One of the essential qualities of all legal writing, clarity, is created by a clear train of thought. No matter how clear your sentences are, readers will not feel that they add up to a clear message unless they can see how the sentences hang together. It is your job as a writer to bring the reader along with you on your train of thought.
Too many lawyers write in a style not persuasive to a busy judge. We learned this unpersuasive style in college and law school — it’s called the academic style. Academic style is marked by mind-numbing details, bloated sentences, and meandering paragraphs. Exactly what you don’t want when writing for a judge.
This post is adapted from an article written for CEB by attorney Mary-Christine (“M.C.”) Sungaila.
Using basic storytelling principles from creative writing can inform and improve legal writing. In a recent blog post, we discussed building a brief like building a story, from the characters to the language. In this post, we focus more on drafting the brief, using five more techniques from creative writing.