LawProse Lesson #343: Nobody’s Mother Tongue.

LawProse Lesson #343: Nobody’s Mother Tongue.

Plain English is nobody’s mother tongue. You must work for it. You must learn to write “before” and “after” instead of the nearly ubiquitous “prior to” and “subsequent to.”

In law, we’re besieged by bloated language. Unless you work tirelessly to simplify, you end up becoming just another purveyor of needless complexity and obfuscation.

Take this 22-word sentence: “EEOC guidelines exonerate an employer from liability for hostile-environment sexual harassment if the employer, upon discovering it, acts promptly to end it.”

How is that idea expressed in a law review? Here it is, verbatim, in a glorious 79-word sentence:

Since, under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines pertaining to sexual harassment, an employer is liable for hostile-environment sexual harassment only if it knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take prompt and effective steps to end the harassment, it is possible for employers to be exonerated from liability for hostile-environment sexual harassment when sexual harassment has occurred by individuals within an organization, but the organization took prompt action to prevent further harassment.

Being inundated with mind-numbing verbiage like that, lawyers must learn both to comprehend it quickly and to translate it effectively when it’s their turn to speak or write.

There’s no better first step than Bryan Garner’s seminars. Join us soon and acquire the knack.

You’ve been already? Surely it’s time for a refresher. It’ll be a memorable day well spent.

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.

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