Document Preparation

In most movies and television shows, lawyers are shown interviewing clients, investigating the facts, and making witty, barbed comments when examining a witness on the witness stand. However, for most attorneys, document preparation is one of the most important aspects of their responsibilities. Litigators...

Lifting the Fog of Legalese Targets Wide Audience: Plain Language for Everyone

It strikes everyone as an extreme case of the evils of jargon when a man is tried by a law he can't read, in a court which uses a language he can't understand. --A.P. Rossiter, Our Living Language p. 86 (1953) (quoted in J. Kimble, Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language p....

Legal Writing 201: Writing for the Real World

In most ABA-approved law schools, “Legal Research and Writing” is a class that gives far more work than credits and is typically a law student’s first exposure to one of the most important skills they will need as an attorney: writing. Most legal writing classes cover the basics –...

The long and the short of writing an internal legal memo

You have been assigned to draft your first internal legal memorandum for a particular partner. What approach should you take? How much detail should you include? What aspects of the legal issue should you cover? It’s your job to find out. The best writing approach may depend on your firm’s...

You have what it takes to research and write an open memo

An open memo discusses preliminary research on an issue, presents recommendations, and suggests additional research and inquiry that a senior attorney may wish to pursue to form his or her own conclusions and determine a specific course of action. Working on an open memo is an excellent way to...

Effective Legal Writing

Although most graduating law students and new attorneys understand the need to gain experience in the substantive areas of law, most feel relatively confident about their writing skills. Such confidence may be misplaced, however, as the requirements for writing prose and writing legal documents differ...

Action! How to Draft a Pleading

You need to initiate a legal action on behalf of one of your firm’s clients. Of course your overall objective is to put the opponent on notice. But whether the action involves personal injury, breach of contract, wrongful death, or any other issue, your work needs careful forethought. What resources...

Crunched for Time? Don't Cut Back on the Basics

While you might be tempted to submit a pleading or brief without proofreading it because of time limitations, you might want to think twice about that. As Shannon P. Duffy reported in the Legal Intelligencer , one attorney had his requested attorney fees slashed for his “slip-shod submissions”...

Writing for the Partners at Your Firm

By the time that you graduate from law school, you probably feel that you have a pretty good concept of legal writing, especially if you have an undergrad degree that concentrated heavily in drafting. Before you get too confident, I’ll share a story with you about my wake-up call. I graduated summa...

Improving Your Legal Writing through Blog Reading

If you’re reading this, you’re interested in improving your writing skills and you have internet access. Lucky you! Blogs on improving legal writing skills abound. Here are a few that I’ve found to be helpful: The (new) Legal Writer AdamsDrafting Bad Language Party of the...

Drafting a Successful Motion for Summary Judgment

You’ve been making progress at the firm, and now you’re drafting pre-trial motions. Are you ready to work on a motion for summary judgment? Why Firms Seek Summary Judgment When the material facts of a controversy are not in dispute, your firm can seek to prevail by making a motion...

Inside Baseball and Orwell’s 6 Rules for Clear Writing

" Inside baseball " refers to using jargon, specialized knowledge, acronyms, first names instead of full names, or other such things when speaking and writing. Using shorthand of this sort is simply more efficient when among friends, colleagues, or other "insiders." But there's...