Sunday, August 11, 2013

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (19): Avoid dummy subjects and unnecessary preambles

[1] Avoid dummy subjects or expletive constructions such as

  • It is ...
  • It appears ...
  • There is ...
  • There are ...
  • It will be ...
Examples from “A Handbook for Writers In the U.S. Federal Government”:

Dummy or false subjects Plain Language revision
It is argued in the report that it is essential to simplify the tax code. The report argues that simplifying the tax code is essential.
There was no consideration given to the suggestion by the committee. The committee failed to consider the suggestion.
It is her opinion that there are several issues that need to be resolved. She believes that several issues need to be resolved.

[2] Avoid unnecessary preambles or pompous phrases such as
  • It is important to add that...
  • It may be recalled that...
  • In this regard it is of significance that...
  • It is interesting to note that...
  • I would like to point out ...
  • I would argue that ...
  • It should be noted that ...
  • It has been determined that ...
  • It is obvious that ...
References: “Legal Writing 201” by Judge Mark P. Painter and “How to Write Good Legal Stuff” by Eugene Volokh (UCLA Law School) and J. Alexander Tanford (Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington)

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