Useful references

Overview - especially good for lawyers

Michèle Asprey, Plain Language for Lawyers 3rd edition, The Federation Press (2004). An excellent overview of plain language for lawyers.

Benefits of plain language

For a fascinating and persuasive summary of the research on the efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction gains that clear communication has actually delivered to a wide range of organisations, see:

Professor Joseph Kimble. Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please, 6 Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 1, (1996-1997).

The plain-language debate

Law Reform Commission of Victoria:

  • Legislation Legal Rights and Plain English, Discussion Paper No. 1 (August 1986). A discussion of the benefits of plain language and the problems of poor legal communication
  • Plain English and The Law, Report No. 9 (repr. 1990). A rebuttal of the arguments against plain language. The Report includes a drafting manual and various substantial demonstration rewrites in separately published appendices.
  • Access To The Law: The Structure and Format of Legislation, Report No. 33 (May 1990). As its name suggests focuses on structure. Includes a fascinating section on the history of legislative drafting.

Professor Joseph Kimble Answering the Critics of Plain Language, 5 Scribes Journal of Legal Language 51, (1994-1995); and

Professor David Mellinkoff, The Language of the Law Boston, Little Brown & Co (1963). Brilliant Scholastic book. A landmark.

Professor Joseph Kimble and J A Prokop Jr Strike Three for Legalese, MICH. B.J. 418 (May 1990). Research on judges preferences for plain language.

Benson and Kessler, Legalese v plain English: An Empirical Study of Persuasion and Credibility in Appellate Brief Writing 20 Loy LA L Rev at 301 (1987).

How to

Christopher Balmford Getting the Structure Right: Process, Paradigm and Persistence (in 2 parts), Part 1 in Clarity No. 42, at 42 (September 1998); Part 2 in Clarity No. 43, at 14, (May 1999).

Peter Butt and Richard Castle Modern Legal Drafting: A Guide To Using Clearer Language Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Bryan Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text With Exercises, University of Chicago Press (2001).

Colin Wheildon, Type & Layout: How Typography And Design Can Get Your Message Across--Or Get In The Way, Strathmoor Press (March 1995).