HLS homeNews & EventsAbout the BulletinBack IssuesSend Us Your NewsSearch

 Home Briefs Letters Gallery Class Notes In Memoriam Closing

The Write Way

illustrationIt is incumbent upon legal practitioners to formulate their compositional efforts in a straightforward fashion. This is Ken Bresler's message.

Lawyers should write in plain language.

Bresler '84, who runs the Clear Writing Co. in the Boston area, wrote a book to show lawyers how to use and eliminate legal jargon. That doesn't make sense? OK, let's be clear. The book is really two books in one. One side is called Legal Practitioner's Abecedarian Manual of Legalese, Jargon, and Multi-Syllabic Words to Make Aforesaid Lawyers, Attorneys, and Counselors-at-Law Feel and Sound Like Same (Fred B. Rothman & Co., 2001). It lists simple words, like "best," in alphabetical order, and shows how to turn them into fancy ones, like "optimum." This book is guided by two principles, the author writes: the MISS principle (Make It Sophisticated, Sophist) and wordiness is next to worldliness.

Flip the book over and there's book number two, Kissing Legalese Goodbye. It shows how to make every word count. Instead of "in lieu thereof," for example, use "instead."

Guess which book Bresler thinks lawyers should use when they write?

The obviousness of the query surely appears self-evident to anyone who has extrapolated the reasoning behind Bresler's authorial scholarship.It should be clear.


back to Briefs

back to top

contents send feedback about this article

 Contact: bulletin@law.harvard.edu - 617.495.3118
 © 2005 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.