Words That Describe Good Legal Writing

Avoid clichés as much as possible. Avoid words, phrases, or phrases that have been used and read so many times that their power or effect has been lost or diminished. Examples: crystal clear; Time is running out; well installed. Use idiomatic expressions. The most common phrases are: (1) Alliteration or use of similar-sounding words (“sweet smell of success”). (2) Parables or comparisons (“As a pianist practices the piano, so the lawyer must practice the use of words, written and oral.”). (3) Metaphor or indirect comparisons (Judge Abraham Sarmiento: “At the risk of being disrespectful, the reading of the constitutional rights of a poor and illiterate peasant is no different from the reading of the Ten Commandments for a deaf-mute sinner”). (4) The personification or attribution of human qualities to non-human objects (Judge Isagani Cruz: “[Decisions] are the voice of departed judges who speak of the future.”). Leave out unnecessary words. Consider this classic advice from Strunk and White:13 “Strong writing is concise.

A sentence should not contain unnecessary words, a paragraph no useless sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should not have unnecessary lines and a machine should not have unnecessary parts. This does not require the writer to shorten all his sentences or avoid all the details and deal with his subject only in broad outline, but that he says every word. Original: “The question of whether or not to do so.” Improvement: “The question if” or “if”. Original: “The thrust of the appeal is that the credibility of prosecution witnesses is attacked” (18 words). Improvement: “The appeal primarily attacks the credibility of prosecution witnesses” (10). Avoid weird words, a term coined by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. “When a weasel sucks eggs, it sucks the meat out of the egg, leaving an empty shell. If you use one weird word after another, there`s nothing left of the other.

14 Some crash courses have the effect of weakening an assertion. Examples: significant, substantial, reasonable, significant, persuasive, inappropriate, clear, obvious, quite, appropriate, virtual.15 Add “irrefutable” to this list, a favorite word in many recent court decisions. Drafting a contract can be for informational purposes, while court documentation can be used for persuasion and client admission documentation can be used for assessment. The structure, tone and voice of the document will change depending on the purpose of your legal writing. If you understand this purpose, you can write better. Good legal writing requires researching and incorporating relevant precedents into your documents. Before you start writing, carefully read all the documents provided to understand the legal issues and know the applicable jurisdiction. The legal drafting process doesn`t stop when the piece is finished.

One of the most common mistakes writers make is not budgeting for the editing phase – a thorough editing and editing process takes time. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, legal writing is a necessary and important skill that is required for all lawyers. From paralegals to lawyers to secretaries, legal writing applies to all lawyers. The goal of legal writing is usually to persuade – the tone and style you use depends on the person you`re writing for. As a legal drafter, you should be able to switch between the legal language required for public servants such as a judge and the plain language required for a client. AccuracyThe wording should fit the idea, because the glove fits in the hand.10 Choose the right word, not your second-degree cousin, someone suggests. If in doubt, consult the dictionary or thesaurus. Nevertheless, we can never be precise enough. When preparing contracts, lawyers have become accustomed to introducing so many qualifiers: provided that; Provided, in addition, that; Provided, finally, that; Notwithstanding the foregoing; etc. Using more words increases the risk of ambiguity in the language. Here are some examples of argumentative sentences from various appellate briefs I`ve written are good examples of how you can use “because” in persuasive writing: This style of sequencing signals to the reader that the following sentences or paragraphs are related and should be considered together. Follow grammar rules.

Grammar is not a code of law, but a set of conventions, a means of communication to achieve the writer`s goal. Some grammar rules are strict. On the one hand, the rule that the verb must numerically match the subject is often violated. Plural subjects take plural verbs, singular subjects take singular verbs. It is therefore wrong to say: “Each of the accused had to post bail. Or this example found in SCRA: “In addition, the court notes that the receipts from the registry were not even marked as evidence, so they [these] can be considered part of the case files. Another rule is to anchor modifiers to what they change. Correct: “The victim was shot in the leg and fell.” Incorrect: “As a leader in construction arbitration, we are honored by your presence [you will honor us with your presence].” Ross Guberman, author of the excellent book on letters of appointment, “Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation`s Top Advocates,” also notes the effectiveness of the word “because” in persuasive legal writing. He suggests that short authors “[l]ove `because`”.

Guberman notes that an effective technique used by leading appellate lawyers is to include “because” in headlines. An example he gives from an appeal brief by attorney Miguel Estrada is: While some of these services are free, many of them will have a paid version to unlock additional features. Consider investing in some of these paid versions if your job requires a lot of writing – it`s worth taking your legal writing skills to the next level. OrganizationGuide the reader with titles. Break down lengthy pleas into parts. One way to do this is to use titles. Headlines serve as signposts that alert the reader to what`s coming and what to expect. Specifically, they are necessary in the argumentation part, which can be composed of several distinct elements. They signal the reader when to pause and pause if the material is long or complex.

They also help the author organize the material. Use transitions for consistency. You can have the right information in your paragraph and organize it, but readers may still miss the “flow” of ideas. This happens when readers have trouble discerning how information is linked or connected. The author must move the reader from one point to another and guide him along the way. Transitions are devices that help readers navigate the paper. Transitions can be additive (additionally, additionally), chronological or narrative (following, after, before, eventually), contrastive (but on the other hand similar), alternative (either, or, neither, otherwise), causal (because therefore, unless, therefore, because of it), illustrative (e.g., by way of illustration), repetitive (in other words, simply, that is) or physical (up, down, down, middle). The previous four sentences could have been a single sentence. And this paragraph could have been part of that paragraph. Can I start a sentence with the word “And,” as I just did? Should the quotation marks I just used be inside or outside the comma? SimplicitySimplify, simplify.

18Embrace simplicity.19 Knowledge is a process of accumulating facts; The wisdom lies in simplifying it.20Use simple words and phrases. Examples: Use “try” instead of “enendeavour”; “assist” instead of “facilitate”; “show” instead of “demonstrate”; “use” instead of “use”; “Questions” instead of “Ask”. Use familiar words. Avoid using sophisticated or high-flying language. Examples: “confrontation” for “struggle”; “spacious” for “spacious”; “Confabulate” for “cat”; “prognosis” for “prediction”; “vociferate” for “scream”. From time to time, a reader is shaken by an unusual word that appears in a court decision, such as this one from the Supreme Court: “Contrary to the ilcitation of the Court of Appeal, the defendants have not proved possession of the property in question.” When writing any type of legal document, state your point of view directly and clearly in the first few sentences to guide the reader.