From the Publisher
Since the 1987 appearance of A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, Bryan A. Garner has proved to be a versatile and prolific writer on legal-linguistic subjects. This collection of his essays shows reveals both profound scholarship and sharp wit.
The essays cover subjects as wide-ranging as learning to write, style, persuasion, contractual and legislative drafting, grammar, lexicography, writing in law school, writing in law practice, judicial writing, and all the literature relating to these diverse subjects.
Some have called Garner a controversialist, and he doesn't shrink from controversy here: he takes aim at legal academia, at word-bungling law reviews, at writers who interlard their writing with overlong citations, at judges who use extremely arcane words for little or no reason, and at the many conventions that tend to mire legal writing in perpetual mediocrity.
In one of the most entertaining chapters -- "Bizarreries" -- Garner takes on judges who pun on litigants' names, legal writers who mangle Latin, and, in one of the most extended yet entertaining exchanges imaginable on such a subject, and people who take preposterous positions on wording issues (such as whether "Sincerely" is an erroneous complimentary close).
There are moving tributes to Professor Charles Alan Wright, Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee, and Sir Robert Megarry (whose last book Garner finished). There are piquant book reviews that damn the work of some famous writers, such as Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) and the linguist Stephen Pinker, as well as enthusiastic recommendations of books that Garner finds meritorious.
In the final chapter, Garner collects "recommended sources on language and writing." This one-of-a-kind bibliography guides readers to seminal texts in virtually every language-related field, from brief-writing to playwriting to poetry to linguistics to general semantics.
In her foreword, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declares the book to be "a 'must read' primer" for her law clerks. Anyone with a lively interest in language, writing, and law will find this book hard to lay aside.
About the Author
Bryan A. Garner is editor in chief of all current editions of Black's Law Dictionary and the author of many books and articles on legal writing. His 879-page usage guide, Garner's Modern American Usage, is widely considered the leading authority on general English usage today. Most recently he coauthored Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008) with Justice Antonin Scalia.
Garner conducts more than 100 seminars each year on persuasive writing, legal drafting, judicial writing, and oral argument. Since the 1991 founding of his company, Dallas-based LawProse Inc., he has taught more than 90,000 lawyers and judges throughout the United States and in many other countries. His clients have included the United Nations, the U.S. Solicitor General's Office, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the California Judicial Conference, and many state supreme courts -- not to mention dozens of Fortune 500 companies and more than 300 law firms.
A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Garner has taught there and at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. He has received many awards over the years and two honorary LL.D.'s.