Thomas M Cooley Law School, Michigan.
- We write legal documents in plain language without oversimplifying or sacrificing precision
- We conduct usability tests of plain-language contracts and forms
- We hold plain-language training workshops for your legal team
Traditional legal language is often imprecise, uncertain and inaccurate. Plain language is clear, straightforward and precise.
Lawyers have a bad reputation for writing poorly. Long-winded, stuffy and pompous writing pervades the profession – in letters to clients, in contracts and forms, and in opinions and judgments. Lawyers could improve their reputations by improving their writing.
Many industries are required to produce consumer documents, including legal contracts, in language that consumers understand.
Consumer protection laws and regulations support plain language. Examples in South Africa include FAIS (Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act), the Long-term Insurance Act, the Short-term Insurance Act, Policyholder Protection Rules and the Code of Banking Practice.
The recent National Credit Act even includes a definition of plain language.
Most clients do not understand ‘legalese’ - and do not have the time to wade through complex legal documents. Increasingly, they are demanding legal documents that are clear and understandable. Plain language empowers your clients to understand the service they are getting and builds their trust.
Plain language legal documents reduce the potential for confusion. A clearly written legal document will not provoke costly litigation over its meaning. Plain language can also cut the number of call centre queries.