90 ABA Journal Bryan Garner on Words articles.
It’s fascinating to monitor how American courts interpret legal instruments. Do they go by the words, or do they let other considerations influence their decisions? That is to say, are they textualists or nontextualists? Regardless of how you see the merits of that issue, you might try your hand at these problems that American courts have decided since 2017.
Aug 1, 2023 2:10 AM CDT
As I write this column, less than 24 hours after the invention of the phrase chatbot lawyer, I’m fully aware that it will be my call, in conjunction with my staff, on whether the term merits an entry in the next edition of Black’s Law Dictionary. And here I am, in a national magazine for lawyers, actually using the term and thereby potentially helping it along. But I can assure readers that I will assess the matter as objectively as I can.
Jun 1, 2023 1:50 AM CDT
The contender for the distinction is John Rastell (circa 1475–1536), who is commonly credited with having written the first English law dictionary. Yet he might just deserve credit for producing the first dictionary in the English language. Though early editions are undated, the first printing is thought to have appeared in 1523.
Apr 1, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
A great boon to clarity results from rejecting the four traditional dogmas about framing a legal issue.
Feb 1, 2023 2:00 AM CST
Dec 22, 2022 8:34 AM CST
“During my first week of law school in August 1981, we were put through a legal-methods course taught by senior faculty. My small section was led by a respected professor who taught us ‘four essentials’ for stating legal issues,” writes ABA Journal columnist Bryan A. Garner.
Dec 1, 2022 1:50 AM CST
So many things can be characterized positively, rather neutrally and extremely negatively. For word-lovers, inventing examples of trifurcated terminology can be a great parlor game.
Oct 1, 2022 1:50 AM CDT
“Whenever I’m writing, I always try to keep the Reavley principles in mind. Even though Judge Reavley wasn’t much interested in grammar, he taught me more about legal writing than anybody else.”
Aug 1, 2022 1:50 AM CDT
A law office is a kind of publishing house. We issue legal documents to be read sometimes by small audiences, sometimes by large ones. Because we’re a literary profession, we want to get things right.
Jun 1, 2022 2:00 AM CDT
Before this honorable court is the complaint of Marian Short-Dash, who accuses her local newspaper, the Blunderbuss Clarion, of omitting “obligatory hyphens” from phrasal adjectives, thereby impairing her ability to read without annoyance.
Apr 1, 2022 1:10 AM CDT
Readers of this column are familiar with my occasionally interviewing long-dead authors. Today’s interviewee is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley B. Rutledge (1894–1949).
Feb 1, 2022 1:10 AM CST
This year, Bryan Garner gave us tips for using legal dictionaries, a three-part series on how to manage a day’s worth of legal writing, and an ode to a state bar journal that’s championing the use of plain English.
Dec 13, 2021 10:44 AM CST
Many dictionary users don’t realize the extent of the improvements that take place from edition to edition of a dictionary. Perhaps that’s especially true with Black’s Law Dictionary, which has been substantially remade over the past quarter-century.
Dec 1, 2021 1:00 AM CST
The Michigan Bar Journal has just reached a landmark of 37 years in sustaining its monthly column on plain language in the law. Over the years, the column has exploded all the various myths about plain language in the law.
Oct 1, 2021 1:50 AM CDT
Let’s review the situation: You’re an experienced litigator, and it’s your first day of work as assistant attorney general in your state. You’ve just finished the first of three motions that are due today. You’ve written a one-page motion to consolidate two cases in the state supreme court.
Aug 1, 2021 12:40 AM CDT