Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Plain English for Lawyers” as Want to Read:
Plain English for Lawyers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Plain English for Lawyers

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  380 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Wydick's Plain English for Lawyers —now in its fifth edition— has been a favorite of law students, legal writing teachers, lawyers, and judges for over 25 years.

How does the fifth edition of Plain English for Lawyers differ from its predecessors? It remains (in size only!) a little book, small enough and palatable enough not to intimidate over-loaded law students. "Most o

Hardcover, Fifth Edition, 139 pages
Published August 29th 2005 by Carolina Academic Press (first published 1979)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Plain English for Lawyers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Plain English for Lawyers

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  380 ratings  ·  20 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Plain English for Lawyers
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
review to come.
Salem Lorot
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that you will always find listed in the bibliography of nearly every other legislative drafting book. When you finally read it, you realize why. Wydick breaks it down plainly, educating you on how well you can communicate in plain language. Lawyers are used to legalese. This book is one that teaches them to unlearn this. Wydick does an exemplary work.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Clear, concise, and practical. The book is well written for a book on straight grammar and punctuation. It cleverly displays and follows its own rules. The exercises are excellent for evaluating your understanding and engraving the knowledge in your mind.

This is what a practical book on writing should be at a minimum: It's not art, but it is efficient, useful, and clever.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was hilarious. Which you probably don't think of law school books being but it was. Comparing semi-colons to poisonous mushrooms and lots of name calling words and phrases. It was delightful. I feel like this will be a good reference book throughout the years but I am glad I read it first and got a little more familiar with it. Fun book.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Short and sweet, easy enough to follow along (I read over several days when I had 10-15 minutes of free time). The exercises were useful and didn't require a substantial time commitment.
I think this is something 1Ls should be required to read, and a good amount of legal writing instructors: particularly those over 40 or 45.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Helpful little book. He has rules about commas and possessives and also general tips on better legal writing. It was tongue-in-cheek at times. The instructions for the exercises should have been clearer; they build on each other as opposed to focusing on that chapter’s lesson.
William Shield
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It would be nice if lawyers read this.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed, westend
Contrary to my reading stats this is a quick read. The problem is the last couple of exercises were very long, so it took me a while to get around to them.

Writers on legal style tend to emphasize a series of "grammar rules" -- many of which are preferences rather than rules and many of which are just basic writing. The really, really hard part about legal writing is not that writers are jerks who like to sound musty, but that the writer has to work very hard to understand what he or she is writi
Jon De Leon
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that you can read in a day (this presupposes that you don't do the exercises) but will take a lifetime to master. It emphasizes that lawyers don't need to use highfalutin words in order to write well, plain English will do. This book is for everyone. You don't need to be a lawyer to appreciate this book. In fact, I'll take this book over Elements of Style any day.
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Richard Wydick's concise book should be required reading for lawyers. If your own unique brand of professional deformation has you using words like "utilize" and "proactive" on a weekly basis, read "Plain English for Lawyers". It's a great way to turn yourself upside down and shake all the surplus verbiage out of your writing (if not your brain).
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is really helpful for people who are looking to hone their skills, maybe even lawyers who are looking to improve. However, I think my friend summed this book up very well: "They gave law students a book telling us that it's bad to write like law students. So basically it's telling us to write how we already write."
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: law
Short, simple guidance with lots of examples and exercises.
Mayor McCheese
Jan 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
I pity the person who cares what the rules say and I pity the person who has to care about the rules because of what the employer says. I cannot give this book of rules more than 1 star.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good rules (that everyone should be taught from the beginning, but a lot unfortunately aren't), and some exercises so you can apply what you're learning.
Feb 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, law
Good rules and some useful practice problems.
John Yelverton
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
Even a book with a simple title like this is hacked to pieces by lawyerisms.
Only had two assignments for class this semester and only viewed it for the first PEL assignment, not for the second.

Class assignment reading(s)
rated it liked it
Aug 31, 2015
rated it liked it
Nov 23, 2018
Imade (Bridge Four)
rated it really liked it
Mar 24, 2019
Jared Hight
rated it liked it
Mar 22, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2019
rated it liked it
Nov 18, 2009
rated it liked it
Jan 21, 2016
rated it liked it
Nov 18, 2008
Amine Nahali
rated it it was ok
Dec 28, 2015
rated it really liked it
Oct 17, 2016
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
Excellent resource for better writing in all fields.
rated it did not like it
Nov 09, 2015
Lauren Brogdon
rated it really liked it
Feb 22, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates
  • Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges
  • The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History
  • 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School
  • The Bluebook: A Uniform System Citation
  • One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School
  • Cases and Materials on Contracts (University Casebook Series)
  • Writing and Analysis in the Law (Textbook)
  • ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation
  • Black's Law Dictionary
  • Reading Like A Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies For Reading Law Like An Expert
  • Your God Is Too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can't Control
  • Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law
  • Introduction To Paralegalism: Perspectives, Problems, And Skills
  • Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises
  • Property (Aspen Casebooks)
  • How to YOLO Wisely
  • Long Way Gone
See similar books…

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
20 likes · 6 comments
“We lawyers do not write plain English. We use eight words to say what could be said in two. We use arcane phrases to express commonplace ideas. Seeking to be precise, we become redundant. Seeking to be cautious, we become verbose. Our sentences twist on, phrase within clause within clause, glazing the eyes and numbing the minds of our readers. The result is a writing style that has, according to one critic, four outstanding characteristics. It is (1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous, and (4) dull.” 1 likes
More quotes…