Tag Archives: LPL

LawProse Lesson #211: Nouns of multitude.

Nouns of multitude.      Last week, we discussed the distinction between collective nouns and mass nouns and how you treat each in terms of numerical agreement. This week, we’ll address the related concept of nouns of multitude {a number … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #210: Collective vs. Mass Nouns

Collective vs. Mass Nouns.      In last week’s lesson on and/or, one of the examples used this sentence: The team of lawyers, paralegals, and mediators resolved the case quickly for their clients. One reader wrote and asked why the … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #209: Ban “and/or”

Ban and/or. And/or dates from the mid-19th century. Although lawyers and courts have vilified and/or for most of its life, this bit of legalese continues to infest legal writing and create ambiguity. The literal sense of and/or is “both or either,” so that A … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #208: “Graduate,” vb.

Graduate, vb.      Last week, at a performance of The Originalist in Washington, D.C., the stage actor Ed Gero—in a superb portrayal of Justice Antonin Scalia—delivered the small gaffe of having the Justice say “she graduated Harvard College.” After … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #207: Three ways to improve a statement of facts.

Three ways to improve a statement of facts. First, let it progress naturally from beginning to end—almost invariably in chronological order. Just tell the judge your story of the relevant events that gave rise to this legal dispute. Presenting the … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #206: Statutory and Contractual Interpretation.

What important skill is most generally lacking among law-school graduates? Almost certainly this: the ability to develop, hone, and deliver arguments about the interpretation of contracts and statutes. Lawyers often spend months working on text-based cases without realizing that their … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #205: Lay, v.t. vs. lie, v.i.

Lay, v.t. vs. lie, v.i. These two short verbs can cause tall trouble. Let’s lay down some helpful guidelines so we won’t be accused of lying down on the job. Lay means “to put down, place, or arrange.” It’s always transitive—it … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #204: “Lay of the land” or “lie of the land”?

Lay of the land or lie of the land? Literally, the phrase means “the arrangement of an area’s terrain; topography.” Figuratively, it refers to “the facts of a given situation; the current state of affairs.” The phrase is an Americanism dating … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #203: “Lie low” or “lay low”?

Lie low or lay low?      Both phrases could be correct—it depends on the tense you are using. Use lie low in the present tense; lay low in the past tense. Ex.: The celebrity is lying low for a few weeks to avoid news … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #202: Parenthetical plurals.

Should you use “(s)” to indicate that a noun could be either singular or plural? Competent drafters should avoid creating parenthetical plurals and craft better ways to express a thought. A parenthetical plural is formed when an “(s)” is added … Continue reading

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