Category Archives: Legal Writing Tips

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.

Legal Writing Tip: For Grammar Purposes, Companies Are Not People

We’ve all said things like: “I know Apple is coming out with a new iPhone because I saw it on their website.” Referring to a company like Apple as a…

Legal Writing Tip: Get Moving on The Plain English Movement

The Plain English movement is now several decades old. But as a professional editor, I’m still astonished at the wordy and legalese-laden documents out there. Whether you’re bumping up against…

Legal Writing Tip: It’s All in the Numbers

Writing numbers can be tricky, especially because there are conflicting rules about how to do it. The Associated Press, for example, has different guidelines than other popular style manuals.  And…

Legal Writing Tip: All Too Common Usage Mistakes, Part II

As promised in a previous column, here are more commonly misused words. Jive vs. Jibe Jive means to tease or to dance the jive. Jibe means to agree or be…

Legal Writing Tip: The Three Types of Compound Words

Compound words are two or more words that function as a single unit of meaning. Their rules can be complicated and hard to remember. For example, is it book store…

Legal Writing Tip: Begin with Your Conclusion

In law school, the IRAC formula was drilled into our brains. As a result, most legal briefs are structured using the Issue, Rule, Analysis and Conclusion format. Let me suggest…

Legal Writing Tip: Usage Guideline for Quotations

Quotation marks set off quoted or spoken language.  Here are some usage guidelines: Periods and commas go inside quotation marks, including single quotation marks. She said, “Bill said, ‘I don’t…

Legal Writing Tip: All Too Common Usage Mistakes

Leslie A. Gordon Watching Magic Johnson’s famous press conference, I was stunned that no one vetted his remarks before he announced he’d “attained” the HIV virus. To attain refers to…