Writing tips for new lawyers and law students

My legal writing professor opened the class with these prophetic words, "If lawyers got paid by the word, we'd all be wealthy.  But we don't, and we're not."   As attorneys, we have a habit of using longer, complicated words when we could be concise and to the point.  You probably caught the intentional redundancy at the end of the last sentence, illustrating the point. (LexisNexis)

Lawjobs.com recently included some valuable tips for becoming a more effective legal writer in a post by Elizabeth Lampert, president of Elizabeth Lampert PR, and attorney John di Bene.  The post provides tips on how lawyers can improve their writing. To be an effective persuasive writer, the authors note, a writer must be clear and able to convince the reader to take action. (LexisNexis)

Their suggestions include:
  1. The three "C's" of writing, be clear, concise and crisp. Good writing reflects clear thinking and reaches a conclusion based on a progression of logical statements. Use the simplest possible language and do not confuse the reader with acronyms.
  2. Choose the "right" word. Select your words carefully to find the one word that helps make your point.
  3. Write with a good attitude (do not be patronizing, condescending or arrogant).
  4. Write to meet your client's needs by being concise, accurate and focused. Don't go overboard.
  5. Allow clarity to prevail over grammar perfection. Lampert makes the point that as an attorney, you are writing tom state your points and make your case, not to ace your English class.
  6. Rewriting is an essential element of good writing. If you have to read something twice for it to make sense, you need to rewrite it and make it clear.
Just remember, your writing is a reflection of your ability to communicate clearly.  Lampert adds, "clients will appreciate your lawyering skills all the more if you display superior writing skill, are not self-conscious about style and technique, and are able to execute complex writing tasks quickly, intelligently and effectively." (LexisNexis)