Another perspective on writing from forms

Megan Boyd has a good post at Lady (Legal Writer) on the use of forms in legal writing. She does not ban them, but she does offer some wise cautionary advice on using them.

I am not a fan of writing from forms, at least in persuasive writing. See, for example, this old post. I can see their usefulness when the purpose is not persuasion. If you must use them, follow Megan’s advice. And take a look at these old post from 2007 and 2009.

Do you want your articles to be read?

For practicing lawyers, the purpose of writing articles is to develop business. By writing authoritatively, you can establish your knowledge of the subject you’re writing on. And with any luck, your article will be read by someone in a position to send you business.

So how do you get your articles read by people who can send you business? Mark Herrmann has some thoughts on that. For instance:

  • Do not write for publications aimed at lawyers. If you do, your audience will consist of your competitors, not potential clients.
  • Write for on-line publications. Print is becoming passe, especially among people who don’t have time to page through a magazine.
  • Whatever else you do, don’t say anything like “aforesaid” in the first paragraph. If you do, you’ll make an impression, but it won’t be a good one.

Free legal-writing advice by George Gopen

If you have not read The Sense of Structure by George Gopen, you should. His lessons on structuring your sentences and paragraphs are invaluable. Recently he has written a series of articles for the ABA’ Litigation magazine. And George has been kind enough to share those articles on his web site. If you have not read his book, or if you have read it but need a refresher, check them out.