Learned Writing

Course Duration

3 Days
9.00 — 16.30hs

Course Structure

On each of the 3 training days:

● 4 hours of lectures with PowerPoint presentation (9.00–13.00hs)
● 1 hour lunch break (13.00–14.00hs)
● 2.5 hours of discussion, exercises, questions, and answers (14.00–16.30hs)



Course Overview

Good writing is the most critical and yet the rarest skill in law.

Listen to Bryan Garner: “Writing is one of the two great skills that will advance your career in law. (The other is people skills.) If you can write well, you must necessarily do other things well: analyze cogently, organize logically, distill accurately, argue persuasively, cite knowledgeably, punctuate skillfully, and phrase smoothly.”

Boost your writing skills by taking part in our legal-writing workshops. Learned Writing: Sense & Nonsense is an intensive and interactive 3-day workshop, with exercises, group tasks, and expert guidance.


Learned Writing:

  • persuade participants to join the plain English movement in legal writing;
  • laugh legalese and verbosity out of court and out of hearing;
  • teach techniques for trimming fat off legal writing and discarding legalese;
  • instil grammar, style, syntax, and usage improvements that; enhance persuasive power in legal writing; and
  • teach clarity in legal prose.

    Target audience
  • Advocates
  • Court and Tribunal Clerks, Registrars, Deputy Registrars, and Officials
  • Customs & Excise Lawyers
  • Espionage Lawyers
  • General Counsel and Heads of Legal Departments
  • In-House Counsel
  • Intelligence & Security Lawyers
  • Legislative aides, drafters, and staff
  • Judges and Justices
  • Judicial Assistants and Clerks
  • Judicial and Legal Correspondents, Editors, and Journalists
  • Justice Ministry staff
  • Law Officers and lawyers in ministries, departments, and agencies
  • Law Reporters
  • Law Students
  • Law Teachers
  • Legal personnel in banks, corporations, debt recovery agencies, and oil companies
  • Legal personnel in intelligence, law enforcement, prosecutorial, security, and tax enforcement agencies
  • Legal Practitioners
  • Legislative Drafters
  • Magistrates
  • Military Lawyers
  • Paralegals
  • Prosecutors
  • Solicitors
  • State Counsel

Course Content

What some past participants have said about Learned Writing (formerly Legal Writing Fundamentals)

“Some of our State Counsel have benefited from the legal-writing training offered by The Write House and have come back with very positive feedback. We encourage you to take advantage of the courses offered by The Write House. They comprise a continuing-professional-development package that will revolutionize the way you write.”- Olanrewaju Akinsola, former Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor (Justice Reforms), Office of the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State Government.

“Lawyers in the Firm have attended trainings organized by ‘The Write House’ facilitated by an erudite scholar, Chinua Asuzu. In the opinion of lawyers in the Firm, it was an excellent experience especially towards the revolution of elegant writing skills within and outside the profession. We therefore highly recommend the legal-writing training to all lawyers as well as every graduate.”- Chukwuma Ezeala, Senior Partner, Chancellor Chambers, Lagos


Course Overview

Thanks for your interest in Legal Writing.

At the workshop, you will:

