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Plain-English Subcommittee

The subcommittee produces the monthly Plain Language column in the Michigan Bar Journal. The column is the longest-running legal-writing column in any journal.

Chronological Index of Columns

Month/Year Author and Title (Note: all columns are PDF files.)
September '14 Strylowski—Using Tables to Present Complex Ideas
August '14 Cooney—A Letter to Mrs. Finklebean
July '14 Kimble—Another Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence
June '14 Burlingame—On Beginning a Court Paper
May '14 Hughes—A Standard Motion Revised
March '14 Kimble and Prokop Jr.—Strike Three for Legalese
February '14 Edgerton—After Seven Centuries, the True Meaning of SS
January '14 Kimble—30 Years and Counting
December '13 Cooney—Snap, Crackle, Pop
November '13 Kimble—You Think the Law Requires Legalese?
October '13 Thelen—Strategies to Improve Your Writing: A Few Reminders
September '13 Ammon—Indemnification: Banish the Word!—And Rebuild Your Indemnity Clause from Scratch
August '13 Kimble—You Think Anybody Likes Legalese?
July '13 Kimble—Wrong—Again—About Plain Language
May '13 Kimble—How to Dominate Your Reader—and Make Stewie Griffin Proud
March '13 Salzwedel—Face It—Bad Legal Writing Wastes Money
February '13 Strylowski—Using Tables to Present Complex Ideas
January '13 Merryday—A Federal Judge Takes On Legalese
December '12 Cooney—A Legal-Writing Carol
November '12 Cooney—Emergency!
October '12 Kimble—Tips for Better Writing in Law Reviews (and Other Journals)
September '12 Trudeau—Achieving Clarity: Eight Data-Driven Tips for Legal Communication
August '12 Kimble—An Excerpt from Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please
July '12 Cooney—Acronymonious
June '12 Cooney—Plain Isn't Plain
May '12 Cheek—The Plain Regulations Act, HR 3786
March '12 Garner—Finding Good Writing Mentors
February '12 Garner—The 20 Most Common Sentence-Level Faults Among Legal Writers
January '12 Garner—Start a Drive to Boost Your Vocabulary
December '11 Cooney—A Legal-Writing Carol
November '11 Myers—Clearing Up Ambiguity from a Series Modifier
October '11 Cheek—The Plain Writing Act of 2010: Getting Democracy to Work for You
September '11 Flammer—Writing to Persuade Judges
August '11 Balmford—Lawyers, about-face: as plain as you like
July '11 Ammon—Ambiguous Drafting and the 12-Pound Cat
June '11 Cooney—The Mismatch
May '11 Cooney—Are You a Hyphen-Happy Lawyer?
March '11 Stockmeyer—Meet Scribes—A Society That Promotes Legal-Writing Excellence
February '11 Siegel—The Politics and Power of Plain Language
January '11 Kimble—Please Vote on Two Versions of Our Lawyer's Oath
December '10 Kimble—The Best Test of a New Lawyer's Writing
November '10 Schiess—The Texas Pattern Jury Charges—A Plain-Language Project: The Writing Consultant's View
October '10 Painter—Writing Smaller
September '10 Schiess—E-Mail Like a Lawyer
August '10 Cooney—To Mrs. Finklebean: The Truth About Conjunctions as Sentence-Starters
July '10 Kimble—Where Should the Citations Go?
