The Eats, Shoots & Leaves of legalese, this witty narrative journey through the letter of the law offers something for language lovers and legal eagles alike
This clever, user-friendly discourse exposes the simple laws lurking behind decorative, unnecessary, and confusing legal language. For better or for worse, the instruction manual for today's world is written by lawyers. Everyone needs to understand this manual--but lawyers persist in writing it in language no one can possibly decipher.
Why accuse someone of making "material misstatements of fact," when you could just call them a liar? What's the point of a "last" will and testament if, presumably, every will is your last? Did you know that "law" derives from a Norse term meaning "that which is laid down"? So tell your boss to stop laying down the law--it already is.
The debate over Plain vs. Precision English rages on in courtrooms, boardrooms, and, yes, even bedrooms. Here, Adam Freedman explores the origins of legalese, interprets archaic phrasing (witnesseth!), explains obscure and oddly named laws, and disputes the notion that lawyers are any smarter than the rest of us when judged solely on their briefs. (A brief, by the way, is never so.)
Henry Holt and Co.
Henry Holt and Co.
Henry Holt and Co.
Henry Holt and Co.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"The Party of the First Part" is an erudite, hilarious tour through 21st Century American legalese. Alan Freedman leads us through the ankle-grabbing underbrush of redundancy, dead phrases, faux Latin, and mindless obfuscation into which every reader - and writer - of legal documents eventually must stagger.
Freedman is a sure-footed guide who knows the territory. Time and again, he yanks up a hoary word or phrase and shows us its tangled roots.
Sometimes we find, clutching a root with a deathgrip, an advocate of the so-called "Precision School" of legal drafting. These lawyers and profs fear that awful chaos would result if lawyers quit using ancient Anglo/French/Latin phrases, in favor of words used by 21st Century Americans in everyday life. Chaos? Well gosh, people might have to *sue* if they can't agree what a word or phrase written in 21st Century English means. Uh-huh, thinks I: as if they aren't already suing by the thousands over the meaning of...
Mr. Freedman's "The Party of the First Part" is a much more humorous review of Law School. Freedman covers Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Wills, Trusts, Estates and a multitude of other subjects that can even confuse some of the most academically gifted among us. I for one spent Law School in a haze because I felt like I was not getting the big picture. However, when I realized that the `law' does not have a big picture, I felt much more relaxed. Our Anglo-Saxon, Franco-Norman, Old English influenced law, as Mr. Freedman demonstrates, is a series of compromises and half-measures and it has always been that way. `Legalese' can be used as both a sword and a shield. For instance, Wills can be written in a way that makes sense to people, without any mention of the words "rest" "residue" or "remainder." But since these sounds good and lawyerly, it keeps showing up in Wills and Testaments. (Testament also being a redundancy too as Mr. Freedman demonstrates.) Thus, the odds of...
Poking more than a bit of fun at the "worrying gap" - the distance between the language of the public and that of the legal profession, 'Legal Lingo' columnist Adam Freedman takes a humorous swing at the "Precision School", which holds that the complexity of legal language flows from the need of lawyers to be super precise. A position that challenges the "Plain English" camp, which advocates that ordinary citizens ought to be able to understand the laws they live under and the contracts they sign.
Demonstrating a wit and humor that may be lost on some legal scholars, Freedman traces the origin for the distinction between "libel" and "slander" while providing an ample supply of one-liners for use during your next meeting with legal counsel. If that is not enough, you may be interested in knowing that the Texas Cattlemen's suit of Oprah Winfrey was done under a "Food Disparagement Law" - statutes meant to protect agricultural products; veggies are a group with especially...
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