LawProse Lesson 353: Why succinctness matters.

LawProse Lesson 353: Why succinctness matters.

We hear a lot about brevity. I once knew a partner in a law firm who filed a one-word reply: “Nonsense!” Then “Respectfully submitted,” etc. That’s doubtless unduly truncated for 999 out of 1,000 situations.

Yet brevity matters. Not if it’s insufficient, but only if it adequately says what needs saying without an extra word. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once told me, “Eye fatigue sets in well before page 50.”

Empirical tests have validated the point: people won’t even start reading what they don’t have time to complete in the time they have. That’s human nature. So make it as short as possible—once you’ve accounted for everything you need. You’re more likely to be read that way.

That’s what we teach at LawProse.

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