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Legal drafting means the preparation of any written legal document. A motion, a letter, a brief a memo or a contract. In general, drafting summarizes the action of organizing information and ideas into sentences and paragraphs as part of the writing process. Hence the phrase, ‘rough draft’. To mean, unfinished or unpolished works. Drafting is always about the recipient. Lawyers must always consider their recipients first. Having knowledge of your audience pays off. You know the appropriate language to use, the substance of the text and what changes need to be made.

AUDIENCE/RECIPIENT

For example, when writing to a sophisticated client like a financial institution, explain the processes of bankruptcy is unnecessary. It is safe to assume they have some background knowledge on this issue. However, when writing to an unsophisticated client; for example, a requesting advice on a taxation matter then explaining processes and a change of language may be needful. Toning down the complexities in your explanation is also advisable. This is so as not to confuse the client with legal jargon (even if you are trying to show off your prowess).

LEGAL FORMAT

While in court, the format for a legal document remains. However, the aim of your content is to persuade not advise. When it comes to writing legal letters, they can be long and unnecessary although delightful. While drafting it is important to have a defined structure to adhere to. This makes your work simply because it is more organized. Having a good framework improves the effect of your statement. Setting your fonts and margins goes without saying. There is a standard to be adhered to, therefore, even while in a hurry it is good to remember to stick to it.

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FONT AND SPACING

The favored font is Times New Roman or Courier and the spacing stands at 1.5 inches, while all other margins are 1 inch each. Remember to choose a font that represents well when using italics for titles and the likes. Courier does not go well with italics, therefore; Times New Roman is preferred for this. A heading and subheading quickly inform the reader what the topic is about. Therefore, try and make it as clear as possible. In the case of writing a contract, the document only needs a title to identify it. It can get more detailed to include the names of the parties involved or the purpose of the agreement.

OUTLINE

If your document also has distinct sections then breaking up the document to add subheadings is advisable to make it clearer to the reader. Plan on the length of your paragraphs. Ideally, you want them to be of the same length especially those holding the major areas. Some contracts are numbered, therefore, including content in a numbered order is good, because it makes it easier to follow the steps in a document. It is also easier to use when referring to different sections of a document using the numbers to indicate exactly what you are referring to in the document.

CALL TO ACTION

When making a draft, it would be pertinent to note down some keywords you want to use for the legal document you are preparing. This will include a call to action words, which naturally prompt action from the readers or audience. It is important to choose the words carefully to be well understood and prompt the right action to be taken. You may want the judge to make particular orders like calling for the arrest of an individual, to deny bail and so forth. You may also want for another party to acquiesce your demands, or for your client to give you certain instructions for the directive in a case. There are a variety of reasons and therefore, the language used must be clear and simple but effective. In the end, do not use words that do not add any value to the letter. Words like we ‘note that’ we advise that, can be somewhat irritating to readers because it is all formal and redundant wording.

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