Tips for Better Legal Writing
Attorneys are writers. Writing is a big part of your profession. Lawyers always write whether it’s just email, a memo for a senior partner, or a court briefing. With all the things that appear to be more important, ne lawyers, tend to pay less attention to their writing despite it’s big and relevant role in an attorney’s legal practice. To be better practitioner, new lawyers should master the craft of writing to set your difference among others. We have listed five tips for better legal writing.
Never use a long word when a short one is enough. Many new lawyers think that they will impress by long words and complicated sentences. This is a novice mistake that new lawyers must be aware of. Lack of thought and limited communication skills are reflected in the use of complex language. Plain English is to be used all the time and gain respect. Concise writing is more compelling and has greater impact on the audience. Practice is needed to learn the art of pragmatic and concise writing.
Use Active never the Passive
Writing in the Active Voice makes legal writing more credible and understandable especially some legal terms may every now and then get included in the writing. A new lawyer should be able to tell the reader who is doing the acting, and put the actor in front of the sentence so to speak. Beginning your sentence with the main purpose of action will easily form in your reader’s mind. Again, always use active voice in your writing, it will make a big difference.
Organize Your Writing
An organized writing is very important to a successful legal writing. The structure should be well thought off. You are not writing your papers in undergrad anymore. Expert paralegals suggests to use an outline in writing. New lawyers should master how to introduce their subject in an introductory paragraph, and use transitional phrases like moreover, and furthermore. Each paragraph should have a limited topic and the message should be clear with conclusions at the end. The organizational structure of your legal writing will guide you reader in one reading alone.
Take Your Readers into Consideration
The approach in your legal writing should be able to adapt to its readers. Do not assume that your audience has the same knowledge as you do especially your area of expertise could be different or totally foreign to your readers. If you are writing to your client, make sure to skip the jargon. Be mindful of the terminologies that you will use. Keep it short, simple, concise and most importantly use “human terms”. Your clients will not be impressed if you butcher your document intended for tem with overwhelming words that they will only ignore or waste time in searching for meaning.
Ask someone to Review your Work
Even legal writers need an editor. This step will help prevent embarrassment by catching errors or flaws before your writing gets out of your law firm. Ask a co-worker to do it for you, you may even act as “editors” for each other. Make sure that your editor is someone you can trust and rely on given the tight competition in the law profession.