TED Conversations

Sandra Martins

Managing Partner, Português Claro


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How can we simplify legal/business language?

What would it take for governments and businesses to adopt plain language in their communications with citizens and consumers? What's happening now, in your country or community, that could also work for others?

This Live Conversation will open at 2.30 pm EST on January 26th, 2012.

EDIT: Because of overwhelming enthusiastic responses, this conversation open for few more days. Sandra will be checking your comments from time to time and follow up with them. Thank you for participating!


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    Jan 26 2012: As a corporate attorney, legal language is only one aspect of the problem. To streamline the legalese with business there must be a dichotomy lawyers employ. Drafting language should be left to convey the technicalities negotiated for in the Board Room. The negotiation process of the deal should keep legalese to minimum. Unfortunately, employing such legalese in contracts is a necessity because it is the technicality of language that specifically conveys the intent of the parties. The specificity is necessary to accurately convey the intent.

    To aid in this process, attorneys must remember that there is a difference between legalese and business. They must bridge that gap with common sense.
    • Jan 28 2012: Thanks for bringing up this point; it's exactly the one that I wanted to make.

      Some legal writing is confusing because of an over dependency on formalism and a desire to 'sound like a lawyer.' I'm currently in law school, and our writing instructors try to edit out this sort of writing. In general, at least at my school, there's a push to simplify legal writing when possible.

      Sometimes, however, simplification just isn't possible because lawyers need to be accurate. That sort of complexity is just a result of trying to explain complex transactions, and is likely to get more, rather than less, confusing if the lawyer tries to simplify the language. Well said, Tiffany.

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