Lawyers are certainly not well known for using as few words as necessary. If you’ve ever read a law contract, or other legal document you’d be well aware legal experts have a tendency to go on at great length, writing complex sentence after sentence, clause after clause.
The average person almost requires a new type of Rosetta Stone to decipher and make sense of lawyer jargon. Anthony Wright, managing principal at lexvoco is fully aware of the hard time clients have digesting such information. He points out that most people are time poor these days so it’s imperative a lawyer get to the point rather than waffle-on.
Being concise is an art-form which once mastered, will serve yourself and your clientele very well.
5 Tips For Keeping Your Written Legal Communications Short & Sweet
1. Keep Your Audience In Mind
Who are you communicating with? Another legal professional? A business owner, or a client who doesn’t possess any legal knowledge?
You need to tailor what you’re saying to the type of person you are addressing and adjust the length according to what the purpose of the communication is. Are you prepping a formal legal document, or are you just touching base, answering a question, or explaining a legal precedent?
2. Think Before You Jump In
Only provide the information needed, don’t go on at length covering all random bases if the client only requires a quick and brief reply regarding a particular question. Write in a logical and easy to understand manner so the client doesn’t have to re-read the message to make sense of your lawyer speak.
3. Be Brief
Get rid of any fluff words which add nothing to the substance of what you are saying as this will help clarify your point. The reader will definitely appreciate it.
Here are a few examples to consider:
Used for evidentiary purposes, change to: used as evidence
In spite of the fact that, change to: despite
Due to the fact that, change to: because
4. Use Active Voice, Not Passive
An active voice throws more weight behind what you’re saying. It simply sounds more convincing and often helps shave off unnecessary words which tend to cramp up passive sentences.
To check how passive your sentences actually are you can access The Flesch readability formula in Microsoft Word, or alternatively find a Flesch calculator online which will scan through your work and give you feedback.
5. Steer Clear Of Jargon & Acronyms
Get rid of legal gobbledegook if it is not integral to the message. Acronyms the reader may not be familiar with, combined with legal jargon can cause them to lose interest.