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October 12, 2011

Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 29: Lawyer Overstatements are Bad. Don't.

Being part-Irish like me is a gift. Mainly. But overstatements for lawyers at work are Mainly Bad. True, they can be hilarious. With them, at parties, and in arguments with lame store clerks, we can drive home a point using hyperbole. Overstatements can even impress your date, wife or mistress--or all three. They can feel good to make.

But they are Bad for lawyers (and for our witnesses). We should keep them out of pleadings and remarks to arbitrators, mediators and judges. And juries. We have all made them. Yes, overstatements are Bad:

When you overstate, readers [and listeners, too--WAC/P] will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in their minds because they have lost confidence in your judgment or your poise.

Do see "The Only Writing Tip That Really Matters", quoting The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, at Evan Schaeffer's The Trial Practice Tips Weblog.

Blarney Castle, near Cork, Ireland

Posted by JD Hull at October 12, 2011 12:00 AM


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