advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

In the first year of law school, students pick up many bad writing habits. Perhaps the chief of these is to use previously unfamiliar phrases that have a (specious) lawyerly appearance.

An example is at first blush, which is not commonly used outside the law; and because it’s used so much within it, it ought to be avoided as an over-used cliché. You could just write at first, without the blushing (‘This case seems, at first, to be uncomplicated …’)

On its face has a venerable legal pedigree (at least as far back as 1632, according to the OED), and referred originally to the words as they appeared on the face of a document – but, like the blushing business, it’s a worn-out expression that could happily be dropped.

If the previous two constructions are merely old and tired, the use of facially for on its face is recent, lazy and deplorable. I cross it out in student work-product, and wish I could do the same with the 408,000 occurrences in Canadian blog posts (according to Slaw’s Canadian Law Blogs Search Engine).

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *