It is time to banish stilted language from your (legal) writing. It serves no-one, especially not your client. If you need more persuading, read these words of wisdom from commentators, experts and judges:

In legal writing, jargon consists mostly of stilted words and phrases — blemishes, not graces — such as aforesaid, arguendo, hereinafter… Most hoary legal phrases have little or no substantive purpose. They sometimes mar the substance by suggesting precision where in fact an ambiguity lies. Bryan A Garner, The Elements of Legal Style

We write stilted English because we unconsciously assume that this is what is expected of us… If we analyzed the situation we would find that this isn’t rue; but we never do. Rudolph Flesch, the Art of Readable Writing

… law students spend their days reading legal writing that is often verbose, stilted, and chock full of legalese. Basically, [legal] education does little to help [lawyers] handle the various types of writing required in daily practice. Lawyerist

…the use of plain English [does] away with obsolete wording, verbosity and convoluted sentences producing stilted prose. Clear and transparent communication requires documents that apply a plain English writing style [using the qualities of accuracy, clarity and brevity]. Mia b Ingels, Legal English Communication Skills

 “I am now disposing of my interest in this fund so that you, Mrs. Paul, now have a beneficial interest in it.” Of course, the words which I have just used are stilted lawyers’ language and Mr. Wilson, for the plaintiff, was right to remind the court that we are dealing with simple people, unaware of the subtleties of equity, but understanding very well indeed their own domestic situation. Paul v Constance [1976]

Once solicitors enter into correspondence there is a tendency to keep cards up sleeves and there is also scope for obfuscation and posturing. It is best avoided in this context … there can be no form of human communication more stilted than letters between litigation solicitors of the type with which we are all too familiar, where endless points are scored of the “We are surprised to note ….” variety. Cleese v Clark [2003]

What should you do?

Learn to write more effectively. For more tips, see the Law Society blog, or my slideshare.

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