Management Assistance Program

Active Voice v Passive Voice — A Ten Minute Drill to Improve Your Legal Writing (August 25, 2020)

It’s back to law school time. So today’s tip to improve your legal writing is courtesy of Prof. Margaret C. Hannon, Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. @mch_tweets

Using active words and phrases will result in more powerful, more understandable and often more concise writing, whether in a brief or an email. But there’s something about the law that often encourages writers to frequently use the passive voice. For those who have spent years with daily writing projects, these tendencies may be hard to recognize.

Prof. Hannon’s simple but effective Google document, ______________ > ______________ #legal writing, teaches through numerous common examples. Just to mix things up, she also includes a few common misuses and misspellings of legal terms. Good teachers are always teaching.

I will admit to perhaps overstating the benefit of reading this just once, which can certainly be done in ten minutes. Even with a single read, you will pick up something useful. But to break life-long habits, more repetition may be needed. Why not copy the link into a calendar entry and then assign yourself a few times in the future to read this again?