Writing To Persuade: The Guide For Lawyers

Persuasive writing is not a new phenomenon. It has been practiced by lawyers since they first began practicing law. But, as technology and communication have evolved, so too has the practice of persuasive writing. 

Nowadays, lawyers must be able to write in ways that appeal directly to those who matter: their clients or potential clients and judges who will decide how their case will proceed. This guide will help you do just that!

Clarity, Persuasion, Style: 10 Tips to Improve Your Legal Writing
Key Takeaways
1. Craft Clear and Compelling Arguments: Develop arguments that are logically structured and easy to follow, supporting them with relevant legal principles and evidence.
2. Understand Your Audience: Tailor your persuasive writing to your target audience, whether it’s judges, clients, or opposing counsel, by considering their perspectives and concerns.
3. Master Rhetorical Techniques: Incorporate rhetorical devices such as ethos, pathos, and logos to appeal to emotions, credibility, and logic, respectively.
4. Anticipate Counterarguments: Address potential counterarguments and objections to your position to showcase your thorough understanding of the issue and enhance your credibility.
5. Use Persuasive Language: Choose your words carefully, using language that is powerful, precise, and resonates with your audience, further reinforcing your persuasive message.
6. Invoke Legal Precedents: Support your arguments with relevant case law and legal precedents to bolster the strength of your position and lend authority to your writing.
7. Balance Logic and Emotion: Strike a balance between logical reasoning and emotional appeal, recognizing that both play critical roles in persuading your audience.
8. Edit and Polish: Review, revise, and proofread your writing to eliminate errors and refine your arguments, ensuring that your persuasive message is conveyed effectively.
9. Practice and Feedback: Continuously practice persuasive writing and seek feedback from peers or mentors to refine your skills and make improvements.
10. Stay Ethical: While aiming to persuade, maintain ethical standards by presenting accurate information and avoiding manipulation or misrepresentation.

Introduction: Why Write To Persuade?

If you are a lawyer or legal professional, persuasion is a key skill that you need to master in order to practice effectively. Persuasion is a key skill for all professionals in every field.

That said, lawyers indeed have the reputation of being masters of persuasion – and with good reason: some of history’s most famous lawyers were not only persuasive but also extremely skilled writers. 

Consider Clarence Darrow (famous for defending American labor unions), William Jennings Bryan (a leader in opposing evolution), Daniel Webster (known for his speech “On The Union”), and Abraham Lincoln (who wrote what many consider to be the greatest speech ever delivered by an American president).

But even though these men were exceptional at their jobs as lawyers and public speakers, not all lawyers are equally skilled at persuading others through writing.

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1. Define Your Objective

Before you can write anything, you need to know what the purpose of your document is. Your objective will inform how you structure your writing and the approach that you take in presenting the information.

This should be a short sentence or two that describes what your goal is with this piece of writing. What do you want people to do? Who are they and why?

For example: “I am writing this article because I want to persuade my audience that they should join our organization’s cause by explaining how it will benefit them personally and professionally.”

2. Define Your Audience

The next step is to determine your audience. This may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised at how many people forget to do this. You need to know who you’re writing for and why they should be listening to you in the first place. Once you understand their needs and wants, you can tailor your message so that it resonates with them on an emotional level.

Once you’ve determined who your audience is, try and answer these questions:

  • What does this person want from me? Why should I care about what they have to say?
  • How can I make my content relevant to me? What do I need from them?
  • Who will benefit from reading this article? How will it change their lives in some way shape or form?

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3. Decide On An Organizational Format

Your next step is to decide on an organizational format. Some of the most common formats include chronological, topical, narrative, cause-and-effect, and problem-solution.

For example, you might choose to write a chronological essay that uses time as its main organizing principle. In such a paper, you would describe each event in chronological order and identify dates when possible. 

This type of essay would make sense if you were writing about the history of computers or analyzing how science fiction has evolved. It’s also useful for discussing events that have occurred in recent history that have significance today (e.g., 9/11).

Alternatively, you could organize your arguments around specific topics rather than periods for example: “Technology Affects Our Lives” or “The Importance Of Education.” In this case, it is helpful if you can break down these broad topics into subtopics or categories so that readers understand where each part fits into the whole argument; for instance:

  • Technology Affects Our Lives Computers And Internet Accessibility Are Everywhere!

4. Know Your Subject Matter From The Start

  • Know Your Subject Matter from the Start

When writing to persuade, it’s important to know your subject matter from the start. This means that you need to be aware of both the facts and the law surrounding your topic.

  • Know Your Audience and Objective

Knowing your audience and objective are two things that all writers should do before they start writing. You should have a clear picture in mind of who reads what you write and why they read it. When you know these things, it makes it easier for you to determine what tone should be used for your arguments to resonate with these readers.

