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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Face It — Bad Legal Writing Wastes Money | Matthew Salzwedel, Lawyerist.com

Referring to another article on how attorneys can cut client costs, Salzwedel writes in this article:
[T]he article ignored the most important way attorneys can save money for their firms and clients: by learning how to write in plain English.
But I must emphasize here: Learning how to write in plain English can save people money in all fields, not just in the law. Salzwedel's comments can be applied to people working in education, health, business, nonprofits and elsewhere.

Salzwedel writes (emphasis added):

Most attorneys don’t believe that writing style matters. They might concede that writing in plain English can be aesthetically pleasing to the reader; but they also say that it’s not worth the time to learn how to do it because there’s no evidence that writing in plain English saves time or money.
But these attorneys ignore what legal-writing experts have taught — and what the empirical evidence has shown — for more than 50 years: that plain English saves time and money by increasing the ability of readers to understand and retain what they have read.
Salzwedel continues his advocacy of clear, concise writing under these headings--with links to and citations of several writing authorities:

  • Plain English is Not a Newfangled Idea
  • Many Studies Show the Benefits of Plain English
  • Bad Legal Writing Can Be Fixed.
He concludes:
[W]ith the right tools and disciplined practice it is possible to write in plain English. So even if you hate to write, consider learning how to write in plain English an investment in happy clients and an improved bottom line.
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Salzwedel's article is featured today, Feb. 21, in my day online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

For more information on clear, concise writing, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes the process in seven steps:

  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.


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