Law Education

Master the art of legal writing

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The legal profession swears by the maxim verba volant, scripta manent, which means ‘spoken words fly away, written words remain’. While the legal world has seen a radical shift in its functioning, it still lacks good legal writing. The various aspects of legal writing involve analysis of fact patterns, presentation of arguments, briefs and memorandums, drafting balance analysis of an issue and drafting contracts and wills. It is highly essential for lawyers or law aspirants to be able to use the language with ease and convey their arguments as cogently and clearly as possible.

The recent financial crisis and global recession has led to more people looking for legal help to ward off takeovers or tackle problems such as failed mortgages and repayment of loans. Legal research and writing have played a major role in coping with this rush.

One needs to look at a few pertinent questions in developing the art of legal writing: Does it require knowledge of advanced English grammar? Does it involve ornamenting documents with technical and complex words? Let’s start with this: What exactly is legal writing? It is a form of technical writing practised by lawyers, judges and those in the paralegal profession.

Important rules

Writer’s and reader’s perspective: A well-written document will include the perspective of both the writer and the reader. The former involves persuasion and the latter is based on the overall interpretation of the document.

Language matters: An effective and relevant document will use appropriate words and grammar. It has to be both clear and concise and any deviation from grammar rules may distort the message being conveyed.

Avoid repetition: The writer’s language should be elegant and evocative without being cluttered and repetitive. There is no need to use fancy word/phrases when a simple one will do.

Mastering this art is a lengthy process and requires immense research and patience, as the document may be reviewed multiple times. However, it helps to express one’s ideas simply and also brings benefit in the court of law.

The writer is Director, Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 4:08:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/master-the-art-of-legal-writing/article33258051.ece

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