LawProse Lesson #179: “As such”

LawProse Lesson #179: “As such”

As such. Have you noticed the epidemic of poor usage involving as such? In this phrase, such is a pronoun requiring an antecedent. Here are two examples: Ex.: The lawyer did not intend to write a derogatory review of the new book, but the author saw it as such. [Derogatory review is the antecedent of such. Other ways of saying it might be “the author saw it as one” or “the author saw it that way.”] Ex.: He is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. As such, he has life tenure. [Justice is the antecedent of such.] Ambiguities arise when the antecedent isn’t clear. When that is so, substituting in principle or a similar phrase is recommended {Most law reviews aren’t opposed to substantive footnotes as such [read in principle, categorically, or per se], but lengthy ones should generally be avoided}. Unfortunately, many writers today use as such to mean thus, therefore, or so. You can see how the second example above could be misread in such a way that as such would mean therefore: “He is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, he has life tenure.” But this erroneous understanding causes writers to perpetrate sentences that make little sense: “We risk being late. As such [read So], we had better move for an extension of time.” In such barbarous formulations, such has no antecedent. Take care when using this phrase. Good usage requires employing as such only if you can replace it with “as [some noun just mentioned].” Further reading: Garner’s Modern American Usage 71 (3d ed. 2009). The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style § 12.3, at 254 (3d ed. 2013). Thanks to Robert C. Cumbow for suggesting this topic.

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