A very few lawyers write briefs that stand up and sing on the reader’s desk: The introductory paragraph draws the reader in; the statement of facts tells an interesting story; the argument engagingly (but compellingly) explains an issue, perhaps with a (very light) sense of humor.
Read most any published piece of fiction and it’s been revised and edited like mad. The same goes for a lot of other pieces of writing, from essays to literary journalism. There’s a reason for this: putting the words down is relatively easy (presuming the blank page hasn’t scared you frozen from the start). But getting from first draft to final draft is more difficult.
At the full post, Bradley offers a 5-step guide for "editing like a pro," which you should consult if you want to make your legal writing "scream with persuasion and polish and style."
And check out these related posts from the Trial Practice Tips Weblog:
Time spent learning to write is never wasted. Here is what Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37Signals, had to say about writing skills in their popular business book, Rework--
Hire Great Writers
If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. It doesn't matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer, or whatever; their writing skills will pay off.
That's because being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate.
Writing is making a comeback all over our society. Look at how much people e-mail and text-message now rather than talk on the phone. Look at how much communication happens via instant messaging and blogging. Writing is today's currency for good ideas.
According to Bryan Garner, a remote relative pronoun is a "prime indicator of a sloppy sentence." A relative pronoun such as that or which is "remote" when it doesn't appear immediately after the noun it modifies.
Garner provides these examples:
Defendants knowingly conspired to bring securities onto the market that could not be legally marketed.
There is an outstanding warrant against Mr. Erutu in Ethiopia, which on its face declares that he is to be arrested for expressing his political beliefs.
Sentences like these cause confusion in the reader. In every case, the sentence should be rewritten so that the relative pronoun follows the noun it modifies.