Jethro K. Lieberman

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The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well

with Tom Goldstein; University of California Press, 3rd paperback edition, 2016, 286pp.; 2nd paperback edition, 2002, 276pp.; 1st paperback ed., 1991, 278pp.
McGraw-Hill, 1989, 274pp., hardcover ed.

From page 1


Most lawyers write poorly.
        That’s not just our lament. Leading lawyers across the country agree. They think modern legal writing is flabby, prolix, obscure, opaque, ungrammatical, dull, boring, redundant, disorganized, gray, dense, unimaginative, impersonal, foggy, infirm, indistinct, stilted, arcane, confused, heavy-handed, jargon- and cliché-ridden, ponderous, weaseling, overblown, pseudointellectual, hyperbolic, misleading, incivil, labored, bloodless, vacuous, evasive, pretention, convoluted, rambling, incoherent, choked, archaic, orotund, and fuzzy.

From the reviewers


"Should be in the office of every lawyer."
William Safire, New York Times Magazine

"Lawyers . . . need writers, or at least a guide like The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well, to help them put together a sentence that the rest of the world can understand."
Washington Post Book World

"This may be the most underappreciated legal-writing text in the country. This gem of a book is snappy, informative, and interlaced with some of the most memorable quotes to be found anywhere."
Scott P. Stolley, The Defense

"This advice is sensible and lucidly given, and what is more, the reason for it is explained, so that even a moderately eager reader need not simply memorize but can remember the principle and apply it where needed."
Jacques Barzun

Selected Works

New
A retort to friends who thought it was time to thin out the bookshelves.
A critique of hypotheticals as a tool for judging the thought of others.
For students studying constitutional law: what it's about, how to learn it, in language easy to grasp.
Political Theory, Government
Resuscitates liberalism as a practical political doctrine.
Writing
On writing clear, readable, and persuasive prose. 3d edition published January 2016
An article on the sins of scholarly writing — and a video to boot.
Constitutional Law
The meaning of the Constitution, and how it has changed over time, on the eve of its bicentennial.
Law and Society
The first book to seek the underlying causes for, and consequences of, America’s growing urge to sue.
A searching look at the moral disarray of the post-Watergate lawyers' code of ethics.
Fiction
Terrorists take over the United Nations and commit a series of atrocities to free their imprisoned soldiers. An Israeli agent to the rescue. Sounds familiar, but this appeared in 1978, before some of the things imagined had ever played out.
Miscellany
Edited anthologies.
Articles in the popular press, pamphlets, and more.