June '10 Eagleson—Ensnaring Perceptions on Communication—Underlying Obstacles to Lawyers' Writing Plainly
May '10 Kimble—Please Vote on Two Citation Formats
March '10 Garner—Pay Attention to the Aesthetics of Your Pages
February '10 Garner—Cultivate the Right Demeanor for Effective Legal Writing
January '10 Garner—Set the Right Hedonic Tone to Keep Readers' Interest
December '09 Garner—Telling the Good from the Bad
November '09 Kimble—One Last Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence
October '09 Kimble—Still Another Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence
September '09 Kimble—Another Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence
August '09 Kimble—A Drafting Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence
June '09 Abrams—Plain-English Drafting for the Age of Statutes
May '09 Cooney—The Extra-Stuff Rule
March '09 Pratt—Questioning Questions Presented
February '09 Cooney—The Runaway Verdict
January '09 Stockmeyer—Using Microsoft Word's Readability Program
November '08 Oettle—Give a Quotation a Good Introduction
October '08 Oettle—Carefully Craft Your Sets and Subsets
September '08 Oettle—Transition by Repetition: Take One Step Back to Go Two Steps Forward
August '08 Oettle—Eschew Exaggerations, Disparagements, and Other Intensifiers
June '08 Oettle—Don't Give Your Adversaries Free Airtime
May '08 Oettle—Choose an Approach That Will Appeal to the Court's Conscience
March '08 Kimble—Cleaning Up a Release
February '08 Kimble—Littering with Legalese, or Get a Load of This Release
January '08 Cooney—Conversation with a Brief
December '07 Kimble—Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 5)
November '07 Kimble—Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 4)
October '07 Kimble—Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 3)
September '07 Kimble—Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 2)
August '07 Kimble—Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 1)
July '07 Wren—E-Prime, Briefly: A Lawyer Writes in E-Prime
June '07 Cooney and Clement—Do You Know Your Reader?
May '07 Strylowski—Rewriting a Short Rule: Step by Step
March '07 Kimble—To the Trashcan with And/Or
February '07 Kimble—Hunting Down Nouners
January '07 Bales—Cultured Writing
December '06 Cooney—Stringing Readers Along
November '06 Garner—Learning to Loathe Legalese
October '06 Garner—Writers Can Learn to Relax by Not Worrying About Some Supposed "Rules"
September '06 Garner—A Message to Law Students: Effective Writing Takes a Lifelong Commitment
August '06 Garner—Ten Tips for Writing at Your Law Firm
July '06 Garner—Seeking the Highest Level of Writing Competence
June '06 Kimble—Testifying to Plain Language
May '06 Cooney—Just Sue 'Em
March '06 Kimble—The Straight Skinny on Better Judicial Opinions
February '06 Cooney—A Verb's Lament
December '05 Cooney—The Dating Game
November '05 Dembart—Style Guidelines for a Set of Local Rules
October '05 Kimble—Guiding Principles for Restyling the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 2)
September '05 Kimble—Guiding Principles for Restyling the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 1)
August '05 Frost—Plain Language in Transition
July '05 Larsen—In-House Editor
June '05 Cooney—Stay Active! (Part 2)
May '05 Cooney—Stay Active! (Part 1)
February '05 Garner—Judges on Effective Writing: The Importance of Plain Language
January '05 Kimble—You Be the Judge (Again)
December '04 Kimble—You Be the Judge
November '04 Goldman and Kimble—Point-Counterpoint
October '04 Kimble—Never Mind In Witness Whereof
September '04 Kimble—Nuts to Further Affiant Sayeth Naught
July '04 Kimble—Down with Provided That
June '04 Kimble—A Pox on Prior To
May '04 Beery—It Is What It Is
March '04 Wilkins—The ALWD Citation Manual Grows Up: A Guide to the Second Edition
February '04 Schiess—Writing to the Trial Judge: Part Two—For affidavits
January '04 Schiess—Writing to the Trial Judge: Part One—For Motions
November '03 Burlingame—On Beginning a Court Paper
October '03 Garner—On Beginning Sentences with But
August '03 Stolley—Pesky Words
July '03 Beery—Some Particularly Useless Words
June '03 Younger—A Good Example and a Bad
May '03 Younger—Skimming the Fat Off Your Writing
March '03 Younger—Symptoms of Bad Writing
January '03 Mathewson—Law Students, Beware
December '02 LeClercq—Examining Other Professional Prose
November '02 Kimble—In Terms of in terms of
October '02 Kimble—The Elements of Plain Language
August '02 Adams—The New New Rules of Drafting (Part Two)
July '02 Adams—The New New Rules of Drafting (Part One)
June '02 Schiess—Writing for Your Audience: The Client
February '02 Israel—Looking at the Numbers
January '02 Stockmeyer—Beloved Are the Storytellers
December '01 Haggard—Plain Language—Definitions
November '01 Haggard—The Ambiguous And and Or
October '01 Haggard—Good Writing as a Professional Responsibility
September '01 Kimble—Plain Language—Plain Words (Part 2)
August '01 Kimble—Plain Language—Plain Words (Part 1)
July '01 Kimble—The Best Test of a New Lawyer's Writing
June '01 Schiess—When Your Boss Wants It the Old Way
May '01 Doherty—The Headless Snake of Law-Firm Editing
March '01 Benjamin—Attorneys: Cause or Cure?
