The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection The Lawyer's Essential Guide to Writing: Proven Tools and Techniques by Marie P. Buckley (Call #KF250 .B83 2011 with tips for communicating clearly and effectively in writing. The Table of Contents lists key suggestions to show that legal writing is about the reader. Chapter One, Why Writing Matter, says: “What is excellent legal writing? Strong legal writing speaks a modern language—plain English. It respects our readers’ time and intelligence by being concise but thorough. It takes complex ideas and makes them clear.” This textbook shows lawyers how to stop sounding like lawyers. Among the suggestions:
- Avoid lengthy sentences and wordiness.
- Be concise – sometimes less is more.
- Avoid redundant phrases and needless qualifiers.
- Use plain language instead of pretentious words (like plethora and myriad).
- Use the active voice instead of the passive voice.
- Write in a visually appealing style using headings, subheadings, lists, and graphics to help your readers find the information quickly.
A web based resource that makes the same points is PlainLanguage.gov by a group of federal employees from many different agencies who support the use of clear communication in government writing. Illustrated with Before-and-After Comparisons, this site shows that a plain-language approach improves legal writing. Law students, legal scholars and government workers write more effectively when they remember that the point of writing is to communicate ideas as clearly and as easily as possible, not to impress your readers with your intellect.