Legal Writing Tip – Avoid Unnecessary Dates

Do you want to quickly improve the quality of your legal writing? One easy way is to eliminate unnecessary dates in your motion or brief. Very rarely does a judge need to know the specific date the complaint was filed, and the date the answer was filed, and the date of every underlying fact giving rise to the matter before the court. It’s an easy habit to fall into when you’re trying to convey chronological events to the court.

Instead, use transition words that provide the reader with a sense of time, without bogging down your writing with unnecessary information. There are certainly times when an exact date is important, like when addressing whether the statute of limitations has expired. However, when you use specific dates, you give the reader the sense that the date is important and needs to be remembered. When you stack date upon date, the effect multiplies and you run the risk of distracting the reader from the important arguments in your brief.

Some suggestions to use: the next day, just days before, at that time, subsequently, in the meantime, meanwhile, within days, almost two years later. Even using “next” and “later” is preferable to stacking date upon date.

Each of these suggestions can convey the passage of time and still clue the reader in on important events in your statement of facts.

I offer a wide variety of legal writing services, including appellate briefs, motions and memoranda of law, and pleadings. Find out more about my legal research and legal writing services. Or call or email me directly to discuss how I can help with your next brief writing or legal research project.

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