The Ontario Bar Association recently interviewed Joseph Kimble, a distinguished professor emeritus at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, to kick off the first column of its new legal-writing series, titled “Choice Words.”
As part of the association’s legal magazine, JUST, “Choice Words” is a platform for legal writers to debate and educate one another about legal writing. In the interview, Kimble described good legal writing and why it matters, provided tips on how young lawyers can improve their writing, and addressed challenges that writers face.
When asked why plain language is needed in legal writing, Kimble responded, “Because lawyers think and write and speak for a living. And good communicators deliver their message as clearly and concisely and accurately as possible. That’s what plain language is all about.”
Kimble is the longtime editor of the “Plain Language” column in the Michigan Bar Journal and the senior editor of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, published by Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers). Kimble has published dozens of articles on legal writing and written two acclaimed books—Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language and Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law.
Kimble joined WMU-Cooley in 1984. He is a past president of Clarity, an international organization promoting plain legal language in law, and a founding director of the Center for Plain Language, which rewards clear communication and shames “complex, confusing or just plain bad writing and the companies that produce them.”