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Developing Good Legal Writing Skills

Many (most?) legal documents, to a greater or lesser extent, are structured in a way that makes them less accessible to the reader and use language that is less precise and efficient than it might be, in particular language that is unclear, wordy, archaic, pompous, or clumsy – in other words, “legalese.” (Note that while the term “legalese” is not necessarily pejorative, I, and others, use it as a term for objectionable legal jargon.)

Developing Good Legal Writing Skills

If you would like to develop a legal style that is simple and direct, you might want to start reading some of Bryan Garner’s books. Bryan Garner is a leading authority on good legal writing.

Garner is editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and the author of many works on legal style, such as A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, The Elements of Legal Style, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, The Winning Brief, and The Winning Oral Argument. One of his latest books is Garner on Language and Writing.

My favorite ones are: the 897-page Garner’s Modern American Usage and Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage.

I strongly recommend that you get at least one of his books (and read it!).

Also, at The TR Company we offer short programs specifically designed to train lawyers and translators, as well as consultants and other professionals who are daily involved in drafting legal documents. These programs include Modern Legal Usage in Drafting Corporate Agreements, Business and Legal Writing: Addressing US Targets, Drafting and Translating Contracts, among others. If you would like to get information about any of these programs, please write to

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