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Judge Kressel Puts an End to Legalese in His Court

Attention all lawyers who practice before United States Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel, D. Minn.: He has just about had it with your crappy "legalese" and he has a 19-point plan to get you writing like a real person again.

In this post, The Lawyerist alerts us to the new "guidelines" issued this week by Judge Kressel. As the Lawyerist observes, "it is a catalog of and prohibition against every bad legal writing practice. And it makes sense, since he eventually has to sign those badly-drafted orders."

Here are some of the legal writing crimes that you won't be committing any longer in his court, as stated in his guidelines:

  • Guideline No. 6 -- Capitalization: Lawyers apparently love to capitalize words. Pleadings, including proposed orders, are commonly full of words that are capitalized, not quite randomly, but certainly with great abandon. Please limit the use of capitalization to proper names. For example, do not capitalize court, motion, movant, debtor, trustee, order, affidavit, stipulation, mortgage, lease or any of the other numerous words that are commonly capitalized.
  • Guideline No. 7 -- Use of articles: Lawyers apparently disfavor articles, both definite and indefinite. Use the articles “the,” “a,” and “an” as appropriate. Write the way you would speak. So, “the debtor,” not “debtor,” “the trustee,” not “trustee.”
  • Guideline No. 8 -- And/Or: Never use “and/or.”
  • Guideline No. 9 -- Superfluous Words and Phrases: Eliminate superfluous words. They serve no purpose other than to make the document sound more legal, which is exactly the opposite of the goal that I am trying to accomplish. Examples of such words are: “hereby,” “herein,” “in and for,” “subject,” “that certain,” “now,” “that,” “undersigned,” “immediately,” “heretofore entered in this case,” “be, and hereby is” -- the list goes on and on.
  • Guideline No. 12 -- Undersigned: Never use the word “undersigned.”

This is just a taste. Here is the full list of things you won't be doing any longer in Judge Kressel's court.

Posted by Bruce Carton on December 11, 2009 at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)


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