Tips for Improving Your Legal Writing Skills

The written word is one of the most important tools of the legal profession. Words are being used to advocate, inform, persuade, and instruct. Although learning legal drafting does take time and practice, superior writing skills are crucial to success, and you can take steps to improve yours Legal writing training.

01 Remember Your Audience
Every word you write should be tailored to the needs of the reader. Documents that embody the same research and note can vary greatly greatly in content and build predicated on the document’s expected audience. For instance, a brief published to the court must advocate and persuade. A memorandum to a customer must analyze the problems, report the status of regulations, and recommend a proper plan of action. Always keep your audience at heart when crafting any written piece.

02 Organize Your Writing
Organization is the key to successful legal writing. Generate a roadmap for your writing by using aesthetic clues to steer the audience. Introduce your subject matter in an introductory paragraph, use transitional phrases (“furthermore,” “however,” “in addition,” etc.) between each paragraph, introduce each paragraph with a subject sentence, and use headings and subheadings to split up blocks of text message. Limit each paragraph to 1 topic, and summarize your meaning with a concluding sentence or paragraph. Organizational composition guides the reader through your text message and promotes readability.

03 Ditch The Legalese
Legalese – special legal phrases and jargon – can make your writing abstract, stilted, and archaic. Examples of legalese include words such as aforementioned, herewith, heretofore, and wherein. Ditch pointless legalese and other jargon and only the clear and simple. To avoid legalese and promote clarity, try reading your sentence to a colleague or substituting abstract words with simple, concrete conditions. For example, instead of using “I am in receipt of your correspondence,” use “I received your letter.” It’s clearer plus more succinct.

04 Be Concise
Every word you write should donate to your subject matter. Omit extraneous words, shorten sophisticated sentences, eliminate redundancies, and keep it simple.

Consider the following sentence:

“Due to the fact that the defendant has not attempted to repay the amount of money owed to your client in the quantity of $3,000 it is becoming absolutely essential that we take appropriate legal action to be able to obtain repayment of the aforesaid amount.”

A more concise version reads: “Because the defendant has not paid the $3,000 owed our customer, we will document a lawsuit seeking reimbursement.” The second option sentence conveys the same information in 18 words versus 44. Omitting needless words helps clarify the meaning of the sentence and adds impact.

05 Use Action Words
Action words make your legal prose better, dynamic, and vivid. Add punch to your writing with verbs that bring your prose alive. Here are a few examples:

Weak: The defendant had not been truthful. Better: The defendant lied.

Weak: The see quickly came into the courtroom. Better: The witness bolted into the courtroom.

Weak: The judge was very furious. Better: The judge was enraged.

06 Avoid Passive Voice
Passive voice disguises responsibility for an act by eliminating the main topic of the verb. Active tone of voice, on the other side, tells the audience who’s doing the operating and clarifies your communication. For example, rather than “the filing deadline was skipped,” say “plaintiff’s counsel skipped the filing deadline.” Rather than “a crime was devoted,” say “the defendant devoted the crime.”

07 Edit Ruthlessly
Edit your writing ruthlessly, omitting unnecessary words and rewriting for clarity. Careful proofreading is specially important in legal writing. Spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in a doc published to the courtroom, opposing counsel or a customer can undermine your credibility as a lawyer.