Ten Tips to Torture-Free Legal Writing For Paralegals

Ten Tricks to Torture-Free Authorized Writing For Paralegals

Historically, the duty of authorized writing has been assumed by the legal professional. More and more now, nevertheless, paralegals are being requested by their supervising attorneys to organize a wide range of authorized paperwork. Some paperwork are created for inner functions, relied upon by the legal professional in preparation for litigation or an attraction. Different paperwork are reviewed by the legal professional, revised, and finally filed with the courtroom. In legislation places of work of all sizes, it’s not unusual for knowledgeable paralegals to jot down case briefs, analysis memoranda, motions, memoranda of factors and authorities, and even appellate briefs.Authorized writing could be intimidating for essentially the most seasoned authorized skilled. Approaching your subsequent authorized writing project doesn’t must be a frightening expertise should you can keep in mind this pneumonic system:Each Excellent Paralegal Is aware of Learn how to Write Effectively and Successfully.The primary letter of every phrase corresponds with a tip to assist propel your authorized writing expertise. In the event you observe these ten suggestions, you’ll be properly in your solution to torture-free authorized writing!Tip #1 – Set up a G.O.A.L. to your writing undertaking.

Earlier than you place pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard, you could first collect some important info. This info is the GOAL of your undertaking.* G stands for the bottom guidelines to your undertaking. Whether or not you play golf, Monopoly, or checkers, a radical understanding of the principles of the sport is paramount. The identical precept holds true in authorized writing. Familiarize your self with the doc format that must be adopted, the sort font and font dimension which are required, and the margins which are acceptable. In case you are writing a doc that will likely be used internally, make sure to observe the format most well-liked by your legal professional. Use samples of beforehand submitted work as a information in finishing your project. In case you are getting ready an appellate courtroom transient, you must know the process for incorporating references to the report and the transcript. If in case you have any questions in regards to the technical necessities to your doc, ask your legal professional or seek the advice of the native guidelines of the courtroom the place the doc will likely be filed. Or, name the clerk of courtroom. As a result of failure to observe the courtroom guidelines could also be grounds for the clerk to reject your submitting, it’s at all times prudent to ask questions and get it proper the primary time.* O stands for the target of your undertaking. Now that you realize the bottom guidelines, you must know methods to “win” the sport. What’s the function of your project? Are you writing to tell or to steer? Are you writing a analysis memorandum to tell your legal professional in regards to the shopper’s viable defenses beneath state legislation? Or, are you writing to steer the courtroom to disclaim the opposing social gathering’s movement for abstract judgment? Understanding the target of your undertaking allows you to higher strategy the best way you conduct your analysis. Maintaining the target in thoughts additionally helps you focus and construction your writing, safeguarding towards the probability that key info will likely be ignored or omitted.* A stands to your viewers. Whether or not you might be writing to your legal professional, one other paralegal, opposing counsel, the shopper, or to the courtroom, you will need to tailor your writing fashion, tone, and ritual in a way acceptable to your meant viewers. For instance, using contractions is mostly thought of too casual when writing to the courtroom, however could also be acceptable when writing a analysis memorandum to your legal professional.* L stands for the restrictions to your undertaking. When your legal professional offers you an project, you must affirm the due date. In case you are getting ready a doc that can finally be filed with the courtroom, you also needs to know the submitting deadline. Relying upon the kind of doc you might be getting ready, it will likely be necessary to know the relevant statute of limitations for the trigger(s) of motion being asserted. Moreover, you must seek the advice of the courtroom guidelines for any restrictions on the variety of pages your doc could embody and the variety of displays that could be appended.Tip #2 – Arrange your analysis supplies.

