Thursday, April 15, 2010

Writing for non-lawyers

Attorney 5 recently had me proof-read an article he's writing for non-lawyers.  Let me first say that I think Attorney 5 is a very smart guy.  Everything he gives me to proof-read is always very concise, well-written and well-argued (until Attorney 2 gets to a hold of it, that is).  However, he struggles writing things for non-lawyers. 

Having read his article, I'm compiled a brief list of things not to do when writing to a non-lawyer:
1) Block quote statutes.
2) Cite statutes to fill up space.
3) Use make-believe legal combo words, like: heretofore, wherefore or hereinafter.
4) Use footnotes (seriously, nobody reads footnotes).
5) Go over tangentially related background information.

With my typical tact, this is the feedback I gave Attorney 5: "Dude, I wanted to stop reading halfway through the first block quote from the ILCS - and I actually went to law school"

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