The written word is one of the most important tools for those in the legal profession. It used to be that this was a task done exclusively by attorneys, but more supervising attorneys are passing the job on to their paralegals.
Mastering legal writing takes time and practice. Fortunately for you, we’ve gathered a few simple pieces of advice to help you with your legal writing skills.
Know and Remember Your Audience
Whether you are writing to a client, the court, your attorney, or another paralegal, write the documents according to the needs of your audience.
For instance, you can use contractions when writing a research memorandum to your attorney. When writing to the court, however, it is best to avoid them. Isn’t, they’re, and would’ve are considered too informal in the court setting.
Make an Outline
Organized thought is the key to successful legal writing. Prepare an outline for your writing; use the appropriate format for your document. If you’re writing an appellate brief, your outline should follow the format of the brief, including the statement of facts, issues, and arguments. This kind of organized structure in your legal writing will help guide the reader through your text. Simply put, it promotes readability.
Keep It Short and Simple—No Legalese
Legal writing isn’t about using fancy phrases or complex words. It’s about simplifying the already complex ideas into short and simple phrases. Get rid of extra words, shorten the long sentences, and avoid redundancies. Every word you write should contribute to the message you intend to present.
It’s important to avoid legalese or special legal phrases and jargon as well. These words only make the meaning of the message unclear, so use them only when necessary.
Every excellent paralegal knows how to write well. Legal writing can be intimidating even for the most seasoned legal professional, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you want to really write well, enroll in a Paralegal Certificate course here at The Center for Legal Studies. Our curriculum includes Legal Writing and Appellate Procedure. Here you’ll learn to prepare legal memoranda effectively.
Call us today for inquiries.