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Cooley Law School Professor Emeritus Joseph Kimble Recognized By TopLaw for Legal-Writing Article

Joseph Kimble, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Cooley Law School, has been recognized by TopLaw for his article Minimize Prepositional Phrases. Question Every of (Part 1). The article received an inaugural TopLaw 50 Award for 2024. It was a top-10 pick — as measured by reader clicks — within its Litigation World newletter Pick of the Week features. Litigation World, one of TopLaw’s five newsletters, has nearly 9,000 subscribers and covers civil litigation, including topics like legal writing. 

Kimble’s article, published in Judicature by Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke Law School in Summer 2023, examines unnecessary prepositional phrases. In his article, Kimble writes: “They are, in my view, the prime cause of sentence-level verbosity in legal writing. And the prime offender is of-phrases—hence my advice to question every ‘of.’ Naturally, not all prepositional phrases can be eliminated—perhaps most of them can’t be—but tight prose minimizes them.”
Kimble offers three techniques (with examples) to minimize prepositional phrases:

  • Use a possessive form
  • Change the prepositional phrase to an adjective
  • Cut the prepositional phrase entirely

Kimble said of the award: “That article was actually the first of a two-parter in a column I do for Judicature called ‘Redlines.’ In the second part, I offered two more techniques: “liquidate zombie nouns” and “use the active voice” (with certain exceptions). It’s nice to see that readers found the advice useful. Let’s hope that they follow it—for the sake of their own readers.” 

“Thanks to Hollywood, people think litigators spend more time in court than they actually do,” said TopLaw Publisher and Lawyer Neil J. Squillante. “In reality, litigators spend much of their time writing. This explains why Professor Kimble’s excellent article on minimizing prepositional phrases struck a chord with TopLaw subscribers, earning the article and its author a well-deserved TopLaw 50 Award.”

All of TopLaw’s 2023 Picks of the Week from its newsletters were in contention for the TopLaw 50 Awards of 2024.

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Distinguished Professor Emeritus Joseph Kimble
Mar 14 2024