LawProse Lesson #229: Is “pursuant to” ever useful?

LawProse Lesson #229: Is “pursuant to” ever useful?

Is the phrase “pursuant to” ever substantively or stylistically justified? Perhaps. But in 25 years of editing thousands of legal documents for law firms, corporate clients, and government agencies, the lawyer-editors at LawProse have never encountered a sentence that needed it. The phrase is pure legalese: it does little more than make legal writers feel lawyerly. Precise legal writers prefer (1) under, (2) in accordance with, or (3) as authorized by—three senses blurred by the blunderbuss adverbial phrase pursuant to. Sometimes it’s even replaceable with for and by. Yes, senses 2 and 3 are three words instead of two. But here clarity and plain English prevail over brevity. Try striking pursuant to from your working vocabulary. Both you and your readers will benefit—you from improved mental hygiene and they from improved readability.   Further reading: Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 737-38 (3d ed. 2011). The Winning Brief 338-39 (3d ed. 2014).

1 thought on “LawProse Lesson #229: Is “pursuant to” ever useful?”

  1. This makes me think of another word that lawyers like—per. In the above example, a person might sometimes right “Per our discussion” in lieu of “pursuant to our discussion.” Is “per” a viable preposition for use in good writing?

Comments are closed.

Live seminars this year with Professor Bryan A. Garner: Advanced Legal Writing & Editing

Attend the most popular CLE seminar of all time. More than 215,000 people—including lawyers, judges, law clerks, and paralegals—have benefited since the early 1990s. You'll learn the keys to professional writing and acquire no-nonsense techniques to make your letters, memos, and briefs more powerful.

You'll also learn what doesn't work and why—know-how gathered through Professor Garner's unique experience in training lawyers at the country's top law firms, state and federal courts, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

Professor Garner gives you the keys to make the most of your writing aptitude—in letters, memos, briefs, and more. The seminar covers five essential skills for persuasive writing:

  • framing issues that arrest the readers' attention;
  • cutting wordiness that wastes readers' time;
  • using transitions deftly to make your argument flow;
  • quoting authority more effectively; and
  • tackling your writing projects more efficiently.

He teaches dozens of techniques that make a big difference. Most important, he shows you what doesn't work—and why—and how to cultivate skillfulness.

Register to reserve your spot today.

Have you wanted to bring Professor Garner to teach your group? Contact us at for more information about in-house seminars.

Scroll to Top