By Martha Faulk
Packed with before-and-after examples and illustrations from the felony international, here is a quickly reference for attorneys, paralegals, legislation scholars, or a person within the criminal career.
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Extra resources for Elements of Legal Writing: A Guide to the Principles of Writing Clear, Concise,
Poor: There are some factors that you don't seem aware of. Better: There are some additional factors that you may wish to consider. Page 26 The desired result here is, of course, to get the reader to read and consider the writer's point of view, not to cause hostility or annoyance. You may remember searching for the appropriate tone in your first appearances in court. You quickly learned the appropriate terms of respect: "May it please the court," for example. These familiar and useful terms of address are an essential part of the formal, ritualized court setting.
Rule 1. Use short sentences for complicated thoughts. Too often, legal writers include several important ideas in one long, complex sentence. The result is confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the reader. At the very least, the reader may be forced to reread the sentence. Consider this example from an appellate brief, in which the writer is attempting to persuade the court that the district court made a mistake of interpretation. The district court, on the other hand, erroneously addressed but one word of the Bankers Blanket Bondthe term "realized"and then the district court misapplied it by erroneously considering whether [the appellee] "realized" a benefit and the Bank suffered a loss, which is not a question under the Bankers Blanket Bond; and once the district court found that the Bank suffered a loss it held the Insurer liable without considering the language of the Bankers Blanket Bond as relevant to the issue of whether that loss was covered under the Bankers Blanket Bond.
They may be Latin termsres ipsa loquitur, for exampleor they may be ordinary English words with a specialized meaningproximate cause, negligence, and foreseeability are just a few. Although there is no consensus among legal writing commentators about exactly which words are terms of art, they all agree that these technical terms have no exact synonyms, and that they operate as a kind of shorthand among lawyers. That means, of course, that you may on occasion find yourself using many words to explain these terms of art to nonlawyers.