  1. discover that legal writing is a mess and distinguish yourself by equipping yourself with excellent legal writing skills;
  2. learn that legal writing is a form of communication that requires you to write to be read;
  3. learn the qualities of good legal writing and be able to write concisely and elegantly;
  4. learn how to avoid HIV/AILS- legalese and verbosity that ruin legal writing;
  5. learn how to write effectively by preferring the active voice over passive constructions;
  6. learn how to use strong verbs with subject-verb constructions to sharpen your writing;
  7. learn how to avoid nominization and supplant sedentary verbs with agile verbs;
  8. learn transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs;
  9. learn how to start sentences with and, because, but, nor, or, so, and yet;
  10. learn to uphold the Oxford comma;
  11. learn how to eschew intensifiers;
  12. learn how to shorten your sentences and paragraphs;
  13. learn how to use parallel structure in your writing;
  14. learn how to use bullets, capitals, enumeration, italics, numbers, and tabulation; and learn why you should never underline;
  15. learn how to avoid double-past constructions;
  16. learn how to use possessives to introduce gerunds and solve fused-participle difficulties;
  17. learn how to supplant redundant expressions with alternatives supplied;
  18. learn how to avoid abuse of which in your writing;
  19. learn how to situate modifiers to eliminate confusion;
  20. learn to use doublets and serial pronouns correctly;
  21. learn how to spurn elegant variation and inelegant fixation;
  22. learn how to strike fatuous lawyerisms like aforesaid and similar antiquated expressions;
  23. learn to mitigate the inbuilt gender bias of the English language;
  24. learn to dethrone expletives and metadiscourse;
  25. learn how to moderate authorial self-reference;
  26. learn how to use transition techniques to boost readability;
  27. learn proper use of abbreviations, acronyms, initialisms, apostrophes, and contractions;
  28. learn how to master brackets, hyphens, and parentheses;
  29. learn attribution, footnotes, and quotations; and
  30. learn how to think before you write.

Course Syllabus

1. Introduction
2. Gender Equity in Modern Communication

(a) Distinguish sex from gender.
(b) Use the appropriate pronouns for persons under the law.
(c) Flee linguistic sexism while remaining readable.
(d) Learn the 15 Commands of Gender Balance.
(e) Use alternatives for sexist terms.
(f) Avoid political correctness on steroids. Revise hypercorrection.
(g) Are there ladies at the bar and on the bench?
(h) Miss or Mrs—what’s the court’s business?
3. Let’s laugh legalese and verbosity out of court and out of hearing.
4. Mylward v Welden
5. “I give you that orange.”
6. Client care, customer service, and democracy are inhospitable to legalese and verbosity.
7. Write with your readers in mind.
8. Use the 5C+2E formula for writing success.
9. Plain English respects business and legal terms of art, but resists hocus-pocus incantations.
10. Plain English retains the dignity, even majesty, of educated prose.
11. Typical purposes of business and legal writing: (a) to advise, explain, or instruct; (b) to persuade, and (c) to memorialize.
12. Focus on your audience, message, and purpose.
13. Emphasize more with structure, syntax, and vocabulary than with formatting.
14. Adopt a professional tone throughout. Forget your failed comedy career.
15. Seek deliverance from leprous legalese.

16. Beware of clichés.

17. Implement whiz-deletion.

18. Ban and/or.

19. Prefer the active voice. Don’t hide the subject. Don’t bury your verbs in abstract nouns and adjectives.

20. Fear not to begin sentences with Toby’s Fanta conjunctions (then, or, but, yet, so, for, again, nor, thus, and).

21. Eschew intensifiers. (A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude. He pounces.)

22. Learn transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs.

23. Appreciate phrasal verbs and their corresponding nouns.

24. Use mostly short sentences and paragraphs. Use thesis or topic sentences to introduce most paragraphs. Use transition to enhance flow.

25. Embrace and implement parallel structure.

26. Use possessives to introduce gerunds and solve fused-participle difficulties. Situate your modifiers to eliminate confusion. Avoid awkward separation.

27. Use nominative and objective pronouns correctly.

28. Watch whiches and wizthats.

29. Strike ‘fatuous lawyerisms,’ elegant variation, and inelegant fixation.

30. Supplant redundant expressions with concise alternatives.

31. Expel expletives. Minimize comment clauses and metadiscourse. Moderate authorial self-reference.

32. Learn proper use of abbreviations, acronyms, clippings, hybrids, and initialisms.

33. Master modern business communication: emails, letters, memos, and reports.

34. Master punctuation: apostrophes, braces, brackets, bullets, colons, commas, ellipses, em-dashes, en-dashes, exclamation points, guillemets, hyphens, parentheses, periods, question marks, quotation marks, semicolons, and slashes.

35. Construct lists and build tables with aplomb.

36. Use mostly digits for your numbers.

37. Format minimally with boldface, capitalization, and italics. Never underline anything.

38. Cite and quote like a pro.

39. Deepen and broaden your learned vocabulary.

40. Cultivate an appreciation for semantic nuance and subtle distinctions.



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