Lawyers are famous for redundant writing and using long words where shorter words would suffice. In today’s practice, the written word is a lawyer’s prime currency. For the firm, its written work is its face to the world, and its reputation could hang on a phrase in any brief, memo or even e-mail. Thus, there can only be one answer to the question, “does good lawyering require good writing?” — a definitive and emphatic, “yes!”

So how does a lawyer learn to write well? Many people think that writing is a talent — you’re either born with it or you’re not — but talent only provides an advantage to the legal writer. Effective persuasive writing — writing that succinctly states the writer’s case, persuades the reader of the cause and spurs her into action in response — is a learned skill. But it is not a skill often learned in academia; most lawyers improve and hone their skills throughout their practice. Indeed, to remain competitive in today’s cutthroat practice, few lawyers can afford to rest on their laurels and not try to improve their writing skills.

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