Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Omit Needless Words - A Legal Writing Reminder

The professor and litigator made me post this item from the WSJ Law Blog that is not a tax crimes item, but reminds those of us who play in this area that writing is important. The WSJ Law Blog had this article on rules of writing issued by federal bankruptcy judge Kressel in Minnesota.

His first guideline is not about writing style but is a pet peeve of mine. He first requires submission of proposed orders in pdf electronic format generated from the word processor rather than produced by scanning. In the guidelines, he reminds the lawyers to write as they would speak and cut out the superfluous. That ought to be a no brainer, but I routinely see lawyers filing documents that are scanned rather than computer generated and also get scanned documents in other contexts.

And, of course, the Law Blog refers to the venerable standard for clear writing -- Strunk & White, The Elements of Style -- stating the standard "Omit needless words." There are so many iterations of this book, so I refer you by link to the Amazon search of Strunk & White here. Strunk & White, of course, do not give the last word on good style, but they sure give a good first word.

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