Metaphor As A Legal Writing Tool

Metaphor is an effective and powerful way to create your writing style. It’s also a great way to make your documents, like briefs or opening statements, more interesting and engaging. But while metaphors are often used in everyday conversation, they’re not typically used in court filings (which have very strict rules about the type of language allowed). 

That doesn’t mean you can’t use them it just means you need to be careful how you do so. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to use metaphors effectively as part of legal writing projects for lawyers at all levels of experience!

How to Write Metaphors: My Easy Method! – YouTube
Key Takeaways
Metaphors can be powerful tools in legal writing.
They help simplify complex legal concepts for better understanding.
Metaphorical language engages readers on an emotional level.
Well-chosen metaphors can enhance the persuasiveness of legal arguments.
Metaphors should be carefully selected to align with the legal context.
Inappropriate metaphors can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Metaphors should not mislead but provide clearer insights into legal ideas.
Learning to use metaphors effectively can elevate the impact of legal writing.

Metaphor Is An Effective And Powerful Way To Create Your Writing Style

A metaphor is a tool that can be used in writing to create your style. Metaphors are more than just illustrations for your ideas; they are an effective and powerful way to create your writing style.

Metaphors are powerful tools for writers because they allow them to express the complexities of their thought processes in a manner that goes beyond mere words and phrases. They help writers define relationships between different concepts, which allows them to explore complex ideas more easily than if they were using only simple language or literal expressions.

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Metaphors Are Not Used In Court Filings

Metaphors are used to help lawyers write, think and persuade. They are not used in court filings.

In law school, you likely learned that persuasive writing is best achieved by using metaphors. You were probably taught that a metaphor is a comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some commonality or likeness.

The comparison creates meaning in your argument as it helps explain something abstract or difficult to understand by providing an example or illustration of what you mean (Crisp & Woolverton). For example: “The defendant’s actions remind me of my father breaking his hip.” 

In this instance, the plaintiff’s lawyer may have said that he had personally witnessed his father break his hip after falling off a ladder while trying to clean leaves from trees in the yard at home one October afternoon. 

He then used this personal experience as an analogy for how dangerous climbing ladders can be even if it’s only one step high! 

The attorneys’ goal was to show jurors how dangerous climbing ladders can be without having them witness someone falling off one themselves because they would be too scared and distracted by their emotions rather than focusing on facts related directly.

Back again towards whether or not there were safety precautions taken during construction work done prior before the accident occurred (Hoppe).

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They Should Be Used Sparingly

When using Metaphors, should be used sparingly. Think of metaphors as the sprinkles on your ice cream. You don’t want to fill your entire bowl with them and make it impossible to eat, but you also don’t want just a few or none at all. Instead, use them in moderation so that they add color and interest to your writing without distracting it.

Avoid overusing metaphors as well; readers will quickly become tired of them if you rely too heavily on these analogies. If you find yourself repeating one metaphor too many times, try mixing it up by coming up with different words for the same idea or changing its context slightly (for example, instead of saying “corporate hierarchy,” say “family tree”).

Lastly (and most importantly), remember that metaphors are meant not only for adding color but also for understanding the point to help the reader understand what you’re trying to say when words alone might fall short

Create A Metaphor That’s Both Accurate And Relevant To The Case

As you can see, metaphors can be a powerful tool for legal writers. But like any piece of writing, you want your metaphor to be both accurate and relevant to the case at hand. If it doesn’t accurately describe what’s happening in the story, then what good is it? Likewise, if it’s not relevant to the issue at hand, then why use it? 

And finally, if your metaphor is too obscure or unfamiliar (say you wanted to compare someone’s cheeks to apples), then most readers won’t understand what you mean and they probably won’t care enough about your opinion on apples’ appearances anyway!

It’s also important not to go overboard with metaphors, after all, there are only so many ways we can describe things before our minds start wandering elsewhere entirely!

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Choose The Right Metaphor When You Choose A Metaphor

When choosing a metaphor, you want to make sure that it is:

Accurate. The metaphor should accurately describe the situation, and not overstate or understate any of the facts. As an example, if you’re writing about someone’s behavior on the job being “like a bull in a china shop,” it would be inaccurate for them to be consistently perfect and never make mistakes at work because no one is perfect all of the time!

Relevant to your case. Be sure that your choice of metaphor makes sense for your particular situation; otherwise, your readers may have trouble understanding what’s happening in their minds (and this will only distract them from understanding more important things). 

For example: saying that someone was “like an elephant in my living room” sounds ridiculous unless there was an elephant in their living room at some point in which case then maybe readers would understand why this person kept walking into walls because he/she was so surprised by seeing such an unusual animal there! 

