On Demand

Legal Writing Skills: The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing

1h 15m

Created on February 25, 2017




If you're a lawyer you're a professional writer.

You might spend time on the phone, on Skype, etc. Nevertheless, what most of us do most of our working lives is write-letters, memos, briefs, email, wills, contracts, etc.

But being a professional anything is no guarantee of quality. And the legal profession nurtures terrible prose. Jargon, verbosity, pomposity, opacity, and obliquity have traditionally been hallmarks of what passes for good legal writing. Lawyers who want to become better writers often feel trapped. Why write clear, cogent prose if so few others are doing it? Why flout the industry standard?

No single course can completely overhaul an ingrained writing style that will take time and diligence to unlearn; however, The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing is a hand-to-hand combat course. It will impart skills to help you spot and avoid seven of the most offensive, counterproductive, and frequent faults that affect vast quantities of legal prose. Join attorney Theodore Blumberg to learn not only how to avoid these sinkholes but, just as importantly, how to replace them with good, clear prose that's vital and cogent. 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Gain a true appreciation for the fact that legal writing must be practical-it's intended to inform, persuade, or legislate
  2. Learn to replace bad habits, such as unnecessary use of the passive voice, needless abstraction, prolixity, redundancy, and excessive use of adverbs and adjectives to try to strengthen weakly expressed ideas, with prose that's clear and even pleasurable to read (imagine judges actually enjoying-and being persuaded by-your briefs; clients feeling reassured by opinion letters they can understand and act on)
  3. Develop habits of thinking, reading, and writing that will inspire you to stand out as an exemplary legal writer, and give you the tools to do so
  4. Through detailed discussions, example, and exercises, learn to exorcise the seven deadly sins of legal writing, and gain skills you can begin to apply immediately

This course originally appeared as a part of our February 2017 Bridge the Gap Event.

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