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Do you have to be a good writer to be a lawyer?

Updated: 4 days ago

Annalisa Clarizio is the author of the article titled Do you have to be a good writer to be a lawyer

Author: Annalisa Clarizio

Publication date: 01.08.2023

For a good lawyer, it’s fundamental to know how to write and choose the right words. Their work also consists of designing logical devices and organizing them in exact sequences of words. This is because legal terminology is a specialized language with its canons and codes that must be respected by lawyers.

Good writer and a lawyer?

The language of lawyers has become an example not to imitate. In fact, more recent norms have been issued that derive from many studies in the field of cognitive sciences. According to these rules, lawyers must engage in simplifying their language. Actually, the way lawyers write is often unnecessarily complicated. For example, they use long sentences, a lot of Latinism, obsolete terms, and superfluous expressions.

Rules of legal writing

The rules of the consumer code, GDPR, and those written by the Court of Justice of the European Union require the use of a simple, precise, synthetic language. In fact, the latest cognitive science studies tell us that people prefer things that are easier to read and think about. The simplicity of a text, though, promotes cognitive fluidity. It also makes it easier the way in which anyone receives information from outside. Therefore, individuals process this information and make decisions differently according to the complexity of legal writing.

Often lawyers believe that using more complex language serves to make an impression on the client. However, it is an assumption denied by numerous studies. If a lawyer wants to appear credible and act as a good writer, it is preferable to use simple language rather than complex language.

lawyer books

Plain language

Communication is in plain language when its words, structure, and appearance are clear. When there is this type of communication the recipient can easily find the information you need, understand it, and use it.

The problem is that plain language still seems a chimera in the legal world. For example, an Economist invites journalists and collaborators not to write like a lawyer. But changing the language and learning to write clearly costs effort and requires continuous exercise.

According to the writer Giuseppe Pontiggia "The need for clarity, simplicity is also an intellectual aspiration. Those who speak clearly are more ambitious than those who are satisfied with the modest triumphs of an incomprehensible language. So, they compare their technical knowledge with the testing of the common language.”

good lawyer consulting the book

Reading and listening

Reading a lot offers the possibility to always learn new terms and to be able to give shape to always new constructs. It’s the same for listening. When it comes to listening, it is also interesting to underline the fact that it is also useful to focus on the arguments of the most important lawyers.

It is possible to proceed with the careful analysis of each of these arguments in such a way as to understand. In particular, it is possible to analyze which words are used more frequently in the arguments. There are also constructs from which successful lawyers tend to stay away. Therefore, a lawyer's language must be clear, direct, and, above all, understandable.

Skills of a good lawyer

To be a good lawyer you need to know how to use technical terms. At the same time, you need to be understood by professionals and those who do not have much experience in the field. Clarity is an aspect that must never be overlooked. So, this aspect must represent a real beacon in the night for every lawyer who aspires to be considered universally good.

Reference list

Scrivere in modo chiaro: per gli avvocati è una sfida da vincere

Caratteristiche di un buon avvocato? Scrivere e parlare in modo chiaro

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