In his book, Legal Writing Fundamentals (2014), Chinua Asuzu, the CEO of the Write House and expert in legal writing, puts it this way: “Today’s legal world is writing-biased. Written argument is required at trial and appellate courts. Writing also dominates arbitration and alternative dispute resolution.”
Everyone needs sound training in legal writing. But most lawyers and judges do not think so. Many senior lawyers, particularly, don’t think they need any legal-writing training. At best, they recommend it to their junior colleagues. “Who needs legal-training at this stage!?” one senior lawyer within the premises of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, once remarked dismissively. But do you know that most lawyers who think they write well do not? Carl Felsenfeld, a learned writer, eloquently wrote in a U.S. Business Law Journal, “Lawyers have two common failings. One is that they do not write well, and the other is that they think they do.”
In Nigeria, the foundation for sound legal writing has never been strong. Only a negligible number of Faculties across the country teach it. Most law teachers lack the skills required to train law students–even in the Law School. As a pioneer writer, teacher, and consultant on legal writing in Nigeria, Chinua Asuzu believes that “…this (the lack of legal-writing training) is not a recent deficiency, Nigerian lawyers at all levels (including judges, legal-department heads, partners, professors, and SANs) generally write poorly.”
Well, now you know.
International best practices now require lawyers to prepare legal documents in clear language. It’s high time lawyers embraced open communication with their clients. This enables lay clients, readers, or users easily access legal documents. It’s important that they do. We need to realise that law is not just for lawyers alone. Law is for everyone. And it’s good business to write well. Yes, it’s like dressing smart.
The Write House is committed to filling the writing gap in Nigerian law (I’m proud to be part of that team). As Africa’s frontline team of legal-writing coaches, consultants, experts, mentors, and teachers, our experience has been that lawyers, judges, and legal personnel trained in legal writing benefit immensely, career-wise.
Mainly culled from The Write House Profile, I list 5 of these career-enhancing benefits as follows:
economics. It improves economies of scale by enhancing efficiency and utilization. Fewer hands will complete more
tasks in fewer hours.
organizations, legal-writing training deepens branding, credibility, employability, and ethos. Good writing is
directly proportional to good business manners, professional image, and brand differentiation.
prepare legal documents in plain English, dropping the legalese and verbosity that plague much legal writing.
Refreshingly clear legal writing retains the majesty of legal language and commands the respect of modern readers.
training boosts trainees’ expressive capacity and persuasive force.
law firms and legal departments should assess writing skills of applicants for legal positions. They cannot
conduct this assessment unless they themselves are exposed to international best practices in legal writing, as
taught by The Write House.
Participate in one of our legal-writing workshops. It will enhance your career greatly.
Thank me later!