Legal Writing—Techniques for Effective Advocacy

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Clear and accurate legal writing is of high importance in the legal profession. It is the primary communication between legal professionals, clients, and the judiciary. Effective legal writing ensures that complex legal concepts are understood, arguments are persuasive, and legal documents are precise. 

There is currently a high demand for skilled freelance legal writers who can translate complex legal concepts into accessible and understandable content. Due to this demand, skilled freelance legal writers often command competitive rates, making it a lucrative field for those with expertise in legal writing. 

So, in this article, I explain what freelance writing is and break down the types of skills needed for success, the legal terminology used, what jobs are available, and how to find them and apply the best rates. Keep reading to see if freelance legal writing is a field you want to pursue!

Legal Writing—Techniques for Effective Advocacy

What Is Freelance Legal Writing?

Freelance legal writing refers to providing written content and services related to the legal field on a contract basis. 

Examples of common legal writing projects for freelancers include:

  • Website content
  • Blog posts and articles
  • Case summaries and briefs
  • Legal guides and e-books
  • Legal research and writing
  • Contract drafting and review

What Are the Types of Freelance Legal Writing Jobs?

Here are some types of specific freelance legal writing job descriptions that would fit into the above categories:

  • Legal Blogging: Freelance legal bloggers write articles or blog posts on various legal topics. They may cover recent legal developments, provide legal analysis, or offer readers practical tips and advice.
  • Legal Content Writing: Legal content writers create written material for law firms and focus on providing accurate and informative content that is tailored to their target audience.
  • Legal Copywriting: Legal copywriters craft persuasive and compelling copy for legal advertisements, promotional materials, newsletters, or marketing campaigns. 
  • Legal Research and Writing: Legal researchers and writers support lawyers, law firms, or legal departments in preparing arguments or analyzing complex legal matters.
  • Legal Journalism: Freelance legal journalists conduct interviews, gather information, and write news articles with a legal focus.
  • Legal Ghostwriting: Legal ghostwriters provide writing services to lawyers or legal professionals and write on behalf of the lawyer or professional.
  • Legal Document Writing: Freelance legal document writers specialize in drafting legal documents, including contracts, agreements, terms of service, privacy policies, or legal correspondence. 
  • Legal Curriculum Development: Freelance legal curriculum developers design and create educational materials and develop content that covers various legal subjects and meets specific learning objectives.

What Are Some Key Skills for Freelance Legal Writers to Learn?

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Freelance legal writers should possess the following skills:

  • Legal Knowledge: Freelance legal writers need a strong understanding of legal concepts, principles, and terminology. This includes knowledge of law, legal processes, and regulations.
  • Legal Research: It is essential to be proficient in conducting thorough and accurate legal research. Freelance legal writers should be comfortable using legal databases and other research tools to gather information.
  • Writing Skills: Excellent writing skills are a must for freelance legal writers. Strong grammar, spelling, and proofreading abilities are also important.
  • Attention to Detail: Freelance legal writers need to ensure accuracy in their writing, particularly when it comes to citing legal authorities, referencing case law, and presenting legal arguments.
  • Analytical Thinking: The ability to analyze legal issues, identify key points, and present logical arguments is part of critically evaluating legal scenarios and providing insightful analysis in their writing.
  • Organization and Time Management: Freelance legal writers should be able to manage their workload efficiently and deliver high-quality work within specified timeframes.
  • Adaptability: Freelance legal writers must adapt to different writing styles, client requirements, and subject matters.
  • Confidentiality and Ethical Standards: Freelance legal writers often handle sensitive and confidential information. It is important to uphold client confidentiality and maintain high ethical standards.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Freelance legal writers should possess strong communication skills to effectively interact with clients and understand their requirements.
  • Continuous Learning: The legal field is constantly evolving. It is important to keep up with legal developments, stay informed about changes in laws and regulations, and expand their legal knowledge.

What Legal Terminology and Concepts Should Freelance Writers Learn?

These terms and concepts provide a basic understanding of legal terminology and principles without requiring a law degree. They can be helpful for individuals navigating legal issues or seeking a general understanding of the legal system.

  • Contract: A legal deal where two or more parties agree on what they must do and what they can expect from each other.
  • Liability: It’s when you’re legally responsible for something bad that happens because of what you did or didn’t do.
  • Intellectual Property: Legal rights granted to protect creations of the mind, including inventions, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
  • Tort: A civil wrong that causes harm or injury to another person, leading to legal liability.
  • Breach of Contract: Failure to fulfill the terms and conditions specified in a contract without a valid legal excuse.
  • Negligence: The failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or injury to another person.
  • Damages: Monetary compensation awarded by a court to compensate for losses or injuries suffered by a party.
  • Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear and decide a legal case within a particular geographic area or over a specific subject matter.
  • Plaintiff: The party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint against another party, known as the defendant.
  • Defendant: The party against whom a lawsuit is filed and who is required to respond to the allegations made by the plaintiff.
  • Statute of Limitations: The time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed after a cause of action arises; beyond this time limit, the right to sue is generally lost.
  • Power of Attorney: A legal document that grants someone the authority to act on behalf of another person in legal and financial matters.
  • Precedent: A previously decided case that serves as a guiding principle for similar cases in the future.
  • Probate: The legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, including distributing assets and resolving any outstanding debts or claims.
  • Mediation: A form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party helps parties involved in a dispute reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
  • Due Diligence: The process of conducting a thorough investigation or review to assess the legal, financial, or other relevant aspects of a transaction or business.

