Common Ground Between Legal Writing and Creative Writing

legal writing

Words are powerful, and lawyers take this to a different degree. In this context, words are a lawyer’s capital. Words are how they win or lose cases. They use words as their weapon to persuade anyone that they talk to.

This is why people often say that a writer can become a lawyer and vice versa. Looking at it closely, writing and lawyering have a couple of similarities:

Critical Thinking

Writers need critical thinking to put substance into their work. If the character does one thing, what would that mean for the whole story? Will it be organic? If the writer needs to support the thesis statement, they will gather and present information.

The same goes for lawyers. To defend their clients, they have to look for evidence to support that their client is innocent. They must tell a story to prove a point. They need to put two-and-two together to prove that they are right.

All these are possible because of critical thinking. They evaluate events, statements, and ideas so that they can come to a comprehensive solution. They need to analyze and follow consequential reasoning to arrive at a conclusion.

creative writing

Using Words to Convince People

The job of a creative writer is to paint a picture in the reader’s head. The details should be intricate that they emerge their reader into the new reality. Thus, the reader needs to be convinced that what is happening is true so that they can be immersed and pulled into the emotions that the characters feel.

The lawyer, on the other hand, has to use the right words to become compelling and convincing. Through their words, they must sell their story until everyone in the courtroom believes it or gives it the benefit of the doubt. For example, lawyers can communicate corporate and commercial law to a regular consumer by simply changing the word choice on the law books. Because of this, they can use words to their advantage.

The Basic Rules of Writing

Creative or legal, the rules of good writing are still in effect. There might not be metaphors and expressions of spiritual beauty in legal writing, but the technicalities of writing remain constant.

  • Impeccable grammar is necessary to build credibility.
  • Be concise. If the sentence can live without a certain word or phrase, then that part of the sentence is useless. Get to the point and get there fast. Humans can only focus for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Avoid hifalutin words—as much as possible. While there are thoughts that can be expressed only through grandeur, keeping a simple language helps people understand your writing more. It does not interrupt the “flow” with second-guessing the definitions or searching in a dictionary.
  • Show don’t tell. This is an eternally repeated line. To picture it, instead of saying that a person is agitated, a writer should articulate body language that conveys the message. It could be constant browsing of the space, restless hands and feet, pacing back-and-forth, etc.

A writer’s skills may come in handy in law school and in practice itself. The same goes when a lawyer decides to become a writer. Even then, one cannot deny the similarities between legal writing and creative writing.