Words Matter

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Sometimes I feel silly for being so obsessed with words. But every now and then, I’m reminded that, yes, words are actually pretty important. That’s not silly. And there are worse things to obsess over.



Keep it short!

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“If you can’t explain your case in 75 words, you do not understand it very well, and neither will your reader.”

Judge Mark Painter, First Appellate District of Ohio

Lawsuits are about people.

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Lawsuits are about people, not labels or concepts or abstract automatons. Thus, “Appellant-Plaintiff’s decedent’s paternal grandfather” is not the best way to introduce the judge to Bob.

Density — Make every single word work hard.

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How hard are your words working for you? The reason most legal briefs aren’t so brief is because many lawyers don’t know how to write with density. They water down their content with extra words and redundancies that serve little or no purpose whatsoever. So if, in that last sentence, “extra words” and “redundancies” aren’t each guaranteeing enough strides in reader comprehension to justify the space they take up, then I need to delete one. Why use both? Lawyers, don’t be afraid … DELETE!