10 Tips for Better Legal Writing

Writing is an art; for introverted people, good writing is considered to be the best weapon used to express one's own self. Legal writing is, in its broadest sense, the development of material that is used in the legal industry to facilitate decisions and endorse arguments.

Team Law Community
November 27, 2020

Writing is an art; for introverted people, good writing is considered to be the best weapon used to express one's own self. Writing out an outstanding thesis and reporting on an insightful piece of news, but there’s a specific ability to learn when it comes to successful legal writing.

What is legal writing? Legal writing is, in its broadest sense, the development of material that is used in the legal industry to facilitate decisions and endorse arguments. This may range from generating legal documents to reporting conclusions to a judge or magistrate, to writing scholarly papers. Specifically, legal writing is the interpretation of a narrative, backed by consistent facts and case examples, which outlines, argues, or concludes on a specific issue.

Legal writing is simply about evidence. Although it can be said that the execution of any writing is a creative endeavour, it is not generally recognized as ‘creative writing.’ Any point that is made has to be supported by evidence. So how can someone entering the field of legal writing ensure that their writing doesn’t let them down? Here are our top tips for authoritative legal writing.

1. Emphasis on viewers:

Who are you listening to? Who is going to read this text, and what is the primary purpose of the document which serves them? Is it a report for a clerk, or does it endorse a claim being put forward in the High Court? Is it about telling the company’s partner about a project they are working on, or is it about training or briefing a young client? Every content writer has its way of expressing, and the language also varies with narration and details.

2. Research:

Before writing, always ensure quality, productive, and optimum research. That is to be an effective legal writer, one who researches every aspect of the topic thoroughly with a fresh mind and focus. Pre-writing activities are still important for a legal document, and effectively researching and arranging will save you time and effort on the context. Moreover, the prior arrangement of thoughts makes writing effective.

Don’t get lost trying to compose the perfect sentence. Get your material on the web for the first time to make sure you understand what you’re doing, and see how it works together. You can do it much later.

3. Be grammatically correct:

If you’re unaware of grammar rules, take a course or at least purchase some grammar guide books. A grammar error, an errant hyphen, or a missing comma can alter a sentence’s sense. For an effective legal writer, the proper use of the comma is important else it can convert the entire meaning which the law is trying to show as that might not be too much of an issue on a social media profile. Still, it can cause significant problems in the legal world.

4. Legal writing has its own pace:

Legal writing isn’t creative writing; therefore, one should not use bloomy words. A great legal writer’s responsibility is to communicate the facts very clearly. Only the effective use of plain language can do this. Using short sentences, keep it easy. Stick to the point and have one idea per paragraph.

5. Make use of maxims:

Just like English has phases, the law also has its maxims with a meaning. An effective legal content writer is one who can places these maxims along with the meaning, in such a simple language which is understood by the targeted viewership.

6. Beginning and ending:

The start of a piece of legal writing should set the stage, telling the reader the work’s purpose, the method you’re going to take them through, and the conclusion you’ll draw. Of course, a conclusion must also be drawn to tie up the work. But starting with the conclusion is an effective way to warm up the reader for the journey you are going to borrow them on, and the path you’re going to follow.

7. Avoid the use of slang/synonym words:

Legal language is said to be simple and complex both at the same time as it has unique words that must be used properly, with a good reason. Jargon and colloquial words at best eliminate clarification from the text, and at worst change the context and give the reader severe misleading interpretations.

8. Use your language:

No one wants a bunch of quotations strung together or a summary of the law in the book report-style. Instead of explaining events, use them to illustrate the point that the research is progressing. Paraphrase, so the law blends in with the circumstance to which you apply it. Don’t just re-write, not just proofread. The reader always sees the opinion of the writer, so it’s important to express.

9. Case laws:

Always try and use relevant case laws related to the subject matter. Ensure the use of both earlier and recent landmark judgments. Also emphasize the law at the time of enactment, its evolution and development, and its enforcement along with interpretation as per the contemporary circumstance.  

10. Include Visuals:

Increase the effectiveness of documents by using photos, graphs, charts, or bullet points, if they effectively make your case. The expression “an image worth a thousand words” did not derive from anywhere. A simple visual reference can make your point easier to understand than a lengthy text string. So do the lawyers. Just make sure that any words found in the photos form part of the count of words.