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5. Boost Your Credibility

  • Boost your credibility

When writing to persuade, the most important thing you can do is be honest. Being honest means being yourself and writing in your voice and style. It also means being consistent with the way that you communicate about yourself and your firm. If people have come to trust what you say, they’ll be more likely to believe what you write as well.

If you want to make sure people are convinced by what you write, be authoritative as well as credible. 

You can do this by including trustworthy sources in your work: academic articles or media reports that support what you’re saying; experts who will vouch for or endorse the points made; government statistics or studies; etcetera! The more “authority” there appears behind an argument or point of view (including scholarly authority), the more persuasive it becomes!

6. Be Yourself, Be Consistent and Be Honest

Be Yourself, Be Consistent and Be Honest.

Be yourself: There’s no excuse for not being genuine; everyone knows when you are pretending to be something or someone else. You may be an expert in your field, but if you don’t believe in what you are writing about it will show through.

Be consistent: If your tone changes from paragraph to paragraph, people will notice and become confused about who they are reading (or listening) to and why they should care about what is being said. 

If you can get a grip on this early enough in the process then it will help keep consistency throughout all of your work going forward both with clients as well as other professionals such as judges or partners within the firm itself!

Be honest: This is probably one of the most important points because nobody likes blatant lies (even white ones). People appreciate honesty over anything else; even if something negative needs saying then do so openly rather than trying to sugarcoat things by saying otherwise or lying outrightly!

7. Watch Out For Bias!

As a lawyer, you’re well aware of the fact that certain biases are good and appropriate for certain situations. For example: if you’re going to work with someone from another country, it can be useful to have some understanding of their culture and customs. 

But what about if your client is a member of an organization that has been accused of discrimination? You may wish to avoid writing in a way that suggests bias against the group in question.

To determine whether or not your bias is appropriate for the situation, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What does my bias have in common with my readers?
  • How does my bias differ from theirs?
  • How do I make sure they don’t feel alienated by what I’ve written?

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8. Include Emotional Appeals, But Ensure They Are Appropriate For The Situation And The Audience

Once you have established your case, it’s time to get emotional. But before you do that, make sure that your audience will respond positively to an emotional appeal. 

For example, if you’re writing a letter to the judge who sentenced your client and he is known for being upset by any kind of display of emotion (e.g., crying), then it would be inappropriate for you to make an emotional appeal in such a letter because it might hurt rather than help his case.

On the other hand, if the audience tends to respond well when someone is emotional (such as in the case of reading this article). 

Then adding one or two sentences or paragraphs with strong emotions can reinforce what has already been said in the rest of your document and may increase its persuasiveness by helping readers relate better with what they are reading about based on their own experiences.

9. Use A Consistent Tone Throughout The Piece Of Writing

One of the most common mistakes lawyers make is to use a different tone throughout their writing. They may write in a formal language in one section and then switch to informal language in another. This can be confusing for your readers, who may not know when you are being serious or jesting or making a joke.

To keep your tone consistent and clear throughout your document, you should choose one style of writing and stick with it throughout the document.

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As you can see, there are many ways to make your writing more persuasive. By following these steps, you will ensure that any piece of writing is going to be more compelling. Remember that this is only a guide and not set in stone rules so don’t get too bogged down on your approach; just try some out and see how they work for you!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you delve deeper into the art of persuasive legal writing:

A Lawyer’s Guide to Persuasive Writing: 5 Rules to Live By Short Description: Explore five essential rules that can significantly enhance your persuasive writing skills as a lawyer.

Persuasive Writing for Lawyers-Part I Short Description: This research article discusses the nuances of persuasive writing tailored to the legal profession.

Legal Writing Tips for Lawyers Short Description: Gain valuable insights into effective legal writing techniques and strategies that can set you apart as a lawyer.


What are the key elements of persuasive legal writing?

Persuasive legal writing involves crafting compelling arguments, using credible evidence, addressing counterarguments, and employing rhetorical techniques to sway the reader’s opinion.

How can I enhance my persuasive writing skills as a lawyer?

To improve your persuasive writing, practice structuring your arguments logically, incorporating relevant case law, and mastering techniques like emotional appeal and logical reasoning.

Are there specific tips for writing persuasively in the legal field?

Certainly. Focus on clarity, precision, and a concise presentation of your arguments. Support your points with relevant legal principles and precedent.

How does persuasive writing contribute to a lawyer’s success?

Persuasive writing can be a game-changer in legal proceedings. It can influence judges, jurors, and opposing parties, ultimately affecting the outcome of cases.

Where can I find practical examples of persuasive legal writing?

You can find practical examples and case studies in legal writing guides, law journals, and court documents that demonstrate effective persuasive techniques.