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Lawyers Should Use Plain Language, by Carol M. Bast (published in October 1995 Florida Bar Journal)


I have often heard the excuses for using legalese. Clients expect it. It sounds better and well, just, more “legal.” Would it surprise you to know that there is no statute, case law, court rule, or other legal authority that requires legalese? There simply isn’t.

I also have heard the excuse that legalese impresses the court. It sounds more official. Did your brief win because it sounds more pompous or because your argument was more clearly explained and understood by the court? To illustrate that point, please read this Court Order posted by Lowering the Bar Blog:


If you need further proof of dropping legalese in legal writing, see this compilation of outstanding articles by members of the Plain English Subcommittee of the State Bar of Michigan. It is a valuable motherload of articles of clear writing, and well worth studying by anyone who aspires to write well. -CCE