Clarity for Lawyers: Effective Legal Writing

Clarity for Lawyers: Effective Legal Writing

Book rating: 03 Paperback

By (author) Mark Adler

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  • Publisher: The Law Society
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 232mm x 12mm | 354g
  • Publication date: 8 December 2006
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 185328985X
  • ISBN 13: 9781853289859
  • Edition: 2, Revised
  • Edition statement: 2nd Revised edition
  • Sales rank: 395,274

Product description

The traditional style of legal drafting has been widely discredited over the last 40 years, and clear, modern English is now increasingly required by law and by clients. But few lawyers are able to produce it. Mark Adler debunks the myth that legalese is precise and explains, with many before-and-after examples, how lawyers can increase their efficiency, profits, and client approval while making their documents more reliable. This second edition has been thoroughly revised, updated and expanded to include new sections on ambiguity, vagueness, miscuing, and editing, as well as advice about communication via emails and websites, persuasive writing, and the rules of interpretation. The book also contains a helpful range of precedents written in plain English, including a simple will, memorandum of association and divorce petition.

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Author information

Mark Adler is a solicitor in general practice but also teaches plain legal writing in the UK and overseas and acts as a plain drafting consultant to lawyers and others. For many years he was chairman of Clarity, the lawyers' movement for plain legal language, and he edited its journal from 1987 to 2000.

Customer reviews

By a Book Depository customer 10 Dec 2008 3

"A BETTER LIFE WITH PLAIN ENGLISH
Please tell all lawyers that they need this book...if only to give our clients confidence in us and the legal profession generally! Apart from well-known pompous judges (we have their names) and even more pompous civil servants employed in the court service (when they are not on strike), lawyers have a reputation for bad writing when traditional legal writing becomes a bad habit and requires simple modernisation.
I suggest you read 'Adler on Clarity', starting at the beginning when Adler writes that "this book is intended to give lawyers a better life". It does just that! The book succeeds in doing so brilliantly, and in a friendly manner. Adler has drawn from highly authoritative sources to make his point, including comments from the late Professor John Adams, acknowledging a list of distinguished personal contributors, and Lord Bingham's acute observation that "you cannot write clearly unless you know clearly what it is you want to say".
There are 5 sections: - What's wrong with legal writing? - Alternative ways to communicate - How to make legal writing more effective - The common law rules of interpretation - A plain language workshop.
Each section builds up to provide a detailed guide to effective legal writing with a robust indictment of traditional legal language. The key is plain language which provides successful communication with clients, colleagues and the world in general.
It is plain language not pomposity which prevents ambiguity and mistakes to save your firm time and money as well as expressing a message effectively and in an approachable manner. I was interested in the sections on emails and websites which no doubt will expand with the third edition as these new methods of communication transform our lives. I see 'Clarity' as a publication to be recommended in publications such as "Which" magazine, and its organisation, the Consumers Association, plus all the consumer groups trying to establish modern rules of writing "fit for purpose" (an unfortunate phrase) in 21st century. Probably the greatest benefit to lawyers is the working examples throughout showing how legalese can be rewritten into plain English.
Just reading the old law reports illustrate such changes and Adlers attack on "inflated language is well placed here. I liked the conclusion in his preface when he refers to the "robust attitude from the trial bench (we have all suffered that) which he hopes will "soon force the offenders to abandon their affectations.
If the reader does not look at any other chapter, please read chapter 20 on "choosing words. It is always the dream of examiners, with their itchy red pens, to delete, prune or "trim what isnt necessary when marking a paper- Adler shows us what to do to erase gobbledegook, and he gets full marks for it. Thank you for an excellent contribution to the study of 21st century English language - lets make this work a set book for all learners in the future.
PHILLIP TAYLOR MBE LL.B (Hons) PGCE Barrister-at-Law.
Richmond Green Chambers"

Review quote

'All lawyers need this book ... if only to give our clients confidence in us and the legal profession generally! Adler shows us what to do to erase the gobbledegook, and he gets full marks for it. Thank you for an excellent contribution to the study of twenty-first century English language, and let's make this work a set book for all students in the future.' The Barrister 'Clarity for Lawyers is a practical book, written for lawyers by a lawyer. As you would expect, it's well written and easy to understand. As you might not expect, it's also entertaining. (More than once I was caught laughing out loud while reading it.) I think it will appeal to practising lawyers of all backgrounds and experience levels.' Clarity

Table of contents

A: What's wrong with legal writing?; B: Alternative ways to communicate; C: How to make legal writing more effective; D: The common law rules of interpretation; E: A plain language workshop.