Legal Copy: Legalese v. Plain Writing
If you are in your first year of law school or beyond, chances are you are a competent writer. The term legal writing may fill you with dread, however, as you imagine all the long tomes of legalese surely now you are expected to emulate spectacularly. The truth is though, people should be able to read what you write—and yes, even enjoy it at times. Writing to your reader, your audience, can be much easier than you think, and especially if you envision them in your mind while you are typing. Chances are they are not all that much different from you, and they appreciate clear words on paper—or as is so often the case today, on a screen.
If you are creating a contract, obviously, this is not going to be a great creative work. But it should be comprehensive and easy to comprehend. If others have come to you to draft a contract in the future, then they probably are not attorneys, and legalese certainly won’t help them. Whether you are handling a business contract or a partnership contract, everyone involved should understand each point, be engaged enough in the reading process to raise valid questions if there are any, and they should feel comfortable signing off.
There is no good reason to torture your reader, or to make them feel powerless in tackling the subject at hand: your writing. Plain writing allows you to engage your reader, even if it is just a contract. If they are reading, that’s probably because the topic or the document pertains to them, and they are interested (initially, anyway). Remember who you are writing too and organize your thoughts accordingly with an outline, strong transitional phrases, topic sentences, and a succinct conclusion. Part of finding your ‘voice’ may be to say the words (or even dictate them) as you formulate your piece. That can be very easy to do today, allowing you to take down thoughts and notes quickly, and then re-work them into your written piece later. Be as concise as possible and be prepared to get out that red pen and edit.
Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your four-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.