Law professor argues that legalese is bad for business
Law professor Joseph Kimble believes that legalese costs business and government a fortune, that “bequeaths” says nothing that “gives” does not, that simple language is more precise than legal language and that plain language “beats legalese in every way with readers.”
His treatise on the topic, “Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please,” is a must for every communicator’s library. It’s also the perfect — free — gift for the lawyer in your life.
‘Clinging to legalese’
“If readers understand plain language better, then no doubt they’ll like it better than the dense, impersonal prose of most public documents. And because they understand it better, they’ll make fewer mistakes in dealing with it, have fewer questions, and ultimately save time and money — for themselves and for the writer’s company or agency. …
“[C]orporate lawyers and government lawyers need to know what kinds of tangible and intangible harm their organizations may suffer by clinging to legalese.
“But the trouble runs so deep — after centuries of poor models, bad habits, professionalitis, inadequate training, and general neglect — that it will take a universal commitment to fix it. It will take a cultural change, one that enshrines clarity and simplicity. … Start now.”
Making a case
“Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please” is also packed with case studies showing that simple language saves money and time and drives people to act more effectively than convoluted prose. That makes it a great tool for selling plain English in your organization.