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Visuals can be valuable tools for persuasion in briefs. Legal writers should use visuals as persuasive tools in their documents, and it’s already happening: In my survey of 133 lawyers, 70% said they frequently or sometimes use visuals in briefs. The survey targeted writers of persuasive documents at an initial-dispute stage: trials, administrative hearings, arbitrations, and others. This article displays a simple pie chart showing the answers to survey question 2: “In writing briefs or other persuasive documents, do you ever use visuals: graphics, images, charts, tables, illustrations, and so on? In part one of this series, I’ll discuss the…
Here are nine legal words and phrases we can do without. My books: Legal Writing Nerd: Be One, Plain Legal Writing: Do It This post is part of my effort to pull legal vocabulary into 2020. We certainly don’t need to sound as though we’re writing in 1908, let alone 1708. So here are a few legal words and phrases we can leave behind. comes now A lawyer once asked me to settle a debate at the office: “If there’s one plaintiff, it’s ‘COMES NOW Rodney Jackson, …’ But if there are two plaintiffs, shouldn’t it be ‘COME NOW Rodney…
Some lawyers feel strongly about text justification. Here’s some background and recommendations. My books: Legal Writing Nerd: Be One, Plain Legal Writing: Do It For legal documents, some lawyers prefer left-justified text, also called “left-aligned” text. Left-justified text creates what’s called a ragged right margin. It looks like this: Left-justified, ragged right. Some legal writers prefer fully justified text. Fully justified text creates clean vertical margins on the left and right, and it’s standard in most books, magazines, and professional publications. It looks like this: Fully justified. Which is better? The question sparks passionate debates. In favor of left-justified…
Here are 4 missed opportunities for persuasion that I see in persuasive legal writing. In each situation, the substance is strong, but the placement isn’t. Because I’m focusing on placement—the location of key content within a paragraph—I’ve used nonsense text so you won’t be distracted or bored reading long paragraphs. Just focus on the green, highlighted text. 1. Missed chance: Relegating a forceful concept from a case to an explanatory parenthetical buried in mid-paragraph. In pretium lorem sed elit rutrum maximus. Nullam venenatis semper est, et luctus est aliquam at. Vestibulum tempor vitae neque et volutpat. Maecenas commodo laoreet nulla…
Part 4 of 4 My books: Legal Writing Nerd: Be One, Plain Legal Writing: Do It I recently heard a speaker criticize the following advice as “oversimplified”: “Write short sentences.” The speaker characterized it as “common writing advice.” I think this supposedly common advice is a straw target—a target that legal-writing teachers and experts don’t actually advise and that the speaker set up to be easily knocked down. Here’s the my own take. The best advice is to aim for an average sentence length in the low 20s. Here’s what experts say about average sentence length in legal writing:…