February '01 Miller—Welcome to the Real World—From Law School to Bureaucracy
January '01 Bingler—Now Comes the Unbending Boss
December '00 Bresler—Pursuant to Partners' Directive, I Learned to Obfuscate
November '00 Kimble—A Modest Wish List for Legal Writing
October '00 Knowlton & Hammond—Book Promotes Use of Plain Language in Insurance Contracts
September '00 Odorizzi—Incentives and Recent Developments in the Federal Government
August '00 Lysaght & Tonner—Bye Bye Bluebook
July '00 Rohe—The Arrows in Our Quiver
May '00 Hathaway—Clarity Awards for Spring 2000
February '00 Daly—The Return of the "Contract Clause From Hell"
January '00 Plain English Theme Issue
December '99 Kimble—The Route to Clear Jury Instructions
November '99 Kimble—How to Write an Impeachment Order
October '99 Daly—Taming the Contract Clause from Hell: A Case Study
September '99 Hathaway—Clarity Awards for Fall 1999
August '99 Daly—Why Bother to Write Contracts in Plain English?
July '99 Hathaway—Plain Language in Lawsuit Papers
June '99 Hathaway—Plain Language in Laws
May '99 Daly—Five Easy Ways to Make a Contract More Understandable
March '99 Hathaway—The Eighth Annual (1999) Clarity Awards
February '99 Daly—Top 10 Phrases Not to Use in a Contract
January '99 Hathaway—A Plain English Lawyer's Oath (Part 2)
December '98 Schmucker—John W. Davis-An Early Advocate of Plain English
November '98 Hathaway—Plain English in Contract Recitals and Boilerplate
October '98 Hathaway—Plain English in Home Equity Agreements
September '98 Hathaway—Plain English in Car Loans
July '98 Hathaway—Plain Language in Lawsuit Papers in 1998
June '98 Hathaway—Plain English in Resolutions
May '98 Hathaway—A Plain English Lawyer's Oath
March '98 Hathaway—The Seventh Annual (1998) Clarity Awards
February '98 Hathaway—Examples of Clarity v Legalese in Laws
January '98 Hathaway—Legal Documents and Clarity Awards
December '97 Hathaway—Plain English SubCommittee on Estate Planning
November '97 Hathaway—Plain English SubCommittee on Real Estate
October '97 Hathaway—Plain English SubCommittee on Contracts
September '97 Hathaway—Plain English SubCommittee on Lawsuits
August '97 Kimble—Don't Stop Now: An Open Letter to the SEC
July '97 Hathaway—Plain English SubCommittee on Laws
May '97 Hathaway—The Sixth Annual (1997) Clarity Awards
March '97 Hathaway—Michigan Judges Practice Plain English
February '97 Hathaway—Plain English in Department of Interior Rules
January '97 Hathaway—Review of Michigan Causes of Action Formbook
December '96 Hathaway & Gibson—The Word from the Securities and Exchange Commission: Put It in Plain English
November '96 Hathaway—The Clarity Awards (After Five Years)
October '96 Kimble—Notes Toward Better Legal Writing
September '96 Hathaway—Promoting Plain English in Laws, Lawsuits, and Contracts
August '96 Hughes—A Standard Motion Revised
July '96 Hathaway—Plain English in the Twenty Types of Legal Documents
June '96 Watkinson—Canadian Bank Takes Plain-Language Approach with VISA Cards
May '96 The Fifth Annual (1996) Clarity Awards
March '96 Hathaway—Jury Instructions
February '96 Hathaway, Beasley, & Elden—Request for Hearing on a Motion
January '96 McIntyre—Plain Language for the Legal Assistant—Enclosure Letters
December '95 Hathaway—Motor Vehicle Leases
