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16 Legal Writing Tips for Powerful, Persuasive Legal Writing: How to Write an Effective Legal Argument

As a lawyer, you know that the ability to write effectively is a key skill. In order to persuade judges and jurors, you need to be able to write with clarity and power.

In this blog post, we will discuss 15 tips for writing an effective legal argument. Following these tips will help you produce powerful legal writing that is sure to make an impact.

Table of Contents

16 Legal Writing Tips for Powerful, Persuasive Legal Writing

Tip #01: start with a strong introduction.

Your introduction is the most important part of your argument. It is the first thing that the judge or jury will read, and it needs to be strong in order to capture their attention. Make sure to introduce your argument clearly and succinctly, and make sure to state why you are making the argument. You should also include a preview of what you will be discussing later in your argument.

Tip #02: Use Clear and Concise Language

When writing an argument, it is important to use clear and concise language. This will help ensure that your point is understood by all who are reading it. Do not use complex words or legal jargon unless absolutely necessary – keep things simple so that everyone can understand what you are trying to say!

Tip #03: Use Short Sentences and Paragraphs

When writing an argument, it is important to use short sentences and paragraphs. This will help ensure that your point is understood by all who are reading it. Do not use complex words or legal jargon unless absolutely necessary – keep things simple so that everyone can understand what you are trying to say!

Tip #04: Write in the Active Voice

The active voice makes for more powerful writing than the passive voice. When possible, try using the active voice instead of passive constructions (e.g., “The judge ruled against us” rather than “We were ruled against by the judge”).

Tip #05: Use Strong and Impactful Language

When writing an argument, it is important to use strong and impactful language. This will help your argument stand out from the rest and make a lasting impression on the reader. Use powerful words that convey your message clearly and effectively.

Tip #06: Make Your Argument Easy to Follow

Your argument should be easy to follow from beginning to end. Make sure to structure it in a logical way, and use headings and subheadings to break up your content into manageable chunks. This will make it easier for the reader to understand what you are saying, and they will be less likely to get lost along the way.

Tip #07: Be Clear and Concise

It is important to be clear and concise when writing an argument. This means stating your point clearly and without any ambiguity. It also means using short sentences and paragraphs, so that the reader can easily follow your train of thought.

Tip #08: Use Supporting Evidence

When making an argument, it is important to back up your points with evidence. This will help strengthen your case and make it more persuasive. Make sure to cite reputable sources in order to support your points.

Tip #09: Be Thorough and Comprehensive

When writing an argument, it is important to be thorough and comprehensive. This means discussing all aspects of the issue at hand, from beginning to end. Do not leave anything out – this will only weaken your argument.

Tip #11: Use Quotations judiciously

When quoting someone else, make sure that you use it sparingly. Quoting someone else can help support your argument, but only if it is done correctly. Make sure to properly attribute the quote to its source, and make sure that it supports your point.

Tip #12: Stay on Point

It is important to stay on point when writing an argument. This means discussing only the issue at hand, and not straying off topic. If you start discussing irrelevant points, you will lose the reader’s attention and weaken your argument.

Tip #13: Be Concise and To-the-Point

When writing an argument, be concise and to-the-point. This means stating your point clearly without any ambiguity or unnecessary words. It also means using short sentences and paragraphs, so that the reader can easily follow your train of thought.

Tip #14: Use Headings and Subheadings

When writing an argument, it is important to use headings and subheadings where appropriate. These will help structure your content into manageable chunks, which makes it easier for the reader to understand what you are saying. They also look more professional than just having one big block of text on a page!

Tip #15: Write With Confidence

When writing an argument, be confident in what you are saying. This means being clear about why you believe a way and not being afraid to express your opinion. It also means using strong language, so that the reader knows you mean what you say.

Tip #16: Proofread Your Work

When writing an argument, make sure to proofread your work before submitting. This will help ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors in it, which could weaken your case if they were present when it went to court. It also gives you a chance to check for any mistakes that might have been made during the writing process .

What Writing Style is Used in Legal Writing?

Legal writing style is formal , objective and concise. It uses clear, simple language to communicate with the reader.

The goal is to present an argument in a way that is easy to follow and understand. Lawyers must be precise when stating their point, and use evidence to support their argument.

Quotations should be used sparingly, and only if they support the main points of the argument.

Headings and subheadings are also helpful in organizing content and making it easier for the reader to follow. Finally, legal writers should always write with confidence – this helps convey the message clearly and effectively.

Use this as a checklist to make sure your legal argument is effective:

  • State your point clearly and without any ambiguity.
  • Use supporting evidence.
  • Be thorough and comprehensive in your discussion.
  • Stay on point.
  • Use headings and subheadings where appropriate.
  • Write with confidence.
  • Proofread your work carefully before submitting it.

Major Reference Styles in Legal Writing and Research

When writing a legal document , you must use an accepted format for citations. There are three primary styles used in legal writing:

  • The Bluebook,
  • The ALWD Citation Manual, and
  • The Harvard Law Review Association’s Style Guide.

