While writing a legal article, you should scrupulously follow certain guidelines, failing which, your article may be rejected for publication.
Nuances of Legal Writing
As a freelance writer, you enjoy a lot of freedom to write and you can write on any subject or topic of your choice.Of course sky is the limit for a freelance writer.However, while writing a legal article that has a bearing on any legal subject and topic,you have certain constraints and limitations and your writing should conform to certain unwritten guidelines.In academic writing and research,you have to conform to a specific style known as APA style or MLA style or Chicago style etc.Similarly, you have to conform to a specific style while writing an article that have a bearing on legal subject.
You may be tempted to ask why a legal article should conform to a specific style and format.Generally, the utility of an article written on a topic other than legal subject is somewhat limited.The article is read for the sheer pleasure of reading that it provides and of course depending upon the material that it contains and its relevance in the day today context, the article has more and more views.Whereas,a legal article written on a specific legal subject and topic, forms part and parcel of the concerned subject matter of law.Besides, when you write a legal article in a legal journal, it is widely read by the legal fraternity including the judges who later pronounce judgments on any subject matter of law which may have a bearing on the legal articles they had read.The judges also invariably quote in their judgements what they had read in the legal articles or journals.These judgements pronounced by the judges become judge-made laws and they have a binding force known as precedents for the legal fraternity.
To put it more elaborately,any judgement pronounced by the Hon'ble High courts become a precedent for the lower or subordinate courts.Similarly, judgements pronounced by the Supreme court become precedents for the High courts and the lower courts.Precedents with binding force mean that on a given subject of law, the lower courts and the High courts should invariably follow what the Supreme Court (apex court) has said.Therefore, any legal article that you write in a legal journal or elsewhere indirectly becomes part and parcel of the precedents or the judge-made laws thereby creating a long term impact in the society.
While writing a legal article,your writing should be very clear without any scope for ambiguity.Whatever might be the topic (legal) of your article, it should be written logically, coherently and with reasoned arguments supported by case laws of decided cases.The legal article radically differs from all other articles which belong to various categories or genres.There is absolutely no scope for imagination.However, you are entitled to express your own opinion.It is more useful, if you write the relevant case law or judgement pronounced by a judge which may serve as a precedent provided it has relevance and bearing on the present facts of the article.In other words your legal article should contain nothing but facts, presented logically and lucidly,supported with other relevant details.
Your article on a specific legal subject should contain the relevant legal terms rather than the general terms or words.For example, if you are writing an article on 'No Fault Divorce',your article should invariably contain the terms like 'irretrievable break down of marriage','spouse''no fault' etc without which there is no scope for 'No Fault Divorce'. When you write an article on the validity or invalidity of a 'Hindu Marriage', your article should necessarily contain the legal terms like 'Hindu', 'solemnity', 'sanctity', 'sapta padi','consummation','matrimonial home', 'obligations' 'spouse',and 'separation' etc, without which your legal article may not be intelligible and meaningful. Similarly, when you write an article on rent control or eviction law of any country, certainly your article should include the legal terms such as 'tenant', 'landlord', 'eviction', 'agreement' 'default','notice' etc.
While writing a legal article when you refer or quote any judge or mention his name, you should respectfully address the concerned judge with the words 'Justice' or 'Lordship' etc.When you write a legal article on a hot legal subject, which is pending in a court of law, since the matter is subjudice, you are not supposed to write anything more than what has already been published officially.In a legal article,when you quote any case law from a legal journal, say from All India Reporter, Law Weekly or Current Tamil Nadu Cases, you should mention the citation as follows:-
Year of the magazine, volume number of the magazine, title or name of the magazine and page number in which the relevant judgement has been published.
2011(3) Law Weekly 486
2011(2) Current Tamil Nadu Cases 235
And these citations should be mentioned in the foot notes or in a separate bibliography at the end of the article.
While writing a legal article, you should follow the above said guidelines scrupulously, failing which your article may be rejected for publication.