A big reason for upgrading from legacy case management software to a new, cloud-based package is to give attorneys more time to actually practice law. Legal case management in the cloud creates a more efficient and productive environment that allows attorneys to spend less time on routine tasks so that they have more time to put into their cases. As they do so, it is expected that attorneys get better as practitioners of law.
One area in which many attorneys could afford to spend more time is that of legal writing. As an attorney, you are also a writer of sorts. The documents you prepare throughout the course of a given case will have at least some impact on the outcome. The better your writing skills, the more positive the impact of your documents.
Communicating with Clients
Attorneys often communicate with clients through written documents. Whether it is e-mails, snail mail letters, or legal documents delivered directly to a client’s door, they all contain the written word. They all represent an opportunity for an attorney to clearly communicate thoughts and ideas to a client who might have trouble understanding legalese.
The thing that is easy to forget is that clients do not speak the attorney’s language. Writing documents intended to go to clients should always be done with this in mind. Attorneys should make a practice of writing in language that clients understand. And where that is not possible for whatever reason, some sort of explanation should accompany language too complicated for clients with no legal training.
Writing for Attorneys and Courts
Preparing documents for other attorneys and courts is where legal writing tends to be most problematic. Unfortunately, attorneys have not escaped the modern trend of verbosity that seems to have overcome the corporate world. Attorneys are just as likely as their corporate counterparts to write long-winded opinions and arguments that don’t say a whole lot.
The thing to remember here is that attorneys are judged by the documents they prepare. A judge reading a five-page document that could have just as easily been two pages may question the ability of the attorney who wrote it to organize thoughts succinctly and with only the necessary amount of detail.
Opposing attorneys reading documents filled with spelling and grammar errors are likely to judge the author as incompetent and easy to take advantage of. Whether or not it’s actually true doesn’t change the perception of incompetence.
Research and Practice
So how is the attorney to improve his or her legal writing? Through research and practice. Once again, a cloud-based legal case management application can help here. We have already discussed how new software can make a law firm more efficient, thus giving attorneys more time to practice law. But there is another benefit, at least with NuLaw.
NuLaw includes a built-in library to support a firm’s legal documents and research. As an attorney researches ways to improve his or her writing, any information found online can be added to the library. The attorney can build a comprehensive set of resources devoted to better legal writing.
Those resources can then be put to use as the attorney practices. Legal writing can be compared to documents in the library, then modified to bring it in line with good writing standards. With practice comes improved writing skills that make an attorney more effective over time.
Attorneys, you are also writers of sorts. Don’t ever forget that. Your ability to communicate through writing will have an impact on your success as an attorney. One of your goals should be to continually improve your writing skills.