10 writing tips that’ll retool your legal writing #writinglegally

Posted on 08-06-2015 by
Tags: writinglegally , legal writing , legalwriting , LIT , Upgrading Your Skills , #writinglegally

Have you ever read your writing and thought “I could do better”. Well, have no fear because the ABA Journal is here to help! Here are 10 tips to improve your legal writing:

  1. Be sure you understand the client's problem
    1. Make sure you ask your client plenty of questions so you have a clear understanding of what their needs are based off their problem.

  2. Don't rely exclusively on computer research
    1. Don’t rely solely on computer research. Instead use books for research as well as computer.

  3. Never turn in a preliminary version of a work in progress
    1. Never turn in work that is not completed. It is better to be late than to be wrong.

  4. Summarize your conclusions up front
    1. Always include a summary up-front. This will consist of:
      • The principal questions
      • The answers to those questions
      • The reasons for those answers
    2. Don’t start off with a rambling of facts because they are useless to a reader who doesn't yet understand what the issue is.

  5. Make your summary understandable to outsiders
    1. Make sure you summary is clear so that outsiders can understand what your point is.

  6. Don't be too tentative in your conclusions, but don't be too cocksure, either
    1. “Law school exams encourage students to use the one-hand-other-hand approach: The outcome could be this, or it could be that. Even experienced lawyers sometimes hedge needlessly. This approach can look wishy-washy. What's wanted is your best thought about how a court will come down on an issue.”

  7. Strike the right professional tone: natural but not chatty
    1. Use conventional punctuation and capitalization in your email messages.

  8. Master the approved citation form
    1. Find out what the standards are for citing authority in your jurisdiction and get to know them well. If you don’t then you could come off as unschooled.

  9. Cut every unnecessary sentence; then go back through and cut every unnecessary word
    1. Verbosity makes your writing seem cluttered and that you didn’t give much thought to it. Learn to delete every surplus word.

  10. Proofread one more time than you think necessary
    1. Make sure to read your documents out loud. You'll still find some slips and rough patches—and you'll be glad you did. It’s better to find the problems yourself than your readers finding them.

If you found the above tip to be helpful, you can track all of our writing content via LexTalk. Check out other LexTalk posts >>

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Think your legal writing’s good? Imagine it being better. Your success depends on your writing. Writing tips to help you sharpen your legal communications. For a no-obligation free trial of Lexis® for Microsoft Office, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/microsoftoffice_lextalk

Comments


maureenoconnellscholastic
maureenoconnellscholastic
Posted on : 6 Aug 2015 7:50 AM

Great tips Chad. Thanks for sharing the article! One more thing; you can ask someone else also to proofread it, so that you can get their views on it too.

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