Bench & Bar

SEP 2018

The Bench & Bar magazine is published to provide members of the KBA with information that will increase their knowledge of the law, improve the practice of law, and assist in improving the quality of legal services for the citizenry.

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| SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018 28 CONCLUSION The only real way to know if a sentence contains too many words is to read a draft many times, with an eye for editing for con- ciseness. The familiar quote "if I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter," could apply to the hurried lawyers' writing. 3 But lawyers owe it to their clients and judges to take the necessary time to edit for conciseness and clarity. ABOUT THE AUTHOR PROFESSOR JENNIFER JOLLY-RYAN teaches writing at Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University. She is a member of the Kentucky Bar Associ- ation and a graduate of Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky Univer- sity. She is a former law clerk for Judge S. Arthur Spiegel of the United States Dis- trict Court, Southern District of Ohio and Kentucky Commissioner on Human Rights. She practiced law with the law firms of Dinsmore & Shohl and Jolly & Blau before joining the Chase College of Law faculty. ENDNOTES 1. See Joseph M. Williams, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace 113 (9th ed. 2007) ("some writers plump up their prose to impress those who think complicated sen- tences indicate deep thinking"); see Anne Enquist & Laurel Currie Oates, Just Writing, 125-27 (2d ed. 2005). 2. Lisa Massey Hatlen, Legal Writing: Less is More: Conciseness in Legal Writing, Wisconsin Lawyer, https://www.wisbar.org/NewsPublications/WisconsinLawyer/ Pages/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1772 ( July 2018); eiiQcw. See also Joseph M. Williams, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace 113 (9th ed. 2007) ("some writers plump up their prose to impress those who think complicated sentences indicate deep thinking"); see Anne Enquist & Laurel Currie Oates, Just Writing, 125-27 (2d ed. 2005). 3. Although the quote has been attributed to many famous people, many credit Winston Churchill. Readers' understanding of prose comes from clearly seeing the subject, verb, and object of a sentence. If a sentence is long and contains too many ideas, the sentence becomes such a mess that the reader cannot make sense of it. Nested modifiers are sets of modifiers placed within each other that separate the parts of speech. They make sentences long and confusing. EXAMPLE: Defendant, who was driving a tractor trailer that was loaded with logs some of which were not tied down securely, abruptly stopped. Defendant, {who was driving a tractor trailer [that was loaded with logs (some of which were not tied down securely)]}, abruptly stopped. The solution is to make the sentence less complicated and understand- able. Take apart the nest of modifiers and put some of the information in a separate sentence. EXAMPLE: The Defendant, who was driving a tractor trailer, abruptly stopped. The trailer was loaded with logs, some of which were not tied down securely. 7 AVOID NESTED MODIFIERS AND KEEP SUBJECT, VERB, AND OBJECT CLOSE. Base verbs are words that act (decide, complain, pay, agree). A base verb that has been turned into a noun is a nominalization (decision, complaint, payment, agreement). Nominalizations tend to add words to sentences. It is easy to spot nominaliza- tions by their endings: To avoid a nominalization in a sentence, rewrite the sentence with a base verb instead. EXAMPLE: We are in agreement with your position, but if it is your intention to cause delay, we will stand in opposition to you. We agree with your position, but if you intend to cause delay, we will oppose you. 6 USE BASE VERBS AND NOT NOMINALIZATIONS. • al • ment • ant • ence • ion • ent • ancy • ency • ity The phrase of the in place of a posses- sive noun is unnecessary. For example, the liability of the defendant easily becomes the defendant's liability. 5 USE A POSSESSIVE INSTEAD OF THE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE OF THE. EFFECTIVE LEGAL WRITING

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