When it comes to legal writing, there are a mind-boggling number of rules, styles, formats, and other structural devices meant to adhere your writing to universally upheld standards.
Whether writing a deposition or drafting a contract, legal writing demands that you color inside of the lines. Still, there are instances where you can infuse your writing with your own voice while also writing effectively and coherently in a legal context. When searching for legal writing books, any professional will give you their own list of preferred tomes of advice, knowledge, and rules. You can follow those lists to the letter, or pick and choose which books work for you and your purposes.
To help you navigate the complex and often overcrowded world of legal writing books, it may be helpful to, instead of gleaning from one person’s experience, look to what your peers as a whole are reading. Where are most legal professionals getting their information? Which books are most popular to the people who may be using them in a similar way as you are? One great way to discover the best legal writing books is to check the bestsellers lists, and these days, few bestsellers lists have as much notoriety as Amazon’s.
Authors: Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Yale Law Review
You can tell by that byline that this book was compiled by some of the heaviest hitters in law education. The latest edition of The Blue Book provides a comprehensive guide for lawyers and law students to construct citations, covering formatting from various legal sources that include court cases, statutes, books, periodicals, and international documents.
Author: Tina L. Stark
From Amazon: “An eagerly anticipated second edition of this established and highly regarded text teaches the key practice skill of contract drafting, with emphasis on how to incorporate the business deal into the contract and add value to the client’s deal.”
Author: Ross Guberman
If there is one synonym that best describes what a lawyer is, it’s advocate. Lawyers are, first and foremost, advocates for their clients, meaning they must often argue on their clients’ behalf. And one of the most effective ways to argue for a client—and often one of the most necessary—is through writing. But how does a lawyer persuade their audience? How do you effectively, yet compellingly, write an opening statement or draft a motion? Ross Guberman’s quintessential answers these important questions, presenting lawyers with advice on how to hone your legal writing to achieve the results you want.
Authors: Joan M. Rocklin, Robert B. Rocklin, Christine Coughlin, Sandy Patrick
Another valuable tool in a lawyer’s repertoire also imparts wisdom on the art of persuasion, offering first-year attorneys fantastic insight into how to develop oral and written arguments, and how to become an effective advocate for their clients.
Authors: Richard C. Wydick
Considered a classic for more than 25 years, Wydick’s award-winning Plain English for Lawyers is trusted by legal professionals as one of the go-to legal writing books for lawyers, teachers, judges, paralegals, and more to write in concisely yet effectively—accessible, yet sophisticated.
Another helpful source of insight into the books lawyers are reading is Barnes & Noble. Below are three of the bestselling legal writing books on Barnes & Noble’s website. Note that The Blue Book tied as No. 1 on both sites. Plain English for Lawyers, which is No. 5 on Amazon, is No. 2 on Barnes & Noble’s site.
Author: Mary Beth Beazly
From Barnes & Noble: “A new edition of Beazley’s accessible and successful course book for appellate advocacy. Features:
- New material on the impact technology is having on appellate advocacy, the research for which includes interviews with both judges and clerks
- Tips on time management
- Material on the narrative theory as been expanded and clarified with syllogisms that use narrative theory
- New discussions on avoiding plagiarism in law school and malpractice in practice that also note the differences between academic misconduct and professional misconduct when it comes to legal writing”
- Legal Writing in Plain English, Second Edition: A Text with Exercises
Author: Brian A. Garner
From Barnes & Noble: “Admirably clear, concise, down-to-earth, and powerful—all too often, legal writing embodies none of these qualities. Its reputation for obscurity and needless legalese is widespread… owing to the leading guide to clear writing in the field, this indispensable volume encourages legal writers to challenge conventions and offers valuable insights into the writing process that will appeal to other professionals…”
Author: Steven D. Stark
From Barnes & Noble: “More than almost any profession, the law has a deserved reputation for opaque, jargon-clogged writing. Yet forceful writing is one of the most potent weapons of legal advocacy. In this new edition of Writing to Win, Steven D. Stark, a former lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, who has inspired thousands of aspiring and practicing lawyers, applies the universal principles of powerful, vigorous prose to the job of making a legal case–and winning it.”