Pomposity in Drafting, Part One: “Attorneys’ Fees”

Don’t worry, this isn’t a discussion about where to put the apostrophe in attorneys’ fees. (But, yes, it goes after the s, to avoid getting into fights over whether it covers fees of just one attorney.)

Instead, my beef is with the word attorney.

Recently I saw the following in this “Gentleman Scholar” column:

What’s the difference between a lawyer and an attorney? The latter, introducing himself as such, believes that the extra syllable confers an extra degree of fancy-schmanciness.

I concur. I propose that we drop attorneys’ fees on grounds of foppishness.

What should we use instead? The obvious alternative is lawyers’ fees, but I propose legal fees: no apostrophe, and it would cover paralegal fees too.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.