Episode 08: Is it time lawyers lose the legalese?
MINDSET: LESS LEGALESE, MORE TRUST
On this episode of the Checklist Legal Podcast:
• Scientific proof clients hate legalese
• Why lawyers should hate legalese too
• Why (as Prof Joe Kimble says) the law is no serious obstacle to writing clearly and plainly
• How you can sound smarter (hint: use plain language)
• 3 legalese words to banish from your contracts.
Steer clear of legalese.
Do the work to understand your reader and write for readability to gain trust.
Complex texts are difficult to read.
Write clearly and simply if you can, and you’ll be more likely to be thought of as intelligent.
Ask for feedback… identify complicated wordy words in your contracts and other writing and look them up on word swap lists to find
Do a “find replace” on your contracts for the following words…
Utilise (or utilize)… swap for… Use
Subsequent… swap for…Later, next
Pursuant to…swap for… By, following, under
Caitlin Whiteman, ‘Why easy-to-read is easy to like – what science tells us about the remarkable benefits of simplicity’, (21 March 2016) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-easy-to-read-easy-like-what-science-tells-us-caitlin-whiteman
Chistopher R Trudeau, ‘The Public Speaks: An Empirical Study of Legal Communication’ (May 20, 2012). 14 Scribes J. Leg. Writing 121 (2011-2012). Available at SSRN: ssrn.com/abstract=1843415
Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage (Hardcover), Bryan Garner. See also a fun article on these ‘here-and-there’ words based on Garner’s work by Andy Mergendahl (Lawyerist, 24 May 2012) lawyerist.com/43513/legal-writing-ditch-here-and-there-words/, accessed 10 June 2017.
Joseph Kimble, ‘You Think the Law Requires Legalese? (21 October 2013) retrieved via legalwritingeditor.com/2013/10/21/think-law-requires legalese/#.WS1J1Gh97b0, accessed 30 May 2017.
Centre for Plain Language, ‘Law Words: 30 essays on legal words & phrases’ (1995) Retrieved via clarity-international.net/documents/law_words.pdf accessed 10 June 2017.
Law Reform Commission of Victoria, ‘Plain English and the Law Report’ (1987) No 9, Appendix I Drafting manual: Guidelines for drafting in plain English
Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd Pocket Edition), definition via lawyerist.com/28922/thy-legal-writing-shall-not-include-shall/, accessed 10 June 2017.
Joseph Kimble, ‘What is plain language?’ (2002) Retrieved via plainlanguage.gov/whatisPL/definitions/Kimble.cfm, accessed 10 June 2017.
BA Garner, ‘Learning to Loathe Legalese’ (November 2006) Retrieved via michbar.org/file/barjournal/article/documents/pdf4article1085.pdf, accessed 10 June 2017.
DM Oppenheimer, ‘Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly’ Applied Cognitive Psychology, (31 October 2005) Retrieved via ucd.ie/artspgs/semantics/ConsequencesErudite.pdf, accessed on 10 June 2017.
For more word swap ideas: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/files/alternative.pdf
Head to https://www.checklistlegal.com/podcast for show notes, resources links, and templates.
Music: 'Sway this way' by @SilentPartner