3 Types of Legal Writing

WordRake writes software that uses algorithmic rules to provide targeted feedback based on the needs of the author. This digital resource can be useful for writing more accurately and avoiding spelling and grammar mistakes. Understanding legal writing is crucial for all lawyers. The ability to write concisely and persuasively is a skill that is often used for those who are interested in becoming a paralegal or lawyer. Legal pleadings, memoranda and other legal documents require compliance with certain stylistic conventions and the implementation of legal reasoning skills. There are many resources available for those looking for additional advice on how to improve their legal writing skills. In addition to the following resources, check out this helpful list of legal writing books. This Blog post from the American Bar Association summarizes a legal writing webinar with David Howard Spratt, professor of legal rhetoric at The American University Washington College of Law, in the form of a list of tips for improving legal writing skills. The use of jargon, including legal terms, is only appropriate in certain contexts.

For example, using too much “legal language” with a client who is not familiar with certain legal issues can lead to confusion and confusing the conversation with unnecessary questions. These characteristics tend to make legal drafting formal. This formality can take the form of long sentences, complex constructions, archaic and hyperform vocabulary, and an emphasis on content to the exclusion of the reader`s needs. Some of this formality in legal drafting is necessary and desirable, given the importance of certain legal documents and the gravity of the circumstances in which certain legal documents are used. However, not all the formalities of the legal letter are justified. To the extent that formality creates opacity and inaccuracy, it is not desirable. To the extent that formality hinders the reader`s understanding, it is less desirable. Especially if the legal content is to be passed on to non-lawyers, the formality must give way to clear communication. Legal drafting relies heavily on authority. In most legal writings, the author must substantiate assertions and statements with quotes from authority.

This is achieved through a unique and complicated citation system, unlike the one used in any other kind of writing. The standard methods of American legal citation are defined by two competing rulebooks: the ALWD CITATION MANUAL: A PROFESSIONAL CITATION SYSTEM and The Bluebook: A Uniform Citation System. Various methods can be used in the United States and other countries. [3] [4] Good legal writing requires researching and incorporating relevant legal precedents into your documents. Before you start writing, carefully read all the documents provided to understand the legal issues and know the applicable jurisdiction. Each case and document is different, but by keeping in mind a few basic rules for legal research, you will set yourself up for success. Useful legal research tools include FastCase, Legal Information Institute (LII), and CourtListener. Effective legal writing is especially important for first-year law students, as the rest of their courses are teaching-oriented. Marie Buckley is a lawyer, writing trainer and author of The Lawyer`s Essential Guide to Writing: Proven Tools and Techniques. In addition to specific categories on different types of legal writing (e.g., letters, memos, and pleadings), the blog also offers tips on proofreading, research, grammar, design, and effective work habits. The legal profession has its own unique citation system.

Although it serves to provide the experienced reader with enough information to assess and retrieve the cited authorities, it may seem intimidating to the lay reader at first. The Rules of the Court generally specify the citation format required for all memoranda or pleadings submitted to the court. These rules have not kept pace with the evolution of legal research technology. In recent years, online and disc-based legislative collections have become the primary research tools for many lawyers and judges. As a result of these changes, the pressure on the ultimate responsible for citation standards, namely the courts, has increased to establish new rules that no longer require a publisher`s printed volume (created more than a year after a decision) to be the key reference. (See wisconsin bar and AALL reports.) Several jurisdictions have reacted and many more are sure to follow. Grammarly is a free browser extension that allows authors to evaluate their grammar, spelling, style, and tone. Although the tool is intended for general use, its editing features can help keep the user`s writing clean and limit errors. This resource goes straight to the point and covers some of the basics of effective legal drafting.

The Balance Careers website also offers other resources for aspiring lawyers. Stand out from the thousands of lawyers looking for a job. Learn best practices and tips for using your online presence to attract legal recruiters. Many U.S. law schools teach legal writing in a way that recognizes the technical complexity inherent in law and the justified formality that complexity often requires, but with an emphasis on clarity, simplicity, and frankness. Yet many practicing lawyers who are busy with deadlines and heavy workloads often resort to a model-based, outdated, hyperformal writing style in analytical and transactional documents. This is understandable, but unfortunately, it sometimes perpetuates an unnecessarily formal legal writing style. Creating legal documents such as contracts is different because, unlike most other categories of legal writing, it is common to use language and clauses derived from books of forms, legal notices, and other documents without attribution.

Lawyers use form documents when creating documents such as contracts, wills, and judgments. The main difference between using sentences or paragraphs from other legal documents and copying in other contexts or copying the entire document is that lawyers do indeed use a common set of clauses that they adapt and modify for their own purposes. [9] Transactional documents – legal projects – are part of a similar continuum. A 150-page merger agreement between two large companies, in which both parties are represented by a lawyer, will be very formal – and should also be precise, precise and hermetic (features that are not always compatible with high formality). A commercial lease for a small business that uses a small office space will likely be much shorter and require less complexity, but will still be somewhat formal. But a proxy circular that allows members of a neighborhood association to set their voting preferences for the next board meeting should be as clear as possible. If informality supports this objective, it is justified. The Office of the Federal Register, a division of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, presents this free legal writing guide to help agencies create clear and enforceable regulatory documents.

While this resource is intended for federal organizations, others can access the guide to learn how to design a set of regulations. Useful topics include the principles of clear drafting, the layout of legal documents, and format requirements for regulatory documents. The writing process is complex and goes beyond simply putting words on paper. Research, writing and editing are important skills for good legal writing. The more you practice writing, the easier it will be and the better your work will be over time. The legal memorandum is the most common type of predictive legal analysis; It may contain the client`s letter or legal notice. The legal memorandum predicts the outcome of a legal issue by analyzing the authorities that settle the issue and the relevant facts that led to the legal issue. It explains and applies the authorities in predicting an outcome and ends with advice and recommendations. The legal memorandum also serves as a record of searches carried out for a particular legal issue. Traditionally, and in order to meet the expectations of the legal reader, it is formally organized and written.

Legal writing largely uses specialized terminology, which can be classified in four ways: The Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to “improving legal communication by supporting the development of educational and scientific resources and setting up forums to discuss the study, the teaching and practice of professional legal writing”. You have learned in the previous chapters that part of the legal profession involves a large amount of writing. Complaints, responses, investigative documents, motions and legal memos (sometimes referred to as “pleadings”) make up a large part of a court record. If you are writing any type of legal document, state your point of view directly and clearly in the first few sentences to guide the reader. Suppose the reader has very little time or patience, hates to read, and will only read the first 200 words. What you say in these 200 words will help them decide to keep reading. Typography is the style and appearance of prints. According to Matthew Butterick, author of Typography for Lawyers, legal documents are professionally published documents and “should therefore be subject to the same typographical standards.” Excerpts from the book are available online for free and include topics such as font composition, text formatting, and layout.