Easy to understand without thinking too hard about what they mean by it (or feeling confused). 

It doesn’t matter how cleverly written something may sound if no one understands what’s going on; therefore when choosing metaphors try not to use overly complicated ones that require extensive explanations before anyone can understand them fully themselves let alone apply those concepts back onto whatever original topic you were talking about originally.

Then again some metaphors might just need less explanation than others depending on how much information they contain within themselves already.”

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You Can’t Use Too Many Metaphors In Your Opening Statement

The most common reason people use metaphors in their writing is to make it more interesting and memorable. If the audience remembers your opening statement, they are more likely to remember the rest of your argument, too.

Metaphors can also help you make your point more persuasive. When you use a metaphor that illustrates the point of your argument, then you can be sure that it gets across. 

Metaphors appeal directly to feelings and emotions rather than logic or reason (although there’s nothing wrong with using both!). For example, if someone says “The witness was like a brick wall”, we immediately understand what this means: she wasn’t going anywhere until she had given her testimony completely

Metaphors Can Be Used In Summation, But Not During The Direct Examination

Metaphors are not used in court filings but can be intended to convey a message in the summation. The problem is that metaphors often lose their meaning when taken out of context, so it’s best to try to stick with them throughout the entire piece of writing instead of just sprinkling them in at random points. 

For example, if you say “the police officer was dressed up as a clown,” no one will know what you mean by that unless they’ve read all your other pages and know what happened earlier on.

Metaphors should also not be used during direct examination because they’re meant to be subtle and understated like a wink or an eyebrow raise which means they wouldn’t work well with an attorney questioning someone else. It would just come off as weird and awkward for both parties involved (which makes perfect sense).

Lastly: metaphors are never used in opening statements or closing arguments because those sections are more about facts than feelings (and vice versa).

Use metaphors to amplify points you want to make

Metaphors, like all figures of speech, can be used to amplify points you want to make. They can also be used to explain complex legal concepts in an easy-to-understand way. For example, the following metaphor explains how a copyright infringement lawsuit works:

A copyright infringement lawsuit is a little bit like an election for class president. If you’re running against your opponent and lose by one vote, that’s not fair you should have won! So let’s say your opponent steals some ballots from the ballot box before they’re counted and decides that she has enough votes to win now.”

The metaphor above helps readers understand how a copyright infringement lawsuit works by comparing it with something they already know; namely, elections (and their attendant problems). By using this technique, lawyers can explain complicated concepts in simple terms that anyone can understand.

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Metaphors Can Help You Write Powerful Legal Documents

Metaphors can help you write powerful legal documents. Here are examples of how metaphors can be used to make a point, explain a point, reinforce a point, and even make an argument:

His lawyers are like sharks.” You’ve probably heard this one before.

Your client’s position is like that of an ostrich.” This would be a useful metaphor if your client were arguing that he should not have to deal with something because it makes him uncomfortable (like speaking in court). It also helps establish the argument and why it matters.

The defendant’s arguments are like flies buzzing around my head while I’m trying to sleep at night.” Again, using language that conjures up images of annoyance or irritation can help emphasize why something is so important or unimportant to you as the writer.


Hopefully, I have helped you to see the power of metaphors in legal writing. If this is something that interests you, then I encourage you to explore more about how it can be used in your work even if it’s just for fun.

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources for deeper insights into the use of metaphors in legal writing:

Metaphor in Legal Language: This scholarly article delves into the nuanced role of metaphors in legal discourse, shedding light on how metaphorical language shapes legal interpretation.

Metaphors in Legal Communication: Discover how metaphors influence legal communication and rhetoric, influencing how legal concepts are perceived and understood.

Metaphor, Simile, and Analogy: What’s the Difference?: Uncover the distinctions between metaphor, simile, and analogy, and how each can be harnessed effectively in legal writing to convey complex ideas.


What is the significance of using metaphors in legal writing?

Metaphors serve as powerful tools in legal writing, helping to simplify complex legal concepts and make them more relatable to readers.

How can metaphors enhance the persuasive aspect of legal writing?

By invoking familiar imagery, metaphors can engage emotions and appeal to the reader’s intuition, thereby enhancing the persuasive impact of legal arguments.

Are there guidelines for using metaphors appropriately in legal writing?

Yes, while metaphors can be effective, they should align with the legal context and not mislead. Careful selection and contextual relevance are essential.

Can metaphors inadvertently lead to misunderstandings in legal documents?

Yes, inappropriate or poorly chosen metaphors can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations, highlighting the need for thoughtful usage.