Customer Reviews: A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage
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on September 7, 2003
As an editor of legal newsletters, I do not know what I would do without this absolutely necessary tool of the trade. Not only do I, a non-attorney, find it indispensible, but my colleagues who are members of the Bar are constantly borrowing my copy "just to check." And whatever they, or I, am checking--it's in there.
Garner has a way of condensing solid and often very intricate information into a few paragraphs so succinct, and so informative, that anyone can understand. When one is rushing against a deadline, editing for and about attorneys and the law, reaching for Garner often makes the difference.
I would give up my dictionary before I would part with this book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Garner has earned his place in the annals of legal writing and editing, and I hold him--and this book--in the highest esteem.
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on August 21, 2001
Garner should be carried shoulder-high for this work. Much expanded beyond the first edition, it provides intelligent, informed guidance on both individual terms and general topics. What does it really mean to "beg the question"? Is "struck" preferable to "stricken"? What's the plural of "cestui que trust"? Garner does not simply give thumbs up or down; he explains the pros and cons of various usages, with an outlook that is literate and, above all, practical. Time after time I find that he has anticipated my questions and has answered them with just the right level of detail.
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on June 15, 2005
This is, by far, the single best resource on legal usage one can buy. I never cease to be amazed at how often I pull this book off of my shelf to find it giving me a clear and accurate answer to a usage question. I purchased this book several years ago after attending one of Garner's legal writing seminars. That seminar and this book have dramatically improved my legal writing skills. Those two tools positively influence my writing every single day. If you follow Garner's advice and guidance, you will eliminate deadening and condescending legalese from your legal writing and replace it with clear and concise prose. My clients appreciate receiving contracts that are actually readable and my contracts are less frequently subject to alternative interpretations because ambiguities are largely eliminated. As a lawyer or paralegal, do yourself a favor and buy this book. Better yet, buy this book and take Garner's Advanced Legal Drafting seminar. You won't regret it.
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on April 15, 2002
If you have a question about a legal word or about legal writing, look it up here. You'll find the answer, and you're also likely to find a lively and intelligent discussion on the point. But the best thing about DMLU2 is that it's correct. So use it for back-up when you need to be right. Every lawyer should have it.
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on August 22, 2011

An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

It is ironic, is it not, that `legal language' quite often seems opaque and all too often is so; unfortunate too, as the law is based on words, forms of words, meanings of words and their interpretation, connotation and usage. One wonders how often cases have been initiated, then won or lost because someone or other has misconstrued or misinterpreted some word or other - or some phrase or other.

If you're a lawyer, legal scholar, student, or generally someone who is fascinated by the power of language and who seeks to speak and write with clarity, precision and force, Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage is the resource for you. Here it is from the Oxford University Press in a new enlarged and updated third edition and a remarkable work of lexicography it is.

But it's not just a dictionary. It also functions as an authoritative guide to style, grammar and usage. As you look up each word, you are offered not just a definition, but a discussion of its significance, its origins, indeed all its aspects pertaining to law, complete with meticulously cited sources.

Prolifically and painstakingly (and often entertainingly) the learned editor, Bryan A Garner, internationally acknowledged as a top authority on legal usage, seeks to blow away the cobwebs of complexity and confusion which may surround any number of terms.

`Testatorial, testorial, testatory' is an example. What's the difference? What is the most common form? Is there a reference to the OED? Look these up if you wish to know. You'll find them just before the word `testatrix', which the editor quite rightly has a down on. `This word is useless,' he growls. `testator quite properly referring to men and women alike. See SEXISM.' Well - you've been told, haven't you? And you have been referred onward toward further research as well.

It's a comprehensive, erudite and easy to use resource which lawyers and laymen alike will find invaluable. Synonyms, for example, are precisely differentiated and defined and such areas of law as immigration, intellectual property are discussed in the clear light of day. Ooops... we shouldn't have said that! Garner and his team have provided a pungent entry on the matter of clichés and overused words which ideally we must avoid, although some of our pet hates have been left out like `iconic' and `going forward.' These will no doubt surface in the next edition!

Usefully, the orientation of this dictionary (of almost 1,000 pages) is transatlantic. So whether your practice is in the UK or North America, this is certainly an indispensable guide to writing or editing legal documents, books or articles with enhanced clarity, accuracy and style. The publication date is July 2011.
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on June 29, 2002
A J.D., admission to the bar, and this book should be the three requirements for any individual to practice law. The title, "A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage," is absolutely appropriate in that this book does not merely serve as an alternative to Black's to find the definition of a word or phrase. Rather, the book's emphasis is on appropriate usage. It is an enjoyable enough read that one might end up reading it from cover to cover if one isn't careful. I recommend it highly.
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on August 31, 2005
I'm starting my second year of law school. I got this book near the end of my first year, and it proved to be an invaluable tool for editing journals and working for law firms over the summer. I wish I had this earlier.

As a side note, I would strongly recommend this book over Garner's American Usage if you are in a legal field. Even non-legal terms are covered in a way more useful to legal writing.
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on September 5, 2011
There are a lot of terms that lawyers and law students must know, or at least be familiar with. Having a dictionary to remind you of exactly what a word is is very helpful. Some people may say "well that's what the internet is for", but unfortunately the internet gives you information overload. In many cases, a simple 3 or 4 line explanation will be enough to jog your memory. Also, it is easier to remember a sentence long explanation compared to a wikipedia page.
If you are even looking at this genre, this is a must buy.
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on August 15, 1997
The essential guide to proper usage of legal terms and terms in legal writing. The several essays in the book are essential. Most important of all, the DMLU is entaintaining
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on December 17, 2012
Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage should be in the office of any attorney, law clerk, or judge that is intent on improving his or her writing. This guide has become invaluable in assiting me in making more appropriate word choices in my briefs and e-mails. Garner brings clarity to the often unconsidered and useless conventions we attorneys use in our writing. Garner's Dictionary of American Usage is also a superb text that is useful for a wider audience, but this book is specifically geared to address the most common issues that arise in legal writing. As any lawyer worth his or her salt knows, precise use of the English language is key to being a succesful advocate.
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