LawProse Lessons #79 & #80

LawProse Lessons #79 & #80

Lesson # 79
Why does Bryan Garner recommend deleting shall from all legal instruments? ANSWER: Several reasons: (1) It is the most frequently litigated word in the English language. (2) Not 1 lawyer in 100 uses it consistently in mandatory senses. (3) In most contracts, it bears three or four meanings — thereby violating the presumption of consistent usage. (4) The bar as a whole cannot be trained to employ the word properly. (5) Experience shows just how much clearer legal drafting becomes without the word. See: Legal Writing in Plain English 105-07 (2001). Scalia & Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 112-15 (2012). Garner on Language and Writing 174-79, 183 (2009). Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 952-55 (3d ed. 2011).
Lesson # 80
What is the plural of attorney general, and is it correct to refer to an AG as “General So-and-So”? ANSWER: The plural is attorneys general. (The plural abbreviation is AG’s or AGs.) And it has been traditionally considered a solecism to say, for example, “General Holder” or “General Verrilli.” In the phrases attorney general and solicitor general, the word general functions as a postpositive adjective. It is purely a misunderstanding that led 20th- and 21st-century lawyers to turn general into a quasi-military title. Even Chief Justice Roberts does it, so the traditional (and strictly correct) view seems doomed to oblivion. See: Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 387 (3d ed. 2011).
Spend a day with Bryan Garner
Bryan Garner’s seminars teach the habits of effective legal writers: how you can write about law using the same techniques that professional writers of nonfiction use. You’ll need an arresting opener, a clean narrative line, and polish throughout. How many lawyers are effective legal writers? “Not many,” Garner says. “But I like helping more lawyers move into the upper echelons.” Let Garner help you become not just a better writer, but a better thinker. The two go hand in hand. Make a difference in your career: join us for a day to sharpen your legal-writing and advocacy skills. Learn techniques vital to the effective lawyer’s arsenal.

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;
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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.

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