Legal Writing Skills: Enough with the Fluff

Legal Writing Skills: Enough with the Fluff

Lawyers tend to be bit, shall we say, wordy. It’s hard to say exactly why. Maybe it’s our dedication to legalese. Maybe it’s our love of flowery writing. Or maybe it’s just bad habits that are tough to break.

But whatever the reason, you—and your writing—can be different! Today is the day to start trimming the fat from your essays, memos, and briefs. Think of this as a new way to lose some quarantine weight. 

There are so many ways to cut the fluff! For example:

  • Replace a group of words with a single, punchier one (e.g., change “The manager blocked her way to the door” to “The manager blocked her exit“)
  • Get rid of legal jargon (eg, change “The statute applies to the instant case” to “The statute applies here“)
  • Combine two clauses into one (e.g., change “She caused the speaker to fall to the ground and suffer embarrassment” to “She caused the speaker to suffer an embarrassing fall“)
  • Cut a balky lead-in (e.g., change “There are no existing contracts at issue” to “No existing contracts are at issue”)

Each of these changes eliminates only a few words. But those small cuts add up! Together, they will reduce clutter and significantly shorten your writing. This will make your writing easier to read, give it more impact, and improve its persuasiveness. Cutting the fluff is a win-win-win, so give it a go! 

See this tip in action by reviewing expertly crafted explanations in the UWorld MBE® QBank. Click here to access our QBank or purchase a subscription.

MBE® is a registered trademark of The National Conference of Bar Examiners® (NCBE®). NCBE does not endorse, promote, or warrant the accuracy or quality of the products or services offered by UWorld Legal.

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