Tagged effective writing

See how the active voice wins you your case

Today, I read a lawyer’s factum. By the third paragraph, I stopped reading it and started to count the sentences written in passive voice. Like the kids in the classroom tallying the number of times the teacher performs a nervous tic, my brain switched off and looked for something else to do.  The writing style alone induced this autonomic response. The writer of the factum lost my attention simply by abusing the word “to be” in various tenses followed by a past participle. After my indulgence in pedantry, I had to re-read it and struggle to understand what it said.…

Get your job application “proofed”

Lawyers are lousy at marketing themselves to other lawyers.  Just put out an ad for hiring a new lawyer and the proof of this statement, in the form of badly written applications, will come streaming in. This week, I read a job application from an LL.B. graduate from England and Wales. It started “Hello,”  Out sputtered a few lines of marketing jargon intended to impress the reader.  The candidate then claimed to be familiar with the Canadian legal system.  He had not bothered to find out his degree – an undergraduate LL.B. – does not qualify him to practice law…