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Legal Writing Tips | Abraham Lincoln University

Legal Writing Tips | Abraham Lincoln University

Reading and writing are two of the most important skills lawyers, and thus law students, must master. Close reading of cases, rulings and other law texts is essential to learning and understanding the law, and being able to write well and make clear, concise arguments via the written word separates good lawyers (and students) from the not-so-good.

Here are some legal writing tips to keep your prose clean and your arguments clear.

  1. Write for your audience. The document’s intended audience should dictate the level of the language you use. Writing for clients is different than writing for other legal professionals, and writing for law professors different than that. Keep the audience in mind when composing and that will help guide your style.
  2. Stay organized. Use short, well-organized paragraphs with topic sentences, and break up your writing as much as possible for easy reading.
  3. Avoid lingo. In writing legal copy it might be tempting to use “legalese,” but it’s better to keep the language simple than to fill your document with too many words like aforementioned, herewith, and heretofore.
  4. Remain concise wherever possible. Cut out words you don’t need and don’t repeat yourself unless necessary for clarity.
  5. Avoid passive voice. Use action words wherever possible. For example, “The money owed was not paid by the defendant” is not as good as “The defendant did not pay the money owed.”
  6. Proofread and edit. Avoiding spelling mistakes, typographical errors and grammatical errors will help to ensure that your writing makes sense and is taken seriously.

These writing tips can be helpful for anyone who writes for school or for work. Check back often for more law school study tips on the Abraham Lincoln University blog.

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