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UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS

COLLEGE OF LAW

Legal English I
SIMPLICITY
Plain language is, or should be, every bit as accurate and precise as traditional
legal writing. It is clearer considerably clearer. It is usually shorter and faster. It is
strongly preferred by readers. It would greatly improve the image of lawyers. (Professor
Joseph Kimble, Answering the Critics mof Plain Language)
You are no less a lawyer for being understandable. (Christopher Lutz)
A. SIMPLICITY
Simplicity in writing means to write plainly and simply. To observe the rules on economy
of expression, each sentence must say what the writer means and means what the writer
wants to say. Convoluted words and word-constructions must be avoided. This is best
done by preferring shorter sentences, and choosing shorter words. Repetition must also
be avoided as much as possible.
Clutter is a disease in writing. The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its
cleanest component. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a
short word, or every adverb which carries the same meaning that is already in the verb
weakens the sentence.
B. USE SHORT SENTENCES
The herein plaintiff is willing and ready to give a bond
pursuant to the Rules of Court executed in favor of the
defendant in the instant case in an amount double the
valuation of the subject personal property above described,
and for the return of the same property if the return thereof be
adjudged, and for the payment to the same defendant of such
amount as he may recover from the plaintiff in the herein
action.
A good sentence typically contains only one main thought in less than 25 words. By
typically means that a sentence may have more than one thought. It is however
preferable to express only one or at most two thoughts in a statement.
Long sentences make ones writing unwieldy and difficult to understand. They tax the
readers concentration and memory. He will have a hard time figuring out what the writer
wants to say as he wades through thickets of main and subordinate clauses.
The plaintiff is willing to give a bond double the value
of the property. He likewise undertakes to return the property
to the defendant or pay him such amount if adjudged to do
so.
While short sentences are recommended, one may occasionally use longer ones for
variety. However, it is advised that writers stick to short sentences. At times, the writer
may indulge himself with a long one, but he will make sure there are no folds in it, no
vagueness, and no parenthetical interruptions of its view as a whole.
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C. OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS


Simplicity and economy are good qualities to have in legal writing. One must therefore
omit unnecessary words.
RULES:
1.

Avoid wordy expressions. Simpler construction is preferred than using too many
words to express an idea.
WORDY
Answered in the affirmative
At all times
In a manner similar to
Inasmuch as
In the absence of
In the amount of
In case of/ in the event of/ in the event that
In the meantime
In the near future
In view of the fact that
Large number of
Major portion of
Taking into consideration the fact that
There can be no doubt that
With the exception of
With reference to/ with regard to

2.

Avoid elaborating on the obvious. Do not expand or restate the obvious. It bores
the reader with information he already has.
Wordy:
Concise:
Wordy:
Concise:

3.

CONCISE
Said yes
Always
Like
Since
Without
For
If
Meanwhile
Soon
Since, because
Many
Most
Since
Doubtless
Except
About

The companys two employees, Kenneth and Julio, were illegally


dismissed.
The companys employees, Kenneth and Julio, were illegally
dismissed.
A baby girl was born to Spouses Reyes.
A girl was born to Spouses Reyes.

Get to the point. Omit unnecessary preliminaries.


Wordy:
Concise:
Wordy:
Concise:

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We are very proud and happy to announce that our client was
absolved from all the charges against him.
Our client was absolved from all the charges against him.
There is no doubt that some people will disagree with me, but in
my opinion, I firmly believe that the company committed an unfair
labor practice.
I believe the company committed an unfair labor practice.

4.

Avoid tautology. Do away with unnecessary repetition of an idea in different


words.
WORDY
Actually happened
Advance planning
Any and all
Before in the past
Cheap in price
Combined together
Connect up, end up, finish up, join up
Discussed in a talk
During the course of
Each and every
Equally as
Every once in a while
Fatal death
Final destination
First and foremost
For the purpose of
Gray in color
If and when
In my opinion, I think
Inside of
Long length of time
Numerous in number
One and only
One and the same
Past history
Rarely ever
Requirements needed for
Round in shape
Small in size

5.

CONCISE
Happened
Planning
All
Before
Cheap
Combined
Connect, end, finish, join
Discussed
During
Each
Equally
Once in a while
Death
Destination
First
For
Gray
If
I think
Inside
Long time
Numerous
One (or only)
One (or the same)
History
Rarely
Requirements for
Round
Small

Eliminate certain phrases. - (a) Wordy sentences may be made shorter by


eliminating there, that, which, who is, as to, it, or one.
Wordy:
Concise:

The memorandum which I sent to you last week explained in


detail the background of the case.
The memorandum sent to you last week explained the case
background in detail.

Wordy:

Her cousin, who is an associate of the same firm, is a CPA-

Concise:

Her cousin, an associate of the same firm, is a CPA-lawyer.

Wordy:
Concise:

He is a man who does not like litigation.


He dislikes litigation.

Wordy:

The question as to whether you or your husband should file the


divorce in Switzerland
Whether you or your husband files the divorce in Switzerland

lawyer.

Concise:

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Wordy:
Concise:

It is recommended that the compromise agreement which was


signed on May 2, 2014 be enforced.
The compromise agreement of May 2, 2014 should be enforced.

Wordy:
Concise:

Her version of the incident is a strange one.


Her version of the incident is strange.

(b) The phrase the fact that is often unnecessary.


WORDY
Due/owing to the fact that
Calling your attention to the fact that
In spite of the fact that
My attention was not called to the fact
that
The fact that you have not succeeded
The fact that you had enrolled

CONCISE
Since/because
Reminding you
Although/though
I was not aware that
Your failure
Your enrolment

Word phrases may be shortened by eliminating prepositional phrases.


Wordy:
Concise:

the leader of the unit


unit leader

Wordy:
Concise:

the employee with innovative ideas


the innovative employee

c) A phrase may be converted to word or be eliminated altogether.


WORDY
As per our telephone conversation
As soon as possible
Has the capability
Take into consideration
It is recommended
In lieu of
It has come to my attention
Permit me to say
Please be advised
It is requested
Make revisions
Under separate cover
Therefore
There is no doubt that
Inorder to
This office
With regard to

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CONCISE
As we said/discussed
By (a specific date)
Can
Consider
I recommend
Instead of
Ive noticed (or omit)
(omit)
(omit)
Please
Revise
Separately
So
No doubt, doubtless
To
We, us
About, on