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Writing Tools


CartiibWelcome to “Writing Tools,” a page dedicated to helping you to avoid errors and achieve excellence in legal writing. Will Rogers once said, “The minute you read something that you can’t understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.” Don’t let that lawyer be you!

Please explore all of the tips and guidelines provided on this page, and always please feel free to contact me if you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections.



Film ReelClick below to view brief videos on hot topics in legal writing.

After viewing the videos, test yourself with the supplemental exercises posted in the left pull-down menu.

Transitions — This video gives tips on transitioning into legal writing from other writing discourses.
Foundations I — This video explains how single words function in sentences and, together with Foundations II, provides the groundwork for achieving excellence and avoiding errors in legal writing.
Foundations II — This video explains how phrases and clauses function in sentences and, together with Foundations I, provides the groundwork for achieving excellence and avoiding errors in legal writing.

Active & Passive Voice
Parallel Structure
Placement of Modifiers
Punctuation I: Semicolon and Comma
Punctuation II: Apostrophe, Colon, Hyphen, Period, Quotation Marks
Troublesome Pronouns

Tip of the WeekTIP OF THE WEEK

The Process of Proofreading

We all know how difficult it is to proofread something we ourselves have written. We tend to see what should be on the page instead of what is actually on the page. We get caught up in the substance and gloss over the appearance.

The trick to proofreading accurately is to take each sentence out of context. The best way to do that is to read the paper backwards, sentence by sentence. Obviously, you won’t catch errors in analysis or flow this way, but you will spot errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

This process should be the final step in editing your paper. It is a tedious process; it is best not to do the entire paper at once. Remember that the last page you edit with this process is the first page your reader will see, so make sure that you are fresh when you get to the first pages of the paper.


JudgeClick here to find summaries of cases in which judges have reprimanded and sanctioned lawyers for poor grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.