargon specific to a particular field. He cites examples from fields such as patent law and reinsurance.
In the reinsurance field, for example, Professor Abrams cites Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who wrote that "[e]very esoteric term used by the reinsurance industry has a counterpart in ordinary English." Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Co. v. Reinsurance Results, Inc., 513 F.3d 652, 658 (7th Cir. 2008).
We can't have too many of these articles in journals for the practicing bar. Carry on, Professor Abrams, and help those lawyers write in plain English!