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Bryan A. Garner

Bryan A. Garner

American lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher
Bryan A. Garner
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher
Is Lexicographer Linguist Lawyer
From United States of America
Type Law Literature Social science
Gender male
Birth 17 November 1958, Lubbock, USA
Age 61 years
Star sign Scorpio
University of Texas at Austin
Notable Works
Garner's Modern American Usage  
The details


Bryan Andrew Garner (born 1958) is an American lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher who has written more than two dozen books about English usage and style as well as advocacy. He also wrote two books with Justice Antonin Scalia: Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008) and Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (2012).

The founder and president of LawProse Inc., he serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

Early life

Garner was born on November 17, 1958, in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Canyon, Texas. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he published excerpts from his senior thesis, notably "Shakespeare's Latinate Neologisms" and "Latin-Saxon Hybrids in Shakespeare and the Bible".

After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, Garner entered the University of Texas School of Law, where he served as an associate editor of the Texas Law Review.


After receiving his Juris Doctor degree in 1984, he clerked for Judge Thomas M. Reavley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit before he joined the Dallas firm of Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal. He then returned to the University of Texas School of Law and was named director of the Texas/Oxford Center for Legal Lexicography.

In 1990, he left the university to found LawProse Inc., which provides seminars on clear writing, briefing and editing for lawyers and judges.

Garner has taught at the University of Texas School of Law, the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall), Texas Tech University School of Law, and Texas A&M University School of Law. He has been awarded three honorary doctorates (Stetson, La Verne, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School). He serves on the Board of Advisers of The Green Bag.


As a student at the University of Texas School of Law in 1981, Garner began noticing odd usages in lawbooks, many of them dating back to Shakespeare. They became the source material for his first book, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage (1987). Since 1990, his work has focused on teaching the legal profession clear writing techniques.

In books, articles, and lectures, Garner has tried to reform the way bibliographic references are "interlarded" (interwoven) in the midst of textual analysis. He argues for putting citations in footnotes and notes that in-text information that is important but non-bibliographic. He opposes references such as "457 U.S. 423, 432, 102 S.Ct. 2515, 2521, 89 L.Ed.2d 744, 747" as interruptions in the middle of a line. However, such interruptions in judges' opinions and in lawyers' briefs have remained the norm. Some courts and advocates around the country have begun adopting Garner's recommended style of footnoted citations, and a surprising degree of internal strife has resulted within some organizations. For example, one appellate judge in Louisiana refused to join in a colleague's opinions written in the new format.

Garner says that one of the main reasons for the reform is to make legal writing more comprehensible to readers who lack a legal education. That has attracted opposition, most notably from Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and from his co-author, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Since 1992, Garner has contributed numerous revisions to the field of procedural rules, when he began revising all amendments to the sets of Federal Rules (Civil, Appellate, Evidence, Bankruptcy, and Criminal) for the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Garner and Justice Scalia wrote Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008). Garner maintains a legal consulting practice, focusing on issues in statutory construction and contractual interpretation.

English grammar and usage

Garner's books on English usage include Garner's Modern English Usage. In 2003, he contributed a chapter on grammar and usage to the 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, and later editions have retained it.

Black's Law Dictionary

In 1995, Garner became the editor in chief of Black's Law Dictionary. He created a panel of international legal experts to improve the specialized vocabulary in the book. Garner and the panel rewrote and expanded the dictionary's lexicographic information.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 17 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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