I just finished reading The Legal Writer – 40 Rules for the Art of Legal Writing, by Judge Mark Painter. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about writing persuasively, but it should be required reading for all law students.
Click on the link below for some examples from the book.
Rule 6 – No Parenthetical Numerals
Lawyers commonly write, “There are four (4) plaintiffs and six (6) defendants, all claiming ten thousand dollars ($10,000). But only three (3) of the four (4) plaintiffs are entitled to recover from one (1) defendant.” The reader automatically repeats the numbers. It is extremely hard to read and looks silly…
Rule 12 – No Talking Footnotes
If something is important to be in a footnote, it is important to be in the text. Footnotes detract from readibility. Encountering a footnote is like going downstairs to answer the door while making love—it detracts from the endeavor at hand…
Rule 21 – One Word is Usually Enough
If there is no difference between words, don’t use more than one. If something is “null,” we assume it is also “void.” If a debt is “due,” it is also “payable.”