Mastering the Art of Legal Writing

Commercial managers may not necessarily expect to be drafting contract clauses or writing legal correspondence but it’s actually a vital part of the role.  And in today’s fast paced world of business, effective communication is paramount, especially when it comes to legal matters, so making sure your skills are honed is important. 

Driving successful business outcomes

Legal matters often intersect with business operations and this is when legal writing knowledge and skills is vital for commercial and contracts managers. Communicating clearly and mitigating against legal risks can help drive successful business outcomes.

Legal correspondence can be in many forms, including letters, emails and reports, addressing issues such as contract negotiations, compliance communications, dispute resolution, supplier agreements and legal risk management.

Whilst commercial and contracts managers may collaborate closely with legal counsel on complex matters, they are often the primary point of contact for communicating with external parties on legal and contracts issues which affect the business. Therefore, developing strong written communication skills, including the ability to draft clear, concise, and legal sound correspondence is essential for success in this role.

What can go wrong?

  • Significant consequences can arise for businesses and organisations from not having top-notch legal writing skills, including:
  • Misinterpretation and ambiguity leading to confusion about rights and obligations
  • Exposure to legal risk by failing to properly address liabilities, leading to potential claims, fines and penalties
  • Contractual breaches if documents aren’t drafted with precision and clarity, possibly resulting in claims for damages or enforcement actions
  • Loss of rights by inadvertently waiving protections through poorly drafted legal documents
  • Reputational damage and loss of credibility for individuals and businesses
  • Legal disputes and costly remediation efforts can be a drain on resources
  • Regulatory non-compliance can be the result of poor legal writing standards.

Top five essential tips

Here are a few simple points to remember to sharpen your legal writing skills:

  1. Clarity is vital: strive for clear English and plain language, avoid unnecessary jargon and ambiguity.
  2.  Identify your audience: know who will be reading your documents and tailor your writing style accordingly.
  3. Be precise: accurately convey your intended meaning, be specific to minimise the risk of misunderstandings.
  4. Use a logical structure: organise your writing in a coherent manner, use headings, sub-headings and paragraphs to break down complex information into digestible chunks.
  5. Attention to detail: proofread carefully, verify facts, figures and references.

Clear legal writing skills are indispensable for a commercial manager to effectively fulfill their responsibilities, communicate with stakeholders, mitigate risks, and achieve business objectives. Investing in developing and honing these skills is essential for professional success in today's competitive business environment.

To enhance your skill-set, join our expert trainer on the new Legal Writing and Drafting Skills for Commercial and Contracts Managers programme. The course has been designed especially for the challenges you face so you’ll be better equipped with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.

Published on Mar 20, 2024 by Gareth Cartman