Drafting in clear English

People often criticise lawyers for insisting on jargon and using six words when one will do – and for not explaining things clearly. However, your clients are busy people who want to understand your advice the first time they read it; they don’t want to struggle with legal terms.

In this workshop-style half-day course, a professional writer will show you how to achieve success in writing for clients.

It covers the principles and practice of clear English, the importance of a reader-focused style, the fundamentals of planning, the power of language, key strategies for editing, and common errors of grammar and punctuation.

Each aspect of the course is covered in theory and consolidated with intensive practice, using authentic material.

On successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Understand how to write in clear, concise English with a professional tone
  • Understand how to achieve a reader-focused style and structure
  • Have the skills to communicate information quickly, concisely and effectively
  • Recognise and avoid common errors of grammar, punctuation and use of English
  • Understand how to make documents easier to read and navigate

Course content

Part 1 – Planning: Clear thinking leads to clear writing

  • Identify your readers (to develop a reader-focused approach)
  • Create an effective objective, using 5Ws and H (Who, What, Why, Where, When and How?)
  • Make sure you meet the client’s needs
  • Create the structure, using a skeleton format

 Part 2 – Writing: Transform your style with clear, concise, easy-to-read English

  • Grammar and punctuation refresher
  • Writing to clients with a personal and professional voice
  • Avoiding professional pitfalls – or how to make ‘legalese’ easier to understand:
    • Cutting – or explaining – jargon in letters
    • Avoiding wordiness and repetition
    • Using verbs instead of abstract nouns (Compare: We have attempted to agree a settlement …/ We have attempted to settle…)
    • Using active instead of passive verbs (Compare: We have been instructed by our client to … / Our client has instructed us to …)
    • Bringing the main issue to the start of the sentence and avoiding unnecessary exceptions and negatives (Compare: Notwithstanding our client’s position that it has no liability, we have been instructed to make a sealed offer to you / We are making a sealed offer in full and final settlement, notwithstanding the fact that our client has no liability.)
    • Using topic/introductory sentences to start paragraphs

Part 3 – Editing: Sharpen your pencil

  • Editing strategies and techniques, including professional tips
  • Proofreading quiz (common errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling)

This is the outline for a half-day course. It can also be delivered as a two-hour session. Please contact us for details.