Joseph Kimble

Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor EmeritusDistinguished Professor Emeritus

B.A. Amherst College 1967
J.D. University of Michigan 1972

[email protected]
SSRN Author Page

Professor Kimble was a staff attorney for the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals. He later practiced law in Flint, Michigan, and was an adjunct professor at WMU–Cooley. He joined the full-time faculty in 1984.

 

He is senior editor of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing and the longtime editor of the "Plain Language" column in the Michigan Bar Journal. He also writes an editing column called “Redlines” for Judicature.

 

He has published dozens of articles on legal writing and written three popular books —Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language; Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law; and Seeing Through Legalese: More Essays on Plain Language. He has lectured on writing to legal organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He served as a drafting consultant to the Sixth Circuit Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions and the Michigan Committee on Standard Criminal Jury Instructions. He now serves as the drafting consultant to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States. He led the redrafting of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence.

 

Professor Kimble is also a past president of the international organization Clarity, served as the executive director of Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers), is a founding director of the Center for Plain Language, and was on the board of the Legal Writing Institute. He is a Fellow of the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Foundation, and a member of the State Bar's Publications Committee.

 

In 2000, he was named a "Plain English Champion" by the Plain English Campaign, in England. He is one of the first persons to receive that award. In 2007, he won the first Plain Language Association International Award for being a "champion, leader, and visionary in the international plain-language field." He has twice won a prestigious Burton Award for Reform in Law — in 2007 for his work on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in 2011 for his work on the Federal Rules of Evidence. In 2010, he won a lifetime-achievement award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research of the Association of American Law Schools. In 2015, he received the John W. Reed Lawyer Legacy Award from the State Bar of Michigan. And in 2017, Scribes created the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award.

 

Professor Kimble taught Research & Writing and Advanced Research & Writing. He developed the original course for Introduction to Law I.

Some of his articles are collected at SSRN.com/author=624332.

Bibliography

Books

  • Kimble, Joseph, WRITING FOR DOLLARS, WRITING TO PLEASE (Carolina Academic Press 2012).
  • Kimble, Joseph, LIFTING THE FOG OF LEGALESE: ESSAYS ON PLAIN LANGUAGE (Carolina Academic Press 2006).
  • Kimble, Joseph, DRAFTING DOCUMENTS IN PLAIN LANGUAGE. Portland, OR: Business Forms Management Association (1990; rev. 1993).

Articles

  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Doctrine of the Last Antecedent, the Example in Barnhart, Why Both Are Weak, and How Textualism Postures," 16 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 5 (2014-2015).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "You Think Lawyers Are Good Drafters?" 17 GREEN BAG 2d 41 (Autumn 2014).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure," 12 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 25 (2008-2009).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Hunting Down Nouners," 11 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 79 (2007-2008).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "A Crack at Federal Drafting," COURT REV, Spring 2002, at 44. Reprinted in 10 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 67 (2005-2006).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Straight Skinny on Better Judicial Opinions," 9 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 1 (2003-2004).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "How to Mangle Court Rules and Jury Instructions," 8 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 39 (2001-2002).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "First Things First: The Lost Art of Summarizing," COURT REV, Summer 2001, at 30. Reprinted in 8 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 103 (2001-2002).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please," 6 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 1 (1996-1997). Appears in full at the plainlanguagenetwork.org/Legal
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Answering the Critics of Plain Language," 5 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 51 (1994-1995). Also published in part in CLARITY No. 32, March 1995, at 8; and in PROCEEDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PLAIN LANGUAGE, November 1995, at 98. Appears in full at the plainlanguagenetwork.org/Legal
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Many Misuses of Shall," 3 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 61 (1992).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Plain English: A Charter for Clear Writing," 9 COOLEY L REV 1 (1992). Reprinted in three parts, 71 MICH B J 1064, 1190,1302 (1992).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "A Plain English Primer," 33 PRAC LAWYER 83 (1987).

