Well, are you?
Smarter than a fifth grader?
And if you insist that you are, is that a good thing?
I spend a good portion of every day taking lousy writing and changing it into something better, sometimes even persuasive.
(To be fair, some of that lousy text is my own, but let us just pretend that all the lousiness comes from outside my office.)
So what do I do all day long? How do you make lousy writing better?
Mostly, I just make complex and fancy writing much, much simpler. There is nothing more unreadable than a lawyer trying to sound smart.
Instead of showing off all that professional training:
- Use short sentences.
- Use characters as subjects.
- Stick the characters right next to an action verb.
- Use short, plain words.
- Pick one subject for each paragraph and stick to it.
So what's the big deal? The big deal is we don't do it.
Try this: write one paragraph explaining to a client how a trial works. Or look at the summary of the argument for that draft brief.
How long is the paragraph? How big are the words? How long is each sentence? How much jargon did you use? Give it to your fifth grader. Can they understand it?
Yeah, that's what I thought. You're smarter than a Fifth Grader. We all are in the first draft. And it is not a good thing.
Call it law school poisoning.