Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

WMU-Cooley Honored by the Center for Plain Language

WMU–Cooley and its professors have always been known for teaching and advocating for the use of plain language in the legal profession. The professors have written several books and countless articles on the subject, edited legal writing journals and columns, and won national and international recognition for their work. And now, because of two professors’ efforts, the school has received a ClearMark Award from the U.S. Center for Plain Language.

Recently, WMU–Cooley asked Joseph Kimble, distinguished professor emeritus (and former chair of the Research & Writing Department) and Professor Mark Cooney (the current chair) to redraft the school’s bylaws. After the bylaws had been approved, Kimble and Cooney submitted them to Center for Plain Language, which every year gives prestigious ClearMark Awards for documents and websites produced by North American companies, organizations, and government bodies. The awards are competitive and coveted, and the ceremony is held at the National Press Club. The winning entries must meet a high standard for clarity and simplicity.

Apparently, the revised bylaws met that standard, for WMU–Cooley Law received the award in the Legal Documents category. According to the judges: “It’s an outstanding version of what a legal document should be. It should be far easier to use than typical bylaws, which in turn should make it easier for the organization to fulfill its mission.”

Kimble and Cooney are emphatic about the importance of plain language: “The world would change if all companies and organizations and agencies made a commitment to clarity and simplicity. Everybody would save time and money, and faith in public institutions would soar.”

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July 19