10 Tips For Writing, Editing And Revising Your Law School Papers

Writing a law school paper requires a lot of effort, but the payoff is worth it. Writing a well-researched and well-written paper can help you earn an A grade on your exam or thesis project. 

The most important thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to start early and give yourself plenty of time to work through all of the steps before the deadline arrives. Taking these steps will help ensure that you’re ready when it comes time to write:

Clarity, Persuasion, Style: 10 Tips to Improve Your Legal Writing
1. Effective Revision: Learn techniques to revise your work for improved clarity and coherence.
2. Organizational Structure: Understand the significance of a well-organized paper to convey your arguments effectively.
3. Precise Language: Use precise and concise language to communicate legal concepts accurately.
4. Thorough Research: Conduct thorough research to support your arguments with credible sources.
5. Citation Accuracy: Ensure accurate and consistent citation of legal authorities and references.
6. Editing Strategies: Explore editing strategies to eliminate errors and enhance the professionalism of your paper.
7. Proofreading Techniques: Discover proofreading techniques to catch grammatical and typographical errors.
8. Logical Flow: Create a logical flow by organizing ideas and arguments in a coherent manner.
9. Strong Introductions: Craft compelling introductions that outline the paper’s focus and engage the reader.
10. Effective Conclusions: Wrap up your paper with a strong conclusion that summarizes key points and insights.

Start With A Research Question

The importance of starting with a research question cannot be overstated. A good research question will guide your investigation, provide focus and direction to your writing, and make it easier for readers to understand. 

It will also help you avoid getting stuck in the weeds of something that doesn’t matter or worse yet, something that would be interesting but doesn’t have anything to do with your project at all.

You can find questions by reading what other people have written on similar topics (you’ll probably find out more than you need), and by asking yourself why this topic interests you so much (if it doesn’t interest you at all, then maybe law school isn’t for you?), or even just brainstorming until something sounds promising enough for further exploration (and possibly publication). 

The point is not necessarily finding THE RIGHT question; there are no such things as right answers (with apologies to Socrates). 

Rather than looking for an answer that does everything perfectly or perfectly fits into some kind of formulaic mold, just start somewhere and keep going until it feels like it’s time to stop whether that means taking small steps forward every day or big leaps every few weeks.

Depends on both how hard something is working out and how much progress feels like it’s being made toward reaching some sort of goal beyond just finishing whatever assignment needs completing next on your plate.

Building strong writing skills is essential for success in law school. If you’re a student looking to excel, check out our Top 12 Legal Writing Tips that provide valuable insights for honing your writing abilities.

Take It One Step At A Time

Before you begin writing, editing, and revising your law school papers, it’s important to know how to get them done. The first step in this process is planning. You need to plan your paper so that you can break the process down into manageable steps and track your progress as you go along. 

Once you’ve done this, it will be much easier for you to see what parts of the paper still need work and how they fit into the big picture of your project overall.

Have A Conversation With Your Instructor

If you’re having trouble with a paper, the first step is to ask your instructor for help. If you don’t know what to ask, start by asking how he or she wants the paper structured. Then, see if there’s anything else they’d like to see in it. You might also want to ask if he or she has any suggestions on how you should format your citations and/or quotations (e.g., MLA style versus APA style).

You can even go as far as asking them whether they plan on providing feedback on every draft of your paper and if not, what types of edits they might expect from students who submit drafts before publication day.

Crafting a convincing legal argument requires attention to detail and structure. Our guide on Essential Tips for Writing a Logical, Effective Legal Argument offers practical advice to help you present your case with clarity and precision.

Break Down The Topic Into Subtopics 

As you read over your topic and make notes about it, it’s time to break down the topic into subtopics. These subtopics should be fairly specific, but not so specific that they can’t be expanded upon in your paper. For example, if you have an argumentative essay on whether mandatory minimum sentencing violates the Eighth Amendment. 

