Tag Archives: legal writing


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…


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…


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: 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: 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: 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: 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…