Should Legal Briefs and Contracts be Written in Plain Language?

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Date: Thursday Nov-07, 2013   
Time: 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Armstrong Hall - Great Hall, Armstrong Hall - Steptoe & Johnson Rotunda Main
Contact Info: Gina Wilson (Ph: 480/965-4509)

Complete Description:
Legal documents impact all aspects of our lives. Few have thought deeper about the drafting of legal documents than Professor Wayne Schiess of the David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy at the University of Texas School of Law. Selected as the Legal Communication & Rhetoric Visiting Scholar at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Professor Schiess will address what it means to write in “plain English” and when effective legal writing requires lawyers to write in plain English when drafting briefs and contracts.

For discussion:
• how legal writers can tailor their writing to meet the goals and needs of their readers
• how best practices in legal writing require lawyers to apply specific techniques and skills in the context of a particular document, the document’s reader, and the reader’s needs.

The event is free and open to the public.

Professor Schiess’ presentation is made possible through a grant by the Association of Legal Writing Directors to support the Legal Communication & Rhetoric Visiting Scholars Grant Program.

Wayne Schiess is the director of the David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy at the University of Texas School of Law. He teaches legal writing, legal drafting, and plain English and speaks frequently on those subjects. Professor Schiess has written dozens of articles and four books on practical legal-writing skills. He graduated from Cornell Law School, practiced law for three years at the Texas firm of Baker Botts, and in 1992 joined the faculty at Texas. In 2012, he was chosen as the Law School’s legal-writing teacher of the year. In 2011, the Texas Pattern Jury Charges Plain Language Project, for which he was the drafting consultant, was named a finalist for a ClearMark Award by the Center for Plain Language. In 2009, five of his short articles were featured in the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing “Best of” series. In 2007, his legal-writing blog was selected for the ABA Journal Blawg 100: “The best Websites by lawyers for lawyers.” How the “plain English” movement in legal writing, if properly appreciated, can improve lawyers’ ability to meet readers’ needs, whether they have legal training or not


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