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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

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Hardcover, Fifth Edition, 139 pages
Published August 29th 2005 by Carolina Academic Press (first published 1979)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  380 ratings  ·  20 reviews


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Hirdesh
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.
Ryan
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.
Tyler
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.
Charlie
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.
Kari
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.
B
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
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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.
Sharif
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).
Abby
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."
Rachel
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.
Kersten
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.
Brian
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.
Adrienna
Only had two assignments for class this semester and only viewed it for the first PEL assignment, not for the second.

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José
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
Excellent resource for better writing in all fields.
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“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
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