The majority of people today are getting their information electronically, whether on a laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone. In the legal world, this means lawyers, paralegals, clients, and even judges are reading on screens rather than paper, causing them to skim pages and have a constant source of distraction. Because of this, paralegals and legal professionals need to change the way they write in a way that grabs attention and delivers the message. How should paralegals write in order to captivate busy lawyers and clients in today’s technological world?
In this episode of The Paralegal Voice, Vicki Voisin interviews appellate lawyer and successful legal writing expert Kevin Dubose about changes in the way lawyers read and communicate today and how lawyers and paralegals can adapt their writing skills to be read on a screen. There are 5 new features of the working environment that have changed the way everyone reads: online distractions, value speed over content, backlit screens, multiple windows, and email. These features, Dubose explains, encourage clients, lawyers, judges, and most everyone else to skim pages for important content and avoid long, convoluted paragraphs, sentences, or even words. In order to capture attention, he says, paralegals should write using headings, bullet points, short paragraphs, and start with the conclusion. Most importantly, write for the reader and you will have done your job.
Kevin Dubose is an attorney for and one of the founding partners of the appellate boutique, Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP. He has been the Director of Legal Research and Writing at UHLC and is a frequent CLE speaker and author. He recently spoke at the Houston Paralegal Association’s annual conference on the topic of Successful Legal Writing Strategies for Today’s Readers.
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