Why do lawyers write like that: Worrying about the OGL (Part 3)


Staff member
I’ll just interject that many of my law profs HATED legalese/jargon and hammered home a preference for clarity in drafting…whenever the law allowed.

Their perspective: a lot of the examples of needlessly complex and confusing legalese came about as a way to set traps within documents, etc., to be used whenever there was a disagreement between parties. Some of those phrases then got “copypasted” into other documents or even legal codes. So legalese became increasingly opaque, leading to misunderstandings. Certainly, said legalese, once deciphered in court, could create crushing defeats for the nonconforming party.

In contrast, clear & concise drafting contained fewer traps to spring, but that was OK. Instead of creating “unbeatable” clauses for use in litigation, everyone who could understand a contract would/should/could simply do what it required, avoiding expensive litigation in the first place.

My Wills & Estates prof illustrated the concept by handing out a 26 page document for the students to read. He stopped us after a few minutes, and asked who had completed reading it- no one had. He then told us to read pg26, which had just 2 paragraphs, and everyone completed it in a minute or so.

The 2 paragraphs on the last page, he explained, contained the exact same legal information as the prior 25 pages. He then swore he’d go after any of his students who drafted documents like pegs 1-25 as opposed to p26, even if he had to climb out of his casket do do it.

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