LawProse Lesson #84
What’s the LawProse Effective Writing Index? It’s a scale to gauge the ten most important attributes of analytical and persuasive writing. The Index — forgive us, but we use the acronym LEWI (pronounced “louie”) — measures clarity, readability, efficiency, flow, tone, and mechanics. When different lawyer-editors at LawProse independently measured various pieces of writing, the scoring spread was at most four points. The total possible score is 100 points. When the six lawyers at LawProse recently applied the Index to several memos and briefs from major law firms, the scores ranged from a low of 33 to a high of 48. Is a score of 90-100 impossibly difficult? No. We’ve seen many pieces of legal writing that meet this standard. True, we must examine thousands to find a handful of high-scoring specimens. And true, only people who consistently write to this high standard ever achieve it at all. But it is hardly an unachievable standard for practicing lawyers of great skill. Besides, even a memo or brief that scores 80 is markedly — astonishingly — better than one that scores 40. One needn’t achieve perfection to write really, really well. Lawyers who pursue their Master’s Certificate in Legal Writing, conferred by the Academy of American Legal Writers, become proficient at using the LEWI. For more information on the Master’s Certificate and how to earn it, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.