Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises

Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises

Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises

(Chicago University Press, 2001)

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This book embodies every important principle of plain-English writing, from word choice to large-scale organization, from litigation papers to transactional documents. Each of the 50 sections is illuminated by a trenchant explanation, followed by exercises (basic, intermediate, and advanced). The book is especially useful as the text for a writing course, and its model documents are among the best exemplars of memos, motions, briefs, and contracts to be found.

Clear, concise, down-to-earth, and powerful—unfortunately, these adjectives rarely describe any type of legal writing, whether briefs, opinions, contracts, or statutes. In Legal Writing in Plain English, Bryan A. Garner provides lawyers, judges, paralegals, law students, and legal scholars with sound advice and practical tools for improving their written work. The book encourages legal writers to challenge conventions and offers valuable insights into the writing process: how to organize ideas, create and refine prose, and sharpen editing skills. In essence, it teaches straight thinking—a skill inseparable from good writing.

Replete with common sense and wit, the book draws on real-life writing samples that Garner has gathered through more than a decade of teaching in the field. His trenchant advice covers all types of legal materials, from analytical and persuasive writing to legal drafting, and includes useful tips on effective document design. Exercises in each section reinforce the book’s principles. Appendixes include a comprehensive punctuation guide with advice and examples, and four model documents.

Legal Writing in Plain English includes:

  • Tips on generating thoughts, organizing them, and creating outlines.
  • Sound advice on expressing your ideas clearly and powerfully.
  • Dozens of real-life writing examples to illustrate writing problems and solutions.
  • Exercises to reinforce principles of good writing.
  • Helpful guidance on page layout.
  • A punctuation guide that shows the correct uses of every punctuation mark.
  • Model legal documents that demonstrate the power of plain English.

“This magnificent book explains every major principle of plain legal writing in a way that no other book has ever done. Based on years of Garner’s research and teaching, this book elevates the standard of what a legal-writing text can and should be. Get a copy for every law student, lawyer, and legislator that you know.”

Mark E. Wojcik, John Marshall Law School

“Yikes! There is no longer anywhere to hide, and there are no more excuses. This book shows you how to drop the jargon, the gobbledygook, the archaisms, and the fluff. So your writing is exposed. Now you must think — and write — clearly, and Legal Writing in Plain English will help. Lawyers and law students have needed this book for a long time. It’s superb.”

Wayne Schiess, University of Texas School of Law

Bryan Garner’s new work is as masterly as his others. In a clear and concise fashion, he presents material essential to improve individuals’ legal writing and the field of legal writing in general. Garner gives good advice, states the advice in an understandable fashion, and uses real-world examples to drive points home.”

Darby Dickerson, Stetson University College of Law

“At a fraction of the cost of a credit hour, here is the course in legal writing we have all been waiting for.”

Frank E. Morris, Senior Partner, Pennie & Edmonds

Bryan Garner, our top expert on legal writing and legal language, has produced another gem. This book sparkles with keen advice, good examples, and lively prose. Just get it – and you’ll be on your way to the clear, plain style that marks the best legal writing. Your reader will not miss the legalese. I promise.”

Joseph Kimble, Thomas Cooley Law School

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