IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
HiOCEAN

New
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:24 pm

IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

Postby HiOCEAN » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:02 pm

I feel my school had a bad legal writing program. I already graduated, but am not sure if my writing is up to par. Does anybody have any suggestions on how to improve my writing/communication skills. My grammar is fine, I am looking more at sentence structure and vocabulary improvement. Where can I find good examples of legal writing? (I did law school part time, so I didn't have the traditional summer jobs or internships to practice this in a work setting).

thanks in advance!

tomwatts

Gold
Posts: 1710
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

Postby tomwatts » Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:25 pm

HiOCEAN wrote:Where can I find good examples of legal writing?

A few possibilities:
* Supreme Court opinions, especially from Justices who are/were particularly respected for their writing.
* US Solicitor General's Office briefs (https://www.justice.gov/osg/supreme-court-briefs).
* Any other briefs from top appellate lawyers in private practice (SCOTUS briefs are linked on SCOTUSblog).

You could also consider reading a book on legal writing, such as:
* Basically anything by Bryan Garner
* Any of the bajillion books on legal writing on Amazon

Reading bad briefs is also sometimes instructive, just to see ways in which legal writing can go wrong. Clicking at random through briefs before a state appeals court (even a state supreme court) will probably get you some bad briefs by experienced lawyers. Many state supreme courts post the briefs on their websites.

timmyd

Bronze
Posts: 370
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:50 pm

Re: IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

Postby timmyd » Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:34 pm

I honestly find legal writing so subjective. I've incorporated Garnder's principles, only to have partners (and my judge as a clerk) strike the principles I incorporated. Best way to improve legal writing? Probably clerking or any position in which you are tasked with heavy writing and editing assingments.

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1279
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

Postby mjb447 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:43 pm

Yeah, the best way to become a better writer is to write a lot in a setting where you have to edit yourself and/or have someone edit it. It's really the only way to work out how to apply broad principles of legal writing in practice.

HiOCEAN

New
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:24 pm

Re: IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

Postby HiOCEAN » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:04 pm

Good advice. Thanks!

User avatar
HillandHollow

New
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:43 pm

Re: IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS

Postby HillandHollow » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:48 pm

In my experience, the most common "bad writing" mistakes are fixed when students do the following:

(1) Learn what "passive voice" is, and how to fix it
(2) Stop trying to sound overly-legal/using nonsense lawyer phrases and words
(3) Adhere as strictly as possible to the IRAC/CRAC format
(4) Encapsulate your entire argument in one sentence, and make that your heading
(5) Aim for sentences of about 15 words or less on average

Caveat: I am talking almost exclusively about briefs/advocative writing. I'm not an expert on corporate memos and the such



Return to ā€œAsk a Law Student / Graduateā€?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot] and 12 guests