Writing in Law

Graduate Student Resource Center

Articles
Other Online Resources
Books
Books for International Students

Articles

Scholarly Articles on Legal Writing—Through the Social Science Research Network, the Legal Writing Institute maintains a database of the articles and working papers published on legal writing, ranging from a paper addressed to law clerks drafting their first legal opinions to an article on avoiding cliches. Log in with your UCLA ID and password to access the site.

How to Write Good Legal Stuff—Written by Eugene Volokh and J. Alexander Tanford in 2001, this article discusses bad legal writing, provides a dictionary of legalese, and gives principles of critical writing.

Good Legal Writing: of Orwell and Window Panes—Written by Pamela Samuelson in 1984, this article describes characteristics of successful legal writing.

Other Online Resources

UCLA Law Library LibGuides—Subject guides and resources from the UCLA Law Library.

UCLA Law Legal Research and Writing Manual—Legal research and writing guide prepared by UCLA clinical legal writing professors and law librarians. The Manual offers guidance on finding and using legal resources to law students and lawyers early in their careers.

Wex—A collaborative, open-access legal dictionary and encyclopedia, sponsored by the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

Books

There are many books on legal writing, but here are a few recommended by law students:

Volokh, E. (2007).  Academic legal writing (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Foundation Press. Textbook designed to help students write and publish articles and notes. Covers everything from the research, writing, and submission/publication process. 

Shapo, H. S., Walter, M., & Fajans, E. (2008). Writing and analysis in the law (5th ed.). Short textbook for first year law students, give an introduction to conducting research and structuring legal arguments for a variety of formats including memos, briefs, and oral presentations. 

Edwards, L. H. (2007). Legal writing and analysis (2nd ed.). Aspen Publishers. Textbook for first year law students, focused on legal research and writing, includes examples and exercises. 

Wydick, R. C. Plain English for lawyers (5th ed.). Durham, NH: Carolina Academic Press. Excellent style guide for legal writing, focuses on how to achieve brevity and clarity. The gold standard for law students. 

Garner. B. A. (2006). The redbook: A manual on legal style (2nd ed.). West. Style guide focusing on technical aspects of legal writing including grammar, punctuation, citations, footnotes, etc. 

Enquist, A, & Oates, L. C. (2009). Just writing: Grammar, punctuation, and style for the legal writer (3rd ed.). Aspen Publishers. Style guide focusing on technical aspects of legal writing including grammar, punctuation, citations, footnotes, etc. 

Books for International Students

Reinhart, S. M. (2007). Strategies for legal case reading and vocabulary development. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Provides a basic framework for engaging with legal opinions, targeted at the first year JD or LLM student. Useful in explaining the context of the US legal system that doesn't get covered in classes. 

Lee, D. S., Hall, C., & Barone, S. M. (2007). American legal English (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. For non-native lawyers, this work covers listening, reading, writing, and speaking in the professional legal context.

Wojcik, M. E. (2009). Introduction to legal English: An introduction to legal terminology, reasoning, and writing in plain English (3rd ed.).  Washington, DC: International Law Institute. Survey of legal writing and structuring arguments for non-native English speakers. Useful for LLM students. 

McGregor, D. H., & Adams, C. M. (2008). The international lawyer’s guide to legal analysis and communication in the United States. Aspen Publishers. Practitioner oriented resource for working professionals, gives background on US legal system, guidelines for brief/memo writing, contract drafting, etc. 

Nedzel, N. E. (2008). Legal reasoning, research, and writing for international students (2nd ed.). Aspen Publishers. LLM student focused guide for research and writing. 

Ramsfield, J. (2005). Culture to culture: A guide to U.S. legal writing. Durham, NH: Carolina Academic Press. Takes a contrastive approach to explain the expectations of the US legal field. Helpful for both non-native students and practitioners. 

Enquist, A, & Oates, L. C. (2009). Just writing: Grammar, punctuation, and style for the legal writer (3rd ed.). Aspen Publishers. Style guide focusing on technical aspects of legal writing including grammar, punctuation, citations, footnotes, etc. (contains a chapter for ESL students on grammar and rhetoric)

This page was originally created by Andrea Olinger. To suggest a resource or report a broken link, email the GWC at gwc@gsa.asucla.ucla.edu.