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Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text With Exercises 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Too often, writers treat style manuals as if they were infallible--written on stone tablets by a divine author. Garner's book is not perfect and cannot be applied with a thoughtless rigor. As an appellate lawyer, I generally try to follow Garner's style, but sometimes it doesn't fit.
The corporate lawyer who complained about the book did not read it closely enough. Garner opposes thoughtless attachment to legalese, but he acknowledges that sometimes legal writers have to use terms of art. He also urges writers to be concise. I don't know where the corporate lawyer got the idea that Garner advocates "two pages of easily accessible prose over two sentences of conventional drafting," but it is not from this book.
Accept or reject Garner's advice as you wish, but thinking about clear writing will make you a better lawyer. Most of what Garner writes is common sense, but it's common sense legal writers often lack.
Most prestigious lawyers, law firms, and judges strongly favor Garner's plain-language approach to drafting. For example, the late Charles Alan Wright, a brilliant Supreme Court lawyer and noted author, called Garner "the world's leading authority on the language of the law." And the Texas Supreme Court enlisted Garner's aid in redrafting the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. So it's hard to believe that judges would generally prefer "conventional drafting" over the clear, accessible language that Garner advocates.
The five five-star reviews of the book on this website came from a law professor, a practicing lawyer, a book reviewer, and two others who appear to be nonlawyers. I wondered if the anonymous New York corporate lawyer who gave the book a meager one star knew something that everyone else didn't. So I checked for reviews from highly respected sources. And I found that Harvard Law Review, the Law Library Journal, and Trial have all published very favorable reviews of this book.
The plain-language drafting recommended in this book is widely viewed as beneficial, not only by nonlawyers, but also by highly skilled lawyers who seek to avoid ambiguity and litigation and who strive to improve the tarnished image of lawyers generally. I believe that Garner's approach would be condemned only by a few rich corporate lawyers who thrive by making themselves indispensable in drafting, translating, and later litigating the long, dense form contracts that they produce.
Furthermore, the reviewer needs to realize that Garner is not advocating that all legal writing be poetry. First and foremost, he advocates for clarity and precision. If the writer can also make it interesting to read (or even a joy to read), then more power to the writer.
If you're a lawyer and hate seeing "WHEREAS" before each recital and prefer a simple sentence, Garner is the man for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't say I'm very impressed with this books but it works for me. I'm not a professional lawyer whatsoever but it helps to hammer it home when I need a reference regarding the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nina Fromm
it is really good. Do not hesitate to buy it. I am totally satisfied with my purchasePublished 11 months ago by Yong-sang R.