Legal writing for dummies
- Doris M
Writing does not come easily to everyone. When it comes down to writing for a particular top or subject matter, it becomes even harder. Even for good writers. It involves changing your mindset and putting yourself in the shoes of someone else. This cannot be taken for granted. One needs to be alert, sensitive to both the reader and the new perspective they have taken. I have listed some points that can help you become a better legal writer and avoid some embarrassments.
SpellcheckWhen it comes to writing, professionally or academically spellchecking your grammar is not negotiable. The words must be correctly spelled, and your sentences have to make sense. With regards to the legal profession, it is that much more important. The legal documents lawyers and legislators write are read aloud in court, presented to authoritative figures in the law industry. Even when presented to a peer, it is important, to not only look right but sound right. Your presentation reflects you as a legal officer, and hence your work must be up to par and this is one step. Take advantage of Grammarly. A free online plagiarism checker that is very effective. Also see: Best Academic Essay Writing Services
BrevityMost legal documents need to be clear and straight to the point. You cannot say what you mean by being redundant and repetitive. A concise statement is appealing and fundamental because with all legal matters. Time is of the essence. Keep your writing statement short and sweet. Let it be legible and easily understandable.
FormatThe format for legal writing varies depending on the agency or court where it is being presented to. When writing s legal document, do not make assumptions. Follow the required format to the letter with the appropriate content. Follow the spacing, font and margin format that is required by other legislators.
ReadPerhaps you are unfamiliar with the topic at hand. For one, you can read samples of the legal document you are to write to avoid mistakes and implement the correct format and language on your document. It also does not hurt to ask for help. If you have been an in-house counsel for a firm, the court may be a new area for you. Seek the advice of a practiced colleague who is aware of the processes and legal writing while preparing for court. This will save you time doing research and embarrassment should you proceed to serve legal documents written poorly.
Know your audienceKnowing your audience is essential before you even start writing. It dictates the kind of language you will use, the format you will take and the structure of your document. Contracts need titles and subtitles. Numbering needs to be put in place at various sections. An internal office memo does not need clarification for other legislators to understand, but a letter crafted for a client or witness unaware of certain legal phrases needs proper explanations in brief for better understanding.
Keep this in mind every time before you start writing. It will serve as a directive for your legal writing technique. Speaking of techniques there are a number of writing styles and techniques that can be emulated. It is best to try and fail. Practice until you get it right. 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.