The Lawyer's Guide to Writing Well: Second Edition (Google eBook)

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University of California Press, Dec 14, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 287 pages
3 Reviews
This eminently practical volume demystifies legal writing, outlines the causes and consequences of bad writing, and prescribes straightforward, easy-to-apply remedies that will make your writing readable. Complete with usage notes that address lawyers' most common errors, this well-organized book is both an invaluable tool for practicing lawyers and a sensible grounding for law students. This much-revised second edition contains a set of editing exercises (and a suggested revision key with explanations) to test your skill. This book is a definitive guide to becoming a better writer—and a better lawyer.
  

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The lawyer's guide to writing well

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Journalist Goldstein and law professor/journalist Lieberman examine the most common usage and style mistakes which make legal writing one of the most criticized forms of technical writing. The text is ... Read full review

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WHY GOOD WRITING MATTERS, EVEN IF YOU’RE A LAWYER
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
When Shakespeare penned his ‘kill all the lawyers’ line - forget which play… don’t ask - he might have had it in mind that even in his day, the often bombastic outpourings of the then legal leading lights were a bit long on pomposity and a little short on clarity.
It would seem that in the intervening centuries, not a lot has changed – hence the need for this terrific book aptly titled ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well’ by Goldstein and Lieberman.
This is one guide to writing well that’s written well – very well. It’s immensely readable, laugh-out-loud amusing, yet deadly serious. It is not a new publication, having been around on the shelves of university bookshops worldwide for a while, but the advice it provides is timeless. In our opinion it should be in the library of -- or preferably at the right hand of -- every lawyer in the English speaking world.
Lawyers who are at least dimly aware of the need for clear, concise communication should, if there’s any justice, end up with a lot more grateful clients as a result of having read and noted the contents of this book. As the Washington Post commented, ‘lawyers…need writers, or at least a guide like ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well’ to help them put together a sentence that the rest of the world can understand.’
‘The book’s authors provide straight-to-the-heart advice for lawyers who want to face the music and turn over a new leaf in their writing…a book deemed worth having,’ intones the Harvard Law Review.
‘Deemed?’ Uh oh! We have just perused the useful and trenchant Usage Notes section at the back of the book and have come across the word ‘deem’ and the authors’ low opinion of it. ‘Many lawyers love this word, for no apparent reason,’ they say rather unkindly. In their view, no way should you say that something is ‘deemed’ inappropriate. Say instead that something is inappropriate -- like over reliance on clichés, for example.
Goldstein & Lieberman may sound a little punctilious at times and quick to mock and scorn, but they do it gracefully. And how refreshing it is to read a readable book on English usage which blasts the incessant and almost compulsive use of jargon, not just in the law, but in management-speak, techno-speak, psychobabble and just about everywhere else, including the media where folk should know better. The book’s overwhelming endorsement of plain, precise English is encouraging and certainly positive.
‘Does bad writing really matter?’ challenge the authors, arguing convincingly that it does. It matters terribly if meanings are distorted or obscured, judges and juries puzzled and clients confused.
We once saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car at university which read: ‘Eschew obfuscation’. Think about it – and if you don’t get it, you are a lost cause, so don’t bother reading this book, then.
If you do get it, you need this book to tell you how to do it. Or if you do know how to do it, you’ll find ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well’ a useful guide to good English usage for your more verbose and obscurantist colleagues.
 

Contents

THE PROCESS OF WRITING
35
MANAGING YOUR PROSE
77
NOTES
199
USAGE NOTES
209
AN EDITING CHECKLIST
229
EDITING EXERCISES
237
SUGGESTED REVISIONS TO EDITING EXERCISES
241
REFERENCE WORKS
249
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
257
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
267
INDEX
269
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Tom Goldstein is former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and author of Killing the Messenger: 100 Years of Media Criticism (1989) and The News at Any Cost: How Journalists Compromise Their Ethics to Shape the News (1985). Jethro K. Lieberman is Associate Dean, Professor of Law, and Director of the Writing Program at New York Law School, as well as Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is the coauthor of The Lawyer's Craft: An Introduction to Legal Analysis, Writing, Research, and Advocacy (2002) and author of A Practical Companion to the Constitution: How the Supreme Court Has Ruled on Issues from Abortion to Zoning (California, 1999).

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