I’ve been tweaking my student legal writing tips again. Comments and suggestions for improvement are always welcomed.
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by Michael Froomkin
Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law
University of Miami School of Law
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Re your style & mechanics tip #6 – Always be specific. Instead of “in recent years” try, “since 1980.” – that’s actually really important because you have no idea when the reader will encounter the work. I mean, you do hope people will still be reading your work 20-50 years hence, right?
Actually, that’s not the reason. Because even “since 1980” will requires a reader to know when the article was written, in that one can’t necessarily count on it still being true, and certainly the author’s representation as to its continuing truth can’t carry forward past publication (e.g. “since 1980 the Supreme Court has never….”).
The reason for my saying it partly to encourage precision in general rather than the natural student (human) tendency to waffle, but mostly to force the student writer to check exactly when it began, rather than settling for a guess or a memory. Lawyers can’t afford that since neither is always right.