Drafting is one of the most significant tools of the legal profession. Drafting is used to advocate, persuade, inform and instruct. But most of the lawyers struggle a lot during the drafting. Although mastering legal drafting takes practice and time, superior writing skills are crucial to success, and one should take step by step to improve the same. In this article, we will be discussing six reasons why lawyers struggle with legal drafting and how can they deal with it.
Remembering the Audience
Most of the lawyers fail to understand what they should write for a different audience. They tend to write the same kind of thing for everyone which will later backfire. One should make sure that every word they write should be tailored well according to the needs of the people. Documents that symbolize the same research and message may vary critically in content and tone based on the document’s proposed audience. For instance, a brief which is submitted to the court must persuade and advocate. A memorandum to a client should analyze the issues, report the kind of the law, and recommend a suitable course of action. Always keep the audience in mind when drafting any piece of writing.
The Organization is the key to fruitful legal drafting. Many lawyers fail to create a roadmap for their writing by using visual clues to guide their reader. They do not introduce the subject in an introductory paragraph and use transitional phrases (“furthermore,” “however,” “in addition,” etc.) between each paragraph. So, one should try to introduce every paragraph with a topic sentence, and use proper headings and subheadings to break up blocks of the document. Many lawyers don’t limit each paragraph to one topic and sum up their message with a concluding sentence or paragraph. This will bring disinterest in the readers. So, Organizational structure of a document guides the reader through the text and promotes readability.
Most of the lawyers try to use Legalese i.e. particular legal phrases and jargon which makes their writing abstract, archaic and stilted. Some of the examples of legalese include words such as aforementioned, heretofore, herewith and wherein. So, to make the document good one should try to avoid the unnecessary legalese and other jargon in courtesy of the clear and simple. To avoid legalese and to promote clarity, one can try reading their sentence and substitute the abstract words with simple, concrete terms.
Not being Concise
Most of the lawyers have this misconception that, if their document is big then it is good. But this is not the point. Every word which is written in the document should contribute to the message. One should try to avoid extraneous words, eliminate redundancies, shorten complex sentences, and keep it simple.
Using Passive Voice
Passive voice in general masks the responsibility for an act by eradicating the subject of the verb. Active voice, on the other side, tells the reader who is doing the acting and clarifies the message conveyed. For instance, instead of saying “the filing deadline was missed,” it is suggested to say “plaintiff’s counsel missed the filing deadline.”
After drafting a document editing holds the major importance. So, one should try to edit their writing ruthlessly, ignoring unnecessary words and rephrasing for clarity. Careful proofreading is mainly important in legal writing. Punctuations, Spelling mistakes, or any kind of grammatical errors in a document submitted to the court, opposing counsel or a client can weaken the credibility as a legal professional.