Why is legal writing so important? Because legal writing drives deals, molds thought, sets rules and governs relationships. Because our writing represents both our clients and our firm. And because our writing reflects on each of us an advocate and a person. Our writing defines who we are.
In the legal profession, virtually everything we do–our negotiations, our legal arguments, our advice to clients, even our exchanges with colleagues–we now do in writing. So now that all lawyers are essentially in the writing business, the ability to write cleanly and efficiently has become a survival skill. You simply cannot be an effective lawyer today if you cannot write. And poor legal writing does more than harm our own reputations. Poor legal writing legals to poor decision making.
The plague of poor writing infects not just the legal world, but the business world as well. The recent National Commission on Writing reports that American businesses spend as much as $3.1 billion annually to address writing problems in the workforce.
So the least we can do for a world that often questions the value of lawyers is to write in a language that adds value–a language that makes legal thought accessible and that regular folks can understand. Open, readable language promotes justice, order and transparency.