Friday, July 15, 2005

A better plain rewrite

Yesterday's rewrite prompted some comments. When I wrote "you can sue us only in Texas" I excluded consent to be sued in Texas. Careful reader Mark Burge pointed this out.

Also, must I use the words "jurisdiction" and "venue"? I'm willing to bet there are ways around them, but a careful lawyer may want to use them and then clarify them.

So how about this?
  • You consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in Texas. This means you can sue us only in Texas, and you consent to being sued in Texas. If you sue us, you must pay all the legal fees and costs of the litigation.
There's still room for improvement, no doubt. There always is with writing. But let me make a point about that.

Any effort to convert legal text into plain English will require input from others. Whenever I do a project to convert legal text into plain English, I always ask others to read and comment on the work. They will balance my zealousness, they will catch mistakes, and they will notice substantive gaps.

Never let a naysayer dismiss your plain-language efforts by pointing out that you made a mistake. This happened to Professor Joe Kimble in a Michigan Bar Journal article a few years ago. Remember, and remind naysayers: all first drafts are highly imperfect, and even final versions are rarely error-free.

Get candid input, make changes, and keep trying.

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