Friday, September 23, 2011
Concerning his approach to composition, Maurice Ravel wrote, "But one must spend much time in eliminating all that could be regarded as superfluous in order to realize as completely as possible the definitive clarity so much desired." A critic similarly wrote, "His works might be said to have been completed beforehand, while he meticulously unpicks them, note by note."
Ravel's approach also applies to legal writing. When we have finished a memo or a brief, we must carefully edit it (unpick it word by word) to realize the definitive clarity that helps us communicate to our readers. Nobody writes a perfect brief, but we can make that brief communicate to our readers through the editing process.
I have written some editing exercises that helps legal writers unpick their writings. You can find them here.