Nothing But the Truth: 4 Hot Tips to Improve Your Legal Writing Skills
Unlike what you see on TV, smooth talking in the courtroom isn’t the only way to win a case. It may not even be the best way.
Winning a case begins with the legal briefs you write before you even set foot in the courtroom. Once pertinent persons have read the briefs from both sides, they’re already beginning to form their opinion about the case.
To set yourself up for success, you need to have sharp legal writing skills. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you get them razor sharp.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Legal briefs should be, as the name implies, brief and to the point. You want your reader to be able to read through the document quickly and easily digest the appropriate information.
Thus, as you are writing, keep your eye on the prize. In other words, don’t lose sight of your purpose and audience.
There are many different types of attorneys, but it doesn’t matter whether you’re writing to a DUI lawyer or preparing a brief for a judge. Every word that you include should be supporting the purpose of your article.
Keep your content organized and present it in a logical manner. Use transition words to help the reader move more seamlessly from one point to the next.
Choose Your Words Wisely
To that end, you must be careful about the words you use. Don’t waste time writing in flowery language or using big words to sound “like a lawyer”. Use direct language that is simple and to the point.
On the other hand, you don’t want to sound too simple. You don’t need to explain things or terms that your audience already knows. These aren’t laymen that will be reading your article. Use legal terms as appropriate.
Keep your writing concise. There is no need to add extra words if you don’t have to. For example, instead of saying ‘in the event that you discover more evidence’ you can say ‘if you find more evidence’.
Lawyers are busy people. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary words in a legal brief.
Once you finish your draft, go back through and proofread it twice. This is professional writing. Thus, your audience expects a clean copy free of grammar and spelling errors. Feel free to use software tools to help you improve your copy.
As you proofread you should also be checking for and eliminating extraneous words. Don’t whittle it down so thin that it becomes difficult to understand. However, most of the time you’ll find extra words that you can eliminate without making things confusing.
Practice Your Legal Writing Skills
The only way to get better at anything is through practice. You already know how important it is to practice your presentation in the courtroom. The words you use and how you use them are paramount to your success.
The same is true in legal writing. Set yourself up for success by learning to use the written word as expertly as you present your oral arguments in court.
To learn more about improving your writing skills in general, check out these 10 easy tips!