Here are two phrases that are ubiquitous in legal writing: “in connection with” and “with respect to.”

They’re bad. Get rid of them.

Pull out a legal document of any kind, and you’ll see these muddling connectors splattered all over the place. Why do I hate them?

They enable vague and lazy writing. They let you link two things without explaining their connection. These words are fluff, filler, padding. They add no useful information.

Take this example: Public opinion is shifting with respect to climate change.

This sentence lacks meaningful information. How is public opinion shifting? Is the public more skeptical, less skeptical?

Here’s another example: The defendant pled guilty in connection with a scheme to defraud.

Again, the reader is left wondering. What did the defendant plead guilty to? What role did the defendant play in the fraud scheme?

Here are better ways to write these sentences:

The public is increasingly concerned about climate change.

The defendant pled guilty to laundering money as part of a Ponzi scheme.

“In connection with” and “with respect to” are so ingrained in legal writing that excising them may be a hard habit to break. But  any sentence containing these phrases can be improved by eliminating these words.