Writing skill is something that many budding lawyers fail to appreciate. Many lawyers work very hard to develop really good public speaking skills. However, writing skills often get neglected. And it is a grave and costly mistake.
When I was in NUJS, once I had the good fortune of attending a credit course offered by Prof N. L. Mitra, who was a partner at Fox & Mandal at the time. He is also the 2nd VC of NLS Bangalore and founding VC of NLU Jodhpur. He played a key role in setting up a law school in IIT Kgp.
One day I asked him in class, something seemed to be a very important question to me.
Why do these law firms pay so much to hire NLU graduates?
That was 2007, the market was on an all-time high, and our seniors just had bumper recruitment.
Why are these law firms ready to shell out big salaries to fresh graduates?
It is primarily their command over the English language, and especially writing skills, as per Prof. Mitra. It is very, very hard to find lawyers who have really good writing skills, and the first few NLUs were able to offer lawyers who wrote very well.
Writing well takes a long time to learn.
I agree. One of our biggest challenges in LawSikho is to find good writers, in the content team as well as the marketing team.
If you are good at writing, you can not find a job.
There is a huge demand for content marketers today. If you can touch, move, and inspire people with your writing, you would be in very high demand.
If you can tell stories, if you can make complex concepts easily understandable, if you can get people hooked with your writing, you do not really need too many other skills.
And lawyers need that level of writing skill and much more.
They have to learn to make their writing not merely informative, but persuasive. They have to deal with volumes of documents and excessive information, which they have to present in a way that makes the crux obvious.
For lawyers, often the presentation is as important as the content itself. They have to learn how to present their content in an effective way, and how to take their readers through different stages of realization so that they can effectively persuade the reader.
The lawyer’s ability to think through various situations and possibilities is critical, as is being able to express specific and general ideas in black and white that leave no scope for ambiguity. Sometimes, they have to introduce measured and carefully planned ambiguity as well.
Even before you get to argue before a judge, he will probably read your written submissions.
Even before you meet the other party for a huge negotiation, you will persuade and influence the other side with your writing.
The contracts, notices, and petitions you draft and the precise clauses you craft, or not, will be noticed by clients, bosses, judges, and peers.
Are you investing in learning how to write well?
Here are some unexpected benefits of learning to write very well
- You will become a better reader. Writers are usually better at picking up subtext, understanding the context apart from merely content and figuring out what the author is coming from rather than getting all caught up in the words or information or a plot. You will even begin to notice the tools of persuasion or influence deployed by the writer or the lack thereof when you read.
- You will become better at analysis and conflict resolution if you practice writing extensively.
- More than anything else, writing is a way of thinking. Writing regularly helps you to develop an ability to organize information and associate one piece of information with another in your brain in an organized fashion.
- Writing also can improve your cognitive abilities and improve your memory.
- Writing will help your mental health. Writing has a therapeutic effect on our brain and our overall health.
- Expressive writing, which involves writing about yourself, your emotional experiences, and thoughts can not only heal past wounds and trauma, it will also help you to connect with other human beings in a meaningful way.
- Writing is an underrated leadership skill. It helps you to connect with people in a very different way. You can influence and force people to think through your writing, and you can cause people to change.
- People who write better are more likely to grow faster in their careers.
- Your work, learning, and intellect will often be judged, in college, in the workplace, among peers, in the court, by clients and in the community, based on the quality of your writing.
- When you learn to communicate better through your writing, your verbal communication is also likely to improve to a great extent.
- Writing will help you to find friends and like-minded people and connect better with them.
- Your thinking and learning can become permanent when you write them down.
- Writing will force you to think better and refine your most important ideas.
How can I improve my writing?
- Write with a purpose. What do you want to do through your writing? Entertain, persuade, compel, interrupt, influence, suggest, or inform? Be very clear about your intention.
- Have a clear target group in mind. Do not write for everyone. If you write with a specific type of audience in mind, you will be more effective with that audience and your writing will become sharper.