Shorter Articles

  • Kimble, Joseph, Joseph A. Prokop Jr., “Strike Three for Legalese,” MICH B J, March 2014, at 40.
  • Kimble, Joseph, “30 Years and Counting,” MICH B J, January 2014, at 38.
  • Kimble, Joseph, “You Think the Law Requires Legalese?” MICH B J, November 2013, at 48
  • Kimble, Joseph, “You Think Anybody Likes Legalese?” MICH B J, August 2013, at 52.
  • Kimble, Joseph, “Wrong—Again—About Plain Language,” MICH B J, July 2013, at 44.
  • Kimble, Joseph, “How To Dominate Your Reader—and Make Stewie Griffin Proud,” MICH B J, May 2013, at 50. Also published in 30 COOLEY L REV 195 (2013).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Tips For Better Writing In Law Reviews (and Other Journals),” MICH B J, October 2012, at 46. Also published in 30 COOLEY L REV 191 (2013).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Please Vote on Two Versions of Our Lawyer's Oath," MICH B J, January 2011, at 48.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Best Test of a New Lawyer's Writing," MICH B J, December 2010, at 40.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Where Should the Citations Go?," MICH B J, July 2010, at 56.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Please Vote on Two Citation Formats," MICH B J, May 2010, at 44.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "One Last Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence," MICH B J, November 2009, at 50.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Still Another Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence," MICH B J, October 2009, at 54.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Another Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence," MICH B J, September 2009, at 46.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "A Drafting Example from the Proposed New Federal Rules of Evidence," MICH B J, August 2009, at 52.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Cleaning Up a Release," MICH B J, March 2008, at 38.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Littering With Legalese, or Get a Load of This Release," MICH B J, February 2008, at 50.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 5)," MICH B J, December 2007, at 50.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 4)," MICH B J, November 2007, at 46.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 3)," MICH B J, October 2007, at 44.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Littering with Legalese, or Get a Load of This Release," TRIAL, October 2007, at 60.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 2)," MICH B J, September 2007, at 48.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lessons in Drafting from the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 1)," MICH B J, August 2007, at 62.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "To the Trashcan with And/Or," MICH B J, March 2007, at 44.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Hunting Down Nouners," MICH B J, February 2007, at 44.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Hunting Down Nouners," TRIAL, January 2007, at 62.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Testifying to Plain Language," MICH B J, June 2006, at 45.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Guiding Principles for Restyling the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Parts 1 & 2)," MICH B J, September 2005, at 56; October 2005, at 52.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Jury Revisted," 88 JUDICATURE 284, 289 (2005).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "You Be the Judge (Again)," MICH B J, January 2005, at 56.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "You Be the Judge," MICH B J, December 2004, at 40.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "In Terms of in terms of," MICH B J, November 2002, at 44.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Elements of Plain Language," MICH B J, October 2002, at 44
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Plain Words," MICH B J, August 2001, at 72; September 2001, at 72. Also published in part in TRIAL, July 2001, at 94.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Best Test of a New Lawyer's Writing," TRIAL, June 2001, at 78. Reprinted in MICH B J, July 2001, at 62.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Great Myth That Plain Language Is Not Precise," BUS L TODAY, July-August 2000, at 48. Reprinted in 7 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 109 (1998-2000).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "A Modest Wish List for Legal Writing," TRIAL, January 2000, at 89. Reprinted in 79 MICH B J 1574 (2000) and in MONTANA LAWYER, April 2006, at 12.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "How to Write an Impeachment Order," COURT REV, Summer 1999, at 8. Reprinted in 78 MICH B J 1304 (1999) and in CLARITY No. 44, December 1999, at 10.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Lessons of One Example," CLARITY No. 42, September 1998, at 59.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Lawyers Need to Learn the Elements of Style," NAT'L L J, November 10, 1997, at A21. Reprinted in BRIEFS (Ingham County Bar Association), April 1998, at 1.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Route to Clear Jury Instructions," 6 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 163 (1996-1997). Reprinted in 78 MICH B J 1406 (1999).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Don't Stop Now: An Open Letter to the SEC," 76 MICH B J 852 (1997). Reprinted in CLARITY No. 40, August 1997, at 34; and in IN BRIEF (Legal Secretaries International), January 1998, at 21.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "A South African Diary: New Laws for a New Country," BRIEFS (Ingham County Bar Association), November 1996, at 10.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Pitching Plain Language to the American Bar Association," CLARITY No. 34, January 1996, at 23.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Notes Toward Better Legal Writing," 5 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 148 (1994-1995). Reprinted, with additions, in 75 MICH B J 1072 (1996).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "In Defense of IRAC (As Far As It Goes)," THE SECOND DRAFT (Legal Writing Institute), November 1995, at 10.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "On Legal-Writing Programs," 2 PERSPECTIVES 43 (1994).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "The Influence of a Little Column," 73 MICH B J 32 (1994).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Teaching Legal Drafting," 3 SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING 148 (1992)
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Yes to Plain English," THE SECOND DRAFT (Legal Writing Institute), October 1991, at 2.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "I'm Ready: Learning Research and Reasoning Through Audiotapes," 3 TRENDS IN LAW LIBRARY MGMT & TECH 1 (December 1989-January1990). Reprinted in 3 INTEGRATED LEGAL RES 34 (Winter 1990-91).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Strike Three for Legalese" (includes legal-language survey), 69 MICH B J 418 (1990). Reprinted in AUSTRALIAN LEGAL PRACTICE, January 1994, at 8.
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Why We Need a Plain English Law," 67 MICH B J 1192 (1988).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Survey: Plain English Wins Every Which Way," 66 MICH B J 1024 (1987).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Protecting Your Writing From Law Practice," 66 MICH B J 912 (1987).
  • Kimble, Joseph and Wing, F. Georgann, "Protecting Your Writing From Law School: An Open Letter to Law Students," 65 MICH B J 576 (1986). Reprinted in THE PAPER BOOK (Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, International) (Spring 1987).

