Dysart, Tessa, “I Can [Read] Clearly Now” Legal Writing: A Judge’s Perspective on the Science and Rhetoric of the Written Word (December 31, 2022). 22 J. App. Prac. & Proc. 157 (2022) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4414268
“Audience. Comprehension. Recall. Those three words sum up Judge Robert E. Bacharach’s recent book, Legal Writing: A Judge’s Perspective on the Science and Rhetoric of the Written Word. Published in 2020 by the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Judge Bacharach’s book looks at how readers are “affected by others’ language.” And while the book does offer substantive tips on sections of legal documents—such as introductions, point headings, conclusions, and fact sections—the meat of the book concerns word choice, sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation…While other books on legal writing have looked to. jurists, advocates, and politicians for examples, Judge Bacharach adds a twist—he supplements these examples with research from psycholinguists. For those unfamiliar with psycholinguistics, it involves the study of “language use and the cognitive processes that accompany it.” As Judge Bacharach explains, psycholinguistics can help us understand “[w]hy . . . certain word combinations command our attention” and “[h]ow . . .word choice, punctuation, and the layout of a page affect the pace of our reading.” For those who want their audience to understand and remember what they write, these are important questions to answer. We might reflexively know why a piece of writing sticks with us but understanding the science behind that feeling can help our writing improve. Although only 158 pages long, Judge Bacharach’s book is replete with insights into effective writing. As I dug into the book, I kept returning to the notions of audience, comprehension, and recall. This review centers on those three concepts.”
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