Six Tips for Writing Legal Documents Everyone Should Know
The whole point of writing legal documents by yourself is to reduce legal expenses, which are, at times, very high. However, it is not a walk in the park, and it doesn’t have to be challenging also, as there are thresholds that come with legal writing. Legal documents should be clear and should convey information in line with legal requirements and standards.
Lawsuits, divorce documents, contracts, wills, estates, and trusts are areas that require legal documents, hence legal writing. You do not have to draft legal documents on your own entirely, but you could do a portion of the document and leave a lawyer to handle the rest.
Working on your legal document requires putting the following into consideration:
- The outline of your workings
- Working on the definitions sections
- Abiding by principles of legal writing
- Proper citation
Work with a Proper Outline
Planning your document is an essential part of the entire writing process. The outline determines how the contents of the document will appear, and the sections under which the content will appear. Every legal document has a heading which may contain a letterhead or just the document’s title. How the heading looks like will entirely depend on the legal document that you are writing.
Other sections of the document should be carefully worked out to ensure that the entire document has some form of structure and organization.
Include a Definitions Section If Necessary
In the course of writing your legal document, there are chances that you could use abbreviations of companies or some terms like ‘business’ that explicitly refer to a particular business. Proper legal writing has the goals of clarity, conciseness, and objectivity. Towards these ends, you have to ensure that your work conforms to these standards.
Whenever you use abbreviations of terms unknown to the audience, or specific words like ‘business’ to refer to a particular entity, you need to include a definitions section that will expound more.
Abide by Principles of Legal Writing
Legal writing is different from other forms of writing in many respects. When working on your content, you have to ensure that it is relevant to the document that you are writing. Avoid repetition, and do not use slang in your writing. This will impair its conciseness and clarity. Passive voice is unwelcome in legal writing, and this means that you should stick to active voice when working on the content of your legal document.
Further, you must write your content in order of its significance. The most important content should be given the top priority in writing. To avoid clutter, ensure that you use simply wordy phrases and short but compact paragraphs. This works to ensure that the content has and maintains clarity and conciseness. Further, each paragraph should work on one point of focus. If you are having trouble here, you can check out various academic writing websites where you can hire a professional to assist you and find writing guides.
If you are going to use lists, ensure that they are clear and have a logical structure. Given the goal of clarity and relevance, avoiding redundancies, repetitions, and needless words gives a boost to your content’s overall quality.
Some legal documents require you to refer or use some legal authority, including statutes or case laws. Legal authority helps to back your content and also reinforces what you are outlining in your document. There is a whole world of difference in citing legal documents and other works of writing, such as academic documents. Depending on the legal document that you are working on, you need to ensure that you cite legal authority according to stipulated formats. There are manuals and resources on the web that highlight how you should go about citing legal authority. These resources could come in handy when making your citations.
To ensure that your document has a proper outline, you need to format the work properly. Use fonts that are visible and help to improve the clarity of the content. Number your paragraphs, and make your headings and sub-headings bold. This enhances the readability of your work. It is highly important that, throughout the document, you maintain consistency.
When numbering your work, it is better to use numbers all through than mixing numbers and numerals. This affects the cohesion and flow of the content. Some jurisdictions have distinct rules on the preparation and formatting of legal documents. You might want to put this into consideration so that your document is relevant when you submit it to the appropriate audience.
In the case of writing legal documents about estates, trusts, and wills, signatures are an essential part of the document. You must provide space, at least a line for each party or individual that will be signing the document. You should write or type their name and give an allowance that could be a line that will harbor the signature. Apart from the typed name, you might also want to include a date for relevance purposes.
You do not have to be in the legal profession to write legal documents. Tried, tested, and recommended tips can help you write your legal documents from scratch. The indisputable fact is that legal writing is expensive, and you are highly likely to fork out significant sums of money if you hire a lawyer to work on your legal documents. Working on your writing, formatting, and editing skills can help you immensely when it comes to legal writing, which can turn help you save your hard-earned money.