Thursday, October 6, 2016

#280 / Seven Deadly Sins

I like the song entitled, 7 Deadly Sins, recorded by the Traveling Wilburys, and if you want to read the lyrics click the link. If you want to listen to the song, even better, you can click right here

My posting today is not about the song. It's about another list with seven sins. Specifically, I am reporting today on a very slim volume entitled, The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing, authored by Theodore L. Blumberg, who is associated with a New York City law firm, and who specializes in entertainment law.

Blumberg's book has been published by Owlworks, which has some sort of relationship to the Archangul Foundation, listed as a local business in Altoona, Alabama. The Foundation, and its Owlworks printing operation, seems to be a bit unusual. The picture above, for instance, may (or may not) be associated with Owlworks. That would appear to be so, judging from the place I found it online, but who really knows? And how does it happen that a sophisticated Manhattan attorney ends up publishing a book through a group in Altoona, Alabama? From what I can judge, there is not much "there" there, in Altoona.  The Foundation website is non-functional, at least it was when I was writing this post, and even the spelling of "Archangul" is pretty weird.

I must also say that when I heard about this book (I don't remember where I heard about it, now), I decided to order it, and Amazon said it was out of print, but that private parties would sell me a copy for something like $95. That seemed excessive (for a 34-page book, not counting the exercises), and so I thought I should just try to order it direct. I was able to get Owlworks on the phone, and the Foundation's Administrator, Mary Burton, was so delighted to hear from me that she said they were having a "special promotion," one-day only, and that I was lucky enough to be calling on the special day. Accordingly, instead of having to pay $95 for the book, Ms. Burton sent me a free copy. That was pretty weird, too, but I am glad she did. I am recommending this book! Incidentally, I think it's actually selling for $7.95. That's what it said in the latest bulletin from the Modern Language Association, at least.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing is not only engaging to read, its advice is worthwhile. Those interested in writing better should definitely get themselves a copy. While the book is obviously good medicine for legal writers, it is my belief that anyone who writes anything, in English, would benefit from reading this book. According to the online blurb about Blumberg, The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing is now "used in law schools throughout the United States." That is good news for everyone. Like it or not (and most don't like it), lawyers, and what they do, end up affecting almost everything. With this book, those lawyers can at least make themselves better understood.

Here they are, the seven deadly sins (of legal writing):

  1. Passivity
  2. Abstraction
  3. Adverbiage
  4. Verbosity
  5. Redundancy
  6. Speaking Footnotes
  7. Negativity
Check out a wonderful little publication to read all about them!

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