Duly Noted



WMU-Cooley professors honored by Center for Plain English

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School was honored in the National Press Club  on  May 8, when the Center for Plain Language gave the school its prestigious ClearMark Award in the Legal category, for the school’s restyled bylaws recently redrafted by Emeritus Professor Joseph Kimble and Research & Writing Department Chair Mark Cooney.

Each May since 2010, the Center for Plain Language has celebrated companies, governments, and organizations with its ClearMark Awards. The center sets a high standard for clarity and simplicity in the documents its judges evaluate. The annual awards dinner brings together some of North America’s greatest plain-language champions, all devoted to improving public communication. Previous winners include the American Bar Association, AARP, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For 2018, the Legal category was narrowed to three finalists; WMU–Cooley won over Anthem, Inc. and Health Literacy Media.

The judges commented that WMU–Cooley’s bylaws represented “an outstanding version of what a legal document should be. It should be far easier to use... [and] for the organization to fulfill its mission.”

WMU-Cooley profs have for years been leaders in the international plain-language movement. Cooney is editor in chief, and Kimble is the senior editor, of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing. Cooney has served as a plain-language consultant on the Michigan Supreme Court’s Model Criminal Jury Instructions Committee and the State Bar Standard Criminal Jury Instructions Committee. Cooney’s book, Sketches on Legal Style, is a collection of his “Plain Language” columns from the Michigan Bar Journal.  Kimble is the longtime editor of that “Plain Language” column; he has published dozens of articles and written two books on clear legal writing.



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