You must have read a legal text once or twice before, and you might have been impressed by how easily comprehensible difficult legal terms were made. This was done by a legal writer, and if that is something that rows your boat then this article is for you.
Legal writers are professional writers who write material and documents for the legal industry. They help members of the public to understand legal jargon and terminologies by producing clear written content. They may also write content for legal practitioners by composing official documents like contracts and legal briefs.
If you have an interest in laws and the legal system, but the writer in you is too strong for you to become a legal practitioner, then becoming a legal writer is the perfect career path for you. If you’re interested in becoming a legal writer then stick around, as I’ll highlight everything you need to know in this article.
How to become a legal writer
1. Complete secondary school
The path to becoming a legal writer starts when you graduate from secondary school or high school, as it is the minimum requirement needed to become a legal writer. While in secondary school, you can explore your interest in legal writing by reading some legal texts.
This will help introduce you to legal writing from an early stage, and help you build expertise and knowledge over a longer period. It will also be beneficial in helping you prepare yourself for a future in legal writing, and the decision on whether or not legal writing is the right career path for you.
2. Decide on a type of legal writing
There are different types of legal writers, including legal correspondents who write about recent news and developments in the legal industry; corporate writers who write business articles for the legal industry; feature writers who write articles for print or online publications to help the general public better understand the legal system; brief writers who compose legal briefs, which are written arguments presented to the court that summarizes one party’s claim in a legal dispute to persuade the court to rule in that party’s favour; copywriters; and bloggers.
The type of legal writer you want to be will determine the steps you need to take, so you must make this decision early on. You can decide to become a feature writer or legal blogger, who mostly writes for the general public or a brief writer who writes documents used in legal situations.
The more technical the type of legal writer you want to be, the more education and training you will need. You can more easily write an article explaining legal terms to the public to help them understand the law better, than writing a legal brief in which you will have to utilize several legal jargon.
3. Earn a bachelor’s degree
You do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a legal writer, but having one will help tremendously with your job prospects. Consider a related field like Journalism or English Language. Having a bachelor’s degree will provide you with a good foundation for your writing, and expose you to different skills in writing. Some employers will only hire you if you have a bachelor’s degree, so it is beneficial for you to have one under your belt.
4. Obtain a solid legal foundation
You might want to obtain a law degree to become a legal writer. It is not exactly a requirement, but doing so will give you the foundation you need to become a legal writer.
Even if you do not want to obtain a law degree, consider taking some law courses, as it will help you gain a better understanding of how the legal system works.
You should also consider applying for an entry-level law position like a paralegal or getting an internship in a law firm, where you can receive training and gain field experience. If you want to delve into more technical types of legal writing like brief writing and corporate writing then having a strong legal background is highly recommended.
5. Hone your writing skills
Every type of writer needs to have good writing skills to be successful and legal writers are no exception. You need exceptional writing skills to be able to convey difficult legal terminologies in a way that is easy to understand. Consider taking some writing courses to improve your writing skills, grammar, and vocabulary.
Practice makes perfect, so it is also important to practice your writing regularly so you can continue to improve.
6. Build a portfolio
Building a portfolio will help you showcase your skills and experiences to prospective employers. So crafting an impressive portfolio will help you attract higher-paying jobs. Regardless of where you want to work or the type of legal writing you want to pursue, building a portfolio is crucial in the advancement of your career.
Include examples of your best legal writing in your portfolio including pieces you wrote during your education and the ones you wrote for your clients.
If you’re someone who enjoys writing and has a keen interest in the legal world, legal writing will help you enjoy some of both worlds. As long as you have the passion and are willing to put in the work, becoming a legal writer is a dream that could easily become a reality.
One thing to always remember is to make sure what you write is accurate, as honesty in the legal world is highly valued. Writing false information in your legal piece will not only lower your credibility as a legal writer but may also have serious repercussions like a lawsuit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you want to become a legal writer it is important to develop certain skills including knowledge of the legal industry, excellent writing skills, research skills, attention to detail, problem-solving, communication, organization, and honesty. There are other skills you might need to cultivate, but as long as you have the above, then success is within your reach.
There are several areas you have the potential to work in as a legal writer. You can decide to work full-time in a legal firm or publication company. Freelance opportunities and contract work are also available to you especially if you specialise in online content.