Authorized Writing – What Makes Permanently Legal Writing (Hint — It is Not Primarily About Technique)
What constitutes good lawful writing?
The question by itself comes off as oxymoronic. In the popular mind, attorneys are known for polysyllabic prose and unrelenting bombast. Examples of poor lawyer writing abound — in legal briefs, attorney letters, legislative enactments, management regulations, and lawyer-driven political discourse. These serve as a treasure trove of material about what not to do for those promoting great writing. One marvel at exactly how mercilessly language can be mutilated.
Yet words are our currency in all aspects of our exercise. And good lawyering does require good writing. Exactly what, then, are the elements of great writing applied to our field?
Good writing will certainly reflect good thinking. A good lawyer may lack composing strength, but a lawyer who writes well will also understand how to think well. One is simply not possible without the other. Weak writing will often lack not much style as thought. Law firms are taught to present their materials in a certain technique: set out facts, apply rules, and draw conclusions. A poor law firm will mimic this process without offering sound to your client: logic will be ill-composed, tough points ignored or maybe glossed, and analysis missing. This is nothing more than faking the idea. And clients see this kind all too clearly. Good publishing must always have sharp, clean thought behind it.
Fine writing will reflect a good attitude. Nothing makes a buyer wince so much as a law firm patronizing, condescending, officious, or arrogant. Folksy isn’t any better at the other serious. Writing that reflects this attitude will harm buyer relations and negotiations on terms, among other things. Good writing will be direct, down-to-earth, and specialized because the attitude underlying it can also be that way.
Good publishing will be apt for the company’s needs. Clients have not wanted to pay for writing as artwork, and even a technically great writing style is lost if it simply amounts for you to undue word-fiddling or other activity that adds greatly to a client’s bill without furthering a legitimate client function. And so, the dash-off item should be dashed off, the heat-of-battle item treated accordingly, and the complex item edited with good purpose. Aptness also means “fit” in a pair of critical senses: it excludes the “paper as a result in itself” goal of a selected rigid style of lawyering, plus it excludes the churning which could occur if the product is produced primarily to allow a novice lawyer to learn on the job. The clientele does not desire to pay for any lawyer’s stuffiness or get a lawyer’s greenness. Good creating will always be apt to the purpose of a lawyer who will be prepared and rightly targeted to meet a client’s genuine needs.
Good writing may reflect versatility. The legitimate needs of clients may be complex but not ultra-specialized, and the niche-focused writing style of department specialists often misses the particular practical point of trouble faced by such a consumer. Being niche-based and pricey, such ultra-specialists will feel a purpose to parade their knowledge. The result is often a heavy written product that will destroy by its sheer exhaustiveness. Great work but ill-fitted for the problem at hand. For most clientele, good writing will mirror the versatility of a palm that can shift easily from accuracy in contract composing to an apt tone to get deal-making to a vigorous briefing for disputes.
Good producing will reflect traditional good-writing principles aptly applied. Equally, parts of this are important. It can be good to be simple, strong, brief, and clear. Although simple, short, and dynamic can become simplistic, monotonic, and rigidly unnatural. A bad article author may ignore good-writing policies, but an equally bad one will apply them one-dimensionally in an arty or technical fashion. A good writer will work, neither. Thus, while sick and tired use of passive voice can bring about stylistic pomposity, a convey exclusion of passive tone can lead to staccato in addition to unnatural style. The same goes for any arbitrary energy to use exclusively for short thoughts or sentences. Good production must be down-to-earth and healthy, never stilted or stuffy, and the writing style should reflect this.
Good production will draw from loaded, deep resources. A strong producing style is not developed daily. A lawyer who writes very well will often have developed the main part of the needed depth in addition to discipline for this craft sometime before passing the bar exam. Ideas may vary on what form this will likely take. Still, one could suggest disciplined studiousness, a scientific approach to continually exercising ourselves in writing over the years, and depth in understanding connected with language. Good academics allows as well: this can be part of a new deep reserve of suitable habits, knowledge, and hobby from which excellence derives after a legal career. And, mainly because writing is a craft, it also is important that a lawyer will have used the muscles needed to build toughness over the years: one learns to post by doing the hard work connected with writing, often and very well.
An illustration of a toolbox best understands the depth of language examination: one may certainly be a good or even excellent contractor without having a broad mix of modern tools to use in employment, but having such applications immeasurably what a professional carpenter can do. So too, along with a lawyer who seeks to be well-equipped. The diligent review of language allows you to gain a deep familiarity with word families, a large vocabulary, and a strong comprehension of how words are best bought to achieve clarity, interest, and power. One can write properly without this, just as one can easily code well without being competent at designing the buildings of a complex software program. Yet, one who can do both will be optimally prepared to attack the complete.
In advocacy, good creating will reflect muscularity, yanking a reader from 1st to last by push of logical inevitability. This specific style requires a firm understanding of the subject. It requires reliable, understated control to include a feeling of assured self-assurance. And it avoids critical defects: it does not strain, vaunt, table-pound, or strike the person. It is professional. It offers classes. It works like a strong engine under the hood: your show itself, but anyone who also hears that quiet sound will immediately sense it is power. Done right, that projects quintessential vigor: that races along and even advances off the page on the energy of its power only.
Writing well is critical to be able to certain forms of lawyering specifically — whether in the unsavoriness of a contract, the push of a demand letter, the particular tone of a negotiating placement, the power of an argument, or the quality of strategic advice. Complainants can tell if writing is vibrant or lies dead over a page if it makes sense or sounds ill-defined or discordant if it is a source of taking great pride in or embarrassment. So too can easily an adverse party, a lawyer on the reverse side of a deal, an assessment deciding a case, or a table of directors seeking how you can a matter. Though writing energy does not define very good lawyering, for many purposes inside the law, a client will sorely feel its lack no matter the remaining skills.
Clients may appreciate your lawyering expertise all the more if you display excellent writing skills, are not self-conscious about style and approach, and can execute sophisticated writing tasks quickly, smartly, and effectively for the activity at hand. These are goals worth striving for.
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