Definition[ edit ] According to the American Bar AssociationCommission on Public Understanding, legal awareness is, "the ability to make critical judgments about the substance of the law, the legal process, and available legal resources and to effectively utilize the legal system and articulate strategies to improve it is legal literacy".
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 content 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.Practical Legal Writing for Legal Assistants [Celia Elwell, Robert Smith] on monstermanfilm.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
This text is designed to cover all aspects of paralegal writing. It is intended not only as a text for paralegal instruction. The Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving legal communication, building the discipline of legal writing, and improving the status of legal writing faculty across the country.
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Legal writing involves the analysis of fact patterns and presentation of arguments in documents such as legal memoranda and monstermanfilm.com form of legal writing involves drafting a balanced analysis of a legal problem or issue. Another form of legal writing is persuasive, and advocates in favor of a legal position.
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