The Bluebook is the most commonly used citation style in the United States. It was developed by lawyers and professors at Columbia University and is published by the Harvard Law Review Association. The Bluebook contains rules for citing case law , statutes, court decisions, administrative rulings, books, articles, and other sources.

The ALWD Citation Manual was created to simplify the rules of the Bluebook. It was written by two law professors at Yale University and is published by Aspen Publishers. The ALWD Citation Manual is designed for legal writers and researchers who want to use a citation style that is easy to learn and follow.

The Harvard Law Review Association’s Style Guide is based on the Bluebook, but contains additional information about citations to Internet sources, unpublished works, and other sources. It was written by the staff of the Harvard Law Review Association.

Which reference style you choose is up to you. However, it is important to be consistent in your citations throughout your document.

Citing Cases Correctly

When citing a case in your legal writing, you must include certain elements: the name of the court, the year of the decision, and the volume number of the case reporter. You must also include either page numbers or paragraph numbers if you are citing to a specific passage in the case.

Citing a US Supreme Court Decision

If you are citing to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, you must include the name of the petitioner and respondent, as well as the docket number of the case.

Here is an example of how to cite a case:

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 48 (1954).

In this example, Brown v. Board of Education is the name of the case, 347 U.S. 48 is the year of the decision, and 19th ed. is volume number of the case reporter. Page numbers would be included if you were citing to a specific passage in the opinion, while paragraph numbers would be included if you were citing to a specific passage in the opinion.

Citing a Case from an Official Reporter

To cite a case from an official reporter, you must include the name of the court and year of decision. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the opinion.

United States v. Jones, No. 06-CR-0274 (N.D. Ill.).

In this example, “United States v.” refers to volume number while “06-CR” refers to Reporter series number and “274” (“J”) is case number within that series; “(N .D .Ill.)” identifies jurisdiction where docketed or decided if not obvious from report abbreviation; “[defendant]” is party name against whom suit was filed, which is why it’s important to know abbreviations for court names.

Citing a Case from an Unofficial reporter

To cite a case from an unofficial reporter, you must include the name of the court and year of decision. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the opinion.

People v. Rios, No. 00-CF-2227 (Cook Cty., Ill., Cir. Ct.).

In this example, “People v.” refers to volume number while “00-CF” refers to docket number within that volume; “(Cook Cty ., Ill.)” identifies jurisdiction where decided if not obvious from report abbreviation; “[defendant]” is party name against whom suit was filed.

Citing a Case from an Electronic Database

When citing a case from an electronic database, you must include the name of the court and year of decision. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the opinion.

United States v. Jones, No. 06-CR-0274 (N .D. Ill.).

Citing a Case Published by Multiple Reporters

To cite a case that has been published in multiple reporters, you must include the name of the first reporter and year of decision. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the opinion.

United States v. Jones, No .06-CR-0274 (N .D .Ill.).

In this example, “United States v.” refers to volume number while “06-CR” refers to Reporter series number and “274” (“J”) is case number within that series; “(N .D.Ill.)” identifies jurisdiction where docketed or decided if not obvious from report abbreviation; “[defendant]” is party name against whom suit was filed, which is why it’s important to know abbreviations for court names.

Citing a Statute

When citing a statute, you must include the name of the state and year of publication. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the statute.

Here is an example of how to cite a statute:

Illinois Compiled Statutes § 510/0.01 (2010).

In this example, “Illinois Compiled Statutes” refers to the title of the statute while “§ 510/0.01” refers to the section number within that title; “(2010)” identifies year of publication.

Citing a Law Review Article

When citing a law review article, you must include the author’s name, title of the article, and name of the journal. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the article.

Here is an example of how to cite a law review article:

David Siegel, The New Wigmore: A Treatise on Evidence § 11-18 (West 2010).

In this example, “David Siegel” refers to author’s first and last name while “The New Wigmore: A Treatise on Evidence” refers to title of article; “$ 11-18” refers to pages cited within that article; “(West 2010)” identifies publisher and year of publication.

Citing a Law Review Case Note

When citing a law review case note, you must include the author’s name, title of the note, and name of the journal. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the note.

Here is an example of how to cite a law review case note:

David Siegel & Elizabeth Smith, Case Note: In re A .B .C., 127 Harv. L. Rev .1549 (2014).

In this example, “David Siegel & Elizabeth Smith” refers to authors’ names while “Case Note: In re A .B.C.” refers to title of note; “$ 127 Harv. L. Rev .” refers to pages cited within that note; “(2014)” identifies year of publication.

Citing a Secondary Source

When citing a secondary source, you must include the author’s name, title of the book or article, and publisher. The page numbers are not required but may be included if you are citing to a specific passage in the book or article.

Here is an example of how to cite a secondary source:

James Weinstein, Legal Writing: How to Write CLEARLY, POWERFULLY, and Persuasively (Aspen Publishers 2009).

