Category Archives: Legal Writing Tips

Legal Writing Tip: Omit Surplus Words

Savannah Blackwell Good writing is lean writing. Unnecessary words impede clarity and impact. Lawyers trade in words. So you’d think we would know to use them carefully and sparingly. Instead,…

Legal Writing Tip: Strike the Right Tone

Savannah Blackwell, BASF Bulletin Contributor In legal writing, as in any form of communication, tone is crucial. What you say is no more important than how you say it. When…

Five Tips for Creating a Marketable Legal Professional Resume

Sarah Pisani, Nelson Companies Most people can agree that it is a difficult task creating a marketable resume. How does one decide what to include, or determine what to take…

Legal Writing Tip: In Praise of The Elements of Style

Savannah Blackwell, BASF Bulletin Contributor Fifty-eight years ago, the Macmillan Publishing Company commissioned famed essayist and children’s book author E.B. White to revise The Elements of Style, the “little book”…

Legal Writing Tip: Write Like a Reporter

Savannah Blackwell, BASF Bulletin Contributor Editor’s note: We are excited to welcome attorney/researcher/writer Savannah Blackwell as she takes over the Legal Writing Tips Column.   Write for the court like…

Legal Writing Tip: Avoid Losing Credibility When Writing Your Brief

In law school, we’re taught to zealously advocate for clients. But in brief writing, attorneys shouldn’t resort to hyperbole, sarcasm and exaggeration to achieve that goal. When seeking to persuade,…

Legal Writing Tip: Communicating Effectively

Grammar debates can be epic to those who care. Can interface be used as a verb? Are double negatives really prohibited? Can “that” and “which” or “further” and “farther” be…

Legal Writing Tip: Write Your Briefs with a Sense of Style and Drama

We continue this month with more from Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing, my journalism textbook that, in my opinion, should be required reading for lawyers too. In Chapter 7,…

Legal Writing Tip: Get Active in Your Editing; Eliminate Passive Voice

One of my chief editing tips is to read your document repeatedly, each time scanning for only one thing – excessive commas, unnecessary capitalization, throat-clearing, etc.

The first scan should probably be devoted to eliminating passive voice.

Legal Writing Tip: Don’t Be Lame

When finishing up a piece of writing, whether it’s a document to be filed with the court or even a short e-mail to a client, consult a master editing checklist to ensure you don’t have…