November '95 Hathaway, Ciaramitaro, Bullard, & Willard—Affidavits
October '95 An Excerpt from the Indispensable Book: Garner's Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage
September '95 Hathaway, Bullard, & Willard—Executive Orders
July '95 Hathaway & Willard—Resolutions
June '95 Good—The "Writer-in-Residence": A New Solution to an Old Problem
May '95 The Fourth Annual (1995) Clarity Awards
March '95 Legalese List for Lawsuits
February '95 Legalese List for Laws
January '95 Hathaway—A Summary of Our Review of Legal Writing
December '94 Duckworth and Balmford—Convincing Business That Clarity Pays
November '94 White—MacGregor Cuts a Mortgage Down To Size
October '94 Plain English in Wills and Trusts
September '94 Plain English in Consumer Finance and Other Contracts
August '94 Mowat—Buddhists, Running, and Plain Language in Calgary (Part 2)
July '94 Mowat—Buddhists, Running, and Plain Language in Calgary (Part 1)
June '94 An Open Request to State Bar Section Councils
May '94 Clarity Awards for 1994 and Summary of Real Estate and Insurance Papers
March '94 Garner—Judges on Effective Writing: Importance of Plain Language
February '94 Hathaway and Marroso—Plain English in Insurance Papers
January '94 Plain Language Columns in Michigan Bar Journal
December '93 Hathaway—Plain English in Real Estate Papers
November '93 Larsen—In-House Editor
October '93 Plain English Committee—Summary of Laws, Rules, and Lawsuit Papers (Pt2)
September '93 Plain English Committee—Summary of Laws, Rules, and Lawsuit Papers (Pt1)
August '93 Butt—Plain Language "Down Under"—Throwing Legalese on the Barbie
July '93 Plain English Committee—Clarity Awards for 1993
June '93 Hathaway—Plain English in Laws and Rules
March '93 Hathaway—Plain English in Lawsuit Papers
February '93 Clyde—Keeping It Simple: A Law Firm Marketing Opportunity
January '93 Plain Committee—Plain English Committee Agenda for 1992-1993
December '92 Kimble—Plain English: A Charter for Clear Writing (Part 3)
November '92 Kimble—Plain English: A Charter for Clear Writing (Part 2)
October '92 Kimble—Plain English: A Charter for Clear Writing (Part 1)
September '92 Hathaway—A Review of Mellinkoff's Dictionary of American Legal Usage
August '92 Barry—Constructing a Narrative in Courtroom Testimony
July '92 Miller—Odd Way We Instruct Jurors To Decide Civil Cases
June '92 Results of the Search for Legalese "Required by Statute," & Conclusion of 3 Searches
May '92 Plain English Committee—The "Clarity" Award
March '92 Weisberg—An Excerpt from When Lawyers Write
February '92 Williams—Excerpt from Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (Part 2)
January '92 Williams—Excerpt from Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (Part 1)
December '91 Hathaway—Plain English in Residential Real-Estate Listing Contracts
November '91 McIntyre—Plain English in Bankruptcy-Fee Orders
October '91 Elder—"Any and All": To Use Or Not To Use?
September '91 Garner—From The Elements of Legal Style: Rooting Out Sexism
August '91 Sharp—Do You Please the Court? (Part 2)
July '91 Sharp—Do You Please the Court? (Part 1)
June '91 Elliott—A Global Perspective
March '91 Hathaway—Plain English Acknowledgment Forms
February '91 Wing—Good Grief! The Court Needs a Brief (Part 2)
January '91 Wing—Good Grief! The Court Needs a Brief (And Where do I begin?)
