Legal writing is a demanding task that requires practice. This article will provide 10 tips for better legal writing. Writers often do legal writing in the legal profession. In legal writing, credibility is essential because you need it to persuade your readers about your thesis.
In this writing, the key is giving your reader just what he needs to know by eliminating non-essential details. Here are the recommended tips for better legal writing.
Planning For Better Legal Writing
Before writing a legal document, the first thing is to think about the purpose of the exercise, your audience, and the message you are spreading.
After the planning, develop a plan outline for how you are going to raise your argument. This outline should consist of headlines, which will normally become the actual headlines section in your completed paper.
Your introduction should have a clear thesis statement. A thesis statement states your intended argument, relevance, the reason it matters, and the context in which it appears.
An example of an introduction would be, “This article is about A. In particular, I will…”
Map out your Plan | Better Legal Writing
You should provide a roadmap of how you are going to make you previously started the argument. Mapping out your plan aims to provide your reader with a clear route from the introduction to your conclusion.
For example, you can use sentences like ” First, I will…”, “Secondly, the…” “Besides…” etc.
Organize your plan
After mapping your plan, organize your work with purpose, and to achieve this, your plans should include headings that will help guide your readers on what to expect.
Under the headings, you should include paragraphs and sections to help advance your argument to agree or oppose your argument. Also, paragraphs will help you conclude the paper.
Writing from Top to Bottom
Writing from top to bottom is also known as Point first writing, which means that each paragraph’s first sentence should indicate the point of the paragraph. It would be best if you always led a paragraph with a summary sentence. This style is essential if you want to be better in legal writing.
Besides, the paragraph’s body should highlight and explain the point you stated in your first paragraph.
Include Arguments in Your work | Better Legal Writing
You should include arguments in your work to develop your thesis and state your point. In legal writing, persuasion is key, and the arguments you raise will help you persuade your readers as to why your point of view is preferable.
It is essential to address counter-arguments. Also, you can be more persuasive if you take up the case against you instead of ignoring that fact.
Check Your Language
As with any other form of writing, spelling and grammar are the backbones of legal writing. Below are some of the key tips to check legal writing as far as language use is concerned.
Use an active voice
As a legal writer, using an active voice makes your work clearer, concise, and coherent for your readers. The problem with writing in the passive voice is readers will have a hard time trying to figure out your point of view, thus making your message vague and hard to understand.
Writing in an active voice tells the reader who is doing the action and puts the doer before the sentence. For example, instead of the law being broken, write the criminal broke the law.
You can eliminate ambiguity by avoiding using words such as that, this, it, which, such, and which. Normally these words are used to refer broadly to an idea in a preceding sentence, but in the case of legal writing, these words are prone to confuse your readers.
Better Legal Writing | Avoid Double-negatives
You should aim for clarity by avoiding double negatives in your writing. For example, words such as ‘not uncommon’ are among a myriad of double negatives that you are advised to avoid using if not needed.
Besides, you can use just one word that can easily replace several other double negatives in your sentences. For example, the term ‘not uncommon’ can be replaced with a single word, ‘common.’
Omit unnecessary Adverbs and Adjectives
In the legal profession, good writing is essential to the practice of every area of the law, therefore to avoid redundancy in your writing, avoid words that don’t add content to your arguments.
Always avoid compound sentence constructions as they make your writing lengthy and monotonous to your reader.
Here are some examples of compound sentences that a single word can replace to make your writing clearer.
In order to – To
In the vicinity of – Near
This simplification ensures you eliminate non-essentials and free up valuable space for important content.
Avoid too much Legal Jargon To Better Your Legal Writing
Legal writing is traditionally known for the use of unnecessary complex words and legal jargon, but you should avoid jargon and convoluted sentences that create ambiguity and obscure the message from your readers.
This style of writing is no longer suitable as most laypeople unfamiliar with legal jargon find this style difficult to read and comprehend.
Also, avoid typos, sloppy grammar, and too much legalese.
To be on the safe side, proofread your work, you can also get homework help In Canada, where you can find professional help with your writing.
Better Legal Writing| Use External Materials
Exterior materials include primary and secondary sources that provide you with facts, cases, reports, research and personal experience to help you support, oppose, or create the argument you pose in writing.
If you are a law student tackling a law school assignment, you can assume your readers have read the sources you have referred to in your argument. This is recommended unless your sources are ambiguous.
Surprising your readers with new facts popping out from each paragraph is suitable for creative writers, but in legal writing, your reader should be with you from the beginning to the end so that by the time a reader gets to the conclusion, they have already anticipated what to expect from you.
Because legal writing is mostly done in the legal profession, it contains instructions, whatever the context, be it essay or memo writing, make sure you are aware of what is required of you to write, then follow all instructions concerning your work. These include word limits, sources, deadlines, and citation formats.
In conclusion, legal writing is a demanding task that requires practice, and, aside from the tips offered above, you can be a better legal writer by reading the works of others to learn the language of persuasion, as this is what legal writing is all about.