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Legal Usage A Modern Style Guide (eBook)

Legal Usage A Modern Style Guide (eBook)

Butt, P, 2017

Available Formats

Format ISBN Price
eBook 9780409341478 $125.00
Book 9780409341461 $125.00

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Legal Usage A Modern Style Guide is a clear, unambiguous guide to good legal usage. It highlights the techniques that legal writers in the common law tradition need for effective, compelling and readable legal writing. The easy-to-use layout facilitates ready understanding of best practice for legal vocabulary and drafting style. It adopts a plain language approach to legal writing, in line with modern practice.


Format: Paperback

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Legal Usage A Modern Style Guide is a clear and easy-to-use guide to legal writing for common law countries

Style guides abound for general writing; but for legal writing they are rare—especially for British, Australian and other Commonwealth lawyers. This book fills that gap. It highlights the techniques that legal writers in the common law tradition need for effective, compelling and readable legal writing.

Some modern legal writing is fresh, gracious, and enticing; to read it is a delight. But other modern legal writing is stale, turgid, and often unclear; to read it is a chore. This book examines the techniques that distinguish one style from the other. It distils the methods for making modern legal writing powerful and persuasive, while remaining poised, polished, and legally effective.

The book is organised alphabetically by topic, and is cross-referenced to related concepts. The author cites hundreds of usage examples from leading judges in Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Simple plain language alternatives are offered for numerous technical terms and foreign-language phrases, with supporting examples from judgments and texts.



  • Clear and unambiguous explanations
  • Comprehensive coverage of writing techniques
  • Plentiful examples supported by judicial writing
  • Reliable and authoritative
  • Provides confidence in legal writing and drafting
  • Easy to follow and understand



Related Titles

LexisNexis Australian Legal Dictionary, 2nd ed, 2016
Finkelstein & Hamer, LexisNexis Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, 5th ed, 2015
Meehan & Tulloch, LexisNexis Guides: Grammar for Lawyers, 3rd ed, 2013


Peter Butt is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and a prodigious author on land law and legal drafting. He is admitted as a lawyer in Australia, and is an honorary member of the Inner Temple (UK). He is a member of the Commonwealth Association of Legal Counsel (CALC), and was the foundation director of the Centre for Plain Legal Language at the University of Sydney. He is a past President of Clarity, an international organisation encouraging the use of plain language in law. In addition to other books, he co-edited the first edition of Butterworth’s Australian Legal Dictionary, and has edited several editions of the LexisNexis Concise Australian Legal Dictionary.

Table of Contents

Topics include:

  • organising material logically
  • adding impact to sentences
  • being gender-neutral while remaining idiomatic
  • minimising ambiguity
  • using provisos and recitals
  • breaking complex material into digestible chunks
  • paragraphing effectively
  • punctuating properly
  • managing definitions
  • reducing prolixity
  • making headings count
  • using (or avoiding) terms of art and Latin phrases
  • avoiding fussy drafting
  • drafting in generalities
  • avoiding noun-strings and passives
  • testing documents for readability
  • using readability studies
  • using humour in legal writing
  • This innovative and authoritative guide is an essential reference for lawyers, legislative drafters, decision-makers, students, in-house counsel, and anyone charged with preparing effective legal material.

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