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Harm of Clichés in Legal Writing

January 22nd, 2016

computer desk photography“It was a dark and rainy evening…” Clichés like this one can be seen everywhere, when it comes to writing a story. Harm of clichés is evident in legal writing too. It happens to be overloaded with the lifeless phrases that have completely lost their oomph. While in some cases clichés may look tidy, mostly they show your readers how lazy you are.

When dealing with legal writing, rather than counting on stock phrases, ponder over what you’d like to say and then say it in a fresh way. Read and re-read your draft. You will most likely be faced with legal clichés. But when it’s time for editing, make sure to get rid of the following worn-out phrases. Instead, replace them with your own unique expression.

An Apple a Day

Take a look at the following example: “The court prosecuted the manager on one more charge since it required the other bite at the apple.” Stop confusing your readers with imaginary apples. As an alternative, consider explaining the reason why you think the opponent shouldn’t be provided with what he or she requires: “The court announced the new charge only for the reason the first bail request was rejected before.”

Your Eminence

Typical example will sound as: “Mr. Jacob’s resume proves that he’s eminently efficient in dealing with the damages of this kind.” Well, then comes a pretty logical question – have you ever heard about a qualified individual, who is educated and skilled but not eminently? Probably not. The same rule works when the matter concerns the expressions like eminently clear or eminently reasonable. Make sure to focus on the facts only: “John Kidman is qualified to testify since he is a PhD in economics and has already testified in more than 30 other cases.”

Bald Faith

Typical example that can be seen here and there: “Bald assertions of the Plaintiff won’t withstand scrutiny.” Probably that’s the phrase that causes strokes among the lawyers. Are there NOT bald assertion? Definitely not. Make sure to better concentrate on what exactly makes any sort of assertions that bald: “Even though Smith is claiming promissory estoppel, she actually cites no solid evidence to suggest that she counted upon the alleged promise of Smith.”

Why is harm of clichés in legal writing so important? A good old Latin maxim comes up immediately – “Ignorantia juris non excusat”. When it comes to its meaning, it sounds as “ignorance of law is not an excuse to a criminal charge”. In other words, if you are not aware of the legal writing clichés and use them chaotically in your own projects, it won’t keep you away from trouble and your writing will most likely be rejected or poorly graded. In order not to open the Pandora’s box with legal writing clichés, make sure to regularly check what word combinations are out of date or undesired when it comes to the writing tasks on legal topics.

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