Keep It Simple, Lawyer

MacBook writing (Håkan Dahlström) / CC BY 2.0

Today, May 21st, was the first day of the fifth international Clarity Conference. The conference brings together people from around the world who are involved in the plain-language movement, who will discuss efforts to promote the use of plain, simple language in a variety of legal contexts. Advocates of plain language say that it saves time and increases compliance with laws and regulations. Using plain language in jury instructions, for example, can improve juror comprehension.

The plain-language movement has made some headway in recent years. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires that federal agencies use language “that the public can understand and use.” The Plain Regulations Act of 2012, introduced earlier this year, would close a loophole in the Plain Writing Act and require that agencies write regulations in plain, clear language. The ClearMark Awards reward companies and agencies who adopt plain language in their documents and websites.

Want to know more about how to write plainly and avoid “legalese”? Check these resources out:

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