This is a real win for human factors!!! Apparently, the Supreme Court got sick of complex, jargon-filled writing that was being delivered in most of the briefs they were getting from attorneys and ordered the attorneys to stop.
The discussion that followed is equally informative.
- In the case that prompted the order, a patent attorney let the client write the petition who was a German business executive with limited English skills (oops).
- It prompted conversation about why lawyers write in such dense, turgid prose in the first place.
- Some lawyers responded that they felt they had to write this way or their boss/client would find it weak. Or not worth the high fees being charged to write it.
Whether we see any changes in the writing of complex legal documents (credit card agreements, estate documents, software license agreements, etc) remains to be seen. The guidelines have been out there for years (including my chapter on the subject in The Handbook of Warnings).
Do you think there is hope?
Image Credit: Jacob Windham