Legal editing services

Plain English legal writing services and legal editing services give the reader the best chance of understanding your contract, policy document, precedent, letter or other legal document on the first reading, and in the way that you want them to. Legal language that speaks more directly to people is more effective and makes its owner appear more approachable, friendly and as ’one of us‘. After all, lawyers are also in the business of communication. Here are some examples of how plain English can offer more with less.

Before

The insured person may cancel the policy by giving the Company written notice of cancellation. The serving of the notice is sufficient notice and the effective date of cancellation in the notice will be the end of the policy term.

 After

To cancel your policy, simply write to the Company outlining when you want it cancelled.

 And another …

Before

Once your patent, trademark or design is registered here in Australia, you will be able to use that patent, trademark or design to the exclusion of all others in Australia.

After

Once your patent, trademark or design is registered in Australia no one else in Australia can use it.

And one more …

Before

If you need advice or representation on such other potential claims or legal matters now or during the course of the claim you should discuss this with your Lawyer. Your lawyer will then inform you whether our firm will offer to represent you in the other potential claim or legal matter. If our firm does offer to represent you, you will be provided with a separate agreement applying to that claim or legal matter.

After

If you need advice or representation on other potential claims or legal matters, now or during the course of the claim, and we agree to represent you, we’ll draw up a separate agreement to cover this.

As the above examples show, your legal-ese can be turned into plain English without losing its meaning or authority.

Plain English legal writing services and legal editing services aren’t offered for some rarefied aesthetic purpose. They aim to reach the ultimate goal of clarity — of people being able to find, understand, and use the law effectively. Bringing plain English to the law also makes sense to your bottom line by saving your firm/bank/insurance company time and money, not to mention the waste and suffering endured by clients and customers from misinterpretations or misunderstandings.

Let’s leave the last word to Henry Alford — English churchman, theologian, textual critic, scholar, poet and writer from 150 years ago.

Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straightforwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you think. Be what you say; and, within the rules of prudence, say what you are.