Hours of analysis are meaningless if that seminal case you want is buried someplace beneath the piles of paper and stacks of folders in your desk. For simple group and worry-free retrieval, hole-punch your analysis supplies and file them by class in a three-ring binder. Use color-coded tabs and specifically marked dividers to separate your supplies into main and secondary authority, obligatory and persuasive authority, and federal and state authority.Within the higher right-hand nook of the primary web page of every case you pull, word the client-matter quantity, the date you retrieved the case, and the authorized precept(s) for which the case is necessary. Once you file the case and wish to drag it later, you will not should re-read it to remember why you printed it out within the first place. Create an index or desk of contents of your analysis supplies and replace it as vital. Save the doc in your PC and place a tough copy within the binder.Tip #3- Put together a top level view.

After you have accomplished your analysis, however earlier than you start writing, put together a top level view of the data you’ll embody in your doc. Use the required format to your doc as a software in creating your define. As an illustration, if you’re writing an appellate transient, your define ought to mirror every part of the transient, together with the assertion of the problems, assertion of the info, and argument elements. In your define, for every situation you plan to debate, embody an IRAC (Concern-Rule-Evaluation-Conclusion) breakdown.In case you are writing a authorized memorandum or appellate transient, record the foremost factors you’ll deal with in your argument part and the subheadings that can go beneath these factors. Keep in mind that stronger arguments ought to seem earlier than weaker ones. After you will have ready a preliminary define, break it down additional into paragraph ranges. Briefly determine the subject of every paragraph and record the data that will likely be included within the paragraph together with the relevant references to authority you’ll cite. This course of could sound laborious, however investing important time to organize your define will truly prevent time in the long term.Tip #4 – Preserve your writing easy and brief.

With apologies to your school English teacher, authorized writing ain’t about utilizing flowery phrases or melodic prose to convey your concepts. Quite the opposite, authorized writing is about lowering the complicated to the easy. The summary to the concrete. And the superfluous to the mandatory. The road in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”, the place he writes of strolling with kings however not shedding the widespread contact, sums up what must be your strategy to authorized writing. Although chances are you’ll be addressing attorneys and judges with a number of superior levels and numerous years of authorized expertise, you must write your doc in such a method that the common particular person can perceive your message. Assume the one that will learn your doc has by no means attended legislation faculty or graduated from a paralegal program. Preserve your writing easy, however do not sacrifice precision. State the info, increase the problems, assist your argument with the authority, and finish with an acceptable “call to action.” In different phrases…get to the purpose!Good authorized writing can be brief, or concise. Keep away from utilizing multisyllabic phrases when a shorter phrase alternative will show simply as efficient. Substitute a single phrase for a lengthier phrase. “Filed an action against” turns into “sue” and “with regard to” turns into “concerning.” Write briefly sentences (25 phrases or much less) to intensify your reader’s understanding. Likewise, shorter paragraphs assist your reader higher digest your message. You do not eat a steak abruptly. Slightly, you are taking your time, savoring it piece by piece in a number of bites. Equally, you do not need to overwhelm the reader with a paragraph that extends three-quarters of the web page. Divide longer paragraphs into extra palatable two or three brief paragraphs.Tip #5 – Maintain the reader’s curiosity.

Good writing captures the reader’s curiosity in the beginning, builds upon that curiosity all through the center, and satiates that curiosity on the finish. Efficient authorized writing is not any completely different. As you assemble your doc, take away all obstacles and roadblocks to holding your reader’s consideration. I counsel you embody a built-in navigation system. Initially of your doc, give your reader a roadmap of the place you’re going and clarify how you plan to get there. All through your doc, insert mile markers to orient your reader as to how the part she or he is studying suits inside the greater image.Forestall reading-induced hypnosis by various the size of your sentences and paragraphs. Use headings and subheadings as acceptable to interrupt up enormous blocks of textual content on the web page. Incorporate ample white house to present your readers a visible (and psychological) resting place. Emphasize key factors or phrases with particular formatting corresponding to italics and daring, however watch out to not overdo an excellent factor. Use bulleted lists as acceptable. Strategically positioned graphs, charts, and tables add substantive worth to your writing and likewise assist additional have interaction your reader.Tip #6 – Tie it along with matter sentences and transition bridges.

