Curiouser and Curiouser Excuses for Legal Jargon, by Chadwick C. Busk & Michael Braem, 95 Plain Language, Mich. B.J. 30 (2016)
Earlier today, I posted about the use of Latin for legal terms of art, although legal writing scholars usually advise against using them. This article addresses that very subject. -CCE
I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and I don’t believe you do either.” —Eaglet, Alice in Wonderland (1865), Chapter III
“Some lawyers and academicians attempt to justify legal jargon and “traditional” legal writing—legal writing that’s ‘wordy, unclear, pompous, dull1’ and even “wretched.’2 But legal jargon in contracts burdens all those who must deal with it: the parties to the agreement who try to understand it, lawyers who mistakenly think they must use it, and judges who have to interpret it. Legal jargon often creates ambiguity, and ambiguity invites litigation. Many legalisms have been fodder for courts to puzzle over, including herein, therein, hereby, and thereof; shall; and/or; and best efforts.
However, some academicians, most recently Professor Lori Johnson of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, have modernized old excuses for legal jargon and concocted new ones. Can these arguments withstand a reasoned analysis, or are they merely fanciful declarations from Wonderland?