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Professional English Writing Skills in the Legal Sector

How many of us sit behind screens, talking as we write, forgetting that writing is a completely different skill to speaking? Verbal speech allows for pauses and even has vocabulary for it.  Writing though, should be the result of summarised thought put into a clear-cut content driven message, not spoken language.  There really is a difference and while technology has expedited our commercial output, it might have diminished our writing skills.  AI can assist in spelling and grammar correction but it does not eliminate unnecessary words.

Precious time is lost on long emails

Do you notice the text abundance when reading daily emails? Often, in between information, we have to search for new facts or required follow-up actions. Additionally, our brains are predictive processors which is why repetitive words lead it to skipping certain text, thus we can inadvertently miss essential points. Time is money and reading unnecessarily cluttered text or writing it, is certainly not productive time use. Furthermore, thinking for the reader bulks a text and is often a writer’s first mistake.

Which reads better?

“We have looked up the literature pertaining to this question at hand and found out that you have a case.”  (20 words)

Compared to: The consulted field literature applicable to your question seems to support your case.” (13 words)

Note that the edited version has fewer little words. Plus, as the reader knows “we” (you) sought the information we therefore, only provide results.

“We have told the directors that attending the meeting on the 23rd of September is important and are waiting for their response before we confirm the agenda.”  (27 words)

Alternatively: “Directors were notified of the 23 September meeting essentiality and upon their response, we will confirm the agenda.  (18 words)

The second example is shorter and more aesthetically pleasing with fewer spaces between all small words.  Apply these edits to entire A4’s or documents and the difference is notable.  A clear message without clutter.

Upgrading Legal Writing skills

Perfecting writing skills requires time and practice.  However, progress is quick once we learn to critique our written thoughts and eliminate unnecessary words. This eradication of redundancy professionalises writing, saving both a writer and reader time.  It only requires sufficient written samples to practice.

Simple Techniques for improvement

Legal writing requires more clarity than most professional fields as contractual terms and conditions matter.  By upgrading daily correspondence of technical or explanatory emails, contract drafting skills will also improve, producing better texts.

Lacking diverse vocabulary or awareness of differences between spoken and written language means we bulk texts unnecessarily. Vocabulary variety improves formality, reduces redundancy and upgrades written professionalism. Secondly, increasing active verb use to decrease nominalisation (overuse of nouns), rids texts of too many “of’s”  and “the’s”. It requires an awareness of grammatical functions for certain vocabulary and a few weeks of practice. The end result means cleaner texts, concise messages and future time saving for both writers and email recipients.

Professionalise your Legal English texts

Are you working in the legal sector and want to professionalise your English texts? Opt for a Legal English course. Our tailored Legal English course is designed to assist professionals in the legal sector in enhancing their language skills in Legal English.



Robyn Goodman
I am an ex-Zimbabwean, ex-South African, now Dutch national who has lived two years in Thailand and half a year in both London and Zurich. I've been working for Language Partners since 2004 and I am a Legal and Business English trainer who coaches professionals in their field of expertise.

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