: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Legal Writing (How not to Succeed in Law School)

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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As afore mentioned, more from James D. Gordon’s I’m-starting-to-wonder-if-it’s-really-sarcastic How not to Succeed in Law School (.pdf)

During your first year, you take a class called “Legal Writing.” The sole objective of this class is to make you write like real lawyers as little as possible. Virtually all lawyers write as if they were paid by the word. Some write as if they were born in a parallel universe. For example, here is the legal translation that has been offered for the simple, everyday phrase, “I give you this orange.”

“Know all men by these presents that I hereby give, grant, bargain, sell, release, convey, transfer and quitclaim all my right, title, interest, benefit, and use whatever in, of, and concerning this chattle, otherwise known as an orange, or citrus orantium, together with all the appurtenances thereto of skin, pulp, pip, rind, seeds and juice for his own use and behoof, to himself and his heirs in fee simple forever, free from all liens, encumbrances, easements, limitations, restraints, or conditions whatsoever, any and all prior deeds, transfers or other documents whatsoever, now or anywhere made to the contrary notwithstanding, with full power to bite, cut, suck, or otherwise eat said orange or to give away the same, with or without its skin, pulp, pip, rind, seeds or juice.”

This kind of supernatural incantation is designed to perpetuate the perceived mysticism of the law and its official high priests.


The worst part of legal writing is having to learn the legal citation system. This is set forth in literally thousands of subrules in a book whose name nobody can remember, but which everybody calls the Bluebook, mostly because it’s blue (or, as lawyers put it, “blue in color”).

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Category: advice to law students, law school


One Response

  1. Mark Bennett says:


    I just blogged on plain English and legal writing here.


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