Paralegal Classes | Resources for Students
“Words are the dress of thoughts, which should no more be presented in rags, tatters, and dirt, than your person should.”
Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694 – 1773)
Plain (Legal) language
- How to Write: A Memorandum from a Curmudgeon — NEW — Better than best advice on legal writing… and fun to read too. (Many thanks to Andrew M. for the link!)
- The Nora Rule — Best advice ever on legal writing…
- Plain Language and the Law — Resources: tips and ideas for writing more clearly, and persuasively.
- US Gov:
- Judge Mark Painter: Legal Writing 201 — 30 Excellent tips (now included in class handout), including lovely reminders such as: “Make every word count, and your document will be much more convincing—the reader might think that you know more than you wrote, not less.”
- Cheryl Stephens including legal writing advice.
- Waggoner’s legal writing blog discusses plain language for ESL legal writers… and tries to sell his editing services. The former is useful, the latter, not so much.
- Mark Adler offers exercises and instruction on plain legal drafting.
- Arguing in Writing: drafting a statement of fact and law for Small Claims Court by Marcel D. Mongeon for the Paralegal Society of Ontario (in your materials).
- Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Laskin on writing persuasive facta: “If we have to, we will bend the law to reach a fair result.”
- Factum drafting tips and examples from Queen’s University school of law (moot instructions).
- Advocate Eugene Meehan on Persuasive Legal Writing
General Writing Guides
- Grammar Monster – One stop shopping for grammar and word choice guidelines.
- A bit more technical, but if you want to know WHY something is right or wrong, check out the University of Ottawa’s HyperGrammar
- Daily Writing Tips
- DWT – Passive vs. Active Voice
- Writing and design tips for being understood from Simply Put
- Writing tips from Grammar Girl
- Grammar and word usage in one place at The Grammarist, a good place to check things like whether to use relevance or relevancy
- Paul Brians’ Commonly confused words/phrases – One of the best online resources for sorting out homonyms.
- Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style
- University of Wisconsin’s Writers’ Handbook
- I especially recommend their simple instructions on writing Clear, Concise, Sentences (link in right-hand sidebar).
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab
- Letters Library – Capitalization Rules
If you want more help, here are some free and inexpensive online English writing classes. Some are more advanced than others, it’s up to you to check out the course outlines and find one that matches the skills you need to develop.
- Poynter Journalism School
- Coursera (not all courses are available immediately)
- University of California at Berkley (Three part course)
- Open University (U.K.)