Short Takes On The News: Legal Writing is Dull, Tuition War, and Academic Library Stats

If readers haven’t seen the essay on legal writing by Bryan A. Garner published in the February issue of the ABA Journal, here’s a link to it on the Journal’s web site.  It’s hard to argue with the essay that begins with these words:

Legal writing is notoriously dull, slow, cumbersome, obtuse, roundabout and pedantic. There are many reasons: (1) unnecessary jargon, (2) overreliance on abstract nouns, (3) overlong sentences, (4) overlong paragraphs, and (5) the failure to differentiate between useful and useless details.

One of the main arguments is to place citation in footnotes rather than in the text.  The result will be a clearer writing style that communicates appreciably better.  Naturally, there is pushback in the comments.  I have to admit that reading cases, memoranda, and other legal documents when I was in law school pretty much killed most any desire on my part to read long form.  Putting it another way, I don’t read for fun at this point.  I suspect I’m not alone, which may explain why cat videos are so popular on the Internet.  I still have dreams featuring never-ending Civil Procedure I lecture where I’m trying to fathom in rem and in personam jurisdiction.

In other news, the Kansas City Star reports on the tuition war going on between the UMKC School of Law and the University Of Kansas School Of Law.  The border position of both schools between Missouri and Kansas offer options for in-state tuition rates for potential students from either state.  Yes, it’s come to this.  While we’re at it, here is the latest application statistics from the LSAC:

As of 2/7/14, there are 227,912 fall 2014 applications submitted by 32,532 applicants. Applicants are down 11.1% and applications are down 12.2% from 2013.

Last year at this time, we had 62% of the preliminary final applicant count.

Last year at this time, we had 67% of the preliminary final application count.

Not good.

Finally, the National Center for Education Statistics released its annual report on academic libraries called Academic Libraries: 2012 First LookInside Higher Ed has short commentary on the report.  – Mark

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