Effective Legal Writing: A Guide for Students and Practitioners
Douglas E. Abrams, Effective Legal Writing: A Guide for Students and Practitioners, West Academic, 2016
Posted: 27 Jun 2016
Date Written: April 1, 2016
“The English language knows only two types of writing — good writing and bad writing. Good legal writing is good writing about a legal subject.” From this core proposition, this compact book provides researching and writing lessons for 1L’s, upper class law students, and practicing lawyers. Leading judges, lawyers, and literary figures help deliver many of the lessons.
An early chapter covers the foundations of good legal writing, beginning with avid reading, maintaining personal and professional commitment to the client’s interests, and “earning the right to a reader.” Also covered are such foundations as identifying the audience, scheduling, outlining, orienting readers, maintaining civility and professionalism, and adhering to bias-free writing.
Later chapters concern researching, writing, editing, and dismantling barriers to effective written expression. Topics include the consequences of inadequate research; the four fundamentals of good legal writing (conciseness, precision, simplicity, and clarity); and reason and passion in persuasive writing. Chapters on editing and proofreading stress the writer’s need to restrain pride of authorship that would stiffen resistance to constructive pre-publication input. Chapters treat three major barriers – misused jargon, acronyms, and footnotes.
Chapters on versatility describe how lawyers, if their personal and professional circumstances permit, can fulfill professional responsibility and achieve personal satisfaction by writing in such diverse forums as newspaper editorial pages, law reviews, bar association journals, and blogs.
Keywords: writing, legal writing, research, persuasive, professional responsibility, judges, lawyers
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