Self-edit like a pro
by Adam Allgood
rnest Hemingway rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. Why? He was focused on "getting the words right," as he explained. To make your legal writing great, you need to approach it with this same passion for excellence and rolled-up sleeves work ethic. That means revising your draft again and again until it’s just right. So before you submit a brief, letter, or report, be your own best self-editor.
Delete the little word that causes big bloat
by Ken Fung
t’s hard to believe that a simple, two-letter word like "of" can bloat your writing. But it’s true. For instance, you may see a brief refer to "the Chief Engineer of the Mobile Division of the Defendant." But I can communicate the same information in four fewer words: "the Defendant’s Mobile Division’s Chief Engineer." Bloat is an enemy of interesting story telling. Editing out "of" and other unnecessary prepositions is a useful tool for polishing your writing into its most interesting and precise form.
Deploy active verbs
by Jeff Saltman
very story needs not only characters, but also action. Verbs provide that action. They make the story go. "To be" verbs, though, lack action; they feel almost inert. Thus, treat is, am, was, were, will be, have been, and so on as a last resort. Try identifying each "to be" verb in your draft, and replace it with a stronger verb. The English language offers an almost never-ending supply of such verbs. So use them, and swap inaction for action.
start with "and" & "but"
by Matt Benner
t some point in our lives, we were told that you can’t start a sentence with "and" or "but." Well, whoever told us that was wrong. You should begin anywhere from one fifth to one third of your sentences with these short, snappy connectors, along with others such as "so" and "hence." These handy words allow you to better link each sentence to the directly preceding and subsequent sentences, and thus help you lay a smooth path for the reader to follow.
Drop the Heavy Connectors
by Nick Garver
otwithstanding the fact that, inasmuch as, and in contradistinction. These aren’t phrases you’d expect to read in the newspaper or hear on "All Things Considered." But far too often, these types of long, heavy, and difficult transitional words and phrases dominate legal writing. So while strong persuasive writing requires helpful transitions, you can better serve your reader by casting these heavy connectors aside in favor of lighter words and phrases that convey the same meaning. So, "notwithstanding the fact that" becomes "although," "inasmuch as" becomes "since," and "in contradistinction" becomes "instead of."