Effective Writing: A Handbook with Stories for Lawyers

Lawyers learn a great deal in law school but they don’t learn to write effectively—not in the ways lawyers write in the practice of law. Law schools don’t teach this. They can’t, not in the big courses. Work in clinical programs can give the students a taste, but most of them graduate from law school having a lot to learn about how to write effectively in the practice of law.

This handbook is intended to be helpful, then, first of all, to lawyers starting out in practice, but it offers principles, strategies and tips any lawyer might find useful. To judge from what we have seen over the years of the writing of lawyers already in practice, the book could be useful to many of them too.

The book addresses how to write effectively for actual readers, which is about more than getting the law right. The book contains lots of tips but it also teaches a new way of thinking about writing and is enlivened by stories collected from practicing lawyers.

The book covers five different writing situations and domains of practice:

  • Writing through the Day (Facts, Forms, Letters)
  • Writing through the Trial (from Writing toward the Trial to Writing to Keep Clients Satisfied)
  • Writing through the Appeal (from Making the Record to the Reply Brief)
  • Writing for the Future (Contracts and Wills and Trusts)
  • Rewrite for Effectiveness (Writing to Develop Thinking and Rewriting for Readers)

Readers who want to share stories about effective and not-so-effective writing in the practice of law can submit them on the Contact page.