Decoding Legal Gobbledygook
Adam Freedman (aka The Party of the First Part) is a former litigator who now makes his living decoding policies and procedures into plain English for a major New York City investment bank. He also writes the "Legal Lingo" column for the New York Law Journal Magazine. Now, publisher Henry Holt and Co. is about to release his book, The Party of the First Part: The Curious World of Legalese, in which, according to Publishers Weekly, he "offers a cornucopia of hilarious, offbeat and downright bizarre examples of simple concepts contorted into words that defy understanding."
In an excerpt published on his Web site, Freedman offers a peek at the lunacy of legal language:
"Consider the fact that Congress once passed legislation declaring that 'September 16, 1940 means June 27, 1950.' In New Zealand, the law says that a 'day' means a period of 72 hours while an Australian statute defines 'citrus fruit' to include eggs. To American lawyers, a 20-year old document is 'ancient' while a 17-year old person is an 'infant.' At one time or another, the law has defined 'dead person' to include nuns, 'daughter' to include son, and 'cow' to include horse; it has even declared white to be black."
Perhaps if you buy a copy of the book, you might get Freedman to "execute" it for you. Even without buying the book, you can browse The Legalese Hall of Shame and read Freedman's tips on writing in plain English.
[Hat tip to Overlawyered.]
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 23, 2007 at 04:54 PM | Permalink
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