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Authority[ edit ] Legal writing places heavy reliance on authority. In most legal writing, the writer must back up assertions and statements with citations to authority.
This is accomplished by a unique and complicated citation system, unlike that used in any other genre of writing. The standard methods for American legal citation are defined by two competing rule books: A Uniform System of Citation.
Different methods may be used within the United States and in other nations.
Precedent means the way things have been done before. For example, a lawyer who must prepare a contract and who has prepared a similar contract before will often re-use, with limited changes, the old contract for the new occasion. Or a lawyer who has filed a successful motion to dismiss a lawsuit may use the same or a very similar form of motion again in another case, and so on.
Many lawyers use and re-use written documents in this way and call these re-usable documents templates or, less commonly, forms. Legal writing extensively uses technical terminology that can be categorised in four ways: Specialized words and phrases unique to law, e.
Ordinary words having different meanings in law, e. This formality can take the form of long sentences, complex constructions, archaic and hyper-formal vocabulary, and a focus on Persuasive writing exercises to the exclusion of reader needs.
Some of this formality in legal writing is necessary and desirable, given the importance of some legal documents and the seriousness of the circumstances in which some legal documents are used. Yet not all formality in legal writing is justified.
To the extent that formality produces opacity and imprecision, it is undesirable. To the extent that formality hinders reader comprehension, it is less desirable. In particular, when legal content must be conveyed to nonlawyers, formality should give way to clear communication.
What is crucial in setting the level of formality in any legal document is assessing the needs and expectations of the audience. For example, an appellate brief to the highest court in a jurisdiction calls for a formal style—this shows proper respect for the court and for the legal matter at issue.
An interoffice legal memorandum to a supervisor can probably be less formal—though not colloquial—because it is an in-house decision-making tool, not a court document.
And an email message to a friend and client, updating the status of a legal matter, is appropriately informal. Transaction documents—legal drafting—fall on a similar continuum. A page merger agreement between two large corporations, in which both sides are represented by counsel, will be highly formal—and should also be accurate, precise, and airtight features not always compatible with high formality.
A commercial lease for a small company using a small office space will likely be much shorter and will require less complexity, but may still be somewhat formal. But a proxy statement allowing the members of a neighborhood association to designate their voting preferences for the next board meeting ought to be as plain as can be.
If informality aids that goal, it is justified. Yet many practicing lawyers, busy as they are with deadlines and heavy workloads, often resort to a template-based, outdated, hyperformal writing style in both analytical and transactional documents.
This is understandable, but it sometimes unfortunately perpetuates an unnecessarily formal legal writing style. Recently a variety of tools have been produced to allow writers to automate core parts of legal writing.
For example, automated tools may be used by transactional lawyers to check certain formalities while writing, and tools exist to help litigators verify citations and quotations to legal authority for motions and briefs.
Legal analysis is two-fold: In the United Statesin most law schools students must learn legal writing; the courses focus on: Although not as widely taught in law schools, legal drafting courses exist; other types of legal writing concentrate upon writing appeals or on interdisciplinary aspects of persuasion.
Predictive legal analysis[ edit ] The legal memorandum is the most common type of predictive legal analysis; it may include the client letter or legal opinion.
The legal memorandum predicts the outcome of a legal question by analyzing the authorities governing the question and the relevant facts that gave rise to the legal question. It explains and applies the authorities in predicting an outcome, and ends with advice and recommendations.
The legal memorandum also serves as record of the research done for a given legal question. Traditionally, and to meet the legal reader's expectations, it is formally organized and written.This persuasive speech sample, sent in by a visitor to this website, includes facts to support the speaker's argument and ends on a thought-provoking note.
I hope it . The Convince Me! activity is an easy way to practice persuasive writing at home, without the worry of getting a good grade. Persuasive writing puts those challenges and debates in written form.
A good piece of persuasive writing explains the issue at stake, takes a stance, and explains the stance and its opposing opinion.
Inspire your students to develop a passion for writing, practice reading comprehension, and build vocabulary and grammar skills with these language arts lesson plans. About the OWL The RSCC OWL was born June 5, It's among the oldest (and wisest) OWLs.
Don't panic when your instructor tells you that you need to write an analysis! All he or she wants is for you to take something apart to see HOW it works. Over 25 different online exercises (with examples) to help you improve your ability to write business and personal emails and letters in English, and to learn and use the vocabulary used in them.