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Legal Writing Styles Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Legal Writing Styles

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


There are countless ways to stylis­tically complete an academic essay. Here are some examples of how students have succes­sfully done so, while mainta­ining proper academic structure.

A proper introd­uction should:

Introduce main arguments
Have an attention grabbing first sentence
Provide concise inform­ation about broader signif­icance of topic
Lead in to the body of the essay

Here are three examples of introd­uction paragr­aphs. They have been re-written several times to illustrate the difference between excellent, good and poor answers. For a close reading of the examples, click the images below.

The Body

The body of your essay should:

Address one idea per paragraph
Support arguments with scholarly references or evidence
Contex­tualise any case studies or examples


Use correct punctu­ation and proofread your work
Keep writing impersonal (do not use 'I', 'we', 'me')
Be concise and simple
Be confident ("The evidence sugges­ts..." rather than "this could be becaus­e...")
Connect paragraphs so they flow and are logical
Introduce primary and secondary sources approp­riately
Avoid using too many quotations or using quotes that are too long
Do not use contra­ctions (you’re, they’d)
Do not use emotive language ("the horrific and extremely sad scene is evidence of...")


A proper conclusion should:
{{fa-square)) Sum up arguments
{{fa-square)) Provide relevance to overall topic and unit themes
{{fa-square)) Not introduce new ideas

Example - Defining Topic

This example illust­rates how to keep an essay succinct and focused, by taking the time to define the topic:

Example - Introd­ucing Souces

The paragraphs demons­trate how to engage with a variety of scholarly material including primary sources, scholarly theories and formal statistics

Example - Opposing Arguments