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Published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Preparing Plain Legal Documents for Nonlawyers shows lawyers how to adjust their writing to accommodate the nonlegal audience.
Too many legal documents intended for nonlawyers are dense, archaic, and unnecessarily complex. In truth, they simply contain traditional legalese: jargon, terms of art, long sentences, and complicated syntax. What's more, these documents sometimes contain mistakes of English and sometimes of substantive law, both of which are harder to spot and fix because the text is written in traditional legalese. Ultimately, these documents fail of their essential purpose: to communicate binding legal content to a nonlegal reader.
Through the chapters in this book lawyers will find tips designed to improve their legal writing for the lay audience as well as examples of poor legal writing, common errors, why they should be fixed, and how to fix them. Readers will find sentence structure advice as well as guidance on organization, tone, format, and document design. Using a short, clear, and easy-to-read format, this book is ideal for practicing lawyers or law students who want their material to be understood and not ignored.
The information in the book can improve almost any document that needs to be understood by the reader. These documents include:
For nonlawyers, a colloquial tone is not only good, it's necessary. It may be foreign to most lawyers, but they can learn. They can learn to invite the reader in, while abandoning the fear that it won't sound legal or the approach of writing to impress. This book will teach them how.