First, maybe you`d like to share with me the best/worst example of legal language you`ve ever seen in the comments? I have written several times about the reasons for lawyers` opposition, most recently in “Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please,” pp. 25-28. What can be done about it? I have no answer except more education during and after law school, as well as tireless effort and pressure on all fronts – backed by compelling evidence that plain language trumps legal language in every possible way. The most common place where you can find legal language is in a contract. Indeed, contract lawyers, when drafting a contract, may find it necessary to use terminology for lack of a better word. Second, using legal language makes you look pompous. Sure, you might be pompous, but that doesn`t mean you should be proud of it. If readers of your letter (especially your own clients) think you`re pompous, then they`ll start making assumptions about you, your intentions, and your character. Don`t underestimate how much people will read into the kind of person you are, just by being the way you write.
Read this article to learn more about where to find legal language. Your policies are also for your protection. For example, terms and conditions help protect your website`s rights and determine how users can interact with your properties. If your terms and conditions are full of legal language, your users won`t understand them and won`t be able to follow your rules. Legal writing courses in law schools increasingly emphasize the benefits of legal writing, which can be understood clearly, concisely, and by non-legal readers. Proponents of plain English argue that since non-lawyers have adjusted their legal rights, duties and obligations through legal instruments, parties should be able to understand the content of the instrument without having to bear the additional costs of hiring a lawyer to translate the legal language. This concept was aptly expressed in a quote attributed to Winston Churchill and others: “If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” In surveys of judges and lawyers, the vast majority of respondents chose plain English rather than legal language. See Joseph Kimble & Joseph A. Prokop Jr., Strike Three for Legalese, Mich. Bar J., March 2014, page 40; Child, loc.
cit. If you want to become a lawyer, you will have to deal with legal language at some point. Contract templates are another example of a place where you can often find legal language. Since these templates are often created by lawyers for use by the general public, it makes sense that they would have the same language that lawyers typically use. Given the frequency, one would think that lawyers would have a course in law school that deals with “how to write in legal language” – but that`s not where it comes from. To help you get a better example of what legal language is, here are some examples: This scenario has never happened and never will. But a variation of this happens all the time. I regularly hear colleagues talk about plain language, I have read about it, experienced it myself, and written about a typical case – a project that was “derailed” by the New York Department of Transportation legal team because “the revision did not use the same legal language as the original.” 1Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law 34 (Carolina Academic Press 2012). Too often, legal departments confuse what the law requires or cannot be bothered by “mere style” issues. That`s basically it.
In English historical terms, you can understand how Roman influence led to the writing of laws in Latin. This meant that lawyers had to learn the language. However, “Old English” was the language used for actual legal reasoning, even though the laws had been written in Latin for some time. Also, legal language makes users feel alienated, as most people outside of the lawyer are not familiar with legalese. After that, you might want to jump into my free legal design course and remove the legal language from your system. In addition to being a bad thing, there are a few simple tips you can use to avoid accidentally slipping into legal language: Sometimes lawyers who use too much legal language can seem presumptuous. This is because lawyers sometimes abuse legal language to appear smarter or more experienced than their peers. Especially when it is not justified, most lawyers tend to avoid legal language to protect their reputation. Read on to find out where you can find legal language, get examples and ideas on why lawyers use it. Next, learn why it`s not always the best language for lawyers in certain situations.