My first Scribes board meeting

I just returned from my first meeting as a member of the Scribes board of directors. I knew that these were my kind of people, but I had no idea how much so until I read the minutes from last year’s meeting, which included this item:

Approval of minutes: Mark moved and Beth seconded the motion to approve the minutes with a corrected comma on page 3. The motion passed....

On a related note: If you are reading this blog, then you would probably enjoy being a member of Scribes. So if you are not already a member, please consider signing up.


Quoting Clarity's statement about itself:

CLARITY is a worldwide group of lawyers and interested lay people. Its aim is the use of good, clear language by the legal profession. We hope to achieve this by:

  • avoiding archaic, obscure, and over-elaborate language in legal work;
  • drafting legal documents in language that is both certain in meaning and easily understandable;
  • exchanging ideas and precedents, not to be followed slavishly but to give guidance in producing good written and spoken legal language;
  • exerting a firm, responsible influence on the style of legal language, with the hope of achieving a change in fashion.

Clarity publishes a journal, appropriately titled Clarity. The current issue is for members only, but the rest of us can download back issues for free by clicking here.

(Thanks to Effective Written Communication.)


Here's what SPELL says about itself:

The Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL) is an organization of people who love our language and are determined to resist its abuse and misuse in the news media and elsewhere. We have almost 2,000 members in the United States and Canada. Members are from all professions and all walks of life -- doctors, lawyers, executives, engineers, teachers, writers, secretaries, students, retired people. The list could go on.

If you're proudly pedantic, this organization could be for you. Members are entitled to send a SPELL "Goof Card" to those who transgress the rules of grammar, syntax, and usage. "SPELL's bright yellow Goof Cards are becoming increasingly familiar in news rooms and broadcast studios across the country," they say.

(Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog.)

Plain English Campaign

The Plain English Campaign describes itself as

an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English. We have more than 10,000 registered supporters in 80 countries.

'Public information' means anything people have to read to get by in their daily lives.

'Plain English' is language that the intended audience can understand and act upon from a single reading.

Their web site is full of fun stuff, such as the annual Golden Bull and Foot In Mouth awards, and the Gobbledygook Generator. They also have some useful stuff, such as How to Write in Plain English and the A-Z of Alternate Words, a compendium of wordy phrases paired with less-wordy substitutes.


"Scribes was founded in 1953 to honor legal writers and encourage a "clear, succinct, and forceful style in legal writing."  We seek to promote better writing across the legal community -- in the courthouse, the law office, the publishing house, and the law school. And we hope to spread the growing scorn for legal writing that is archaic, turgid, obscure, and needlessly dull."

Legal Writing Institute

LWI "is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving legal writing by providing a forum for discussion and scholarship about legal writing, analysis, and research. The Institute promotes these activities through its publications and its Summer Conferences, held every two years."