You don’t have to look far to find legalese in legal writing. Just take the standard closings in affidavits and declarations. Here are three variations used in just one jurisdiction.
We can do better. Start by reading Bryan Garner. As Mark Hermann notes, the jury needs to know that you sound like a human being:
Remember: Deposition transcripts are read at trial. I want you to sound like a human being, not an automaton.
—The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, pg. 76.
Why don’t lawyers at least talk like regular people? Here are a few examples.
A Question About Tobacco and Health
Why not just ask if smoking harms children?
An Infidelity Question From President Clinton’s Deposition
I’ll let you fix this one.
And a “Truthiness” Question From President Clinton’s Deposition
How about this: “Did you think he was a liar?”
The Right Way to Ask Questions
Now that we know what not to do, watch Stetson Law Professor Charlie Rose ask questions the right way:
And make sure to check out Professor Rose’s YouTube channel. It’s full of great trial lawyer tips!