I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “plain dumb.” I do try to avoid it myself, because there are better ways to express the same idea. Logically, the disjunctive includes the conjunctive, so or has the same meaning as and/or. If you’re dealing with an illogical situation where or means one or the other, but not both, then write “A or B, but not both.” If you want to make it crystal clear that your situation conforms to normal logic, write “A or B, or both.” See Garner’s Modern American Usage 45 (Oxford 2003).
Here are some recent blog posts worth checking out:
- At the award-winning In Search of Perfect Client Service, Patrick Lamb explains why writing plainly is, well, good client service.
- Holden Oliver, managing editor of What About Clients?’s Kitzbühel Desk, thinks that writing plainly “would help diminish the image of the self-important “I’m-special” lawyer rocking back and forth in his chair, and talking to himself like a mental patient.” (I love that line!)
- At Writing Matters, Marilynne Rudick has a short list of tips for more effective proofreading.
- Finally, at Slaw.ca, Simmon Fodden shows why, unless you’re your briefs are professionally typeset, you need a ragged right margin and just one space—not two—after each sentence.
Unless you’re a troglodyte, e-mail probably constitutes the greatest volume of your professional writing. If you care about getting that part of your legal writing right, then, please consider Judge Gerald Lebovits’s tips in his article, E-Mail Netiquette for Lawyers, which you can download by visiting SSRN.