Joseph Kimble, Cooley Law Professor, Publishes New Book Making the Case for Plain Language Through 50 Case Studies
June 19, 2012 - Thomas M. Cooley Law School Professor Joseph Kimble's latest book documents the untold savings possible if government, business, and the legal profession replaced their forbidding, verbose, unclear writing with plain language. In Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law, Kimble demonstrates the benefits of clear writing through 50 case studies, such as the $4.4 million the Veterans Benefits Administration saved by revising just one letter to millions of veterans.
Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please also debunks the myths that using plain language creates documents that are not professional, precise, or legally accurate. According to Kimble, eliminating the confusion caused by "legalese" and "officialese" allows readers to more easily understand a document and act on it. The book cites a 2009 survey revealing that 75 percent of participants believe complexity and lack of understanding played a significant role in the worldwide financial crisis. A previous survey found that people had trouble understanding, for instance, how to use a cholesterol drug after reading the product-information sheet.
"Poor communication is the great hidden cost of doing business and governing," Kimble said. "Using plain language pays off for everyone in fewer mistakes, faster compliance, better decisions, and less frustration. Plain language could even help to restore faith in public institutions."
One survey showed that 84 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free language in its communications. "Besides," Kimble said, "people have a right – a citizen's right, a consumer's right – to understand the rules and the reams of information that affect their lives."
Kimble has taught legal writing at Cooley Law School for 30 years and has lectured widely on the benefits of clear writing. He is the author of Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language, editor in chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, and editor of the "Plain Language" column in the Michigan Bar Journal. Kimble is past president of the international organization Clarity and the drafting consultant on all federal court rules. He is a founding director of the Center for Plain Language.
Kimble's career-long advocacy for the use of plain language has earned awards and professional recognition around the world.
"When people demand proof that plain language works, we can now utter four short words: 'Read Joe Kimble's book,'" said Martin Cutts, author of The Oxford Guide to Plain English. "Proof aside, it will also give them sound guidelines for creating clear documents, plus a fresh and inspiring history of our field."
Kimble has been named a "Plain English Champion" by the Plain English Campaign in England, won the first Plain Language Association International Award and won a lifetime-achievement award from the Association of American Law School's Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. Twice, Kimble has received the most prestigious national award in legal writing – the Burton Award for Legal Achievement.
Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law hit the bookshelves in May 2012 and is published by Carolina Academic Press.
About Cooley Law School: Founded in 1972, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a private, nonprofit, independent law school accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Cooley has provided its more than 16,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world. Cooley offers its Juris Doctor program, Joint Degree programs, and Master of Laws programs three times a year with enrollment in January, May and September. Cooley Law School has campuses across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, and its new campus in Tampa Bay, Florida.