What is Legal Writing?

Legal writing is a special type of writing done by attorneys, judges, legislators and others in law. The purpose of this writing is to communicate various legal rights, analysis, and legal duties etc. Unlike regular writing, legal writing is technical and involves continuous dependence on citations, gives importance to precedence and uses special legalese that sounds very formal. However of late, there has been a move to reduce such very formal style of writing and to make legal writing simple enough for the layman to understand. However one must remember that then purpose of legal writing is to make a precise document and n informal style may make a legal document’s intentions hazy.

Legal writing is categorized into two types legal analysis and legal drafting. Legal analysis can be predictive or persuasive writing, while legal drafting creates binding, legal text. There are two standard manuals/ rulebooks that are used while referring to citations in American law. These are the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation and The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. The actual words used in legal writing can be divided into four categories,

Words from other languages. Example: habeas corpus, prima facie, inter alia, mens rea
Words that are unique to law Example: tort
Phrases/words with different meaning in law eg. execute (to sign to effect), and party (a principal in a lawsuit).
Old English words not used normally any more EX: herein, hereto, hereby etc.

Legal Forms and templates have become common tools in legal writing because great value is given to precedence. Thus lawyers use and repeat the same writing for a similar situation from the past.

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