The Third Annual “Clarity Awards” for promoting the use of clear language were given at the May 2001 PBA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. The award recipients were the Honorable John M. Cleland of McKean County and Dr. William Lutz of Rutgers University.
As many judges do, Judge John Cleland produces a substantial amount of written material. Whether he is writing a legal opinion, submitting an article for publications, or drafting a speech, Judge Cleland’s writings begin and end with the idea of conveying his thoughts, opinions and decisions clearly and concisely. Words are powerful tools that can shape and affect the day-to-day lives of many. Too often we lose the ability to communicate our thoughts and ideas in our desire to use esoteric references and complex ideas. Despite the ever increasing complexity of the law and the issues that he must decide, Judge Cleland embraces the principles of writing with clarity. His style of writing is an example of how those of us in the legal profession should strive to convey our ideas.
William B. Lutz is a Professor of English at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ. In addition to a Ph.D. in English he holds a Doctor of Law degree and is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. Dr. Lutz is no stranger to the world of “plain english.” He was the editor of Quarterly Review of Doublespeak and is the author or co-author of fifteen books, including Doublespeak Defined (1999), The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone’s Saying Anymore (1996), the sequel to his best selling Doublespeak: From Revenue Enhancement to Terminal Living (1989). As an expert on plain language, Dr. Lutz has worked with many major corporations including Bell Atlantic, Citibank and Charles Schwab & Co. He has re-written mutual fund prospectuses into plain language; written, revised, and edited the prose in annual reports; written the MD&A section of annual reports into plain language; judged the prose in annual reports; and conducted workshops on plain language and clear communication in various forms of corporate publications. As a consultant on plain language to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Dr. Lutz helped prepare the SEC’s Plain English Handbook.