Jargon-filled, academic writing has no place in your briefing on appeal — but does it have its place?

Maybe so, according to Professor Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School, if this abstract for his article summarizes it accurately:

Many people, including many lawyers and judges, disparage law reviews (and the books that sometimes result from them) on the ground that they often deal with abstruse topics, of little interest to the bar, and are sometimes full of jargon-filled, excessively academic, and sometimes impenetrable writing. Some of the objections are warranted, but at their best, law reviews show a high level of rigor, discipline, and care; they have a kind of internal morality. What might seem to be jargon is often a product of specialization, similar to what is observed in other fields (such as economics, psychology, and philosophy). Much academic writing in law is not intended for the bar, at least not in the short-term, but that is not a problem: Such writing is meant to add to the stock of knowledge. If it succeeds, it can have significant long-term effects, potentially affecting what everyone takes to be “common sense.”

Professor Sunstein’s paper is called In Praise of Law Reviews (And Jargon-Filled, Academic Writing), and is available as a free download at the Social Science Research Network.

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