Plain English in-house course for lawyers

Many lawyers still believe that plain English and the language of the law don’t mix. This is usually because they have misconceptions about what plain English legal drafting means. It doesn’t mean sacrificing legal certainty or precision in the pursuit of clarity. It doesn’t mean banning legal ‘terms of art’ and it isn’t only about getting rid of archaic terms such as ‘hereby’ or ‘aforesaid’.

While our courts seem to be full of lawyers arguing over the interpretation of traditionally drafted documents, none of the documents that we have worked on have ever been challenged in court. It is not easy to draft law texts in plain English and it is not easy to express clearly the language of the law to the general public – but it can be done.

In the past, the push for plain English drafting usually came from the marketing departments of the insurance and financial services industries. They realised that consumers prefer to buy services that they can actually understand. If a company didn’t adopt plain English principles, its competitors would. But today, plain English drafting is needed as much more than just a successful marketing tool – it is a legal necessity. The European ‘unfair terms’ Directive requires that consumer contracts should be written in plain English.

Our legal courses explain the techniques of plain English drafting and how they can be applied to everything from complex law texts to the letters you write to clients.

Everyone from the most junior lawyer to senior partners can benefit from our courses. Most of the legal courses that we run are ‘in-house’ courses run over one or two days. Longer courses can be arranged, especially if you want to work through examples of your own drafting.

Course programme

These timings are likely to vary

  • 9.30 am Introduction to the course
  • 9.45 am The importance of language
  • 10 am Oddities of legal language: Latin, outdated words and special meanings
  • 10.30 am Legalese: unnecessary words and phrases, formality and personality
  • 11 am Coffee break
  • 11.15 am Plain English and its advantages
  • 11.30 am Exclusivity, expertise and expense: reasons for legalese
  • 11.45 am Keeping things as they are: precision and certainty, 'tried and tested in the courts'
  • 12 noon Debunking the myths: the insurance policy, the will, and the client
  • 12.30 pm Lunch
  • 1.45 pm Drafting in plain English
  • 2.15 pm The right style for the audience
  • 2.45 pm Being active about passives
  • 3.15 pm Tea break
  • 3.30 pm Righting some writing wrongs
  • 4.15 pm Putting theory into practice: case studies
  • 5 pm Summary and close

Ordering the in-house course for lawyers as an inhouse course:

If you have any questions about this course, or if you want to make a booking, please phone George on 01663 744409 or email inhousetraining@plainenglish.co.uk.

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