Good legal writing can win cases; but it’s hard work to be a good legal writer. To be effective, the writer must write clearly and persuasively about complicated matters to readers who have short attention spans—and who are sometimes hostile to the ideas articulated. So like any learned skill, good legal writing takes practice and a mastery of certain fundamentals.
Writing is the art of transference. For legal writers, the goal is to transfer your thoughts to the judge and persuade her to rule in your client’s favor—but a judge may find it hard to focus on the merits of a particular argument if the words used to express it show that the writer is wasting the judge’s time, or is advocating a position that will get the judge reversed. In other words, poor legal writing often results in failed attempts at persuasion.
With that in mind, the discussions in this blog offer simple rules that will help make your legal writing clearer and more persuasive.