As an attorney, your ability to craft clear, concise, and compelling legal arguments often determines the outcome for your client and the success of your practice. Here’s how you can hone your skills and be a better legal writer.
1. Prioritize Clarity Above All
The foundation of persuasive legal writing is clarity. Avoid convoluted sentences and complex legal jargon that can obscure meaning. Briefs, motions and other filings should be written in plain English, which is accessible to all readers, including clients, clerks, and judges. This doesn’t mean oversimplifying complex legal concepts, but rather, presenting them in a way that is straightforward and understandable.
2. Be Concise, but Comprehensive
Brevity in legal writing does not mean leaving out necessary details. Be concise by eliminating unnecessary words and repetitious statements, but ensure that you fully address legal issues and factual contexts. A concise, well-reasoned argument is always more persuasive than one that is repetitive and rambling.
3. Use Active Voice
The active voice places the subject at the forefront, making your sentences more dynamic and direct. For example, instead of writing, “The motion was filed by the plaintiff,” use “The plaintiff filed the motion.” This shift not only shortens your sentences but also clarifies who is taking action.
4. Organize Your Writing
A well-organized document guides the reader through your argument effortlessly. Use headings and subheadings to break up text, bullet points for lists, and topic sentences to introduce new paragraphs. Logical flow is key; each section should build on the previous one in a coherent progression.
5. Edit Ruthlessly
Editing is where average writing becomes great. Review your document multiple times, focusing on different aspects with each pass: structure, clarity, style, grammar, and punctuation. Do not shy away from cutting out parts that do not serve the purpose of the document, even if it’s a sentence you particularly like.
6. Understand Your Audience
Always write with your audience in mind. What works for a legal brief may not be suitable for a client-facing document. Tailor your tone, language, and level of detail to suit the reader, whether it’s a judge with a packed docket or a client new to legal proceedings.
7. Read Widely
Great writers are also avid readers. Read a variety of legal documents, articles, and opinions. Notice the techniques used by experienced legal writers and incorporate what you find effective into your own writing.
8. Practice Regularly
Like any skill, legal writing improves with practice. Write daily, whether it’s drafting documents for work, journaling about legal topics, or even blogging. The more you write, the more natural and effective your legal writing will become.
The Alternative: Hiring a Legal Writing Service
While these tips can significantly enhance your legal writing, the reality of practice often means time is at a premium. For those who find their hours better spent on other facets of their practice, or who wish to ensure the highest quality of legal writing without the intensive investment of time, a legal writing service like Mazur Legal Research provides an excellent alternative. With a service like this, you can entrust your writing needs to an expert, dedicated to crafting documents that meet the highest standards of clarity, persuasiveness, and precision—allowing you to focus on what you do best.
Did you know?
Using a legal writing service can help law firms reduce costs and increase revenue. Hiring full-time attorneys or legal staff solely for writing and research tasks can be expensive. By outsourcing these services, law firms can save on overhead costs, such as salaries, benefits, and office space. They can also avoid the need for extensive training and onboarding, as legal writing services are already equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle these tasks efficiently.