Urban A. Lavery, in his essay “The Language of The Law” deals with the defects especially in legal writing and the lack of proper methodologies for lawyers to refer to, if they find any difficulties in legal language.
The ability of the lawyer to confuse others has been the subject of proverbs (कहावत). In spite of that, the author says that it is not the purpose of this paper to praise the linguistic brilliance of the lawyer, but to consider some of his defects.
The author throws light on the general decline in the standards of legal writing. A lawyer who speaks the King’s English better than others seems to lose his mastery when it comes to writing. It is a difficult task to teach others the art of writing. There are books on writing subjects like poetry, prose, scientific English, but none on writing Legal English. Laws are so abundant and common that they must be understood and obeyed by all sections of the people. Ignorance of law excuses no man.
Therefore, laws must be drafted in such a way that the language is simple and easily understandable to laymen as well as lawyers. The sentence is the basic unit of expression. As a general rule sentences should be short because short sentences are more quickly and easily understood than long sentences. A sentence containing not more than fifteen words is called a short sentence.
Urban A. Lavery mention that it is sad to note that lawyers seldom(rarely) look into grammar or composition books. They do not consider the use of proper adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, etc., and the author even criticizes Jeremy Bentham the greatest law reformer in England whose later writings are difficult to read.
Another chief defect in the writing of lawyers is that they use circumlocution rather than straight blunt speech. They prefer to go round a subject with their words rather than straight to it. Considering the complexities of the subject, it may be admitted that the lawyer’s problem in writing is a difficult one. But the fact remains that they did not give due attention to the art of writing.
Urban A. Lavery also says what is well spoken may not look nice when put into writing. It is just the difference between oral and written words which makes that dictated brief horrible. Such a document fails to realize the technique which lies in the art of writing legal English. It is a technique which can be acquired by persistent effort and it does not come with the profession as many lawyers think.