The Party of the First Part

The Curious World of Legalese

Adam Freedman

Henry Holt and Co.

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The Eats, Shoots & Leaves of legalese, this witty narrative journey through the letter of the law offers something for language lovers and legal eagles alike
 
This clever, user-friendly discourse exposes the simple laws lurking behind decorative, unnecessary, and confusing legal language. For better or for worse, the instruction manual for today’s world is written by lawyers. Everyone needs to understand this manual—but lawyers persist in writing it in language no one can possibly decipher.

Why accuse someone of making “material misstatements of fact,” when you could just call them a liar? What’s the point of a “last” will and testament if, presumably, every will is your last? Did you know that “law” derives from a Norse term meaning “that which is laid down”? So tell your boss to stop laying down the law—it already is.

The debate over Plain vs. Precision English rages on in courtrooms, boardrooms, and, yes, even bedrooms. Here, Adam Freedman explores the origins of legalese, interprets archaic phrasing (witnesseth!), explains obscure and oddly named laws, and disputes the notion that lawyers are any smarter than the rest of us when judged solely on their briefs. (A brief, by the way, is never so.)

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The Party of the First Part
1THE GLORY OF LEGALESE"Incorporeal" means "without a body." However, when a company is "incorporated" it is given a body.--CENTRE FOR PLAIN LEGAL LANGUAGE, 1995At 2:30 A.M. on March 22, 1997, a convicted felon named Anthony Dye was racing his Corvette through the streets of Elkhart, Indiana. The police were in hot pursuit. Dye pulled into his mother's driveway, got out of the car, and made a run for it. When the police caught up with him, Dye took a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband and opened fire. At that critical moment, a valiant police dog named Frei leapt

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Reviews

Praise for The Party of the First Part

“If you ever wanted to go to law school but thought it would be painful and dull, you were right. Fortunately, Adam Freedman's wit and insight will give you in an afternoon what you need to navigate a lawyered-up world—and more laughs than you'd find in class, too.”—Kermit Roosevelt, Professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of In the Shadow of the Law
 

"The Party of the First Part is a terrific achievement—a hugely entertaining book about a subject that is normally anything but.  Against all odds, it makes legal language come to life.  It's the kind of book I wish I'd read before law school, and the perfect read for non-lawyers who wonder what they're missing."—Jeremy Blachman, author of Anonymous Lawyer

 

"A lighthearted but lucid explanation of legalese."—William Safire, The New York Times

“A gem of a book: bright, lucid, and compelling. I found myself laughing out loud, and wondering why lawyers can’t just eat their torts and go home.”—Cameron Stracher, author of Double Billing and publisher of the New York Law School Law Review


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About the Author

Adam Freedman

Adam Freedman writes the “Legal Lingo” column for the New York Law Journal Magazine, and was a litigator before joining a major investment bank where he earns his living decoding policies and procedures into plain English. He holds degrees from Yale, Oxford, and the University of Chicago and has written for Newsweek International and Slate.com, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Party of the First Part
The Curious World of Legalese
Adam Freedman

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
September 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466822573
ISBN10: 1466822570
256 pages
$7.99
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From The Publisher

Henry Holt and Co.

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