Drafting documents is one of the most significant things in the legal profession. Words are used to advocate, persuade, inform and instruct. Although mastering legal drafting skills takes practice and time, superior drafting skills are necessary for success. In this article, we will be discussing tips to polish legal drafting skills, this is especially useful for law students who are just going to enter the “legal world”.
Keep readers in mind
Every word which is written should be drafted according to the needs of the reader. Documents that represent the identical research and message may vary significantly in tone and content based on the document’s intended readers.
For instance, a brief submitted to the court must persuade and advocate. A memorandum to the client must examine the issues, report the state of the law and recommend a suitable course of action. So, it is always better to keep the readers in mind when drafting a document.
Organization is the key to effective legal drafting. Create a roadmap for drafting by making use of visual clues to direct the readers. Introduce the subject in an introductory paragraph, make use of transitional phrases such as “moreover, however, furthermore, in addition”, etc. between each paragraph.
Introduce every paragraph with a subject sentence and make use of headings and subheadings to break up big blocks of text. Try to limit every paragraph to a single topic and sum up the message with a conclusion. Organizational structure directs the readers through the text and ensures readability.
Balancing the use of legalese
The legal professionals have always wanted to use legalese or excessively complex legal terminologies. For many new-age lawyers, using simple language is becoming progressively important to convey a message clearly without any kind of obscurity. So, it is better to avoid superfluous legalese and start using clear, equally balanced language without many flowery words.
Every word which is drafted should contribute to the message. One should avoid superfluous words, reduce complex sentences, eliminate dismissals and keep it simple. Make sure paragraphs are small and feature only single topic at once.
Drafting concise documents will improve the quality of the documents and eliminates vagueness. One of the main aims of concise legal drafting can be understood as “less is more”.
Editing the document
Editing and proofreading the written copies is most important to make sure the documents have clarity and readability. There should be no typos, punctuations or any kind of grammatical errors in a document which is submitted to the court because this might demoralize the credibility of a lawyer. So, one should be always careful while editing a document.
It is always best to have a default structure for the documents so that all one needs to do is draft the content with the new requirements or make any amendments to the old one. Using this technique one will be always reworking on the documents and running the risk of leaving unnecessary old information in the new document.
In order to reduce the time spent on legal drafting, leverage the latest technology like a voice to text converter application.