The parties agreeing to the contract and someone enforcing the contract have no real basis to judge when the contract is complete without the presence of all the legal terms. State laws interpret contract law differently. Some recognize a verbal agreement as a legal contract, for instance, while others demand a written contract. Despite these minor differences, contracts share a legal language.
Authority[ edit ] Legal writing places heavy reliance on authority. In most legal writing, the writer must back up assertions and statements with citations to authority.
This is accomplished by a unique and complicated citation system, unlike that used in any other genre of writing.
|Legal Writing: Update Contract Language to Meet 21st Century Readers||Plain Language Legal Writing:|
|Tracking Preferences||Share on Facebook Dealing with contracts can be one of the most daunting aspects of small business ownership. The language can be intimidating and incomprehensible at times.|
|Legal Writing at Duke Law School||The parties agreeing to the contract and someone enforcing the contract have no real basis to judge when the contract is complete without the presence of all the legal terms.|
|Valuable Consideration||Authority[ edit ] Legal writing places heavy reliance on authority. In most legal writing, the writer must back up assertions and statements with citations to authority.|
|Search form||Students from 35 countries will learn about the U. Legal Writing at Duke Law School Learning to write like a lawyer is perhaps the greatest challenge of legal education.|
The standard methods for American legal citation are defined by two competing rule books: A Uniform System of Citation. Different methods may be used within the United States and in other nations.
Precedent means the way things have been done before. For example, a lawyer who must prepare a contract and who has prepared a similar contract before will often re-use, with limited changes, the old contract for the new occasion.
Or a lawyer who has filed a successful motion to dismiss a lawsuit may use the same or a very similar form of motion again in another case, and so on. Many lawyers use and re-use written documents in this way and call these re-usable documents templates or, less commonly, forms.
Legal writing extensively uses technical terminology that can be categorised in four ways: Specialized words and phrases unique to law, e.
Ordinary words having different meanings in law, e. This formality can take the form of long sentences, complex constructions, archaic and hyper-formal vocabulary, and a focus on content to the exclusion of reader needs.
Some of this formality in legal writing is necessary and desirable, given the importance of some legal documents and the seriousness of the circumstances in which some legal documents are used.
Yet not all formality in legal writing is justified. To the extent that formality produces opacity and imprecision, it is undesirable. To the extent that formality hinders reader comprehension, it is less desirable.
In particular, when legal content must be conveyed to nonlawyers, formality should give way to clear communication. What is crucial in setting the level of formality in any legal document is assessing the needs and expectations of the audience. For example, an appellate brief to the highest court in a jurisdiction calls for a formal style—this shows proper respect for the court and for the legal matter at issue.
An interoffice legal memorandum to a supervisor can probably be less formal—though not colloquial—because it is an in-house decision-making tool, not a court document.
And an email message to a friend and client, updating the status of a legal matter, is appropriately informal. Transaction documents—legal drafting—fall on a similar continuum. A page merger agreement between two large corporations, in which both sides are represented by counsel, will be highly formal—and should also be accurate, precise, and airtight features not always compatible with high formality.
A commercial lease for a small company using a small office space will likely be much shorter and will require less complexity, but may still be somewhat formal.
But a proxy statement allowing the members of a neighborhood association to designate their voting preferences for the next board meeting ought to be as plain as can be. If informality aids that goal, it is justified. Yet many practicing lawyers, busy as they are with deadlines and heavy workloads, often resort to a template-based, outdated, hyperformal writing style in both analytical and transactional documents.
This is understandable, but it sometimes unfortunately perpetuates an unnecessarily formal legal writing style. Recently a variety of tools have been produced to allow writers to automate core parts of legal writing.
For example, automated tools may be used by transactional lawyers to check certain formalities while writing, and tools exist to help litigators verify citations and quotations to legal authority for motions and briefs.Lots of contracts are filled with mind-bending legal gibberish, but there's no reason why this has to be true.
For most contracts, legalese is not essential or even helpful. On the contrary, the agreements you'll want to put into a written contract are best expressed in simple, everyday English. The Offer. Legal contracts include an offer from one person or group to another.
The language must have a description of the item sold or the service provided. The Program, supplemented by the Legal Writing Resources website, emphasizes the integration of legal analysis, writing, and research, and helps students to understand and consider the legal audience for whom they are writing.
The research and writing faculty are paired for each section of students, providing opportunities for team-teaching and.
Legal Writing: Update Contract Language to Meet 21st Century Readers Some drafters continue to use archaic language in contracts, often with the belief that such . The course teaches the essential skills of writing clear documents and contracts, explaining essential basic vocabulary, and phrases, used in contracts and other legal documents.
It includes explanations of the meaning and use of archaic legal English, including Latin and Norman French. The drafting of legal documents such as contracts is different as, unlike in most other legal writing categories, it is common to use language and clauses that are derived from form books, legal opinions and other documents without attribution.
Lawyers use forms documents when drafting documents such as contracts, wills, and judgments.