Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Writing purposeful sentences

FeldmanNorth Carolina attorney Stephen Feldman recently advised lawyers that to be persuasive, their writing must be clear, and to be clear, it must be purposeful. His article in the Jaunary 2014 issue of For the Defense stresses that every word and every sentence needs a purpose. As an example, he offers a 44-word sentence whose purpose is unclear:

Plaintiff’s characterizations of the financial information provided by Defendants do not change the undisputed facts that Defendants never held out the financial information as being anything other than estimates of expenses and net income for commercial property to be constructed in the future.

     To fix the sentence, he divides it and includes several pauses, creating stress positions that focus attention on the key points:

Here, summary judgment is warranted based on an undisputed fact: the defendants told the plaintiff that the relevant financial information was an estimate. The plaintiff’s characterization of this fact does not change its undisputed nature.

Feldman recognizes that writing purposefully takes time. But it’s time well spent, he says, because “Clear writing makes winning more likely.”

The For the Defense version is not yet on line, but Feldman's article can be accessed at his law firm's website.



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