Professor Kimble names Michele Aspreyâ€™s book Plain Language for Lawyers as one of the top publications in the history of plain language.
In Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please - The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law â€” Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina, Professor Kimble lists Michele Aspreyâ€™s book as number 7 on his list of the top publications - quite an accolade. It appears alongside David Mellinkoffâ€™s book The Language of the Law (from 1963), Richard Wydickâ€™s book Plain English for Lawyers (from 1979), Rudloph Fleschâ€™s work, and Ernest Gowersâ€™s The Complete Plain Words, among others.
The idea that lawyers can - and should - write in plain language is not new. There have always been plain language lawyers. There just arenâ€™t enough of them.
The plain language movement in Australia has been with us for decades. Plain language has been taught in law schools in Australia for almost 20 years. But still too many lawyers donâ€™t write in language that clients, and other readers, can understand.
Plain Language for Lawyers can help. Over the 18 years it has been in print and it has established itself in Australia and overseas as a comprehensive, entertaining and enormously useful text. It includes international references, contains practical advice, and can be read and enjoyed by anyone who is interested in plain language in the law.
The 4th edition has been completely revised and updated.
- All cases, legislation and text references have been updated to 2009
- Recent international developments in plain language are included
- Chapter 12, on the principles of legal interpretation, has been completely rewritten to cover the latest case law
- Chapter 13, the plain language vocabulary, has been extended
- Chapter 14, on email and the internet, has been updated, and includes the latest on defamation law
- Chapter 15 and 16, which cover document design for both print and the computer screen, have both been revised to include the latest research findings on typography, and the way we read and comprehend on-line material
The global financial crisis has shown how complex legal and financial documents can conceal dangers for readers who donâ€™t understand the legal risks of modern financial products. Now, more than ever, it is time for Plain Language for Lawyers.
Reviews of previous editions:
Asprey outlines the considerable cost savings experienced by companies and governments when they have designed contracts and forms that can be easily and widely understood. ... Asprey presents a convincing case for simplicity. She argues that it is not only economically sensible but legally responsible to abandon archaic drafting habits and embrace plain language in drafting.
Having convinced the reader that plain language is not only an option in drafting, but the only responsible option, Asprey then proceeds to dissect bad drafting habits and propose solutions. She demonstrates good drafting practices, details successful implementations ...
The first part of the book makes a case for the use of plain language in a convincing and easy to read manner. The writer then deals with the fundamentals and structure of drafting. She underlines the importance of knowing your audience when you are writing any document, and writing for the ability, understanding and interest of the reader or audience when preparing a document. ...
The book contains chapters which deal with the technicalities of the written word including the structure of drafting, words generally, grammatical structures to avoid, legal affectations and clarity of word use. It also explains how to set out a document so that its very design assists the reader in understanding its content. The third edition of the book includes new chapters on email and use of the internet.
This book is very easy to read. The author has interspersed her technical knowledge with humour, common sense and wide and relevant research. Asprey has provided the reader with a wonderful example of plain language at its best. In my view the book should be compulsory reading for anyone involved in the law.
- Judge Richards, (2005) 26 Qld Lawyer
Some books get better with age â€“ like old wine. Each new edition bring the better out of the author, aims more dirctly at the reader, and hits bullâ€™s eye. This is one of them. ...
This new revision has some great additions, especially chapters on plain language around the world, writing email and for the internet, and designing documents for the computer screen.
The initial three chapters convince you of the need to use plain language; after all, legalese is certainly undignified. Clear and precise language, organization, design and layout are important. The fundamentals follow - consider your reader, eschew pomposity, plan first, put the most important part of your document first, ignore future tense for your benefit, be flexible. Two wonderful chapters discuss legal affectations and problem words (and, and/or, shall). And do not miss the plain language vocabulary â€“ it meets your needs. ...
A detailed index and links to further research (in footnotes that do not daunt the eye) are other hallmarks.
Have you bought the title yet? - Global Law Review, 21 January 2004
MichĂ¨le Asprey takes her readers by the hand and leads them gently through the evidence supporting the need to write in terms that the intended reader can understand. Her tone is persuasive and her points are made in a relaxed way supported by extensive references to research, case law and relevant websites. ... There is an extensive plain language vocabulary list. I was particularly intrigued by the discussion linking plain language writing to legal interpretation.
Plain Language for Lawyers is the book you need on hand when faced with arguments about using â€śmustâ€ť in prefernce to â€śshallâ€ť, or the need to avoid â€śand/orâ€ť, and other hoary chestnuts of drafting. These and similar problems are covered in the chapter Little words: big problems. I could have done with this book for Aspreyâ€™s wisdom earlier this year. ...
Asprey gives frequent examples of complex writing and then the plainer version, and she always provides evidence to support her point of view. ... [her book] is an invaluable resource with which to persuade colleagues to give up bad writing habits.
The book belongs in the library of anyone wishing to communicate more clearly in writing â€“ not just lawyers! - Law Institute Journal (Victoria), Vol 77(11), November 2003
Here is a most effective guide to all aspects of clear expession. - Ethos (Law Society of the ACT), December 2003
This book is a must-have for anyone whose livelihood depends upon human communication. While directed specifically towards lawyers, the volumeâ€™s pertinence extends to a much wider audience, including professors, doctors, corporate executives and students, just to name a few. ... Asprey arranges the book into 18 short, accessible chapters, cleverly anticipating readersâ€™ common questions and concerns and ultimately proving that she knows her audience well, making a seemingly â€śtough sellâ€ť with ease, style and finesse. - Trade Practices Law Journal, Vol 11, December 2003
Table of Contents
What is this book about?
What is plain language?
Why plain language?
Plain language around the world
Grammatical structures to avoid
Legal affectations and other nasty habits
Overused words and formulas
Little words: big problems
What about the principles of legal interpretation?
A plain language vocabulary
Email and the internet
Document design basics
Designing documents for the computer screen
Testing your writing