Even attorneys make writing mistakes. This doesn’t always have to be an error; it could just be a common flaw or overused term that is damaging the quality of your writing. Below are the 10 most common legal writing mistakes made by attorneys:
1. Endorse/Indorse; Ensure/Insure/Assure: Attorneys often confuse these five words. At first glance, these words are thought to be interchangeable, but are actually quite different in meaning. When referring to signing the back of a negotiable instrument use “indorse.” Indorse means “to sign on the back.” If you are publicly supporting or approving something, use the word “endorse.” If you are referring to the confirmation of something, use the word “ensure.” When referencing to insurance companies, use the word “insure.” When you make a promise, you are “assuring” someone of something.
2. Furthermore: While the term furthermore is not grammatically incorrect in most uses, it is unnecessary. In legal writing, it is just as effective to use one of the following three words, “also, and or besides.”
3. Nominalizations: A nominalization is a term that describes when a verb has been used as a noun. In legal writing, this is done quite frequently. For example, “I had a conversation with.” The more appropriate way to write this would be, “I talked to.” This is also frequently seen when writing, “provide a description of,” when “describe,” is the better term to use.
4. In the event that/should: Writing is most effective when it is as concise as possible. There is no reason to use a subordinating conjunction such as “in the event that,” when “should” will suffice.
5. Inasmuch: Again, the shorter the writing, the better. This is especially true for terms such as “inasmuch” that have multiple meanings or interpretations. It is just as effective to say “because” or “since.”
6. Informed: Some words simply do not sound realistic. There are times when it is better for your writing to sound colloquial, rather than proper. This will increase clients’ ability to relate to what you are saying. For example, it is better to say, “She told me,” as opposed to “She informed me.”
7. Irregardless: This word pops up many times in formal writing. However, it is not actually a word. The rule for using irregardless: do not use it.
8. Moreover: This word is much like “furthermore,” it can be easily replaced with much smaller words such as “and” or “besides.”
9. Permit/Allow: Many attorneys believe these two words to be interchangeable. While the meanings of “permit” and “allow” are similar, they are not the same. When something is “permitted” it is formally approved. When using the term “allow,” it means the subject is neither approved nor opposed.
10. Witnesseth: This term is often seen in contracts. However, it is unnecessary to use this “variant form of Elizabethan usage.” The best thing to do is to cut out this word, entirely.
If you have any questions on this topic or would like to hear how the latest media, marketing and technology strategies can help grow your law firm, contact Kristine B. Snively at (954) 376-3683. Also serving Central Florida and surrounding areas at (407) 982-1707.