Category Archives: Legal Writing Tips

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…

Legal Writing Tip: Avoid Legal Clichés

Clichés in writing extend far beyond stories that begin, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Legal writing, too, is often loaded with overused phrases that have lost their oomph,…

Legal Writing Tip: Tackling Problematic Words

Here’s more on the ever-popular topic of easily confused words. Email me your own problematic pairs – they could end up in a future column. Preventative, Preventive Both mean devoted…

Legal Writing Tip: There’s an App for That Too?

Leslie A. Gordon There’s an app for everything these days and writing is no exception. Here are a few that might appeal to legal writers. Index Card This digital…

Legal Writing Tip: Using a Second Pair Eyes to Proof Your Work

Leslie A. Gordon I’ve long recommended that lawyers get a second pair of eyes on important documents, either a professional editor or a trusted colleague. Ideally, within the bounds of…

Legal Writing Tip: Learning to Convey Your Expertise

You’re a lawyer, not an academic. In briefs, opinion letters and client communications, you must convey your expertise simply, even when describing something complex. Consider yourself a technical writer, a knowledge expert just like a software manual writer, whose job is to assimilate information for the reader.

Legal Writing Tip: Boost the Drama; Keep Sentences Short

To boost drama or emotion in briefs, client letters and other writing, pepper your narrative with short sentences. Easy to read, short sentences focus readers’ attention, helping them retain information. Part style, part literary technique, short sentences control your reader’s pace and add an artistic twist to otherwise bland documents.

Legal Writing Tip: Keep Your Writing Fresh; Ditch Lazy Words

We all have words and phrases we use repeatedly. Sometimes, they’re good – specifically and as a result are two of my regulars. But others are crutch phrases or lazy words that dilute the power of writing. While you might not notice how frequently you use certain words, your reader will.