Category Archives: Legal Writing Tips

Legal Writing Tip: Watch Out for Common Usage Errors

Savannah Blackwell Since writing last month’s column on the importance of regularly consulting a usage guide, I’ve become more aware of the prevalence of particular mistakes in word choice. It…

Legal Writing Tip: Keep a Usage Guide Handy

Savannah Blackwell The art of persuasion is about the effective management of words. Speaking or writing compellingly requires a strong command of language. Lawyers would do well to learn to…

Legal Writing Tip: Don’t Distract Readers or Ruin Your Writing with Citations

Savannah Blackwell Despite the efforts of legal writing guru Bryan Garner to promote use of “citational” footnotes, placing citations in the main body of the brief or memo remains the…

Should we “put all citations in footnotes”—or not?

By Savannah Blackwell Everyone agrees legal brief writers should strive for clear, orderly prose and a coherent chain of argument. At the same time, we must show there is legal…

Legal Writing Tip: Losing the Legalese, Continued

Savannah Blackwell, BASF Bulletin Contributor As we discussed in last month’s column, good legal writing does not sound like it has been written by a lawyer, or worse, a committee…

Legal Writing Tip: Let us Lose the Legalese

Savannah Blackwell Why are so many legal briefs overwrought with stuffy, archaic verbiage where simple, plain English would do? We can blame it in part on our legal education. Slogging…

Legal Writing Tip: Choose the Active Voice

Savannah Blackwell What is the difference between the passive and active voice in writing? In active voice, the subject of the clause or sentence does the acting. In passive voice,…

Legal Writing Tip: And Now, a Few Words from the Bench

Savannah Blackwell Three, relatively recent appointees to the First District Court of Appeals discussed their experiences serving on the court, described their decision-making processes, and shared their thoughts on crafting…

Legal Writing Tip: Strive for Clean, Uncluttered Sentences

Savannah Blackwell A well-structured sentence wastes no words. Craft a tidy sentence by placing the actor first, the action second, and the object of the action third. Consider the sentence, “It…

Legal Writing Tip: Keep Deleting the Unnecessary

By Savannah Blackwell, BASF Bulletin Contributor Eliminating verbiage is so essential to writing effectively, the task warrants further attention. Legal writing guru Bryan Garner is fond of quoting the late…