If you haven’t started already, you should be expecting to begin writing fifteen plus page legal papers for some of your law school classes. Yep. You read that correctly. All those dense and confusing chapters in your books? You will have to start to master the art of legal writing, just like those chapters you spend hours reading. It is like having to learn a new language that you have never seen before, and then getting graded on how well you can speak it.
While legal writing may seem daunting at first, you will soon realize that all it takes is organization. In this post, we discuss a program that can help you with that organization and make legal writing a breeze. That program is Scrivener.
Scrivener is a powerful word processing and organizational tool for your computer that can help your writing process during and after law school. Currently, Scrivener is popular with attorneys since it can help them prepare complex case documents that require several references. Further, attorneys use Scrivener as an accompaniment to their legal research, since the organizational features can help them deconstruct a document. “So it is just an alternative to Microsoft Word?” No. Not at all, so don’t delete Word off of your computer just yet. Although Scrivener does cost money, we highly recommend you look into downloading it. Read on to find out why!
Here are just a few things Scrivener can help you do:
Organize Your Ideas
As you may well know by now, legal studies require the ordering of complex ideas. When trying to write on these complex ideas, you may find yourself highlighting and deleting, copying and pasting, and writing long run on paragraphs while trying to organize your thoughts. Scrivener saves you from all of this by allowing you to organize ideas into groupable digital notecards, cork boards, and outlines. This makes it easier to write out your ideas and visually order them before Scrivener puts them all together for you. Being able to see your ideas separately before they are all combined into a long paragraph is very helpful, especially in legal writing.
Microsoft word and other applications offer templates, but Scrivener’s highly customizable templates are another opportunity for you to organize your documents. Create and save templates for appellate and court briefs, complete with sections for Statement of Facts, Procedural History Issues, Argument, etc…
Minimize Your Tabs
Scrivener allows you to have multiple panes of pdfs, images, or text notes open within the app itself, so no more switching between your browser, a pdf, and Microsoft Word. For law students, this means you can have your notes on the case law open in one window, your research from a legal journal in another, and your main document, all on one screen.
Easily Edit Your Paper
Even once you have started to write, Scrivener’s capabilities are not done. Scrivener makes it easy to edit your text with confidence by moving sections of texts with simple drags and drops. By breaking up your text into sections, Scrivener allows you to get perspective on how the different parts of your work make up the whole. When writing a legal essay in a traditional word processing program, it is easy to get lost in the text and lose sight of where your facts are located relative to your arguments. Scrivener solves this problem by letting you make sections of text that can be easily rearranged until you find the right order.
That is a basic overview of how Scrivener can help you with your legal writing. Try it for yourself using their free trial! When it comes to legal writing, don’t forget to connect the dots between your exams and your essays. For example, IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) is not only a go to strategy for answering questions on an exam, but also a way of thinking about paper organization. The general rule in legal analysis is to identify a rule and apply it to facts. Scrivener can help you with this organization.
Finally, do not neglect the importance of research in your legal writing. You will want to have cases and case law open when you are writing your essays. Examples are important in making any argument! Scrivener is a great tool for legal research given its multi-window functionality.
For more tips on legal writing, check out this post!
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