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The Proof is in the Reading, Plain Language Works Best, by Joseph Kimble, 52 Mich. B J. (Oct. 2016)


Joseph Kimble has long been recognized as one of the top legal writing scholars. In this Plain English column of the Michigan Bar Journal (every Bar Journal should have one!), Professor Kimble offers evidence once again that readers, including judges, prefer plain language and why. -CCE

To help round out this plain-English theme issue of the Bar Journal, I offer the evidence of four studies. These four are among 50 that I collect and summarize in my book Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law. Of the 50 studies, 18 involved different kinds of legal documents—lawsuit papers, judicial opinions, statutes, regulations, jury instructions, court forms and notices, and contracts. And they included readers of all sorts—judges, lawyers, administrators, and the general  public. The evidence is overwhelming: readers strongly prefer plain language to legalese, understand it better and faster, are more likely to comply with it, and are more likely to read it to begin with. —JK