One of the best ways to break down this topic would be something like “the history and purpose of mandatory minimum sentencing” “the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing on certain groups” or even “the effect of mandatory minimum sentences on crime rate reduction efforts.” Do you see how each one is more specific than the last? 

When writing your essays at law school (and after), try to choose topics that are narrow enough so that they don’t require too much research but still broad enough that they don’t seem too simple when written up in a well-crafted essay format.

Identify The Most Relevant Cases And Statutes

The first step in writing your law school paper is to identify the most relevant cases, statutes, and other legal materials to your topic. You need to look at both the context of what you’re writing as well as your argument/thesis/research question. For example:

If you are writing on a case that involves an innovative legal theory, but it doesn’t fit into any current doctrinal categories (e.g., “plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages”), then this would be more relevant than if you were merely addressing whether this doctrine should be recognized by courts in general.

If you are addressing whether the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages should be recognized by courts in general and argue that this doctrine is already being used by courts nationwide based on earlier case law, then those cases can help provide evidence for your overall point about how widespread this practice has become among judges and attorneys across America.

If your thesis statement mentions “the common law rule against mitigation of damages” as part of its explanation for why mitigation should not apply in every case involving personal injury claims, then citing early versions from ancient history would help prove how long ago these ideas were first expressed and adopted into society’s shared beliefs about fairness under the law.

How To Read Cases And Statutes

You should read cases and statutes carefully, paying attention to the language used in them. You should also read cases and statutes in context by reading them together with other related materials. This can help you understand the relationship between different parts of a case or statute, which may affect how you interpret the case or statute itself. 

Finally, do not forget that it is important to read through all parts of a case or statute before drawing any conclusions; this will ensure that your analysis captures all relevant information from each source.

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Keep A List Of Useful Quotations From Cases And Statutes

As you do your research, keep a list of useful quotations from cases and statutes. Quotations and paraphrases can make an argument stronger. 

When you cite the source in text or footnotes, the reader will know that what comes next is based on evidence that supports your point rather than merely your opinion. Avoid analytic redundancy by not repeating something you’ve already said at length but don’t be afraid to use a good phrase again if it makes sense!

If there’s anything else I can help with while I’m here, let me know!

Referring To Sources In A Paper And Using Footnotes Or Endnotes

To avoid plagiarism and give credit where credit is due, it’s important to cite the sources that you use in your paper.

Citing sources can be done by either referencing them in footnotes or endnotes. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page where they are needed. Endnotes are placed at the end of your paper after its final page. In both cases, you should list all of your citations as they appear in order on one line (making sure not to make any errors with superscript numbers or letters). You should also make sure that you put each citation in quotation marks if it is from a source that was published online or in print form (as opposed to an online blog post). 

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Write In 3-Part Sentences

To begin, you should know that the easiest way to organize your thoughts is with 3-part sentences. In a 3-part sentence, the first part introduces a topic and the second part states what you think about it, while the third part draws a conclusion or gives more information. For example:

  • Topic: The weather today in San Diego is sunny and warm.
  • Thought: I love days like these! I can wear my favorite sundress and not get too hot or cold.
  • Conclusion/More Info: Today will be perfect for going to the park with my friends and their children!

Use Signal Phrases For Research And Quotations

Signal phrases can be used to help the reader follow your argument, understand your research and quotations, as well as understand the source of your research.

Signal phrases guide a reader through a series of ideas. They should be used sparingly to keep the writing life, but if you’re using them too much or incorrectly it might indicate that you need to take some time off from writing for a while until you have more experience with it!

For example: “Hence, [my thesis].” This signal phrase allows me to demonstrate that I’m drawing an inference from my previous point (i.e., this is what I’ve concluded). It shows how I’ve come up with my conclusion while also pointing out where it came from (i.e., what led me along this path).

Here’s another example: “As illustrated above…” In this case, we’re not making any inferences so much as explaining something more clearly than before by looking at its components individually first before putting them back together again later on in our paper when discussing its overall meaning.”

