Making a clear, concise argument in a written brief or memorandum poses a challenge for any attorney. But insurance lawyers can face a particularly tough task in distilling into an easily readable form, the daunting legal jargon and tangled webs of contractual relationships that are intrinsic to the field. Here, attorneys discuss how insurance lawyers can strengthen their writing, from eliminating the use of certain terms, to avoiding melodramatic language.
Nix 'Insurer' and 'Insured'
While it may be tempting to refer to an insurance carrier as an "insurer" and a policyholder as an "insured" to save space in a brief, the close visual and phonetic similarities between the two words can easily lead to confusion and make for an unpleasant reading experience, attorneys say.
"For consistency and clarity, refer to the insurer as the insurance company and the insured as the policyholder," said Anderson Kill P.C. shareholder Joshua Gold.
Moreover, it is easy for lawyers to accidentally use one term instead of the other while typing a brief. Such errors can cause a judge to do a double-take and distract from what may otherwise be a strong legal argument, according to attorneys. Gold noted that he has seen references made to either the "insurer" or "insured" in briefs and court decisions where "clearly the other term was meant to be used."
"Those terms are easily misplaced in the confines of a long brief," Gold said.
Unlike major spelling and grammatical errors, misuses of "insured" and "insurer" won't always be caught by a proofreader or editing software, attorneys say.
"Spell check isn't going to save you in this situation," Gold said.