This site is a free public resource for lawyers, legal linguists, and anyone else interested in the language lawyers use.

It concentrates on written rather than spoken language for no better reason than that is my main interest. It continues my 30-year campaign against legalese but is not restricted to the plain language v. legalese debate and will, I hope, promote effective legal writing.

The latest article on the Comment page, Full disclosure, looks at a standard lease clause to examine the relationship between plain language, truth, and frankness, and develops the ideas expressed in an earlier piece, What is plain language (when there's more than one egg on the wall)?, about whether "plain language" is a useful concept.

In July 2013, as a curiosity, under the title A 6,000-word sentence, I posted a brief discussion about the exceptional language and now unfamiliar structure of an 1853 conveyance, comparing it to its 1936 and 2013 equivalents as well as to a 19th century "abstract" of the 1853 version, with links to the full text of each document. I'm now collecting some historic wills with a view to giving them similar (but shorter) treatment.

The short note Severing joint tenancies (in the "Updates" section of Clarity for Lawyers, under My publications) has attracted much more interest than I expected, so I've added my explanation to clients about joint tenancies and tenancies in common, one of the precedents offered at the end of the book, to the extracts downloadable from the Clarity for Lawyers page.

From 23 March 2014 the Quotations page has been indexed and slightly reorganised.

I have recently recoded all the html pages on this site, scraping off the barnacles that have accumulated over the last 16 or 17 years, replacing much of the repetition with a cascading style sheet, changing some content and formatting, and adding a site map. I am deeply indebted to John Hightower for his kindness and patience in sharing the benefit of his web-design experience; without his help I couldn't have done it. If it doesn't look right on your browser, or you notice any other mistakes or problems, I would appreciate it if you would email me.

The dates on the left indicate the most recent addition or improvement to each page. Green dates highlight recent changes.

I welcome ideas, examples (particularly of ambiguities in legal writing), and debate.