Tagged legal writing

Getting to know your inner ejusdem generis

With increasing frequency, one reads arguments by lawyers arguing their clients have a “strong” case or defence based on an interpretation of a contractual or statutory provision is so wrong, it is enough to make one weep.  Beyond the common complaint about the literacy of lawyers in their everyday correspondence or speech, the inexcusable lack of legal…

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.…

Write about law, like a pro

(la version française suit) In her mind, the request will kill two birds with one stone: clients will know the firm’s members are current about the latest developments in the law, and it’ll be a good opportunity to see if you have what it takes to write reports directly to clients.  Let’s face it, young lawyers are not known for their writing prowess.  Senior lawyers have told me incessantly that new lawyers cannot spell, let alone string two sentences together.  “This is a test!” you have to say to yourself.  And it is.  This is your chance to get noticed…