What is the biggest mistake that lawyers make in the writing process?
ANSWER: Starting to write before they’ve figured out precisely what the message is. As a result, the writing tends to be long-winded, meandering, repetitious, and unfocused.
For tips on adopting a sensible method for writing, see these sources:
Garner on Language and Writing 3-11 (2009).
Legal Writing in Plain English 3-6 (2001).
Scalia & Garner, Making Your Case 66-67, 69-80 (2008).
The Winning Brief 3-42 (2d ed. 2004).
Or take the one-hour LawProse webinar: “The Writing Process” (available at www.lawprose.org).
Lesson # 74
Can a single complimentary close work for all of a lawyer’s correspondence? Is it correct to use “Sincerely”?
ANSWER: Yes, “Sincerely” is quite correct — and perhaps the most usual. But it is ill-advised to use a single complimentary close for all letters.
Here is a brief spectrum of choices:
Very respectfully (yours),
Very truly yours,
Yours very truly,
The Elements of Legal Style 97-98 (2d ed. 2002).
The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style 328-29 (2d ed. 2006).
Or take the one-hour LawProse webinar “Superb Legal Correspondence” (available at www.lawprose.org).
Spend a day with Bryan Garner
Bryan Garner’s seminars teach the habits of effective legal writers: how you can write about law using the techniques that professional writers of nonfiction use. You’ll need an arresting opener, a clean narrative line, and polish throughout.
How many lawyers are accomplished legal writers? “Not many,” Garner says. “But I like helping more lawyers move into the top echelons.”
Let Garner help you.
Make a difference in your career: join us for a day to excel in your legal-writing and advocacy skills. Learn techniques vital to the effective lawyer’s arsenal.
Attend the most popular CLE seminar of all time. More than 215,000 people—including lawyers, judges, law clerks, and paralegals—have benefited since the early 1990s. You'll learn the keys to professional writing and acquire no-nonsense techniques to make your letters, memos, and briefs more powerful.
You'll also learn what doesn't work and why—know-how gathered through Professor Garner's unique experience in training lawyers at the country's top law firms, state and federal courts, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.
Professor Garner gives you the keys to make the most of your writing aptitude—in letters, memos, briefs, and more. The seminar covers five essential skills for persuasive writing:
framing issues that arrest the readers' attention;
cutting wordiness that wastes readers' time;
using transitions deftly to make your argument flow;
quoting authority more effectively; and
tackling your writing projects more efficiently.
He teaches dozens of techniques that make a big difference. Most important, he shows you what doesn't work—and why—and how to cultivate skillfulness.