Plain language practitioners do not require lawyers to write like lifestyle bloggers or tabloid journalists; They ask lawyers to use proven techniques so that others can understand them more easily. There`s more to it than that. Yet because of this confusion over the word legal language, some lawyers view the plain language movement as a radical faction of foreigners trying to “foolish” their noble profession. However, if we were all on the same page about the importance of legal language, we would find that legal authors do not need to avoid understanding and clarity. Drafting legal documents such as contracts is different because, unlike most other categories of legal drafting, it is common to use language and clauses derived from form books, legal opinions, and other documents without attribution. Lawyers use standard documents when drafting documents such as contracts, wills, and judgments. The main difference between using sentences or paragraphs from other legal documents and copying them in other contexts or copying the entire document is that lawyers do use a common set of clauses that they adapt and modify for their own purposes.  This is a stupid definition of legal language for several reasons. The legal drafting process doesn`t stop when the piece is finished. One of the most common mistakes writers make is not budgeting for the editing phase – a thorough editing and editing process takes time.
Legal writing uses extensive specialized terminology, which can be classified in four ways: You should keep them running for now. This is not an exhaustive list, but an introduction to some examples of legal language when it comes to Latin. The courts have criticized the use of legal language. “[It is] a document full of legal language that can make a Byzantine scholar proud.” State of Wisconsin v. Eason, 629 N.W.2d 625 (Wis. 2001) (dissenting). See also Gelinas v. State, 398 p.w.3d 703 (Tex. Crim. App.
2013) (Cochran, consensus) (“These instructions are 100% legal. They make no sense”). 3. Use well-understood artistic terms if they are more precise than general terminology and if you are writing to a professional audience. The beginning law student will have a hard time knowing when an art term is likely to be well understood, as they are all new to the beginner. Over time, however, new law students will develop a slight familiarity with artistic terms, and deciding whether or not to use them will be less difficult. If users have trouble understanding your policies because there is too much legal language, it could have consequences for your business. Similarly, judges, older lawyers, and those who just think legal language is cool will start throwing out silly phrases like “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” Instead of just nodding your head and hoping no one will ask you for an explanation, it might be helpful to know what some of these phrases actually mean. Court documents are often the last to be updated to avoid legal language, even though lawyers (who aren`t really quick as a profession) have gone beyond this style of writing. But here`s the thing: legal language is different from legal language. However, the litmus test for the construction of a “legal” document is the repetition of numbers in Arabic characters and words. Where can you find a 10-day notice period described as “ten (10) days` notice”? This form of repetition seems to be based on the assumption that a typical reader will not be able to discern the meaning of a number unless it is repeated as both a word and an Arabic character.
This custom is so ingrained in the defence of real estate that even the transmission of two copies of a title bond to a client is called “Please find enclosed two (2) copies of the title report”. Where else, except when writing cheques, is it necessary to use both numbers and letters? Third, legal language is difficult to read. As you can see in my legal examples here, things written in legal language are much harder to read. The result is that your hard work may not achieve its goal if your recipient can`t easily follow your reasoning. When I try to read your letter and continue to Google words like “otiosis” or “prima facie” that you have decided, I am distracted, frustrated and confused. I`ll also feel stupid for not being able to understand your letter, and it probably won`t do you any favors if I`m your client – because being stupid will make me angry, and chances are I`ll just call you to ask what the answer is. Legal language refers informally to the specialized terminology and expressions used by people in the legal field and in legal documents. Legal language is notoriously difficult for the public to understand. The most important features of classical legal language include long, verbose and complicated sentence structures with passive and outdated formalisms, as well as the use of Latin, archaic or unnecessarily long words when a simpler and clearer language exists. Persuasive writing is the most stylized rhetorically. Thus, although a procedural document clarifies the legal issues, describes the authorities, and applies authority to the matter – as does a memorandum – the part of the procedural document relating to the application is formulated as an argument. The author argues for an approach to resolving the legal issue and does not present a neutral analysis.
The use of jargon, including legal terms, is only appropriate in certain contexts. For example, using too much “legal language” with a client who is unfamiliar with certain legal issues can confuse them and confuse the conversation with unnecessary questions. Naturally, it can be difficult to spot spelling and grammar mistakes right away. Once you`ve read your document several times, you`ll usually cover up your own mistakes. Other helpful legal writing tips for the editing process include reading your letter aloud or reading to sharpen your focus and spot mistakes you would otherwise miss. Distinguish this from an email or SMS that appears in plain language. When we suddenly switch to “formal writing mode,” we have a compelling need to write in a way we would never do anywhere else. Many U.S. law schools teach legal writing in a way that recognizes the inherent technical complexity of law and the justified formality that complexity often requires, but with an emphasis on clarity, simplicity, and candor. Yet many practicing lawyers facing deadlines and heavy workloads often resort to a hyperformal, outdated, and template-based writing style in analytical and transactional documents.
This is understandable, but it sometimes unfortunately perpetuates an unnecessarily formal style of legal writing. In your initial design, focus on capturing the right information. Make sure that the information is complete and sufficient, and that the content flows from one section to another. Give yourself as many drafts as you need before your deadline. Also, give your writing some breathing space by pausing and returning to it with fresh eyes. Use the legal writing tips above as a starting point. Remember to always be open and use constructive feedback and criticism. Legal writing is the type of drafting used for documents related to legal issues. This includes briefs, contracts, memoranda, motions and more. Use plain language instead of legal language to make users happy and attract more customers. As you can see, the elements of the “finished” clause all make sense because the original clause was defective.
However, by simply pinning concepts left and right, the project is mutilated and the clause becomes a fine example of legal language for history books. I would like to stress here that the goal is not to become condescending. The goal is to write clearly, correctly and concisely. In the absence of specific information about your client that changes the rules, you are advised to use adult words that an adult with a normal secondary education would understand. For example, I use quite sophisticated language on this site. That`s because I write for lawyers. What are the best legal writing tips that any lawyer and jurist could benefit from? Whether you`re a confident writer or not, legal writing is an important skill for any lawyer, regardless of the field you choose. Whether it`s court documents like applications, investigative documents, briefs and memos, or office communications like letters, client emails, internal memos, etc., it`s a lot of writing. This concept was aptly expressed in a quote attributed to Winston Churchill and others: “If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” In surveys of judges and lawyers, the vast majority of respondents chose plain English rather than legal language. See Joseph Kimble & Joseph A. Prokop Jr., Strike Three for Legalese, Mich.
Bar J., March 2014, p. 40; Child, loc. Cit. Knowing who you`re writing for will help shape the structure and tone of your piece. A judge, another lawyer (including an opposing lawyer) or client will have different experiences and expectations that affect how they read your writing. The goal of legal writing is usually to persuade – the tone and style you use depends on the person you`re writing for. As a legal drafter, you should be able to switch between the legal language required for public servants such as a judge and the plain language required for a client. The best way to structure a piece is to write from top to bottom. Start by showing the reader what you are writing and why, and then provide the arguments to support your case. This article discusses the importance of legal language, reasons to avoid legal language, and best drafting practices for your legal policies.