Avoiding controversy does not explain, for example, this carefully convoluted sentence Ms. Miers wrote in a September 1992 column: "We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective."
When lawyers write professionally they adopt the style of what they read: judicial opinions, legal briefs and law review articles, which are not scintillating stuff. For those who have a creative flair when they begin law school, keeping that spark alive requires effort. "After graduating they go into a law office somewhere where lawyerspeak is encouraged," said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University Law School. "Once you get far enough down that road, it becomes hopeless."
There is a generic style that seems "professional," but good lawyers know there is a better level of writing that is much crisper and tighter, even if it too lacks personal style.
For personal style, lawyers blog. (I note that it was just a week ago that Glater was trying to figure out why lawyers blog.)