LAW WRITING AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Updated: Aug 22
George Orwell’s illustrious writing career included a piece of work that is widely recognised as one of the most important stands for the upkeep and quality of the English language.
If you haven’t read Politics and the English Language then it should be first on your reading list – especially for those who are passionate about writing clearly on the truth, to which all law students should aspire.
Inside the essay one can find valuable law writing principals that can guide your grammar and structure when penning your various law arguments. For example:
“One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
Although Orwell was mainly talking to political language, especially in the context of journalism, such rules still transcend to the English language in its entirety.
1. Orwell’s tips are of significant value for students who want to write concisely but going beyond that law experts have fleshed out another 6 key points for excellent law writing. Have a point.
2. Get to the point.
3. Adopt a structure for your analysis that will allow you to integrate the facts, court analysis, and policies into the body of your argument.
4. Break your analysis up into its component parts and develop them separately, but in an organised way.
5. Adopt a measured tone.
6. Be concrete and simplify whenever possible.
At ProofPal we can help you and your law writing be as clear and concise as possible. While we can’t change the foundations of your content, we can improve grammar, structure, style, formatting and the accuracy of your work for a polished and well-communicated piece of work - that Orwell himself would approve!