The legal community is highly dependent on the written word. Members of the legal profession use words to persuade, advocate, and inform members of the public. Thus, if you want to become a legal writer, you are going to need high quality writing skills. The following are some tips to help you improve your legal writing skills.
- Take note of your intended audience
Your audience will be a key factor on the tone of your wording. Every word that you include in your paper needs to be designed specifically for the reader. Your intention should also be clear in the words you choose to use in a paper. For instance, if you are writing to the court, then the content needs to persuade and advocate. On the other hand, if you are writing to one of your clients, you need to list down the issues, inform them about the law pertaining to these issues, and the course of action that you recommend.
2. Be organized
Organization is the essence of good legal writing. Guide your reader through the content by providing visual cues such as an introductory paragraph, transitional phrases, and sub-headings. This will make it easier for the reader to go through your work without getting confused. In addition, organization makes your work more memorable, and helps you achieve your desired effect on the reader.
3. Use words that bring your work to life
Legal writing needs to be powerful, and detailed for it to have an impact on your audience. To achieve this, you need to use powerful verbs that denote strong action. For instance, instead of using the phrase ‘very angry’, you should use ‘enraged’. The latter word has more power to it and evokes a stronger emotion in the reader.
4. Avoid jargon or legalese
The intended audience should be able to read, and understand your wording with ease. If your words are too complex for the reader, the message may be lost. In addition, using jargon words renders your work archaic and un-interesting to most readers including those who are in the legal profession.
For your legal writing to be successful, you need to use simple words that make the meaning clear. This makes it easier for everyone to understand and reflect upon the implications of your writing.
5. Refrain from using the passive voice
Using the passive voice in legal writing creates a lot of ambiguity, and makes the meaning less clear to the reader. It also disguises the responsible party of an act thereby making your case weaker. On the other hand, the active voice tells the reader exactly who is responsible for the action, making the message abundantly clear.
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