Books and Articles on Plain Legal Writing
Here are some of the most popular books on plain legal writing. They're written by highly respected authors and teachers and are themselves models of plain language.
You may also want to look at articles on plain language and the law written by practicing legal professionals. They challenge myths about legal writing and offer prescriptions for clearing up legalese. You'll find many of them to be witty and entertaining.
External links are shown with a "".
Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises, by Bryan A. Garner, 2001.
This is an excellent learning tool for plain legal writing, with numerous examples and model documents. Professor Garner is one of our most important legal writing experts in the US today. Besides being the editor in chief of Black's Law Dictionary, he has several important books on writing generally, including Modern American Usage.
The Elements of Legal Style, by Bryan Garner, 2nd ed. 2002.
Inspired by Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, Professor Garner's book clearly (and often wittily) explains the full range of what legal writers need to know. It covers mechanics, word choice, structure, and rhetoric, as well as all the special conventions that legal writers should follow.
Plain English for Lawyers, by Richard C. Wydick, 4th ed. 1998.
Professor Wydick's book is a basic learning tool and reference guide for lawyers and other writers of legal documents. It's concise and easily absorbed.
Clarity for Lawyers: The use of plain English in legal writing, by Mark Adler, 1990.
Mark Adler, the founder of Clarity, a worldwide group of legal professionals, has been described as "a skilful writer with a wry sense of humor." The first edition may be hard to find, but a second edition is in the works. Published by The Law Society of Great Britain.
Elements of Plain Language, by Joseph
Originally published in the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review, this is Professor Kimble's concise summary of plain language principles.
Legal Writing 201 , by Judge Mark P. Painter, Ohio First District Court of Appeals, is subtitled: 30 Suggestions to Improve Readability or How to Write For Judges, Not Like Judges.
To find an extensive list of other articles on plain legal writing, go to the website for The Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) and look under Plain Legal Language.
You'll also find stimulating articles by Mark Adler and others on the Clarity website.