LawProse Lessons #67 & #68

LawProse Lessons #67 & #68

LawProse Lesson #67
What’s the most frequent and serious mistake in brief-writing and motion-writing? Answer: Failing to frame the deep issues on page 1 — so that anyone, anyone, will understand the essential legal problems to be solved. It should be a dispassionate but persuasive statement of the issues. For instruction on precisely how to do it, see: Garner on Language and Writing 120-48 (2009). The Elements of Legal Style 184-87 (2d ed. 2002). The Winning Brief 53-97 (2d ed. 2004). Scalia & Garner, Making Your Case 85-88 (2008).
LawProse Lesson #68
What’s the most frequent punctuation error that transactional lawyers make? Answer: Failing to use the serial comma (aka the “Oxford comma”). Its omission is a mistake in legal instruments because litigable ambiguities often result. For overwhelming evidence of the preference for including the serial comma, see: Garner on Language and Writing 643-44 (2009). Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 731 (3d ed. 2011). Legal Writing in Plain English 148 (2001). The Elements of Legal Style 15-16 (2d ed. 2002). The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style sec. 1.3(a), at 3-4 (2d ed. 2006). The Winning Brief 293-95 (2d ed. 2004).

1 thought on “LawProse Lessons #67 & #68”

  1. Met Mr Garner when he spoke in Kansas last month. Have ordered the new Redbook, waiting for it to be delivered. Needed help with a brief, serial comma issue and found this blog. Saved again, thanks.

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