Law students are getting serious about legal writing. They don’t want to hide behind wordy legalisms. They want to be understood. And they offer good tips on how they plan to become effective writers.
Shelley’s Case has welcomed a writing muse – Laughter – while reading children’s books: “I gasped. I panicked. I worried. I giggled. I laughed. I was enchanted by the innocent charm exuberating from these books.” Is there a better way to learn how to tell great stories with simple words and uncluttered structure?
Mackenzie’s Weblog talks about how lawyers tend to perceive their writing abilities and how blogging can help improve writing skills.
The Top Law Student recommends a number of legal writing resources for law students.
Legal writing professors and consultants have also been looking for the fastest road to the writing nirvana. Idealawg has a record of their search. It started with the interview of Dr. George D. Gopen: WRITING FROM A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE and the comments by Wayne C. Schiess, the director of the legal-writing program at the University of Texas School of Law. Their debate continued in the post Not on the same legal writing page: George Gopen of Duke responds to Wayne Schiess of University of Texas. Take note of their suggestions and see which ones work best for you. The beauty of a language is that it is common to many and yet as individual as the speakers, writers and readers themselves.
How about assessing your own knowledge of writing principles. As you read the following quotations from famous people, can you tell which aspect of writing they address?
“That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.”
This is Sir Winston S. Churchill’s opinion of the old rule stating that you cannot end sentences with prepositions. You can when you need to.
“A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.
George Orwell concocted this sentence as a cure for multiple negatives. (Politics and the English Language, 1946.)
“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”
“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
He did it to show the excessive use of abstract nouns and nominalizations (nouns that are derived from verbs with the help of the suffix -ion).
What's your opinion of legal writing?