“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
Yesterday, Justice John Laskin spoke at the SOAR 2014 conference. I would like to share his advice for legal writing.
Justice Laskin advocates that writers take a point first, context first approach. It is critical for the writer to precisely define the issue before explaining the facts.
Additionally, Justice Laskin encourages people to use headings and sub-headings. Headings make it easier for the reader to follow the argument, which in turn makes their writing more persuasive.
However, Justice Laskin warns against dump trucking legislation and over-quoting (since most people skip quotes). Before quoting, ask yourself “do I really need it?”. If you must quote, then shorten the quote and explain to the reader why it is relevant.
Finally, remember that “there is no such thing as good writing, just re-writing”.
Justice Laskin has written various articles on persuasive writing. A list of them can be found on his biographical note: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/judges/laskin.htm