Tips for Effective Business & Legal Writing

    In today’s legal and business world, the core and driving factor is almost entirely information. And because of this, there is a need for effective business and legal writing. Remember, this is an art that needs to be mastered due to its delicacy since there are lots of other firms are doing it too. You want your written copy, be it a legal proposal, business requirements, promotional copy, memos, grants, training materials, among many other documents, to be well written. And so, to help you improve your legal and business writing, we are going to share with you the 10 tips for effective business and legal writing.

    In this article, we will discuss:

    • What is legal writing?
    • Tips for effective legal writing
    • Tips for effective business writing

    With that said, let’s get started with our business and legal writing guide!

    What is legal writing?

    According to the Harvard school of law, legal writing is defined as:

    “The analysis of fact patterns and presentation of arguments in legal memos and briefs. The vast majority of legal internships and permanent positions will require the deployment of legal writing skills.”

    Also, legal writing is or can be a role as well, and it involves activities like:

    • Producing and presenting written arguments to support the client claims.
    • Memos and briefs drafting
    • Proofing a fact pattern by applying legal analysis and reasoning to it
    • Being a legal publications’ editor or writer

    Importantly, legal writing is considered a creative pursuit since it’s all about facts but not ideally supposed to be ‘creative writing’. So, how do you ensure your legal writing is up to the required standards? Here are the top tips for effective legal writing.

    How can I improve my legal writing? (Top Tips)

    There are a lot of ways or tips to improve your legal writing out there; however, only a few of them are practical and effective. And so, which of these tips are effective? Well, let’s see:

    1.     Choose and focus on your target audience

    To define your audience, you will need to ask yourself these two questions; Who are your audience? and what purpose does this document serve for them. By understanding and answering these questions, you can now determine the next step to take.

    It is crucial to think of whether your reader is a 17-year-old, 65-year-old, female, male, Swedish accountant, athlete, etc. Knowing who will be reading that legal document will help you define the style and tone to write content on.

    2.     Mind your grammar (Write once, Check twice)

    Remembering the basic rules of grammar is another valuable tip when writing a legal document. To effectively articulate yourself, you will need to be grammatically correct. And if you’re unsure whether you’re still good with grammatical rules, consider taking classes. You can choose to either buy one or two grammatical guide books or take a short course. I assure you it will be of great benefit to you moving forward.

    Ideally, avoid flowery language as well as too much Jargon and colloquial terms to make your document professional and enhance its clarity, respectively. Besides using comma splices correctly, you should also avoid ambiguity. When referring to an idea in a preceding sentence, words like “this,” “that,” “it,” “such”, and “which” can create ambiguity if frequently used. This is simply because they create broader reference points which lead to confusion.

    Note: Get a Grammarly account to help you check grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors in your text.

    3.     Always start by using Outlines

    This tip is not a basic tip like the first two tips but a secondary tip that is most effective when doing any kind of writing. Outlines help create a clear picture by helping you gather and organize your thoughts before writing. By using this technique, you will be able to discover the ‘gaps’ in your thought process and find an effective way to address them in advance.

    In conclusion, create an outline first before getting into the actual writing phase.

    4.     Begin at the end (Content Structure)

    According to an article published by Southern Cross University, it’s ideal to begin your legal documents with a ‘set scene’. So, why do this, and what is it important?

    Well, this type of writing may seem illogical since most creative writing doesn’t follow this format. However, most factual pieces written in this format are more effective in all counts. This is simply because it prepares the reader’s mind. And so, you should always start by including the most important information up front, which include highlighting:

    • The intention of your work
    • The process you will follow
    • And the drawn conclusion.

    This is simply showing the reader what you are writing about and why. The contents that follow after that are going to be arguments supporting your case.

    Tips for Effective Business Writing

    Effective business and legal writing share some similarities, but there exist some differences too. The similarities between these two types of writing are:

    • Mind your grammar by proofreading your work: They say, write once, check twice!
    • Utilize outlines
    • Avoid using too much Jargon and colloquial terms
    • Select your target audience

    Generally, these tips help improve the overall clarity and professionality of your writings. However, there are few things you should do to improve your business writing skills. So, here are tips for effective business writing:

    1.     Less is more

    Ironically, people are becoming less and less willing to read when written information is becoming more important to businesses. As a result, concision matters when it comes to business writing. And therefore, you should:

    • Use your words sparingly
    • Get straight to the point
    • Avoid long, meandering sentences
    • Avoid florid prose

    2.     Avoid an overly formal writing

    Remember, being professional with your writing is not necessarily being formal. Formal writing is ideal and effective for legal writing as well as job applications. However, when it comes to business writing, it is about selling a value, class or taste that may require an informal writing style. This helps create attractive and relatable content that makes your readers feel.

    Also, note that, at the same time, be aware that informal writing shouldn’t be unprofessional writing. Therefore, you should keep of personal comments, gossip and jokes.

    3.     Utilize the 5W+H formula (Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How?)

    • Who is your target audience?
    • What should they know or What’s in it for them?
    • When and where is that piece of information or service applicable?
    • Why is it essential to them? And
    • How should they utilize/use that info?

    4.     Limit the number of choices you provide

    Providing many choices often leads to decision paralysis. Therefore, it is recommended to give none. For example, if you want to set a meeting, give a specific time and ask them to confirm. But in other scenarios, you can give 2 or 3 choices only when necessary and applicable.

    5.     Call to action.

    Ideally, most written business information is intended to achieve some purpose. And to make this effective, a call to action should be included. Remember, don’t ever leave a reader to decide what to do. Instead, guide them to do what you would like them to.

    The business and legal writing skills shared in this piece have proven to be effective. For more on legal writing and legal topics in general, please check out the legal portal


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