Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kondo-izing legal writing?

What do you get if you cross declutterer Marie Kondo with the Bluebook? You get Jack Metzler's short and smart paper, Cleaning Up Quotations, proposing a rule to make quotations more readable in legal writing.

Image result for marie kondoLawyers use a lot of quotations in their writing. And judges are lawyers who are just as enamored with quotations in their writing as the rest of us. So it often turns out that the best quotation for a proposition is one in which a judge has quoted some other authority. The Bluebook dictates how to cite the original source of quoted material, how to indicate that the quotation contains a quotation, and how to show any alterations to the immediate source or the original source. Given the ubiquity of quotations in legal writing, these rules often mean that good quotes quickly acquire a significant amount of citation baggage that makes it difficult to use them without significantly distracting from the author's point or increasing the author's work for little substantive gain. The paper proposes that legal writers discard all that baggage and adopt a new parenthetical, "(cleaned up)," to tell readers that they have removed extraneous material for readability and guarantee that nothing removed was important.