Writing Tips

Legal Writing

Our best writing tip? Edit for clarity and brevity with WordRake. It’s an automated in-line editor that checks for needless words, cumbersome phrases, clichés, and more.

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The 10 Myths of Legal Writing

Myth #1: Long sentences are bad - For good writers, the goal is not to write in short sentences, but to make every word count.

 

Myth #2: Definitions are good – When we define terms, we burden our reader with keeping track of what we mean. State the original, and without defining it, create a logical, shorter version. “Far East Enterprises, Inc.” becomes “Far East.” And everyone still understands.

 

Myth #3: “Clearly” is proof – Too many lawyers use the word when what follows is not clear. Judges and clerks are waiting for us to use it; then mentally they double the burden of proof.

 

Myth #4: Exaggeration is persuasive – Exaggeration is our opinion. The judge doesn’t care. Use facts that build to an inescapable conclusion in your favor.

 

Myth #5: Retaliation is "zealous." A judge in Virginia once told me, “Never wrestle with a pig; you’ll get muddy, and the pig will have a fine time.”

 

Myth #6: Contract language is sacred – Some contract language is sacred and complicated; some of it is just poor writing.

 

Myth #7: Arguing in the Facts is shrewd – That’s the first sign to a judge that we have no case.

 

Myth #8: All facts are necessary – As I have told lawyers for the past 30 years, “Never confuse a fact with a relevant fact.” Unnecessary characters, dates, and other facts only confuse our reader.

 

Myth #9: A word limit must be filled – When we file a brief noticeably under the word limit, first a clerk, then the judge, thinks, “This lawyer has a good case.”

 

Myth #10: Anybody cares what we lawyers think – They want to know how we got there. It’s the difference between showing and telling. Show them; don’t tell them.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.