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.
In an article in the March 2015 issue of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) journal I discuss and suggest a solution to the long-standing mutual wills problem — that is, how to make a pair of mirror wills ("All to each other and then to the children") proof against a defaulting survivor. A copy of the article should appear here within the next few days, courtesy of STEP; meanwhile a downloadable specimen mutual will with explanatory notes is available under The mutual wills problem.
A note explaining copyholds has been added to the analysis of the 1854 will under Legal style through the ages. A 1970 will, offering a sharp contrast to the 1854 and 2006 wills, should be posted during the first week in March.
I have corrected the menu links to Legal style through the ages and apologise to those who were misrouted.
I have added a new page, Legal style through the ages, under which I have:
The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law, to which I contributed a chapter, now has its own sub-page (accessible from my books and articles as well as from other writers) with new material, including substantial details of the rest of the book and a list of the topics covered in my chapter, The Plain Language Movement.
One of those topics was plain language drafting techniques, which I've slightly amended and given its own main page on this site as writing tips.
Translation tips is another new page, describing how I "translate" from legalese into a dialect as close to standard English as possible.
Some time ago I removed the pages describing my drafting and training services because I wasn't in a position to accept new work. I am now able to take on a limited amount, so have reinstated those pages.
The Quotations page has been indexed and slightly reorganised.
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.
As a curiosity, under the title A 6,000-word sentence, I've 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. There are links to the full text of each document.
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.