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45 Reviews
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those style books that ranscebds its genre.
I'm a lawyer who is considered a wordsmith by colleagues and judges. This is one of the most important books I've ever encountered. I was exposed to it in my first law school year's writing class, and its lessons have remained with me since. Banish the passive voice! (unless deliberately and thoughfully chosen and used). This is not merely a key to fluidity in...
Published on January 9, 2006 by Michael P. Barnes

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't understand why this is a book
I'm about to start law school and this book was "strongly encouraged" reading prior to starting school so I went ahead thinking it was going to give me some amazing insight into how to write like a lawyer. I found that everything in here is just common sense. Don't use big words that no one knows. Use short sentences that are straight-forward and to the point...
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer


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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those style books that ranscebds its genre., January 9, 2006
This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
I'm a lawyer who is considered a wordsmith by colleagues and judges. This is one of the most important books I've ever encountered. I was exposed to it in my first law school year's writing class, and its lessons have remained with me since. Banish the passive voice! (unless deliberately and thoughfully chosen and used). This is not merely a key to fluidity in writing, but in a sense a moral imperative. Actions are attributable to actors - they don't simply occur. If you're asserting an action took place, you and your reader should know who or what you claim set it in motion. This necessitates intellectual rigor and clarity. Also, I remember and have employed for twenty-five years Wydick's apt metaphor that good legal writing is like fine cabinetmaking: the skill of the craftsman is shown by the crafted joints not requiring glue, just as the quality of a piece of prose is shown by its lack of reliance on "glue words" (read the book). I've used the lessons of Wydick's brief book as a lawyer, writer and writing teacher. I've given it to colleagues, non-lawyers and young relatives. Their writing uniformly improved.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely helpful, July 11, 2010
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This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
I've often been complimented on my writing. However, my writing has previously been the areas of creative or business writing. Legal writing is a whole different beast. While I have still received compliments on my writing in law school, this book has definitely helped me refine my writing significantly. After reading this book (well, portions of it, as I have not read the whole thing yet) many of the pitfalls in my own writing became blatantly obvious. Styles that work well when writing creatively can hinder legal writing. This book definitely helps.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Law Student Book, January 20, 2011
This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
My first year legal writing professor required this book for all of her students and I am glad that she did. This book has been utilized nearly as much as my Bluebook when I write papers. While it contains many of the same recommendations that you will find in Strunk & White's Elements of Style (such as when to use affect vs. effect, avoiding passive voice, etc.), what sets this book apart is that it contains numerous exercises that you can use while proofreading your paper that will help improve your writing and earn that all important A. I used this book in my writing course during my first year and earned the highest grade in my section. If you heed the book's advice and utilize its exercises you will surely be at or near the top of your class because many students will not take the time to do this. If you are a law student, this book is a must have. Next to the Bluebook, it is the reference you will turn to more than any other book you own.
That said, I would not recommend buying this book before starting law school or doing some legal writing. It is not meant to be a law school prep book (like Law School Confidential). The exercises may translate towards other forms of persuasive writing, but don't feel like you "must" buy this book if you aren't in law school.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and to the Point, Just Like Its Message, June 17, 2010
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This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
This is a gem of a short book for anyone who wants to get some quick and clear pointers on how to improve their writing. Although the title mentions laywers, the book is good for anyone who makes the mistakes listed in the book - use of the passive voice, nominalizations, "shotgunning", etc. Each section is short and provides a few examples to apply the lesson taught. Suggested answers are included at the end as well as additional problems. You can read this book quickly and get right to work with some powerful tools.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great to have!, November 23, 2011
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David Gettler (Madison, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
This is a must-have for lawyer, paralegals, and any serious writer. Legal writing follows different rules than other types of writing - the use of latin for instance - and to lawyers it is actually easier to understand legal writing because we become used to it. The problem arises when we try to explain a simple situation that we may prefer to explain in legal terminology, but is easily understood without it. This is a must-have for anyone in the legal profession.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be Plain English for Everyone, July 24, 2009
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Bagels (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
I've worked a professional writer and was on law review, but this remains my top choice for teaching people how to write. Everyone can take something from this book regardless of skill level. Learning to write is a constantly evolving process, and too many people (especially in the legal field) fail to understand both that being able to write does not necessarily mean that you know how to write well and that writing is about quality and not quantity.

Exceptional book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, December 17, 2012
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This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
This book is a great addition to my paralegal library. It will assist in any writing that I will do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, December 3, 2012
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This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
It is a good book and I highly recommend it to any law student. Very good choice in legal writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't understand why this is a book, June 25, 2014
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This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
I'm about to start law school and this book was "strongly encouraged" reading prior to starting school so I went ahead thinking it was going to give me some amazing insight into how to write like a lawyer. I found that everything in here is just common sense. Don't use big words that no one knows. Use short sentences that are straight-forward and to the point. Write in the active voice. I've been writing this way my entire life. If you don't already write this way then maybe you should read this but otherwise you can skip it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quick easy read, February 13, 2013
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This review is from: Plain English for Lawyers (Paperback)
A good read for lawyers, most would say required reading, that paints a good picture and gives some good checklists for legal writing.
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Plain English for Lawyers
Plain English for Lawyers by Richard C. Wydick (Paperback - July 30, 2005)
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