Telling numbers

I’m currently reading a book on modern legal drafting (read: ‘plain english for dummies, I mean, lawyers’). It is very good so far, but I think this is a telling stat about lawyers: 127 pages are devoted to why clear, modern english is a good idea. That is 22 pages more than are devoted to how to write clear, modern english.

Modern Legal Drafting
Modern Legal Drafting, by Peter Butt and Richard Castle

This imbalance isn’t as insane as it sounds at first; there are some not-crazy reasons to re-use old language in legal documents, and explaining why they aren’t actually correct is a useful service. Still… given that some of the complaints about legalese cited by the book are over 200 years old, you would think the profession might at least by now realize that much legalese is a bad idea, even if we haven’t yet learned how to get rid of it…

(Favorite sentence from the book: “My client has discussed your proposal to fill the ditch with his partners.“)