Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Writing for lawyers and everybody else.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | March 25, 2018

No. 1,453

I read about a software package that is supposed to help lawyers improve their writing. Don’t ask me to name names.  If you’re curious, you can find it yourself. Essentially, it marks up your briefs or anything else you give it.

Lawyers of my generation are almost all abysmal writers.  There are exceptions, of course. But they are singularities, notable for their rarity. There has been a substantial effort by law schools in recent years to reverse this trend. Good luck on that.  Lawyers, even young ones, are a stubborn bunch with big egos and attitudes cast in bronze.

Some will intermittently admit the need for improvement. But such declarations are rarely more than passing moments of insight.  Even if I were asked, I have no desire to help these trogs improve their clarity or style.  It would be a thankless and frustrating exercise. Fights all the way, no doubt.

To learn, one must wish to change.  Lawyers almost never think there is anything wrong with their prose. And even when they do, they rarely understand, or even want to understand,  what might be needed to stifle boredom. Nor do they have the perseverance  to shepherd their work through multiple drafts.

Writing is hard work.  First drafts are rarely that good.  You must be willing to throw away whole pages that just don’t make it.  You must weed your garden, removing the ordinary and planting words and expressions that evoke images.  And yes, there would be extra billing time to explain to the client.

May they all be working for my adversaries.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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