The RELACS Report

Research Editorial Legal and Committee Staff

Welcome to The RELACS Report, the online journal of the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS) professional association of NCSL.

This is the place to find articles on topics relevant to the various roles you, the association members, perform for your state legislatures, to get news from state legislatures across the country and to learn about the professional development opportunities provided by RELACS and NCSL.

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Excerpted from “The Parliamentary Draftsman,” which appeared in “Poetic Justice,” by J.P.C. (James Comyn) | London: Stevens & Sons Ltd., 1947 | Pages 31-32.

I’m the parliamentary draftsman
I compose the country's laws,
And of half the litigation
I’m undoubtedly the cause.
I employ a kind of English
Which is hard to understand.
Though the purists do not like it,
All the lawyers think it's grand.

I am the parliamentary draftsman,
And my sentences are long.
They are full of inconsistencies
Grammatically wrong.
I put parliamentary wishes
Into language of my own,
And though no one understands them
They’re expected to be known.

I compose in a tradition
Which was founded in the past,
And I’m frankly rather puzzled
As to how it came to last.
But the civil service use it,
And they like it at the Bar,
For helps to show the laity
What clever chaps they are.

I’m the parliamentary draftsman
And my meanings are not clear,
And though words are merely language
I have made them my career.
I admit my kind of English
Is inclined to be involved.
But I think it's even more so
When judicially solved.

I'm the parliamentary draftsman,
And they tell me it’s a fact
That I often make a muddle
Of a simple little Act.
I’m a target for the critics,
And they take me in their stride.
Oh, how nice to be a critic
Of a job you’ve never tried.

Sir James Comyn (1921–1997) was born in Dublin; called to the bar, Inner Temple in 1942; and served as judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, England until 1985.

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