Legal writing: learn how to write in Plain English

Simplified

Plain English legal drafting – learn how to write clear legal content today.

Plain language in legal content is nothing new. However, between pioneering examples such as The Citibank Promissory Note in the 1970s and the clear communication requirements in recent privacy laws, the challenges have changed. The question asked by legal drafters has shifted from ‘Is plain language possible?’ to ‘How can we best accomplish it?’.

This training will equip you with basic principles for writing legal content in plain language. It’s important that all stakeholders have a common understanding of plain language – otherwise plain-language efforts tend to be short-lived and difficult to sustain. Agreements quickly revert into their complex versions.

Type:

Duration: 12 hour(s)

Date: Various

Cost: 700,00 + tax

About This course

Plain English legal drafting – learn how to write clear legal content today.

Plain language in legal content is nothing new. However, between pioneering examples such as The Citibank Promissory Note in the 1970s and the clear communication requirements in recent privacy laws, the challenges have changed. The question asked by legal drafters has shifted from ‘Is plain language possible?’ to ‘How can we best accomplish it?’.

This training will equip you with basic principles for writing legal content in plain language. It’s important that all stakeholders have a common understanding of plain language – otherwise plain-language efforts tend to be short-lived and difficult to sustain. Agreements quickly revert into their complex versions.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

In our training, we will reference four principles that flow from this definition:

  • The content is what the intended audience wants or needs to know
  • The audience can easily find the information that they need or want
  • The audience can understand the information
  • The audience can use the content

We will tackle some theory and background information – but we’ll focus on well-established practical techniques of how to use words, sentences and structure to transform legalese into plain language.

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“The practical exercises ensured we understood the theory. It was great that it was tailor-made to legal drafting and the contracts we write.”

HOW YOU'LL LEARN

The training is carried out by experienced trainers via live online classroom sessions for a maximum of 12 attendees. We run the training through video conferencing software (usually Zoom or Microsoft Teams) with WhatsApp as a back-up technology.

There are 12 hours of intensive training overall, delivered across three half-days. We set practical exercises and assignments throughout the course, with a customised assignment at the end.

Our courses are interactive. We rely on your examples, input and discussion. This is adult-to-adult learning where:

  • we train a principle or technique
  • we show you an example of how it’s put into practice (preferably in a real example from your organisation)
  • you apply the principle or technique in a short exercise, which we discuss as a group
  • you do an assignment at home to reinforce the learning right away.

COURSE OUTLINE

The training will equip delegates with the core skills of legal writing in plain English, including:

  • what is plain language and how does it relate to the legal profession
  • ways to measure and assess documents for plain language
  • planning and structuring a contract, opinion, notice or other legal document
  • organising information for reader logic rather than traditional legal structure
  • structuring through informative headings and summaries
  • plain English basics for legal drafting at sentence and word-level
  • adapt the tone of plain-language content for legal documents.

WHO'S IT FOR

Our course is for anyone who writes legal content. We have trained attorneys, advocates, legal researchers, commissioners, solicitors, legal advisers and compliance professionals in plain legal language.

The course is suitable for legal and compliance teams in-house at organisations and for law firms.

All levels benefit from our course because:

  • often law schools teach drafting without the necessary focus on plain language
  • legal practitioners tend to fall into bad habits from following old-fashioned drafting conventions.

You will also gain a great deal from the course if you do not have legal or compliance qualifications but you are tasked with rewriting legal content in plain language.

For those more experienced in legal drafting, you may want to incorporate some of the optional advanced modules in the course. These vary in length and include options such as: how to create an assessment framework for plain language, user testing and inclusive language.

MEET THE COURSE LEADERS

Frances has devoted her 20-year career to enabling people and organisations to communicate clearly. Frances is well-known as an advocate for plain language in the legal, financial and technology industries. With her help, many organisations have been able to transform ‘small print’ into useful, usable communication. Besides being founder of Simplified, she has held tenures at large banks, technology companies and fintechs.

Candice is a plain-language lawyer, who combines the rigour of legal writing with best practices in communication. Her focus area is legal and financial documents. She believes that even the most complex legal contract can and must be made accessible to its readers. Over the past 20 years, she has become known as an inspiring trainer and impressive conference speaker.

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