ALR Student’s Corner: Law Prose


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Law Prose: An evaluation on the fascination of words

I recently reviewed Bryan A. Garner’s blog on his website www.lawprose.org. Mr. Garner is an established scholar in legal writing. He is the current editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, conducts CLE seminars, and has published many works including Garner’s Modern American Usage – a massive guide to contemporary American English. In addition, legal professionals can seek his advice by requesting consulting services or can sign up to earn a Master’s Certificate in Legal Writing from the Academy of American Legal Writers.

The blog can be understood by a general adult audience, but it is most helpful for legal professionals, law students, or anyone whose daily existence requires legal writing. Mr. Garner’s posts are entertaining and provide historical context of the grammar, terms, and various common usage of words he explains. For instance, did you know that it is perfectly acceptable to still use “till” instead of “until”? However, Mr. Garner warns, do not make the common mistake of writing “’til.”

Here are some examples of his posts covered in the last month:

  • Substituting the word “period” instead of the phrase “time period”
  • Avoiding generalized titles of authority (e.g. write “the scientist Jeremiah Smith” instead of “scientist Jeremiah Smith”)
  • A lesson in possessives based on the Red Sox and the Cardinals (Mr. Garner seems to be a fan of baseball)
  • Substituting the words “to” or “against” instead of using “toward.”
  • Differences between American English and British English
  • Is it written “email” or “e-mail”?

Mr. Garner also provides random quotes of the day. I found this one particularly elegant:

lawprosequote

Yet, when reviewing his blog, I was disappointed that there were no hyperlinks or comments I could view. Also, while it is helpful that his posts are archived back to 2011, they mostly cover words based on the letters “R,” “S,” and “T.” Law Prose does, however, have some useful tools, such as a search box and RSS feed.

Mr. Garner’s blog is a refreshing snapshot of the American English language. In an occupation where we depend so much on our words, a blog like this can be very useful. If you would like to sign up for free word usage tips of the day, go to www.lawprose.org and enter your email address.

Cheers!  (Now how did that become a salutation?)

~ Ashley Ann Wright, L’15 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

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