Legal Writing Skills come from consistent and deliberate practice.
Article writing cannot be taught, it comes with practice and idea to which a writer can relate. If we talk about legal writing then, a good legal Article may not only enhance your skills but it will also help litigants, researchers, or reporters to understand the state of the Law. The most significant requirement to write Legal Articles is the writer’s interest in the subject matter and the stance of the writer on a particular topic. An Article written without interest will remain only a piece of paper without any relevance. Legal Writing is one such skill which are essential to every Lawyer. Have you ever wondered how some people are one step ahead in creating interesting Articles with the same resources available? This article will provide some guiding principles, which will help a beginner to write quality legal articles; so that he/she can contribute to this generation of legal writing.
Research is like extracting pearls from the ocean, where you may have to scour the ocean to unearth the pearl. Basically, for an efficient Article, your research work should be so deep that you don’t miss out on any significant point concerning the topic as the research part is an integral component in deciding the quality of the Article. The writer should take care of the following points while doing the research –
- For correct legal information, reference shall only be made to reliable and authentic sources such as government websites, prominent Journals, Online Legal databases such as SCC online, Manupatra, Hein Online, etc.
- Bookmark all the efficient information that will help you with research also.
- To be a good researcher one should be a good reader. Read significant judgments and maintain the proportion of ratio decidendi and stare decisis.
- When you research you find various data, information, and content but you cannot upload the entire content in your Article. To maintain the efficiency of your content you have to choose significant points and eliminate distractions.
These skills will also help an individual in writing their Dissertation for their course work and studies that are quite necessary for any law student.
Once you have selected the topic and done with research, the next step is to start writing the Article. While writing Article one should keep the following points in mind –
- TITLE OF ARTICLE: Your Article should engage the public, as in the search engine only the title of the article is visible. The below-mentioned points will help you in preparing a good title.
- Headlines and content should be interrelated.
- Use adjectives and verbs in the title such as, ‘Curate’ is a verb used in the title of this Article.
- Use Keywords that most people are searching, to increase your SEO.
- Do not put all your idea of the Article in the Title.
- INTRODUCTION OF ARTICLE: After deciding on an efficient title you have to begin your article with an introduction. Both Title and Introduction give brief about the Theme of the Article but in a different manner. The Title of the Article attracts the reader to open your Article but an Introduction captivates them to read the entire Article. These are the necessary steps that should be considered while writing the Introduction of the Article –
- The opening statement of your Article should be highly attractive.
- It should not contain the answer to the question or benefit you offered as it means that there is no need to read the rest of the Article.
- Keep it short, as you just have to provide a brief of Article and not a brief of the topic in the Introduction.
- Conclude your introduction with a question that may invite readers to continue reading the rest Article.
- MAIN BODY AND METHOD OF WRITING: The format will provide you a way to construct your idea and research in words. The initial purpose of the format is to arrange the content in a logical sequence. Every website or Journal has its own criteria; therefore below-mentioned guidelines will provide you a general idea of formatting.
- Prepare Synopsis, as it will provide bone structure to your content.
- Do not write lengthy or very short Articles. Keep your Article within 1000-1800 words.
- Use simple language, as it is easy to read.
- Prohibit Long Paragraphs and break your content into short paragraphs under different headings or sub-headings.
- Keep your content crisp and to the point.
- Try to insert tables and bullet points because most readers skim through the Article before reading. Therefore, bullet and tables make your article attractive prima facie.
- Use limited legal jargon and try to simplify them if you expect a larger audience for your Article.
- Your grammar should be absolutely correct as it represents the overall image of the Article and while writing you commit unknown grammatical errors. So to cure that, either use grammatical correction software or ask some person with good grammar sense to read.
- Cover all the ‘frequently asked questions’ in your topic.
- USE OF CASE LAWS: Adequate case laws help the reader to understand the situation. Further, the Article with case laws is always preferred over any other Article. Therefore, if you are using cases in your Article it should be appropriately used and not for the sake of increasing word limit. The case should be supported by citation, there are several forms of Citation but generally, the Bluebook style of Citation is preferred.
- CONCLUSION OF ARTICLE: The Conclusion of your Article should summarize the entire Article along with your alternative remark. The alternative remark should be supported by the reason and it should be in such a way which may persuade the writer to think about the points discussed in the Article. If any questions were raised at the beginning of your Article, the answer to such a question may also be mentioned there or if the issue is still not decided or concluded, it may also remain open ended posing a question at the reader. At the same time, your conclusion should be straight forward and crisp.
The Act of copying another person’s content is known as plagiarism. A good Article should be least plagiarized. But the question arises how much plagiarism is allowed? Every platform has its own limits for plagiarism. A new content writer always struggles for removing plagiarism. The following measures will help you in removing plagiarism –
- Do not use footnotes for every other sentence. As the purpose of footnotes is to clarify the source of information and not to protect the writer from plagiarism.
- Minimum use of quoted text. The quoted text is protection against plagiarism and depicts that the quoted part is directly taken from any other’s content. The use of quotes should also be used wisely and as minimum as possible.
- You can copy-paste a specific section from the Act which is most relevant and is impossible to explain in your own words. But do it carefully, as no renowned platform will publish an Article with plagiarized content, no matter whatever the reason for plagiarism is.
PARAPHRASING VS. QUOTING
In legal writing, it is better to paraphrase rather than just quoting the text. Paraphrasing is incorporating legal precedents or someone else’s idea into your own words by citing the source. Through paraphrasing, you can convey the idea of another writer in your own words and can also provide your own arguments against it. Moreover, you can provide the readers’ original author’s text more directly. On the flip side, there are few exceptions to the paraphrasing which you cannot write in your own words such as legislation, cases, etc.
Once the writer is done with the content, it is significant to proofread the article many times. While writing a person may not detect the mistakes, therefore, after completing the entire content must be proofread, paying attention to the chronology of contents, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, etc. which will decrease the chances of any error in the Article.
At last, while reading the article, you should read it from the other person’s perspective, in the sense that the entire content is in comprehensive language and adequately explained that it adds insights to the reader.
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