Top 8 Legal Writing Tips for Law Students and Attorneys
Good writing skills are no longer a privilege; it is a must. Especially for professionals whose work depends on communication and interaction with other people. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, salespeople, etc. – their ability to communicate in writing is often key to their successful performance.
Let’s take lawyers, for example. Failure to express their ideas clearly may lead to unfavorable consequences to their clients. In the worst case, their inability to put a motion, write an official letter, or set a legal request can negatively affect the success of the entire case.
Thus, writing is very important for attorneys, lawyers, judges, and other law-related professionals. In this article, we are going to discuss several legal writing tips that are better to be mastered while at law school so that written communication would not be a problem later.
The Tips Are Listed Below
Be Concise but Precise
Long letters from lawyers are not very well received. You need to write as much as you need to say and no more. Learn to express your ideas clearly using as much text as needed.
It is important to stick to the topic of the message to say exactly what you mean. Unnecessary explanations and vague vocabulary will do not good. Try to make sure that you mean every word that you’ve used, and every one of them is really meaningful.
Read It Out Loud
If you only start your practice or are still a student, one of the best writing tips is to read every piece of writing out loud. It is needed not to spot some grammar mistakes. Such reading will help you see the sentences that are phrased awkwardly.
Reading out loud can also help you find better alternatives to some clichés. Ideally, you will be able to discover what parts spoil the rhythm of the letter so you can edit it properly.
Choose the Right Words
The wording is also critically important for attorneys and lawyers. Most of the questions on how to write a legal document come down to the issue of synonyms in the English language.
The problem is that many words that are similar in pronunciation and writing may have an absolutely different meaning. Also, words that seem to be synonymic may need to be used in very different contexts. Thus, before putting something in writing, make sure you chose the best word for your situation.
Write in a way that shows your respect to your client. Yet, do not get too personal. You should remain customer-centric, keep your voice positive, but remain formal in your writing.
It is critical to show your client that a professional is doing the legal job for them. At the same time, people need to see a human behind the lines. Try to find the right balance in between,
Use Correct Grammar and Structure
Grammar is one of the most important legal writing tips. It is important to be clear what, when and where. Thus, the ability to build the correct language construction is critical for lawyers.
Most legal files have their own structure. Lawyers are recommended to follow it precisely to make sure the correct message is received. If you hesitate about the right structure for your writing, you can find out this here. The Internet has plenty of samples that can help you out too.
Be Clear and Do Your Research
Some attorneys say that clarity prevails over grammar. It is true in some cases. Overall, you are writing to make your point clear not to excel in the English case. It is not a call to neglect grammar. Yet, if you feel that breaching some general rules will help you be clearer about your legal claim, you are allowed to deviate.
If you list some options for your client or any other stakeholder, you may need to support your opinion. To do that, legal research and writing skills may be required.
Before including any evidence to your writing, check its relevance and decide how you will cite it. In this case, you may negotiate a rule about concision and precision. Include as many credible sources as you need to persuade your reader.
Write a Summary and Conclusion
Clients find it extremely useful when they see the purpose of the letter before even reading it. Therefore, short summaries with key points at the beginning are very welcome. Add bullets to categorize all takeaways from your writing.
Yet, no doubt that your counterpart will read your letter. It should have a proper conclusion that would make all your reflections clear and logical.
Proofread It One More Time or Give It Sit Overnight
The best thing you can do with your writing is to give yourself a break before proofreading it. Write it in the evening so that you could send it after reading it one more time in the morning.
If not, make sure you proofread and edit the letter for it to look neat and professional. Your clients will appreciate this.
Legal writing is a challenge because it contrasts with all general writing rules. You have to stay clear and concise, use the right words, and write little but keep being informative.
You do not have to captivate your audience. Your writing should serve its purpose only. Yet, your professionalism and skills should be clearly seen through your ability to communicate in writing.
Jeff Blaylock is a freelance writer who is excellent at content writing and academic writing. His main interests refer to Education, so he authored many informative articles for students. In this article, Jeff lists 8 recommendations on how to improve your legal writing.