Monday, 10 May 2010

Let's simplify legal jargon

TED Talk given by Alan Siegel in February 2010: "Let's simplify legal jargon!"

Alan Siegel is a branding expert and one of the experts on business communication. His goal, as shown in this presentation, is to simplify plain English used in legal texts and documents. He presents how he tackled and simplified a standard consumer credit agreement as well as some IRS tax forms.

I, at least, was impressed. It was always difficult for me to understand why lawyers and academics had to use the words that 'normal' people never have heard of to explain their point of view. Personally, I never thought it showed the increased level of knowledge of the subject that so many people believed it did. Hopefully, my own published texts are more approachable, that is, at least, what I am aiming for (am open to constructive criticism, by the way, so if anyone has suggestions and remarks - go for it).

Upon having conducted lots of research on information/warning duties of professional parties towards consumers, one of the conclusions I came up with was that the way the information/warning is formulated should influence the assessment of whether the information/warning has been given properly to the consumer. The more clear the language used, the more likely it should be that the consumer actually receives the message that the information/warning contains. And only when the message is received, we may talk about an informed consumer, can't we?

I leave you with the video, supporting the message in it 100%.

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