Properly Integrate Quotations And Paraphrases Into Your Sentences

You must use a signal phrase to properly integrate quotations, paraphrases, and summaries into your sentences. A signal phrase is a way of marking the beginning of a quote, paraphrase, or summary so that your reader knows what is coming next. For example:

Q: What is it?

A: “This case presents an issue of first impression for this court.”

SUMMARY OF A SUMMARY OF A SUMMARY OF THE FIRST PARAGRAPH: The lawyer made some general statements about the purpose of law school papers before returning to his favorite topic, proper citation techniques, and how they will improve your marks if you follow them religiously (and follow all 54 rules).

Make Sure That You Have Evidence Before You Make An Argument

Make sure that you have evidence before you make an argument. As a lawyer, it is important to be able to support your argument with facts and data. The best way to do this is by using primary sources, for example, court opinions, and statutes that are the actual words of legislators or judges.

Secondary sources can be useful as well (this includes articles written by legal professionals), but it’s important not to rely on them exclusively. You should also check if there are any other cases or statutes that might contradict what you think is true based on your secondary source.

Be Concise And Clear In Your Writing

When it comes to writing, there are some things that you should avoid. Here is a list of common errors:

Wordy phrases and sentences. We’re all taught from a young age that brevity is the soul of wit, but sometimes we tend to forget this when we’re writing for college or law school. Try not to use unnecessary words to make your point; just be brief and clear. 

This will help you not only in the editing process but also when your reader is trying to understand what you’ve written.

Sentence fragments can be very confusing for readers who aren’t familiar with them and even those who are! If there’s any chance that someone may have difficulty understanding what you’re saying because they didn’t know what “a” or “it” referred back to (or worse: if they had no idea where one sentence ended and another began).

Then chances are good that they’ll give up reading altogether before long…which isn’t exactly great news if presenting information concisely was meant as part of our goal here today!

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Use Correct Citations When You Refer To Secondary Sources

When you refer to secondary sources in your paper, cite them by name and use correct citations. Citing sources is important for two reasons: 1) it gives credit to the authors and helps readers find the information; 2) it shows that you have researched your topic. 

If you do not cite a source when using an idea from someone else’s work, your professor may think that you copied their work without citing them (which could lead to plagiarism charges).

Although there are different formats for citing sources, most of them follow similar formats. The format depends on how much detail about the source is needed for readers who want to find it to read or study more about what was written in that source.

Avoid Analytic Redundancy

If you’re trying to write a convincing argument, it’s counterproductive to use repetitive writing. While many law school professors will not be offended by excessive repetition in your writing, they will notice when you repeat the same word or concept over and over again.

Avoiding repetition is a matter of finding synonyms for words that are already present in your draft. This can be as easy as opening up an online thesaurus on your computer or smartphone and looking through it for alternatives to words you’ve already used multiple times in one paragraph or sentence. 

If that doesn’t work or isn’t convenient, try talking with one of your study group members (or friends) until they come up with a few suggestions for better synonyms than what comes naturally to them but don’t stop there! 

Finally, if all else fails and no one around seems interested in helping out with this part of the process (or even if someone does), check out The Law Dictionary’s website they provide definitions for legal terms along with synonyms from other sources such as Merriam Webster and Dictionary .com


I hope that these tips have given you some insight into the process of writing law school papers. Remember that even though your instructor may ask you to submit a paper at the last minute, it’s not impossible if you follow these steps. As long as each word counts and every sentence is carefully crafted, then your paper will be worth reading!

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources to enhance your writing and legal skills:

10 Revision Tips: Discover practical advice on effective revision techniques to refine your written work and improve its overall quality.

Improving Legal Writing Skills: Learn how to enhance your legal writing abilities with insights and strategies tailored for legal professionals.

Legal Writing, Editing, Proofreading, and Editing: Delve into the world of legal writing with tips on editing, proofreading, and refining your legal documents for maximum impact.


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