ContractsCounsel Logo
Home Contract Lawyers Legal Drafting

Legal Drafting

Jump to Section

What Is Legal Drafting?

Legal drafting is a structured method of writing legal documents, whether court pleadings or employment contracts, that abides by the law and includes legal language that's appropriate for the document and the situation in which it will be used. Those in the field may refer to legal drafting in the following contexts:

  • Writing legal text in a binding contract. The words you write will describe the rights and responsibilities of the involved parties.
  • Preparing any legal document, such as a legal letter or court motion.
  • Getting involved in a legal transaction, which can include legal documents but also negotiation, representation of clients, and more.

Why Is Legal Drafting Important?

Legal drafting

Image via Unsplash by Mikhail Pavstyuk

Legal drafting is important because the process helps to make sure that legal documents are formatted correctly, that all parties who are involved in the document are happy with the details of it, that jargon is explained, and that everything you'll be presenting to the court or another presiding body is laid out as it should be. A legal document should explain its purpose, be amenable to all parties, and be drafted in such a way that it's legally binding and acceptable in the eyes of a court.

An error in a legal draft, however small, can severely affect the meaning of that document and have long-term consequences, especially if it's a legal document that is signed and executed and that all parties must abide by moving forward. A well-constructed document can make a big difference by helping an attorney win cases in court or preventing lengthy mediations in the workplace over an employment contract dispute.

How to Draft Legal Documents

When performing any legal drafting, an attorney should:

  1. Write with the recipient in mind. The language and amount of legalese in the document could differ depending on if the document is ultimately intended for a judge or for a layperson with no knowledge of the law who is signing a contract. The individual writing the legal document should be able to present a finished product that doesn't cause any confusion and allows the recipient to understand what they are reading.
  2. Use straightforward language. Even in the case of a legal document that contains negative issues by nature, a legal draft can still veer away from using offensive or negative language that can come across poorly to the end user. Instead, use straightforward language that educates, informs, and addresses the issue at hand directly without exerting too much bias or trying to appear confrontational to the document recipient.
  3. Avoid templates if possible. While some templates can be useful, it's essential to draft a document from scratch when able so that you aren't setting yourself up for potential plagiarism or for having items in the document that are incorrect or unverifiable. When you avoid templates altogether or only use them as a guide for your own document, you are enabling yourself to actually look up laws and other specific language that must be used in your document to make it as authentic and true as possible.
  4. Conduct legal research. Even if you think you're well aware of a particular law or very familiar with the outcome of a similar case that you're referencing in your document, conduct the research anyway. You don't want to have any erroneous information in your document, and you don't want to rely on your memory to get it right. Legal research will also help make sure that your document includes important and relevant background information that can set the stage for the rest of it.
  5. Structure the document appropriately. Depending on what the document is and who will ultimately need to see or use it can dictate how it's structured. All legal documents should be structured in a way that makes sense, but certain rules apply for different recipients. For example, a federal court may require that a pleading be written using specific language and in a particular structure, while a contract lawyer may have the ability to structure their contracts in a way that only needs to make sense to the named parties in the contract.
  6. Ask for and be open to receiving feedback. Especially if legal drafting is new to you, it can be a game-changer to receive feedback from the courts, your clients, a peer, or a mentor who has more experience with writing legal documents. Some of these individuals you can ask for feedback from before submitting your document while the court, for example, may provide feedback that you didn't even know you needed. If they have feedback for you on a document that has been submitted, take it in and remember it for next time. It's all a learning opportunity.

Legal Drafting Resources

Even highly experienced attorneys who have been drafting legal documents for a countless number of years could benefit from taking advantage of resources to help them draft up legal documents. Here are just some of the resources out there:

  • Legal dictionaries: You'll feel a lot more comfortable legal drafting when you're able to understand legal language a little more. This is where a legal dictionary can help. In it, you can learn more about the language that's used in the field by attorneys, judges, legal scholars, and anyone who may be a part of court proceedings. Without the basic knowledge of how those in the legal field speak, you probably won't be able to form as effective of a legal draft as you otherwise may have.
  • Form books: Form books house legal forms and example documents that you may find beneficial as you're structuring your own legal papers. Some form books are more generic, while others focus on a specific topic.
  • Writing manuals: With legal writing, everyone has to start somewhere. Scholars and other experts in the field have created writing manuals that you can use as a guide for your own documents. These writing manuals go over things like legal style and plenty of how to's, including how to analyze your sources and perform research before writing, how to structure your documents, how to write effective briefs, and steps on editing your work. Those who are new to the legal field can use these as an important resource, while more experienced writers may use them to refine their work.
  • Federal and state rules of procedure: Law, by nature, can be fairly structured, so it may not be a surprise to learn that there are certain ways to format your legal documents and record legal citations in your writing when you're writing to the court. There are rules of procedure on the federal, state, and even local levels, and familiarizing yourself with them can help your legal drafting process go a lot smoother.
  • Citation style manuals: There are style manuals that focus solely on this. The world of legal citations and the different ways to write them makes citation style manuals a much-needed part of drafting court documents. There are different citation preferences based on the court that will be receiving the document. Citation manuals can guide you appropriately, so you are following specific rules for this part of your document.

Doing legal drafting correctly is a tricky process that often takes many years of experience to perfect. Consider hiring a contract lawyer through Contracts Counsel where all lawyers are vetted and handpicked to ensure you get everything done right.

ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

How To Get Quotes For Legal Drafting

Post your project.
Create a project posting in our marketplace. We will ask you the questions lawyers need to know to provide pricing.
Receive multiple bids.
Receive multiple bids from vetted lawyers in our network that have the experience to help you with your project.
Review and hire.
Compare multiple proposals from lawyers and arrange calls through our platform. Securely make payment to hire your lawyer.

Meet some of our Legal Drafting Lawyers

Ayelet F. on ContractsCounsel
View Ayelet
5.0 (5)
Member Since:
June 9, 2021

Ayelet F.

Free Consultation
Coral Springs, FL
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Nova Southeastern University

Ayelet G. Faerman knows what influencers mean to brands today. With experience as legal counsel for a beauty brand for over 5 years, and overseeing multiple collaborations, Ayelet has experienced the rise of influencer marketing. As the founder and managing partner of Faerman Law, PA her practice focuses on influencer relations including a specialization in contract negotiations.

Melissa G. on ContractsCounsel
View Melissa
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
May 27, 2021

Melissa G.

Trademark and Business attorney
Free Consultation
Fort Lauderdale
12 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
University of Miami School of Law

Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is an experienced trial-winning trademark and business attorney. She has represented large businesses in commercial litigation cases. She now represents consumers and small businesses regarding federal trademarks, contracts, and more. Her extensive litigation knowledge allows her to prepare strong trademark applications and contracts to minimize the risk of future lawsuits.

Ryan W. on ContractsCounsel
View Ryan
5.0 (11)
Member Since:
June 8, 2021

Ryan W.

Free Consultation
Mechanicsburg, PA
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in PA
Widener University Commonwealth School of Law

Ryan A. Webber focuses his practice primarily on Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Life Care Planning. His clients range from young families concerned about protecting their family as well as aging individuals. Ryan provides Estate Planning, Trust Planning, Special Needs Planning, Public Benefit Planning, and Estate Administration. Ryan focuses on the holistic approach to the practice of elder law which seeks to ensure clients are receiving good care when needed and that they preserve enough assets with which to pay for such care. Many families and individuals also come to Ryan for preparation of their wills, power of attorney, and healthcare guidance documents. Additionally, Ryan assists small and medium sized business owners with their organizational and planning needs. From starting or winding down a business, Ryan provides quality business advice.

Michael K. on ContractsCounsel
View Michael
5.0 (47)
Member Since:
June 28, 2021

Michael K.

Associate Counsel
Free Consultation
Miami, FL
6 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
St. Thomas University School of Law

A business-oriented, proactive, and problem-solving corporate lawyer with in-house counsel experience, ensuring the legality of commercial transactions and contracts. Michael is adept in reviewing, drafting, negotiating, and generally overseeing policies, procedures, handbooks, corporate documents, and more importantly, contracts. He has a proven track record of helping lead domestic and international companies by ensuring they are functioning in complete compliance with local and international rules and regulations.

Jonathan R. on ContractsCounsel
View Jonathan
Member Since:
November 4, 2022

Jonathan R.

Free Consultation
Lake Hiawatha, NJ
33 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ
Rutgers University School of Law—Newark

I am a graduate of Cornell University and Rutgers University School of Law—Newark, and have been admitted to the state and federal bars for New Jersey, and have been engaged in the full- or part-time practice of law since my admission to the bar in 1991. My practice centers on civil litigation; wills, trusts, and estates; and ediscovery review and management. I have extensive experience in regulatory compliance in the financial services industry, as well as privacy laws in the U.S. and E.U.

Robert D. on ContractsCounsel
View Robert
Member Since:
May 12, 2021
George B. on ContractsCounsel
View George
Member Since:
June 21, 2021

George B.

Free Consultation
Detroit, MI
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MI
Western Michigan University - Cooley Law School

I help start-ups, small businesses, and people realize their potential by leveraging my legal and technological experience. Legally skilled in employment law, intellectual property, corporate law, and real estate transactions.

Sean S. on ContractsCounsel
View Sean
Member Since:
June 21, 2021

Sean S.

Free Consultation
New Orleans, LA
9 Yrs Experience
Licensed in LA
Tulane Law School

I am an attorney with six years of experience drafting and negotiating a wide variety of business contracts, in industries including technology and software, finance, professional services, hospitality, and non-profits.

Joshua C. on ContractsCounsel
View Joshua
Member Since:
June 28, 2021

Joshua C.

Free Consultation
Ashland, MA
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, MA
UCLA School of Law

Attorney Joshua K. S. Cali is a respected business, estate planning, and real estate attorney based in Ashland serving Middlesex County and other nearby areas. Joshua graduated summa cum laude from Bentley University in Waltham, MA, and from UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles. Before starting his own firm, Joshua practiced estate planning for high net worth clients at a boutique law firm in San Diego, CA.

Erin F. on ContractsCounsel
View Erin
Member Since:
June 29, 2021

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.

View Trustpilot Review

Need help with a legal contract?

We are here to help. Get started. No upfront payment.

Legal Drafting lawyers by city

Contracts Counsel was incredibly helpful and easy to use. I submitted a project for a lawyer's help within a day I had received over 6 proposals from qualified lawyers. I submitted a bid that works best for my business and we went forward with the project.

View Trustpilot Review

I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I'll certainly be a repeat customer.

View Trustpilot Review

I got 5 bids within 24h of posting my project. I choose the person who provided the most detailed and relevant intro letter, highlighting their experience relevant to my project. I am very satisfied with the outcome and quality of the two agreements that were produced, they actually far exceed my expectations.

View Trustpilot Review

How It Works

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call

Find lawyers and attorneys by city