Why yes, grammar does matter when you're a lawyer

I recently reviewed a Statement of Claim that was served on one of our clients. The document had many typos and included this gem:

“no fair hearing prior to overkill termination undeserved.”

That was a stand alone sentence, in case you thought that I only used part of a sentence. Yes, I know it doesn’t start with a capital letter. Evidently the lawyer didn’t realize it should have.

This lawyer is no doubt charging hundreds of dollars per hour to draft this poorly. This is not right. Clients deserve better. Clients deserve lawyers who are able to draft grammatically correct pleadings and letters. Pleadings (Statements of Claim, Defence, etc.) are the first introduction of the case to a Judge. You always want to make a good first impression. You don’t want the Judge wondering what your lawyer is trying to say. You want to persuade the Judge, not confuse the Judge.

This is why grammar matters. This is why, as part of my role as a Mentor in the Law Practice Program, I emphasize with Candidates, you must write English at a professional level in order to be a professional in this Province.

Given we live in the digital age where proofreading can be accomplished by the click of a button, it is shocking to see the amount of poorly written documents by legal professionals.

Grammar matters. Grammar matters a lot when you’re paid to persuade people using the written word.

Inga B. Andriessen JD