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Book Reviews: The Seven Deadly Sins Of Legal Writing
By Denise Tugade
Book Reviews columns.
The Seven Deadly Sins Of Legal Writing
by: Theodore L. Blumberg
Theodore Blumberg’s treatise on the blunders of prose in the legal profession is clear, conversational, and concise. In a mere 31 pages, Blumberg boils down his revulsion toward legal writing into the titular Seven Sins: passivity, abstraction, adverbiage, verbosity, redundancy, speaking footnotes, and negativity.
Alternating between pedantic compulsiveness and biting wit, the guide reads like a rant by your favorite high school English teacher. Blumberg finds his examples everywhere, from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and J.D. Salinger to Wiener’s Effective Appellate Advocacy and The Life and Opinions ofTristram Shandy, a satire of legal language included in excerpted form in the book’s appendix.
Blumberg concedes that sometimes lawyers write in order to avoid clarity. Lawyers create wiggle room for clients or nestle controversial provisions into long passages in the hope “that by the ti
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