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The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Legal Letter


— October 2, 2018

A substantial aspect of the legal system is conducted through written letters to demand or address various elements of the judicial system. The writings introduce judges to facts of the case, state the applicable law, and argue in pursuit of the desired action or resolve to a legal dispute. A legal letter is therefore well researched, clearly organized, and professional in tone and format. However, there are various Do’s and Don’ts to writing a legal letter.


A substantial aspect of the legal system is conducted through written letters to demand or address various elements of the judicial system. The writings introduce judges to facts of the case, state the applicable law, and argue in pursuit of the desired action or resolve to a legal dispute. A legal letter is therefore well researched, clearly organized, and professional in tone and format. However, there are various Do’s and Don’ts to writing a legal letter.

Do’s to writing a legal letter

Maintain proper focus. The intended audience, as well as the unintended audience, may read a legal letter. It is therefore important to address the intended audience so that the letter is not misinterpreted. “To ensure proper focus on the writing process, it is important to start early and make a plan,” recommends Jeff Taylor, Head of Content Writing at SolidEssay. Starting legal writing early enough gives the writer the opportunity to pen a high quality and polished letter that is void of mistakes; the letter that is researched and contains facts and precedence.

Provide a consistent, coherent argument. “When writing a legal letter, it is important to present a coherent letter that diligently investigates the facts and addresses the relevant policies,” explains Monica Cox, Legal Writer at ConfidentWriters. The initial step in preparing such an argument is to do research of the applicable law thoroughly, diligently investigate the facts, plan and organize the letter, and ensure any legal theory presented is consistent with applicable law. The provision of these arguments should, however, vary depending on the audience. The audience determines the format and style of the document. For example, a letter to a client explaining legal issues, therefore, varies from a persuasive brief to a court.

Prepare the letter in shorter sentences or paragraphs. Shorter sentences make it easier for the reader to understand the facts of the case. Moreover, the client understands the key takeaway points of the letter and thus strategically plans for the case. Long paragraphs with legal jargon frustrate clients by limiting their ability to understand their cases. It is therefore important to keep the paragraphs and sentences short, honest, and accurate. The short sentences should also capture all relevant facts, and cite the records appropriately.

Man writing a letter; image by Helloquence, via Unsplash.com.
Man writing a letter; image by Helloquence, via Unsplash.com.

Use precise language. When writing a legal letter it is essential to use precise English grammar that gives the client an opportunity to understand the letter and the facts of the case. Essential Do’s include proofreading for spelling and grammar, editing and redrafting, citing cases and authorities accurately, and to adhere to any court-specific technical requirements regarding fonts, margins, and document length.

Don’ts to writing a legal letter

Avoid assumptions over the reader’s knowledge of the law. “While writing the legal letter, never assume that the reader knows the law,” says Senior Legal Content Writer at Paper-Research. Use simple wording to explain the facts of the case to both the defendant and plaintiff. Clear articulation of the law eases the judicial process or the legal writing process by creating a common understanding of the facts.

Avoid contractions. In legal writing, it is important to avoid contractions, as meaning may be lost in the use of short forms.

Do not state a personal opinion without backing it up with the authoritative law. Personal opinion is irrelevant in addressing the case. The sound legal argument should form the basis of the legal letter. Limit the use of personal pronouns.

The do’s, when it comes to legal writing, include maintaining proper focus, coherent argument, using shorter sentences, and using precise language. Regarding the don’ts, they include avoiding assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of the law, avoiding contractions, and avoiding personal opinion that is not backed up by authoritative law.

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