Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Plain Language for Lawyers

Tomorrow I'm doing a CLE program on "Plain Language for Lawyers" at the Chicago Bar Association.  I'm told that 230 people have signed up for the program (and the seminar room holds only 100 people).  There will be video overflow rooms and a webcast.  I'm glad that this is a popular topic!

Mark E. Wojcik 

April 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Scribes Book Award Deadline is May 1

Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers -- holds an annual book award competition.  The award will be presented at the Scribes Annual Meeting, held during the American Bar Association Meeting in San Francisco, on Friday, August 9, 2013.  The award is an important recognition for authors (and the publishers who love them).  The deadline to submit books is May 1, 2013.  Information on how to submit a book for consideration for this award can be found at the webpage for Scribes.

Mark E. Wojcik (Board Member of Scribes)

April 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NYT on Nominalizations

The Draft blog at NYT explores some writers' tendency to convert verbs to nouns and concludes that, perhaps, the practice has been unduly villified.  While I disagree in part, the piece explains a concept that invariably confounds some 1Ls:

“Do you have a solve for this problem?” “Let’s all focus on the build.” “That’s the take-away from today’s seminar.” Or, to quote a song that was recently a No. 1 hit in Britain, “Would you let me see beneath your beautiful?”

If you find these sentences annoying, you are not alone. Each contains an example of nominalization: a word we are used to encountering as a verb or adjective that has been transmuted into a noun. Many of us dislike reading or hearing clusters of such nouns, and associate them with legalese, bureaucracy, corporate jive, advertising or the more hollow kinds of academic prose. Writing packed with nominalizations is commonly regarded as slovenly, obfuscatory, pretentious or merely ugly.


It is easy to decry nominalization. I don’t feel that a writer is doing me any favors when he expresses himself thus: “The successful implementation of the scheme was a validation of the exertions involved in its conception.” There are crisper ways to say this. And yes, while we’re about it, I don’t actually care for “Do you have a solve?”

Still, it is simplistic to have a blanket policy of avoiding and condemning nominalizations. Even when critics couch their antipathy in a language of clinical reasonableness, they are expressing an aesthetic judgment.

Aesthetics will always play a part in the decisions we make about how to express ourselves — and in our assessment of other people’s expression — but sometimes we need to do things that are aesthetically unpleasant in order to achieve other effects, be they polemical or diplomatic.


April 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Scribes Brief-Writing Competition Deadline is April 19

Scribes-Cole-Mullen-ParrottScribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers -- holds an annual Brief-Writing-Award competition. The competition began in 1996 to help identify and celebrate excellent student-written briefs. The competition covers the current school year -- September 2012 to May 2013.  The award is for briefs that have already won Best Brief in a regional or national moot court competition, so it is a "Best of the Best" competition.  

The winning author or authors will be recognized at the 2013 Scribes Annual Meeting, which will be held during the American Bar Association's Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Friday, August 9, 2013. Plaques will be awarded to the authors and their school.  

Pictured here (at right) are award winners from 2011:  In the photo Scribes Board member and Brief-Writing-Award Committee member Charles D. Cole, Jr. (a.k.a. Dewey Cole) presents the 2011 Scribes Brief-Writing Award to the University of Mississippi School of Law students Rachel Mullen and Robert Parrott

Submissions for the 2012-2013 Brief-Writing Compeition are due by April 19, 2013.  Visit the Scribes website for more information about Scribes.  And click here for more information about the Scribes Brief-Writing Competition.

Mark E. Wojcik (Board Member, Scribes)

April 14, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)