Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Kimble Center for Legal Drafting has been honored with the 2021 ClearMark Award in the legal category by the Center for Plain Language. The recognition is for the Kimble Center’s first public document – a medical power of attorney form.
The Kimble Center released the document in June 2020. Taking over a year to develop, it is an easy-to-use form for naming someone to be your medical agent in Michigan. The full form is available for download on the center’s website. It can be filled out online and read by a screen reader. The form was reviewed by experienced elder law attorneys, doctors, and the center’s international board of advisers, whose members are experts in plain language, forms and website design, and user testing. The form has received the WriteMark Plus quality mark from Write Limited, based in New Zealand.
In presenting the award, the judges commented that the medical power of attorney “is a wonderful example of making legal text accessible.” They went on to say that “the writers conducted several different kinds of user testing, including with health professionals and typical lay users. They also benefited from input from the center’s international board members and PL (plain language) experts in New Zealand. The effort shines through. It’s an exemplary piece, worthy of being winner in its category."
Each spring, the Center for Plain Language celebrates forward-thinking North American companies, governments, and organizations with its ClearMark Awards. The center sets a high standard for clarity and simplicity in the documents that its judges evaluate. This year’s awards were presented at the virtual Access for All conference, sponsored by the center and two international organizations – Clarity and the Plain Language Association International. The center has held the ClearMark Awards since 2010. Previous winners include the American Bar Association, Aetna, AARP, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Kimble Center was created by WMU-Cooley Law School in 2018. It was named after Professor Joseph Kimble, who taught legal writing and drafting at the school for more than 30 years. Professor Mark Cooney is the executive director.
The Kimble Center has a public-service mission: produce high-quality, user-friendly documents and make them available on its website, and occasionally offer free writing and drafting seminars for lawyers, paralegals, and law students. More information can be found at cooley.edu by searching Kimble Center.