How to Find Freelance Legal Writing Work

Specialized Freelance Platforms

Utilize specialized freelance platforms that cater to legal professionals and clients seeking legal writing services. These platforms connect freelancers with potential clients and provide a platform for showcasing your skills and expertise. Examples of such platforms include Upwork, Freelancer, and LawTrades.

Legal Industry Job Boards

Keep an eye on job boards specifically targeting the legal industry. Many of these job boards feature freelance or contract opportunities for legal writers. Websites like Indeed, SimplyHired, and LinkedIn often have legal writing gigs listed. Additionally, some legal-specific job boards like and Indeed Legal can be valuable resources.

Networking Within Legal Communities

Establish connections within legal communities to find potential freelance opportunities. Attend local legal events, seminars, or conferences to meet attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals. Join legal associations and participate in online forums or discussion groups.

Reach Out to Law Firms and Legal Professionals

Proactively approach law firms, solo practitioners, and legal professionals who may require freelance legal writing services. Tailor your approach to the specific needs and focus areas of the individuals or firms you contact.

Take Advantage of Content Mills and Legal Blogs

Consider writing for legal content mills or legal blogs that accept freelance contributions. These platforms may provide opportunities to showcase your writing skills, build your portfolio, and establish your credibility as a legal writer. While the pay may vary, it can be a stepping stone to securing higher-paying freelance gigs in the future.

What Are Freelance Legal Writing Rates?

Determining freelance legal work rates involves considering several factors that can influence what you are offered or what you should charge. Consider the following:

  • Experience: More experienced writers can generally command higher rates due to their expertise, track record, and the added value they bring to the table.
  • Project Complexity: The project’s complexity can impact the rates you charge. Projects requiring extensive legal research, analysis, or specialized knowledge will draw higher rates than simple assignments.
  • Time and Effort: Consider how much time and effort a project will require. Longer or more demanding projects may justify higher rates to account for the additional work involved.
  • Market Rates: Research the prevailing market rates for freelance legal writing in your area or within the industry. Understanding the going rates can help you set competitive prices while ensuring your compensation aligns with the value you provide.

Different Methods of Charging Rates for Freelance Legal Work

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When deciding which pricing structure to use, consider each project’s specific needs and your client’s preferences. Some clients may have a preferred payment method, while others may be open to negotiating the pricing structure based on their requirements and budget. 

Always communicate your rates clearly to clients upfront and provide a detailed breakdown of the services included in your pricing.

  • Charging by Word: Some freelance legal writers charge clients based on the number of words in their written content. This method can be suitable for assignments where word count is a primary consideration.
  • Charging by Project: Many freelancers prefer to quote a flat fee for the entire project. This approach considers project complexity, research requirements, and the expected time commitment. It provides clarity to clients regarding the total cost of the project upfront.
  • Charging Hourly: Billing clients based on an hourly rate is another option. This method is suitable when the scope of work or project requirements may vary or are difficult to estimate accurately. Tracking the time spent on each project allows for more flexibility and can help ensure fair compensation for the actual hours worked.

How to Succeed in Freelance Legal Writing

Understand Your Audience 

Tailor your writing style, tone, and level of technicality to your intended audience. Consider whether you are writing for legal professionals, clients, or a general audience, and adapt your approach accordingly.

Use Clear and Concise Language

Use plain language and avoid unnecessary jargon or legalese. Communicate complex legal concepts clearly, concisely, and understandably. Strive for clarity and simplicity in your writing.

Conduct Thorough Legal Research

Conduct comprehensive legal research to ensure accuracy and provide a solid foundation for your writing. Use reputable sources, including statutes, regulations, case law, and legal commentary, to support your arguments and analysis.

Organize Your Thoughts 

Structure your writing logically and coherently. Use headings, subheadings, and paragraphs to organize your ideas and make your content easy to navigate. A well-structured piece of legal writing supports readability and comprehension.

Use Proper Citations

Use proper citation formats when referencing legal authorities or supporting your arguments. Follow the citation style required by the jurisdiction or publication you are writing for.

Always Edit and Proofread

Review your work thoroughly to eliminate errors, typos, and inconsistencies. Proofread multiple times to ensure your writing is polished and error-free.

Be Diligent about Deadlines

Respect deadlines and deliver your work on time. Establish a realistic schedule and manage your time effectively to meet client or project deadlines. Communicate early if any unexpected delays or challenges arise.

Pay Attention to Detail

Pay close attention to details, particularly when it comes to legal facts, names, dates, and figures. Check and double-check your work for accuracy.

Stay Updated with Legal Developments

Keep abreast of the latest legal developments, changes in laws, regulations, and case precedents relevant to your practice areas. Continuously update your knowledge to ensure your writing reflects current legal standards.

Seek Feedback and Learn from It

Solicit client, editor, or peer feedback to improve your writing skills. Actively seek opportunities for professional growth and embrace constructive criticism to refine your legal writing abilities.


To be successful in legal writing, it is crucial to understand your audience and communicate clearly. Thorough legal research, proper organization, and attention to detail are the most important aspects of your work. A professional approach to these details directly influences the rates you can charge and will receive. 

To stay relevant, consider honing your editing skills, consistently seeking feedback, and staying updated with legal developments. Building a professional network and cultivating a commitment to ongoing learning is also important. By implementing these tips, you can excel in legal writing and establish yourself as a skilled and reputable professional in the field.