, , ,

Legal Writing: Word Choice, by Jason Steed, Legal Solutions Blog


Every good lawyer knows that persuasion begins with framing the issue, and framing the issue begins with effective word choice. But many lawyers don’t realize, or occasionally forget, just how effective good word choice can be—or worse, they misunderstand what it means to make effective word choices. They think, for example, that labeling an act as “extremely egregious” will help the court to understand just how terrible the act was. But every good writer knows that good writing means showing, not telling—and adverbs and adjectives are all about telling.

In other words, adverbs and adjectives are not a sign of good persuasive writing. If you find yourself using adverbs or adjectives to get your point across, then you’re probably making bad word choices. Why? Because adverbs modify verbs, and adjectives modify nouns—and if your verbs and nouns need modifying, then they probably aren’t the best verbs and nouns you could be using.

So how effective can simple nouns and verbs be? . . . .