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The Elements of Legal Style Hardcover – March 21, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0195141627 ISBN-10: 0195141628 Edition: 2nd

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The Elements of Legal Style + Legal Writing in Plain English, Second Edition: A Text with Exercises (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
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Product Details

  • Series: Elements of Legal Style
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (March 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195141628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195141627
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A decade after the key first edition, Garner, editor in chief of Black's Law Dictionary and other works on legal writing, provides expanded coverage of appropriate legal prose and common errors in legal language, with the goal of encouraging clarity in legal writing. Throughout, he emphasizes fundamental rules of usage and fundamental principles of legal writing that range from punctuation, word choice, and syntactic arrangement to various forms of repetition. Suggestions regarding word choice give a good indication of his approach: he guides writers to strike out and replace fancy words, challenge vague words, and eschew euphemisms. In the foreword, Charles Alan Wright accurately comments that for lawyers "words are the only things we have to work with." Indeed, this book speaks not only to lawyers but to other writers as well, urging them to use style to develop persuasion, description, or analysis. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review


"Publishers each year spew out writing books for law students by the dozen. Forget them. This is the best. We had not believed that this classic work could be substantially improved. The inimitable Mr. Garner has proven this belief wrong, and happily so."-ABA Appellate Practice Journal


"Garner has given to the legal profession [an] extraordinary book....Invaluable."--South Dakota Law Review


"Bryan Garner...is rapidly becoming--if he's not there already--America's foremost authority on language and the law."--Barrister


"An expanded and more relaxed edition of his 1991 sourcebook."--William Safire, New York Times Magazine


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Well organized, easy to read and understand.
L. Lindner
Garner presents good writing advice, with examples of how to do it taken from the great legal writers: Holmes, Cardozo, Llewellyn, and others.
Wayne Schiess
Utilizing them will drastically improve your legal writing skills, which will ultimately foster success in your legal career/education.
Chadwick R. Stevens

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Schiess on July 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This review is of the Second Edition, published in 2002.
This book takes an intelligent, thoughtful, and somewhat scholarly approach to legal-writing style, yet it is still readable and practical. Garner presents good writing advice, with examples of how to do it taken from the great legal writers: Holmes, Cardozo, Llewellyn, and others.
And the coverage is broad: from punctuation to citation; from commonly-misused words to rhetorical devices for persuasion. The book covers enough basics to reward the novice, but it can take the experienced writer farther than other legal-writing books.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael V. Pelletier on September 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My first Garner book was "The Winning Brief," purchased as I was preparing for an ultimately successful fight against a speeding ticket, and I was instantly taken by his clear and informative style.
This book continues that trend. Garner is an exceptional writer, and even the best of writers, legal or otherwise, can learn a great deal from this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Fred A. Wertheimer on October 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First introduced to Bryan A. Garner at one of his brief writing seminar, several years ago, I have since been a loyal reader of his works.

This book is (1) a reference book, (2) an invaluable resource, (3) more than just a grammar or style book ever thought of being, (4) chocked full of historical information and legal literary quotes, (5) presented in a humorous and accessible manner, and (6) the standard to which all legal writers should aspire.

Poor writing and the use of legalese have always been bug-a-boos of mine. And, over the lifetime of my legal practice, having to slave over thousands of statutes, briefs, decisions, motions, etc., has only intensified my belief that too few lawyers know how to write well, and that the legal profession should abolish the use of legalese from the practice of law.

In Mr. Garner, I have found a champion. In "The Elements of Legal Style", writers wishing to take their craft beyond the stars will find a valuable cache of information that will lay the foundations to improve their writing and persuading skills. He shows you how to remove the legalese from your writing, how to make your writing dynamic and exciting, and how to use your writing to better persuade. This book, along with "The Winning Brief", should be the foundation of your arsenal of writing tools.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Matt on July 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read a review where someone said they read this and it got them on the law review. That was what I was looking for, so I bought it and the same thing happened to me (which is incredible considering my grades). This book gave me the tools to express what I want to say without trying to cram everything into one sentence. Somehow, after reading this book, I felt much less inhibited about my writing and more confident that I was using correct grammar, sentence structure, etc. Now that I think about it I'd like to read it again. I'd highly reccomend this to someone who wants to write legal papers that are actually readable and have some style.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James Sadler on February 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Despite the fact that many attorneys spend much of their time writing motions, briefs, memos and such with the intent of writing clearly and persuasively, most attorneys fail miserably at doing so. Many judges, the very people the attorneys are attempting to persuade complain of how terribly most attorneys write.
Now we have Bryan Garner to the rescue. If you don't know about Bryan, he is one of the preeminent legal scholars on the subject of writing clearly and persuasively. Bryan helps attorneys cut through the clutter of legalese, organize their arguments, and, ultimately, draft documents that often will win their argument solely on the basis of the fact that the Judge can at least read and understand the message.
Law students can also benefit from the information found in this book. I would even recommend it for the average layperson who wishes to represent their self in court or who simply wants to write more clearly and directly. Every lawyer should have this book on their shelf and follow its advice religiously. This book may very well be the "bible" of legal writing.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Richard E. Bayer on August 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a physician who tested out of all college English to focus on science. Writing chart notes, scientific articles, or even parts of textbooks does not prepare one for the type of writing one must do when performing legal work.

Scientific-technical writing, legal writing, or the best-selling novel all require different writing styles. Mr. Garner's book must be a help to law students based on other reviews but importantly to me; it is very accessable to those who have never attended law school.

Legal style is a "style" that is important in the profession of law. If you do any work in this area at all, whether it is on the stand or writing essays, it behooves the non-lawyer to read this book. So, even though I agree with the glowing reviews from lawyers, this book may be even more important to those of us who must do legal work but have never been to law school.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Helder Gil on October 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is a dirty little secret in the world of the law. Not many people outside the legal world know about it. I will share it with you:

Few judges, lawyers and law students know how to write effectively. Even fewer would readily admit to being poor writers.

But fear not! This book gives valuable advice and suggestions on how any legal writer can improve their writings. It helps the reader understand exactly what it is that makes a piece of writing "good." It gives many examples of bad writing and suggestions on how to make it better. It also tries to convince legal writers to keep their prose short and simple: a writer is not going to make up for a poorly-written argument by using lots of Latin words/phrases and legal mumbojumbo.

If you are a legal practitioner, this book is an absolute requirement for your bookshelf. Since buying it, I have consulted it regularly. I have yet to be disappointed by the guidance it has given me.
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