Tag Archives: LPL

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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LawProse Lesson #201: “Subpoena” vs. “subpena”

Why do so many federal statutes use the spelling subpena instead of subpoena?      Funny thing. It seems to be the result of an old choice made for the Government Printing Office Style Manual. The earliest copy we have at … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #200: Which is standard: “toward” or “towards”?

Which is standard: toward or towards?       In American English, toward has been the usual form in print sources since about 1900. Many usage authorities since then have expressed a strong preference for toward, without the final -s. … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #199: Persuasive openers.

Persuasive openers.      Almost all poorly written motions and briefs have one thing in common: they get off to a bad start. They have no clear, boldly expressed point. They’re mushy. How to fix that problem? Say on page … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #198: Commas with coordinating conjunctions.

Commas with coordinating conjunctions. Many writers struggle with whether to use a comma in a compound sentence whose clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so). Although some examples may be tricky or complicated, … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #197: Using ellipsis dots with quotations.

Using ellipsis dots with quotations. Lawyers frequently need ellipsis dots because of the abundant quotations in legal writing—quotations that often need trimming. Properly used, ellipses are perfectly respectable and often necessary to avoid both the reproduction of extraneous words (a … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #196: “Notwithstanding”

Notwithstanding. “Notwithstanding is much too ponderous for everyday life. Say in spite of or despite.” — Rudolf Flesch, The ABC of Style 207 (1964). After 50 years, Flesch’s sentiment still holds true for most writing—even most legal writing. There are two main problems … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #195: “Due to” what?

Due to what? Traditionally, due functions as either a noun meaning “something owed” {The players finally gave their coach his due.} or an adjective meaning “adequate” or “appropriate” {due process} {with all due respect}. The phrase due to most traditionally functions as an adjective … Continue reading

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