What We Do
LAWriters training results can only be achieved by a comprehensive program that goes well beyond the usual superficial writing advice like "write short sentences" or "avoid passive voice" or "be concise." The key is to develop a deeper understanding of the cummunication process that provides more useful perspective on all the familiar homilies. The LAWriters team of instructors argues for the following critical elements to any practical program in legal writing training:
The programs that deliver the most benefit to a firm or law office of any kind are those that include the widest possible array of participants. Because our emphasis is on editing rather than just the effort to produce first drafts, the message of the program is relevant to experienced as well as inexperienced legal writiers. The purpose of the program is to create an agreed "common writing vocabulary" that becomes the shared baseline for assessing the quality of any document. This means that LAWriters recommends against organizing programs limited to a firm's newest associates.
Train large audiences first, small groups and individuals later
Although individual attention and the opportunity to discuss the nuances of drafting are important components of a rich and useful feedback process, these conversations are inefficient and unfocused unless they proceed from a widely shared foundation. That then means that for a firm's "writing vocabulary" to take root adequately, training should start with presentations to large audiences and then proceed to smaller groups and individuals later.
Writing principles rather than writing "rules": An effective program in writing training--one that will have a lasting impact on a firm's work--must begin with fundamental propositions of strong communication. Just as lawyers understand that the world of the "the law" is not just piles of picky rules, but also is animated by deeper legal principles that unite, explain, and justify those rules, so too the most useful writing guidance begins first with certain abstract, but vital, perspectives from which all other advice is derived. Only LAWriters programs offer that kind of sophisticated training.
Go "macro" before "micro"
Training should begin with perspectives on the nature and structure of documents as a whole--the "macro" elements of large pieces of information--and only then delve into the details of, for example, sentence structure and style. By the same token, an efficient edit of a document must start with its basic content, organization, and message--elegant sentences will not save a badly structured argument or analysis. Consequently, a writing program that begins with advice about sentence structure is not only misguided, it reinforces the worst habits of ordinary editing.