In-Depth Interviews

  • "Interview with Joseph Kimble, author of LIFTING THE FOG OF LEGALESE: ESSAYS ON PLAIN LANGUAGE," BIMONTHLY REVIEW OF LAW BOOKS, July - August 2006, at 1.
  • "Scholar Champions Clearer Legal Writing," THE EDITORIAL EYE, August 2006, at 6.
  • "Plain Language and Legal Writing: A Conversation with Joe Kimble," 15 ISSUES IN WRITING 150 (2005).

Other Writings

  • Kimble, Joseph, Revised Constitution and Bylaws for Scribes — The American Society of Legal Writers (2004).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Why Lawyers Should Write in Plain English," T.M. Cooley Coffee Break Newsletter (April 2001).
  • Kimble, Joseph, editor in chief, SCRIBES J LEGAL WRITING (2001-present); managing editor (1996-2001).
  • Kimble, Joseph, editor, "Plain Language" Column, MICH B J (1988-present).
  • Kimble, Joseph, first guest editor, CLARITY No. 32, March 1995; guest editor, CLARITY No. 42, September 1998.
  • Kimble, Joseph, Knight, Philip and Balmford, Christopher, "Human Rights Commission Bill." South Africa: Ministry of Justice (1995).
  • Kimble, Joseph, "Resolution in Support of Plain Language," Tacoma, WA: Conference of the Legal Writing Institute (1992).
  • Kimble, Joseph and Wing, F. Georgann. LEGAL RESEARCH AND REASONING: AN AUDIO GUIDE TO THE STEPS (teaching materials: scripts for nine audiotapes, 1989; rev. 1993,1999,2007).
  • Kimble, Joseph, editor, "Michigan Opinion Notes" Column, MICH B J (1986-1992).
  • Kimble, Joseph. A SHORT COURSE IN OPINION WRITING: MANUAL. Lansing: Mich State Court Administrative Office (1987).
  • Kimble, Joseph. SALES CONTRACT AND EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO SELL CONTRACT (two forms). Lansing: Mich Association of Realtors (1997)

Presentations

  • Professor Kimble has given over a hundred seminars and presentations in the United States, Canada, England, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

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