Growing Up Linguistically

Vol. 42 No. 7


Bryan A. Garner is the author of many books on legal writing, including Legal Writing in Plain English (2d ed. 2013) and Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage (2011). Since 1994, he has been editor in chief of all editions of Black’s Law Dictionary . His newest book is Quack This Way: David Foster Wallace and Bryan A. Garner Talk Language and Writing (2013).

A senior lawyer encounters a junior colleague in the law library and asks how the morning’s hearing came out. “The judge came down hard on us. He was like, ‘The doctrine of primary jurisdiction applies only in administrative-law cases.’ And I was like, ‘No, Your Honor, it can have broader application.’ And he was all, ‘Show me some cases.’

“Anyways, I’m like researching the caselaw, you know, and like, the stuff I’m coming up with is huge for our side—totally awesome. I’m thinking I’ll finish my brief, like, tonight. I’ll show the dude his cases for sure.”

How much, like, confidence do you, like, suppose the senior lawyer will have in the junior colleague’s abilities? And if the senior lawyer feels doubtful about, you know, the junior’s, like, abilities, is that unfair? Is it wrong to conclude that the work product is unlikely to be totally awesome?

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