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Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

Guide to Good Writing; Get Specific!

August 17

Strunk & White’s classic guide to good writing, The Elements of Style, urges writers to use definite, specific, and concrete language. “Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.” The goal is to write “with such accuracy and vigor that the reader, in imagination, can project himself into the scene.”

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Using Microsoft Word’s Readability Program: advice for lawyers

June 29

Readability should be a goal of all careful writers. Lawyers, in particular, need to exercise care that their writings are comprehensible to the intended audience.

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Calling All Scribes

March 02

What does the word “scribes” call to mind? For most people, it evokes the image of medieval monks copying manuscripts with quill pens. But modernly it also refers to a society of legal writers.

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Vampire Verbs and Zombie Nouns

February 21

Whether it's Halloween or not, verbs and nouns can sometimes be downright scary! Professor Otto Stockmeyer has gone emeritus after more than three decades teaching at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, with visiting stints at Mercer University and California Western. He is a past president of Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers. A version of this blog post first appeared in the Society’s newsletter The Scrivener.

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Update: Corporate Annual Reports – Plain-Language Progress?

November 21

Last year at about this time, I wrote this in a blog post, “Corporate Annual Reports – Plain-English’s Last Frontier?”

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Note to legal writers: You CAN start sentences with But.

August 27

My colleague Joe Kimble has attempted to refute the common superstition against beginning a sentence with the word "but."

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Legal Writing Experts Explain the Evolving "They"

August 02

One thing is for sure. Only writing professionals and the grammar elite have the passion to wrap their heads around a single word and articulate, with authority, how that one word has evolved. Writing experts WMU-Cooley Professor Brad Charles and Thomas Myers, editor-in-chief of The Clarity Journal explore the genesis of the word they in the June 2019 issue of Michigan Bar Journal. Below are excerpts. Click here for the full article with citations. Posted with permission from the June 2019 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal.

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Kimble Center for Legal Drafting Established at WMU-Cooley Law School

June 18

Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School is pleased to announce that it has established the Kimble Center for Legal Drafting. The Center is named for Joseph Kimble, a distinguished professor emeritus and internationally recognized expert on plain language and legal drafting. He taught legal research and writing at WMU–Cooley for more than 30 years.

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