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The Pleading, by Mark Cooney, Plain Language, 94 Mich. B.J. 3, 42 (March 2015)

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Another article from the Plain English Subcommittee of the Michigan Bar Journal. As always, each article makes a case for using plain English in legal writing. This group has been, and remains, a strong proponent for elegant legal writing without legalese.

This selection is a clever take off Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, The Raven, that cautions the reader against writing pleadings with stuffy, archaic language. Its author, editor in chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing and author of Sketches on Legal Style, Mark Cooney, is a legal writing professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. -CCE

Once upon a docket dreary, as I pondered
after hearings,
Over many a curious case then pending
with the busy court,
While I read, attention sapping, suddenly
there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at
my chambers door.
‘Tis my clerk again,’ I grumbled, ‘tapping
on my chambers door—
Oh, yet another matter more.’

Pausing just a moment further, bracing
for the fresh-faced fervor,
Up I turned my heavy head to bid my
clerk in through the door.
In he stepped with youthful stride,
brand-new filing at his side,
Still another motion coming briskly
through my chambers door—
A docket full and motions more, another
through my chambers door—
Coming through my chambers door. . . .