LogoLegal Writing Best Practices       
a workshop in 40 fundamentals                  

Workshop Outline

 Workshop Outline 


·         Who are today's legal writing experts ?

·         Why are they pushing for plain language in legal writing? 

Words and Phrases 

·         Choosing your words carefully

·         Avoiding legalese and simplifying jargon

·         Explaining unavoidable technical terms

·         Omitting needless words

·         Avoiding multiword prepositions and other wordy expressions

·         Condensing and strengthening your verbs

·         Replacing doublets and triplets

·         Minimizing acronyms and initialisms 


·         Keeping most of your sentences short

·         —analyzing long sentences

·         —techniques for shortening sentences

·         —dealing with conditions, exceptions, and provisos

·         Avoiding gaps between the subject, verb, and object

·         Using the active voice

·         Using parallel structure for parallel ideas

·         Locating lists and enumerations

·         Avoiding multiple negatives

·         Avoiding ambiguity

·         Connecting sentences skillfully

·         Ending sentences emphatically 

Document Structure 

·         Doing a proper opener, middle, and ending

·         When and where to summarize

·         Making your paragraph the unit of composition

·         Topic sentences

·         Transitional words and phrases

·         Keeping paragraphs and sections short

·         When and how to do a table of contents 

Legal Drafting 

·         Additional Principles for Legal Drafting

·         Organizing your document

·         Using headings, easily-followed numbering, and short sections

·         Using consistent terminology

·         Replacing the ambiguous shall

·         Controlling definitions and cross references

·         Punctuating for clarity 

The Writing Process 

·         The four steps—brainstorming, outlining, drafting, editing

·         Editing yourself systematically 

Document Design 

·         Type size, typeface, and characters per line

·         White space (margins, sections, headings, and other special items)

·         Highlighting techniques (boldface, italics, bullets)

·         Diagrams, tables, and charts 


·         Summary exercise

·         A plain language checklist