- Be clear about what is good writing. Difficult words or complex sentences do not make good writing. It is better to judge writing by its impact. How many people will benefit from your writing? How many people will be influenced? Will your writing make a big difference to someone?
- Avoid platitudes and fillers. When you write cliche sentences, resort to repetition that serves no purpose and write long and awkward sentences, it makes your text harder to read. The easier to read and more engaging any writing is, the better it is.
- Try to engage. The holy grail of good writing is great engagement. If the reader gets involved in the text, if their brain lights up with new ideas, excitement, feelings and emotions, that is the best you can hope for. That is the hallmark of great learning.
- It is better to be brutally honest while writing. Write about things that you deeply feel about and care for. Write true and honest feelings. Write about things that make you angry and upset. Write about things that excite you and fill you with hope. This is the best way to write extraordinary prose or even poetry for that matter. Readers can feel your emotion when you write with that kind of palpable emotion.
- The alternative is to write about things that people really want to read about. In that case, you have to give them more than they have imagined. If readers are not left with an ‘aha’ or ‘wow’ moment after reading your prose, then why were you writing? Your content will be forgotten and discarded.
How much do we focus on writing skills in LawSikho courses?
- In every LawSikho course, writing plays a central role. You have to write at least one article per month while studying in a LawSikho course, and that is mandatory if you want a certificate. We offer almost daily writing classes where accomplished legal writers trained by us will help you with your writing, free of charge to most of our premium course students.
- At the heart of our courses, there are weekly assignments. It is through the assignments that you learn most of your practical skills. Most of these assignments are based on writing – drafting contracts, notices, petitions, advisory notes, position papers for negotiations, and memos, you end up writing a lot every week. What is more, you get in-line feedback on your writing so you can improve yourself week on week.
- We even provide good articles produced by you with a publishing platform. After all, we run the iPleaders blog, one of the largest law blogs in the world with close to a million unique readers per month.
- We even guide you if you want to publish your articles elsewhere. Our students have published articles in leading newspapers and online media portals.
- We have a team that is exclusively charged with the duty of encouraging students to write and publish articles and provide them with the necessary training so that they can improve their writing skills month on month and produce publishable articles.
- By the time you are done with a LawSikho course, you would probably have a bunch of published articles to show off in your CV!
How does writing skills help our students?
- They use article writing for the purpose of networking with potential employers and clients and get their attention.
- Their CVs stand out. They also get the right kind of attention on social media due to their regular publications.
- They become better lawyers, well rounded influential professionals, and better human beings, which is our ultimate goal.
- Not each and every learner accomplishes the same level of success with their writing but I can vouch that every person gets to improve their writing skills a great deal.
Is there a dedicated course for improving my writing skill?
- We have a dedicated Legal English course that will help you to rapidly develop your writing skills alongside overall language skills.
- Out of 3 classes per week, one is dedicated to writing skills, while two others are dedicated to grammar and oratory skills.
- This course is backed by a one-month money-back guarantee. You can check it out absolutely risk-free.
Here are the LawSikho courses in which you can enrol right away
- If you are interested in corporate governance, you should check out the diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations;
- If you want to get that in-house counsel job, go check out the diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels;
- If Industrial and Labour Laws interest you, go take a look at that diploma course;
- The Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws will be booming in the coming times, if you’re inclined towards that career, check out that diploma course;
- If you’re sure that your niche lies in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE & VC transactions), go check out that course;
- The Cyber Law, Fintech Regulations and Technology Contracts is in dire need of good young talent if that is what ticks for you, go check out that course; and
- Every young lawyer should check out our diploma course in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.
Check out our other executive courses which can be helpful:
- We have a certificate course in Advance Corporate Taxation;
- You can also check out this course for Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code;
- If Trademark, Licensing; Prosecution and Litigation interest you, we have a course for that;
- LawSikho also teaches Competition Law, Practice and Enforcement in a course;
- Technology Contracts will be essential to every business in the future, you can check out that certificate course; and
- Knowledge about Banking & Finance Practice: Contracts, Disputes & Recovery is essential for every BigLaw layer, you can check that out too.
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