The earlier tip mentioned the significance of offering your reader with course on the outset of your doc and guideposts alongside the best way. An efficient solution to accomplish that is to begin every paragraph with a subject sentence to introduce the topic you plan to debate. Finish every paragraph with a transition bridge to the following paragraph. Phrases corresponding to “however,” “moreover,” and “in addition” will help create a seamless transition between impartial, however associated, ideas. Utilizing transition language as you progress from one level to the following contributes to the general cohesiveness of your writing.Tip #7 – Write in energetic voice.

It’s at all times an excellent rule of thumb to make use of energetic voice in any type of writing. To do that, organize your sentence in order that the topic performs the motion expressed by the verb. Within the majority of situations, a sentence written utilizing energetic voice is extra clear and direct than one written utilizing passive voice. However this common precept, there could also be instances when the info in your case dictate using passive voice. For instance, in a legal case the place your legal professional represents the accused, you actually wouldn’t need to write, “The defendant assaulted the victim.” As a substitute, you’ll write, “The victim was assaulted.”Tip #8 – Write in constructive voice.

Use a glass half-full strategy in your authorized writing through the use of constructive voice. Change unfavourable statements into affirmative statements. Evaluate “The defendant should not be prohibited from asserting a contributory negligence.” with “The defendant must be permitted to assert a contributory negligence defense.” Discover how the second sentence reads higher and is extra direct.Tip #9 – Keep away from legalese and authorized jargon every time doable.

As creatures of behavior, we regularly discover it difficult to embrace new methods of doing issues. We tend to fall again on the acquainted. Fortunately, the foothold this sort of resistance has gained within the space of authorized writing goes the best way of the pet rock. Legislation faculty professors and authorized practitioners alike are eschewing using archaic authorized jargon and legalese. So do you have to. Legalese and jargon solely perform to obscure the which means of your message. Embody them provided that completely vital. (In the event you come throughout an “absolutely necessary” occasion, let me know.)Tip #10 – Edit your writing for the 7 Cs.

After you full your first draft, fastidiously evaluate your work and edit for the next:* Readability – Intention for specificity. Add info if wanted to make clear your level. Take away info that makes your level muddy. Rephrase or re-work passages to make sure your level is conveyed clearly and meaningfully.* Completeness – Use the define you ready from Tip #Three as a guidelines to find out in case your doc is full. Assessment your doc to see should you included the required components and vital info.* Conciseness – Eradicate pointless phrases and fillers. Take away redundancies. Keep in mind to maintain your sentences and paragraphs easy, brief, and to the purpose.* Concreteness – Eradicate prolonged authorized phrases and substitute shorter concrete phrases and phrases. “Apprehended the suspect” turns into “arrested Mrs. Johnson.”* Consistency – Learn by your writing to make sure your use of tenses and pronouns is constant from starting to finish. Test to see that you simply used the identical phrase or phrase every time you referred to the identical idea. For instance, should you use the phrase “terminated” to characterize what occurred to your shopper within the first part of your writing, you will need to change any references to your shopper being “dismissed” or “fired” that seem later in your doc.* Continuity – Assessment your work for organizational continuity. Sentences and paragraphs ought to move logically from one to the following. Learn the primary and final sentences of every paragraph. If you’ll be able to glean the foremost factors by studying these sentences alone, your writing has wonderful continuity.* Correctness – Confirm the authorized authority you cited remains to be legitimate. Double-check your quotation format. Assessment your work to see that you’ve got precisely acknowledged the info. Lastly, fastidiously proofread your work for spelling, grammar, typographical and different kinds of errors that can detract out of your message.After you will have made these revisions, ask a buddy or member of the family who doesn’t have a authorized background to learn your work. Then, hearken to the suggestions. Make a second spherical of revisions as vital. After which? Breathe straightforward since you are completed. Congratulations.Copyright © 2009 MARIGOLD CONSULTING. All rights reserved.