Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Article on Texas style manual

I just finished this article: James Lindgren, Fear of Writing, 78 Cal. L. Rev. 1677 (1990). It is a harsh critique of the Texas Law Review Manual on Style, 6th edition. The same issue of the California Law Review has a response from the Texas Law Review and a follow-up by Lindgren.

If you are a legal writing person, like me, you'll probably enjoy it. Where else can you see a scholarly debate over the word "where"? And if you take a dim view of student-run law reviews, as I do, you'll enjoy it all the more because the law review students get the worst of it. (Disclosure: In law school, I wasn't on law review.)

But I'm particularly interested in it because I am currently acting as the faculty adviser to three students who are revising the 10th edition of what is now called the Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style (the "MOUS"). These are three very bright students, two of whom are former students of mine, and I think they are doing a superb job. I think Professor Lindgren would not object to the 10th MOUS.

But another theme in his piece was the rigidity with which student editors applied the manual. On that point, no matter the changes to the MOUS, I do think all law review editors ought to be more open to legitimate English prose style and not blindly or rigidly apply the MOUS.

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