In a webinar our law firm recently attended, Bryan A. Garner harped on why lawyers cannot write. And while he went in a great many details – which was fascinating – he also cited the Malcolm Gladwell mantra from his work, Outliers, that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. And because we attorneys see 10,000 hours as 5 years of potentially billable time wasted on writing, we shrug it off and go on back to run-on sentences and our contemptuous 10th grade prose.
However, Mr. Garner did provide some helpful hints on some simple changes we, as attorneys, can make to improve our writing. While, we will not share them all, he did specify the following four as part of a daily regimen:
- Write a Letter Everyday
- Read and refer to Writing With Style, by John R. Trimble
- Use A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by H. W. Fowler
- Subscribe to and read The Economist and The New Yorker
Again, we are not going to specify the reasons for Mr. Garner selecting these for a recommended daily regimen. However, we do believe that the selections were interesting in their own right to share with our readers. In addition, to let our readers that we too are always striving to improve our skills as, at its foundation, communicators to and on behalf of our clients and our clients’ positions.
That stated, we are always interested to hear from readers of this blog as to how we could improve as writers here, in Wit of Mandate. So, please feel free to comment on any further tips you may have. And, as always, thank you for reading.