Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A reminder to use simple words

Jim McElhaney’s column in the September ABA Journal reminds readers of a key truth about writing: “GoABA J Sep_2012_Cvr_1 for simple words if you want to communicate effectively.” Perhaps numbed by dense writing in old case opinions, lawyers and law students may slip into using terms like clear beyond peradventure, vel non, and with respect to. Such obscure vocabulary, McElhaney says, too often confuses readers instead of telling a clear story. “Let the story—not the legal theory—pick the words.”

Sadly, a sidebar notifies readers that this repeat of a previous piece will end McElhaney's twenty-five-year run as a colunist for the Journal. 


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A chilling example was the jury in the Scott Peterson trial asking the judge for a definition of "unanimous."

Posted by: Otto | Sep 13, 2012 5:59:35 AM

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