The ABA Journal has an interesting article by Bryan Garner, Why Lawyers Can’t Write. The causes are pervasive and complex. What I found more interesting is Bryan’s identification of a related problem: Why lawyers don’t recognize the deficiencies in their own writing. He describes studies done in 1999 by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. These studies revealed the following tendencies in unskillful or unknowledgeable people:
- They often think that they are quite skillful or knowledgeable.
- They can't recognize genuine skill in others.
- They fail to recognize the extremity of their own inadequacy.
- They recognize and acknowledge their own previous unskillfullness only after highly effective training in the skill.
The truth is that none of us is immune to the Dunning-Kruger problem. The best defense against it is to never cease striving to learn more and to improve our skills.