Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sentence problem 10--excessive formality and legalistic tone

Lawyers should stop trying to impress others with pompous tone, over-formality, and lawyerly-sounding language. Generally, excessive formality breeds ill-will, not respect. Besides, it's no longer 1903. Or 1953.

Old: A true and correct copy of the foregoing affidavit is being provided you herewith.

Better: I have enclosed a copy of the Baker Affidavit.

Poor: The clerk of the court undertook to prepare documentation for the instant case prior to receiving said item of correspondence.

Better: The court clerk prepared the paperwork for the Hasbro Company case before receiving the arbitrator's letter.

--Excerpted from Better Legal Writing

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