March 01, 2015

On the Papers: Important: Avoid Beginning Sentences with “The Court Held That . . .”

Learn why this phrase damages the reader's interpretation process.

George D. Gopen

“The Court held that . . . .” “The plaintiff alleged that . . . .” This construction is littered over the history of legal writing. It does a great deal of damage to the reader’s interpretation process. It usually should be avoided. Lawyers often tell me they have no problem reading such a construction: That they have been doing it all their professional lives. They insist it does not obscure meaning. They are right in one sense only: Having become so habituated to it, they do not perceive the damage it does to them as readers, sentence after sentence. This article explains that damage and how to avoid it.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now