Every assignment throughout law school is designed to make you think and write like a lawyer. Whether you are briefing cases, creating legal memos, writing research papers, or speeding through exam essays, you are expected to present logical arguments in a well organized and professional manner.
These various forms of legal writing all have similar fundamentals, which when learned, will help you master the difficult art of legal writing. When you learn to properly apply these fundamentals, your writing will become more precise and more organized, which will make your logical arguments much more understandable (and subsequently more persuasive).
The following articles describe these fundamentals in-depth:
The most essential aspect of any legal writing is fully understand the field(s) of law in question. A full understanding of the subject is necessary in order to properly organize your argument and effectively communicate it to the reader. If you begin writing before finishing your research, you will find yourself going back to rewrite major portions of your paper each time you discover a new source that alters or contradicts the logic of your original argument. Read more
Without effective organization, a reader may not grasp even the best of logical arguments; and even if they do, they will not be happy to have endured the torture of reading a disorganized paper. The primary goal of all legal writing is to convey a logical argument to the reader as efficiently and understandably as possible. Utilizing the proper organization is an essential step in that direction. Read More
After the research is done and you understand how to organize & outline your argument, it is time to put everything into words. Depending on your writing style, this may very well be the hardest part of the process. Legal writing (as with any professional writing) requires that you present logical arguments as efficiently as possible. The subject matter of legal writing is dense enough without the use of confusing habits such as writing in passive voice or using extraneous words; writing efficiently will help your reader comprehend the logic of your argument. Read More
Citation Errors And Bias
One of the most frequent and unforgivable mistakes made in legal writing is that of citation bias; whether inadvertent or intentional. This is not a problem of "making up" citations, but rather the problems of selective citation and improper paraphrasing of sources. If you do not fairy cite sources (including entire sources or portions thereof) that conflict with your argument, you are doing more damage to your argument and reputation than you may think. Read More