Writing, Text, and the Law

HANDBOOK OF WRITING RESEARCH, Charles Bazerman, ed., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Forthcoming

Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2005-31

32 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2005

See all articles by Peter Tiersma

Peter Tiersma

Loyola Marymount University, Loyola Law School (Deceased)

Abstract

One of the earliest uses of writing was to create a record of legal transactions, as well as setting down the law itself in fixed form. At first, these writings were merely evidentiary. What mattered was the oral ceremony or the memory that people had of their laws and customs. As societies became more literate, the written record became increasingly important, and eventually was an essential component of many legal transactions. Thus, most modern legal systems require that statutes be enacted in writing. The same is true of certain private legal documents, like wills, deeds, and certain types of contracts. Despite the increasing reliance on text, however, there are some surprising and relatively important areas of the law that remain bastions of orality in an otherwise highly literate profession.

Suggested Citation

Tiersma, Peter M., Writing, Text, and the Law. HANDBOOK OF WRITING RESEARCH, Charles Bazerman, ed., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Forthcoming; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2005-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=850305

Peter M. Tiersma (Contact Author)

Loyola Marymount University, Loyola Law School (Deceased)

United States

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