Readers strongly prefer plain language in public and legal documents, they understand it better than bureaucratic and legalistic style, they find it faster and easier to use, they are more likely to comply with it, and they are much more likely to read it in the first place.
Joe taught legal writing and drafting for more than 30 years at WMU–Cooley Law School. He now provides seminars for legal and business organizations. Joe has lectured throughout the United States and abroad, published many articles on legal writing, and written three books: Lifting the Fog of Legalese; Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please; and Seeing Through Legalese.
Joe is a senior editor of a legal-writing journal and the longtime editor of the “Plain Language” column in the Michigan Bar Journal; a past president of Clarity; a founding director of the Center for Plain Language; and a drafting consultant on all U.S. federal court rules. He has received several national and international awards for my work. For fun, Joe collects blues and rock art.
Drafting a first-rate medical power of attorney—with lessons for all plain-language projects.
In 2018, WMUCooley Law School created the Kimble Center for Legal Drafting. For our first public project, we developed a document that every adult should have—a medical power of attorney. It went through more than 50 drafts, review by the Center’s Board of Advisers, assessment by Write Ltd for its WriteMark Plus designation, and usability testing at Michigan State University. I will describe the process and the lessons learned.
Join this presentation to:
see pieces of drafts that will illustrate choices, changes, constraints, and improvements from reader and user feedback
learn the importance of organization and the headings that go with it
learn the importance of the reader and user feedback;
learn how legal requirements can be dealt with successfully
Two useful resources:
My book Seeing Through Legalese: More Essays on Plain Language
Federal Plain Language Guidelines (available online)