10 principles of legal writing

By | December 20, 2006

1. Never use one word where ten will do.
2. Never use a small word where a big one will do suffice.
3. Never use a simple statement where it appears that one of substantially greater complexity will achieve comparable goals.
4. Never use English where Latin, mutatis mutandis, will do.
5. Qualify virtually everything.
6. Do not be embarrassed about repeating yourself. Do not be embarrassed about repeating yourself.
7. Worry about the difference between “which” and “that”.
8. In pleadings and briefs, that which is defensible should be stated. That which is indefensible, but which you wish were true, should merely be suggested.
9. Never refer to your opponent’s “arguments”; he only makes “assertions”, and his assertions are always “bald”.
10. If a layperson can read a document from beginning to end without falling asleep, it needs work.

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