When it comes to the law, there is much talk and less action about simplifying how we write. Every day we would see op-eds and webinars being held about “de-jargonizing” the law, demystifying the “legalese”. However, the moment one writes in a simpler manner, they are often chided.
In ‘The Elements of Legal Writing‘ (named after the classic ‘Elements of Style‘), Martha Faulk and Irving M. Mehler, give some easy and clear tips to improve your legal writing. One of them is avoiding the use of “lawyerisms”.
“Lawyerisms”, they say, is a term used only by lawyers. It sounds precise but is in reality, imprecise. As per them, legal writers ” … agree […] that they operate as a kind of shorthand among lawyers.”
Take the word “aforesaid”
It’s no accident that aforesaid is the archetypal example of a lawyerism. At first glance it may seem that aforesaid is a word indicating precision, as in “the aforesaid witness.” If there is only one witness mentioned in the document, however, the word aforesaid is certainly superfluous.
But what if there are many witnesses mentioned? Then “witness Smith” or “the witness for the defendant” will certainly be more precise and save the reader the trouble of rereading the document to locate the “aforesaid.”
Here’s a list of lawyerisms and some suggested substitutions as per the book.
|above captioned||this case, this claim|
|aforementioned||(delete or rename)|
|aforesaid||(delete or rename)|
|attached hereto||attached is, attached are|
|during the course of||during|
|forswear||give up, renounce|
|hereafter||from now on|
|herein||in this document|
|herewith||along with this|
|Hitherto||up to now|
|in regard to||about, regarding|
|inasmuch as||since, because|
|in reference to||about, regarding|
|moreover||further, in addition|
|said (as an adjective)||(delete or replace with “the”)|
|same (as a noun)||(use appropriate pronoun)|
|thence||from that time, from that place|
|thenceforth||from then on|
|thereafter||from then on|
|therefor||for this, for that|
|therefrom||from it, from that|
|to wit||for example|
|whereas||(delete unless you mean “on the contrary”)|
|whereat||at what, at which|
|wherefore||why, for what|
|wherein||in what, in which|
|whereof||of what, of which|
How many lawyerisms do you use in your writings?
If you liked the list, you could check out the book here.
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