How2writegood - HOW TO WRITE GOOD LEGAL STUFF 2001 2009 Eugene Volokh1 and J Alexander Tanford2 This is a guide to good legal writing Good writing

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Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA Law School. Prof. Volokh had the idea for this 1 guide and wrote the material included as groups 1, 2 and 5 in part II. . Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington. Prof. Tanford 2 expanded on Prof. Volokh's work, added his own ideas about good writing (not all of which are shared by Prof. Volokh), and is primarily responsible for the final form of the guide. 1 HOW TO WRITE GOOD LEGAL STUFF © 2001, 2009 Eugene Volokh and J. Alexander Tanford 12 This is a guide to good legal writing. Good writing consists of avoiding common clunkers and using simpler replacements. The replacements aren't always perfect synonyms but 90% of the time they're better than the original. Warning: Some changes also require grammatical twiddling of other parts of the sentence. This is not a guide to proper high English usage. We don't give two hoots whether you dangle participles, split infinitives or end sentences with prepositions. We care that you can write clearly. PART ONE -- TOP 10 SIGNS OF BAD LEGAL WRITING 10. USING PASSIVE RATHER THAN ACTIVE VOICE BAD LEGAL WRITERS USE PASSIVE VOICE a) "the ruling was made by the judge" b) "the complaint was filed by the plaintiff" c) "It was held that. .." GOOD WRITERS USE THE ACTIVE VOICE a) "the judge ruled" b) "the plaintiff filed a complaint" c) "the court held. .." SPOTTING GUIDE a) Check for the word "by" (search for "by[space]") b) Look for sentences or phrases starting with "it is" or "it was." EXCEPTION. Use the passive voice when you do not know the actor or when the result is more important that who did it. a) "The documents were mysteriously destroyed." (actor unknown) b) "Ted Stevens was re-elected anyway" (result important)
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2 9. NOMINALIZATIONS BAD LEGAL WRITERS TURN VERBS INTO NOUNS, AND THEN ADD AN EXTRA VERB TO TAKE THE PLACE OF THE ONE THEY CONVERTED a) "reached a conclusion" b) "granted a continuance" c) "involved in a collision" d) "take action" GOOD WRITERS JUST USE THE FIRST VERB a) "concluded" b) "continued" c) "collided" d) "act" SPOTTING GUIDE Look for words ending in "ion." 8. FEAR OF CALLING THINGS BY THEIR NAMES BAD LEGAL WRITERS ARE AFRAID TO CALL THINGS BY NAME, USING GENERIC TERMS INSTEAD The plaintiff The defendant The day in question The scene of the accident Her place of employment GOOD WRITERS GIVE THEIR CHARACTERS NAMES Susan Jones Michael Fitzhugh June 3rd In the parking lot Pizza Hut 7. VERBOSITY BAD LEGAL WRITERS USE RUN-ON SENTENCES CONTAINING NUMEROUS QUALIFYING PHRASES "The court in Chester v. Morris, a case involving a similar traffic accident, held that a person riding a bicycle must adhere to the same standards as a person driving a car, although it limited its holding to the facts of that case, which included the fact that the bicyclist was intoxicated." GOOD WRITERS USE SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES "Chester v. Morris involved a similar traffic accident. The court held that a bicyclist must adhere to the same standards as a person driving a car. The opinion is limited to situations in which the bicyclist is intoxicated."
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3 6. QUALIFYING PHRASES
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course PHIL 292 at San Jose State University .

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How2writegood - HOW TO WRITE GOOD LEGAL STUFF 2001 2009 Eugene Volokh1 and J Alexander Tanford2 This is a guide to good legal writing Good writing

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