Judge gives lawyers editing lessons

In August this year, a US Judge, Steven D. Merryday at the District Court, Tampa Division, Florida, rejected submissions by lawyers that exceeded the page limit, and in his Order even gave them a lesson in editing – to avoid “redundancy, verbosity, and legalism”!

Below is an extract from Merryday’s Order, in which he reduces 125 words to 47:

“Compare this:

Plaintiffs, ZACHARY BELLI, BENJAMIN PETERSON, ERIC KINSLEY, and LARRY JOHNSON, (hereinafter referred to as “Plaintiffs”), individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (“Class members”), by and through the undersigned counsel and pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, (the “FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) files this motion seeking an order [move] (1) [to] conditionally certifying this case as a collective class action; (2) [to] requir[e]ing the Defendant, HEDDEN ENTERPRISES, INC. d/b/a INFINITY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS (hereinafter “Defendant”), to produce and disclose all of the names[,] and last known addresses[,] and telephone numbers of the [each] potential C[c]lass M[m]embers so that notice may be implemented; and (3) [to] authoriz[e]ing notice by U.S. First Class mail to all [of this action to each] similarly situated persons employed by Defendant within the past three (3) years[.] to inform them of the pendency of this suit and to inform them of their right to opt-in to this lawsuit. In support of this Motion, Plaintiffs sets forth the following facts and provides this Court with a Memorandum of Law in support of the Motion, and asserts as follows:

To this:

Plaintiffs move (1) to conditionally certify a collective action; (2) to require the Defendant to produce the name, address, and telephone number of each potential class member; and (3) to authorize notice of this action to each similarly situated person employed by Defendant within three years.”

Judge Merryday even gave them a textbook to refer to:

“Concentrating on the elimination of redundancy, verbosity, and legalism (see, e.g., BRYAN A. GARNER, THE ELEMENTS OF LEGAL STYLE (2d ed. 2002)), the plaintiffs may submit a twenty-five-page motion on or before August 15, 2012.”

The full text of the order can be found here.

You might also be interested in this recent post about powerful writing and Lord Denning’s prose.


Credit: Many thanks to Lynn Harvey, of Carson Park Design, for permission to use the picture above. Her excellent blog Textwrap, focusing on typography, punctuation and graphic design is really worth visiting.

4 thoughts on “Judge gives lawyers editing lessons

  1. Pingback: Most read posts 2012 « From Words to Deeds: translation & the law

  2. Pingback: Most read posts 2013 | From Words to Deeds: translation & the law

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