“The minute you read something you can’t understand, you can almost be sure that it was drawn up by a lawyer.”
Humorist Will Rogers may have said it as a joke, but bad legal writing is a serious matter. Judges lose patience with attorneys and their bad writing. They issue public reprimands, requiring attorneys to take legal writing courses – or worse, dismiss complaints due to bad grammar and excessive spelling errors.
Now, the pressure lies on paralegals, as supervising attorneys are passing the job onto them.
Changing Role of Paralegals
Yes, what used to be a job exclusive to attorneys has been passed on to paralegals. Litigation paralegals, for instance, draft pleadings, correspondence, motions, discovery, briefs, memorandums, and other legal documents. Transactional paralegals, on the other hand, draft contracts, agreements, resolutions, and related documents.
And not only will you help make the judges’ and attorneys’ jobs easier; training in paralegal writing and mastering the art will also set you apart from peers and co-workers, therefore advancing your career.
The question is, how can both litigation and transactional paralegals master the art of paralegal writing?
Improving Paralegal Writing Skills
To improve your paralegal writing skills, first, learn – and re-learn – the basics. Take a class that teaches grammar, structure, punctuation, and spelling, for instance, as this will strengthen the foundation of your writing skills.
Also, make sure your legal writing is organized and readable, and follow a clear logic to your conclusion. Keep in mind that legal writing is not all about complex words and fancy phrases, but about simplifying the already complex ideas into simple, understandable sentences.
The written word is one of the most important tools in the legal profession. And the better your writing skills are, the further and more successful you will be in this line of work.