Texas Law graduate Lou Sirico wins legal-writing award

I’m pleased to announce that Professor Louis Sirico of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law is the 2016 winner of the Burton Award for outstanding contributions to legal-writing education.

Professor Sirico is a long-time and staunch supporter of legal-writing education and of legal-writing teachers and is admired for his work in the field.

He is also, by the way, a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law. Well done, Lou!

Tips for Concision 8: Edit for Wordiness

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_Small

Wordiness would cover most of the concision techniques discussed in this series, such as omit needless details, deflate compound prepositions, and remove redundancy, but now let’s focus on commonly used phrases you can almost always shorten:

  • prior to becomes before
  • subsequent to becomes after
  • adjacent to becomes next to

Want more?

  • a number of becomes many
  • at the present time becomes now
  • at such time as becomes when
  • despite the fact that becomes although
  • during such time as becomes while
  • for the purpose of becomes to
  • in excess of becomes more than or over
  • in the event that becomes if
  • notwithstanding the fact that becomes although
  • on a daily [monthly, yearly] basis becomes daily [monthly, yearly]

To achieve concision, edit for wordiness—and then reduce big words while you’re at it:

  • adequate number of becomes sufficient

then–

  • sufficient becomes enough

It’s okay to split; in fact, it’s often better.

There is no rule against splitting infinitives, and writing authorities have said so for decades. But the myth and the practice persist. The authors of the next three sentences believe you cannot place an adverb between to and the verb in an infinitive. But would you write these sentences?

Electronic filing makes it easier for courts to locate instantly and focus on relevant portions of documents.

  • “to locate instantly and focus”? Confusing.

The resulting hyperlinked brief allows the judge reviewing it on a desktop computer or a mobile device to access quickly identified portions of the record.

  • “to access quickly identified portions . . .” Miscue.

Modern computer screens fail to recreate adequately certain tactile experiences.

  • “to recreate adequately” Awkward.

Don’t write this way. I wouldn’t. And I probably would have spelled it re-create.