Legal Drafting: 6 Important things to keep in mind!

It has been said that there is no such good thing as good writing. You cannot get away with your first attempt. You need trial and error. You also need a structured approach. The following approach will help you in efficiently writing whatever you want and also in legal drafting.

1. Analyse and research:

The starting points are the facts and the law. Whether you are drafting a legal notice or a contract, you should be make yourself aware with the facts.  You cannot apply the law without knowing the facts of your case. The law then shows you how to organize and give legal significance to the facts.

2. Determine the essential content of your draft:

You must identify, maybe in your head or in a list form or through notes, what you must include in your draft. This may be dictated by law, by the needs of your client or by your own logic or by what is needed to prove a case. There may also be rules of conduct that require certain content, and this will need to be added to your list.

3. Create a Skeleton plan:

Always plan your draft first. Never begin to actually draft until you have a skeleton plan, showing how many paragraphs you are going to have, what the content of each paragraph will be, in what order the paragraph will come and so on.

Try to give each paragraph a ‘name’. This may turn into a subheading, or it may just be for your own use. It helps you to be focused on the content of each paragraph and keep to the point.

4. Check the plan against your list:

Go back to the list you created at step 2, and methodically check it off, ensuring that every necessary item of content has been slotted into your skeleton at an appropriate point. Ensure that your content and structure are perfectly matched and organized.

5. Draft one paragraph at a time:

Draft one paragraph at a time, knowing exactly what you are trying to say in that paragraph. Work on each paragraph in turn, experimenting until the words say just what you want them to say and in the right way. By the time you have finished with that paragraph, it should be instantly comprehensible, precise, unambiguous, concise, grammatically correct, elegant, and as far as possible in plain English.

6. Look back over your draft:

Never just assume you have finished your draft when you get to the end of the last paragraph. Almost certainly you will want to read it through again, maybe several times. Look particularly at the bits whereas you were drafting. It should be rare indeed that you do not find improvements or alterations that you want to make.

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