December '90 Hathaway—The Search for Legalese "Required by Statute"
November '90 Child—The Art of Legal Drafting
October '90 Garner—Excerpts from a Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage
September '90 Mathewson—In-House Editors: Letting the Experts Do It
August '90 Stark—Power Pleading-Complain, Don't Whimper
July '90 Hathaway—A Plain English Movement in Medicine
June '90 Hathaway—The Search for Legalese "Required by Case Precedent"
May '90 Kimble—Strike Three for Legalese
March '90 Walsh—Letter-Size Paper vs. Legal-Size Paper
February '90 Hodess—Plain English in Title Insurance Policies
January '90 Kilgore—Plain Language in Apartment Leases
December '89 Hathaway—Results of the "Too Complex for Plain English" Search
November '89 Spodarek—Software Programs for Legal Writers
October '89 Good—Plain English in Consumer Credit Contracts
September '89 Martin—Plain English in Michigan Bankers Association Forms
July '89 Christie—Getting Normal: The Move to Letter-Size Paper
June '89 Hathaway—The Search for the Sentence "Too Complex for Plain English"
March '89 Benson—Plain English Comes to Court
February '89 Wing—Where's the Verb
January '89 Child—Stipulative Definitions: A Useful Drafting Tool
December '88 Kimble—Why We Need A Plain English Law
October '88 Morris—Mind Your Speech a Little...
September '88 Haggerty—Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Move To Simplify
August '88 Garner—Finding the Right Words
July '88 Bruno—Whither Whereas—The Legal Implications of Recitals
June '88 Younger—In Praise of Simplicity
March '88 Rivinus—"Esquire" Does Not Mean Lawyer
February '88 Davis—New Form for Certification of Supreme Court Orders
January '88 Cumming—Estate Planning Documents Clients Can Understand
November '87 Haggerty—Excessive, Turgid, and Redundant Tautology
October '87 Harrington—Survey: Plain English Wins Every Which Way
September '87 Kimble—Protecting Your Writing From Law Practice
August '87 Haggerty—Of Bards, Beguilers, and Barristers: Mis. & Incor. Words & Phrases in Legal Writing
July '87 Edgerton—Let's Bring Legalese Lovers Out of the Closet
June '87 Conley—Michigan Court Forms: A Topical Index
May '87 Clarke—Project ELF
March '87 Edgerton—In Disgust of Legalese
February '87 Ryan—Michigan Court Forms: The Divorce Package
January '87 Righter—In Defense of Legalese
December '86 Hathaway—Michigan Court Forms for Service and Proof of Service
November '86 Edgerton—The Ten Commandments of How To Not Write in Plain English
October '86 Gluckman—Plain English in Amateur Sporting Activity "Waivers"
September '86 Edgerton—There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere
August '86 Plain English in Michigan Insurance Policies
July '86 Edgerton—Once Each Time Is Not Enough
June '86 Kimble—Protecting Your Writing From Law School
May '86 Edgerton—Plain English Means Never Having To Say Hereby
March '86 Edgerton—Warning--Legal Size Paper May Transmit AILS
February '86 Kasischke—Business Agreements in Letter Form
January '86 Edgerton—After Seven Centuries, the True Meaning of SS
December '85 Vlasic—Plain English in Personal Property Leasing
November '85 Hathaway—The Plain English Movement in the Law
October '85 Barr—Legalese and the Myth of Case Precedent
July '85 Dickerson—Readability Formulas and Specifications for a "Plain English" Statute
June '85 Dickerson—Plain English Statutes and Readability
May '85 Meitin—Simplification of Commercial Contracts in the Property/Casualty Insurance Industry
March '85 Weihofen—For Emphasis, Emphasize Verbs
February '85 Freeman—Plain English in Environmental Law
January '85 Harwood—Plain English in Real Property Law
November '84 Aslanian-Bedikian—Clear Expression in Labor Arbitration
October '84 Gale—Corporate Plain English
September '84 Bienenfeld—Plain English in Administrative Law
August '84 Harbour—Plain English in Workers' Compensation
July '84 Joslyn—Use of Plain English in Drafting Wills and Trusts
May '84 Ulrich—Plain English in Judicial Administration
     
 

 

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