I have a J.D. next to my name. I received my law degree in 2000, and up until seven years ago, I was a full time lawyer. The question then becomes: “Why hire an attorney to do your writing?” Well, you should note two things: (1) I’m darn good at what I do; and, (2) attorneys are top-notch writers.
It’s a Daily Demand…And, the Quality has to be Good
Lawyers write every single day of their career. They have to. It’s the nature of the beast. The year 2010 marked my last year spent as a full-time lawyer. I was a medical malpractice defense attorney. On any given day, I was drafting:
- Court pleadings
- Responses to court pleadings
- Motions to go before judges
- Memorandums explaining legal research results
- Memorandums explaining specific legal positions
- Memorandums to the file
- Client letters
- Settlement demands
- Letters to opposing counsel
- Summations of case proceedings for insurance carriers
- Etc., etc., etc
The writing never stopped; and, a good lawyer doesn’t just write. A good lawyer has to write exceptionally well. Again, it’s inherent within the nature of the profession. In 2010, I was copied on an email exchange between a new attorney and a senior attorney in our office. It went something like this:
New Attorney: Please find attached the memo you asked for regarding the Mrs. Jones case.
Senior Attorney: The fifth word in the very first sentence of your document is misspelled and likely misused. Go back and
review the memo to ensure everything is correct and then I’ll take a closer look.
That may sound harsh, but it’s the reality. Writing plays such a critical component in the legal profession that a lawyer has to write exceptionally well if he wants to be a good attorney.
Writing for Diverse Audiences
A good writer has to know and write for a target audience. An exceptional writer, further, should be able to address not just one audience, but several. Given the quantity of writing an attorney must perform, it goes without question that this writing must speak to a host of different audiences.
Consider the bulleted list up top. These pieces of writing were directed towards:
- “The Court”
- “The file”
- Opposing counsel
- Insurance carriers
- Senior attorneys
Each of these represents a completely different audience. Accordingly, they represent a different writing tone and a different writing style. Attorneys have to know and write for a variety of audiences to be good at their job.
Writers often work under stressful deadlines. But, the deadlines are no more critical than those attorneys have to operate under. Lawyers deal with deadlines on a weekly basis; and, if not met, the result could range from a horrible review to loss of bonus to loss of a case to disbarment. These are not good things so attorneys must handle stress well.
Lawyers Are Creative
Many writing projects require a certain level of creativity for ultimate success. For whatever reason, some people believe lawyers are short on imagination. That’s just false.
An important task within quality lawerying is that an attorney has to persuade – judges, juries, opposing counsel, clients, etc. Effective persuasion though requires creativity. I served as a criminal defense attorney in the Navy’s JAG Corps. from 2000-2004. This involved drafting and delivering persuasive closing arguments before juries, which to date, represent some of the most creative tasks I’ve performed as a professional. Imagination is critical for optimal legal performance.
In Need of Legal Writing?
Some writing projects involve legal content. For example, an attorney may need content for a new website or she may need a ghostwriter for a blog. Lawyers are perfect candidates for these projects. They truly understand the profession, the legal jargon and the difficult process of attracting new clients.
I don’t have a communications degree. I have a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Science. I don’t have a M.B.A. I have a J.D. with over 15 years of legal experience. While I spend 90% of my current time doing freelance writing work, I still occasionally assist attorneys with legal research and writing projects. In both scenarios, I write well, sometimes under tight deadlines, and I develop creative solutions that work. Yes, you should definitely hire a lawyer to do your writing.