Edvenson Consulting

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English in the Courtroom & the Classroom

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 7:25 AM

We all know that excellent lawyers are not necessarily excellent writers.  At least when it comes to the English language, they are not world-reknowned for their contributions to its clarity.  I will omit the name of the poor attorney who, after many years of good practice, submitted materials to a U.S. court that were rejected, as he indicates he was quite ill during the time he had to develop the submission.  Still, how can one not love the court's response when it read like this, in part, as reported and quoted by the American Bar Association in their ABA Journal Weekly Newsletter of Sept 23, 2011:


"The district court was well within its discretion when it refused to accept [the attorney's] second amended complaint, the appeals court said. “Though the complaint was far longer than it needed to be, prolixity was not its chief deficiency,” according to the appeals court. “Rather, its rampant grammatical, syntactical, and typographical errors contributed to an overall sense of unintelligibility. This was compounded by a vague, confusing, and conclusory articulation of the factual and legal basis for the claims and a general 'kitchen sink' approach to pleading the case.”   


How can a teacher of Legal English not love it?  With hopes that I will not offend too greatly, this also sounds quite a bit like the standard operating approach to a college examination in "Business Communications:  Intercultural and Ethical Awareness;"  when it's difficult to figure out what to write, the creative writer certainly comes forth!

Categories: Law Stuff, English Stuff, International Miscellaneous