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.
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.
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).
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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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.
When coming up with a draft, remember your writing should always 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 proofread 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.
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. Avoid passive voice even when drafting because it can complicate your final works.