Legal Writing Techniques
- Doris M
Writing, in general, has different genres and techniques. Short prose, long form, and the likes. When it comes to legal writing its own unique techniques apply according to laws, states and the court being addressed. It is always good to show a good command of the language and knowledge of the law. It is also important to follow the rules and regulations, as well as the format stipulated. When writing in legal format, or addressing a legal topic certain technique is applied.
During law school students are introduced to various ways of writing to express themselves appropriately. There is often a legal research and writing program to enlighten students on the way lawyers conduct legal research and the way they analyze and frame legal positions. This includes the way they present their work in writing and in an oral judgment. Usually the experienced is marked by a series of sequences, interrelated exercises which introduces students to legal writing.
Use concrete words when writing. Use words that are descriptive and straight to the point. Strive to create an image in the mind of the reader and forget about legal jargon where it does not apply. It is also best if you write in the active voice. Writing in the active voice involves, putting the actor in the doing verb (present tense) and then put the actor and his actions at the beginning of the sentence. It eliminates confusion by forcing you to name the actor in the sentence. It makes it very clear to the reader who is doing what. Instead of speculation, guessing and vagueness.
Passive voice makes sentences longer and as it is in the past tenses, it is harder to focus on the actor’s performance. Examples of passive voice include words such as, ‘was received’, ‘has been selected’, ‘is being considered’ and the likes. Passive voice is only appropriate when the actor is unknown or unimportant. Be careful to use, ‘must’ instead of shall. Shall expresses future action, will predict the future action while must impose obligation and shows the necessity to act. Should infers obligation, but without obligation or a necessity to act. Therefore, to impose a legal obligation, use must.Also see: Best Academic Essay Writing Services
While writing is direct and talks directly to your readers. Use the imperative mood. By definition, an imperative mood forms a command or a request. For example, ‘Please be quiet’. ‘Please follow my advice’ and the likes. It is the form of grammatical moods that make direct commands and requests. To be on the right track, avoid using the word exceptions often. ‘For permission to be granted, the persons must be above 18 except in the case for infants. Exceptions will be granted to individuals with disabilities.’ Instead, remove exceptions and say ‘Infants and individuals with disabilities will be granted special permission’. It sounds better.
While writing is sensitive to the recipient of your letter or interoffice memoranda. For example, there is no need for excessive legal jargon with a client. It will most likely fly by and they will be left questioning. Be careful to put in the definition of legal terminology in a simple way. The bulk of the correspondence is letters and emails between attorneys or paralegals and clients. Correspondence with businesses, witnesses or agencies are also common.
You can also improve your writing technique by remembering your audience, for one as a rule of thumb. Secondly, your writing should be organized and that goes without saying. Writing the same sentence in many ways does not improve the chances of a case proceeding, therefore; be concise and to the point. A clear direct statement works to your advantage. Always use action words to prompt or persuade the reader or the audience at large. Last but not least, make sure to proof read and edit your work. Once that is done go over it again and make sure there are no spelling errors and that your sentences sound correct. They are not confusing to the audience or rather they do not solicit different meanings that will leave people guessing.