Saturday, March 15, 2014

Three Strikes for Legalese

The March issue of the Michigan Bar Journal has reprinted an early column by Joe Kimble and  Joseph Prokop, entitled, “Three Strikes for Legalese.” The column reports on a study in which lawyers and judges were given two versions of  six paragraphs—one in traditional legalese and one in plain English. Not surprisingly, the lawyers and judges preferred the plain English versions. The legalese versions contained some of our old friends:

Obsolete formalisms (Now comes . . .); archaic

words (hereby, hereof ); longer and less

common words (subsequent, submit) instead

of simple, everyday words (later,

send); wordy phrases (above named, prior

to); doublets (by and through, foreseen or

anticipated); abstract nouns (execution,

payment, notification) created from strong

verbs; passive voice (payment will not be

made); long sentences; intrusive phrases;

and negative form. 

You can read more here.


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