In this example, “James Weinstein” refers to author’s first and last name while “Legal Writing: How to Write CLEARLY, POWERFULLY, and Persuasively” refers to title of book; “(Aspen Publishers 2009)” identifies publisher and year of publication.

What Makes a Good Citation in Legal Writing and Research?

Now that you have seen some examples of how citations work, let’s look at what makes a good citation.

A good citation should be clear and concise so that the reader can find it easily in any law library or online database for legal research. A good citation also avoids using abbreviations when possible because these make citations difficult to understand without knowing their meaning first hand which is why many people prefer full text versions over cited ones with lots of abbreviation usage throughout them . The following are some common abbreviations used within legal writing:

  • · N.Y. Times v . Sullivan, 376 US 254 (1964)
  • · Roe v Wade 410 U S 113 1973
  • · Brown v Board of Education 347 US 48 (1954)
  • · Miranda v Arizona 384 US 436 (1966)

You can see how these abbreviations make citations difficult to understand without knowing their meaning first hand which is why many people prefer full text versions over cited ones with lots of abbreviation usage throughout them . The following are some common abbreviations used within legal writing:

N=North America, V = Verdict, F and/or Con Law = Constitutional Law; P&P or POE = Procedure & Practices, Eq law=Equity Legislation , Taxation Laws etc. All other terms should be self-explanatory if you want more information about those subjects contact any university’s library for assistance on finding books that provide explanations about specific topics that interest you.

Just remember not to rely too much on abbreviations because these make citations difficult to understand without knowing their meaning first hand which is why many people prefer full text versions over cited ones with lots of abbreviation usage throughout them.

Common Mistakes in Legal Writing and Research

When it comes to legal writing, there are a few common mistakes that many lawyers make. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common errors and how to avoid them.

Mistake # One: Not Knowing Your Audience

One of the most common mistakes in legal writing is not knowing your audience. When you are drafting a legal argument or brief, you need to keep your audience in mind at all times. You need to tailor your argument to fit their needs and understanding. If you try to address too broad an audience or use complex language, you will lose your readers quickly.

To ensure that you are addressing your audience correctly, take the time to understand who they are. What is their level of legal knowledge? What are their interests? What is the most important thing to them in this case? Once you have a good understanding of your audience, you can tailor your argument to fit them perfectly.

Mistake # Two: Not Organizing Your Argument Properly

Another common mistake in legal writing is not organizing your argument properly. When you are drafting a legal document, it is important to be clear and concise. You need to make sure that your argument flows logically from beginning to end. If you jump around or introduce new ideas partway through your document, you will confuse your readers and lose their attention.

To organize your argument effectively, start by outlining what you want to say. Group related points together and order them logically. Make sure all of your evidence and reasoning is clear and easy to follow. If you can keep your argument organized, you will be able to make a strong case for your position.

Mistake # Three: Failing to Use Persuasive Language

In legal writing, it is important to use persuasive language. When you are trying to win an argument, you need to use words that will convince your readers of your point of view. If you are too vague or indirect, you will not be able to persuade anyone.

To use persuasive language effectively, start by making strong statements. Use concrete examples and evidence to back up your points. Be assertive in your writing and avoid using qualifiers such as “maybe” or “perhaps.” Stay focused on the issue at hand and avoid getting sidetracked by irrelevant details.

Mistake # Four: Using Legal Jargon Without Explanation

Another common mistake in legal writing is using legal jargon without explanation. In order to be persuasive, you need to make sure that your readers understand what you are saying. If they do not know the meaning of a word or phrase, they will have a hard time following your argument. To ensure that all of your readers can follow along easily, provide definitions for any unfamiliar words or phrases.

Mistake # Five: Not Proofreading Your Work

In legal writing, it is important to proofread your work to make sure that there are no mistakes. If you do not take the time to proofread your documents, you will lose credibility with your readers. 

To make sure that all of your writing is error-free before submitting it for publication or use in court, run a spell check and grammar check on every document that you write. You may also want to have someone else reading over what you wrote as well just so they can catch any errors that might be missed by spellcheck alone.

Mistake # Six: Verbocity – Using Too Many Words

In legal writing, it is important to use as few words as possible. If you are not careful about how many words you use in a sentence or paragraph, it will be hard for your readers to follow along with what you’re saying. The more concise and clear your documents are, the easier they will be to read and understand by all involved parties. 

To make sure that all of your documents are easy on the eyes of those reading them over time, keep each piece under 500 words when possible while still getting the point across without any confusion whatsoever (although sometimes this may not always work out perfectly depending on what needs explaining).

Mistake # Seven: Not Using Active Voice

In legal writing, it is important to use active voice rather than passive voice. When you are using passive voice, the subject of your sentence comes before the verb and there is no object in between them as well as being a generic subject (examples include “The document was signed by all parties” or “The witness testified under oath”). 

By having this structure set up, it makes things easier for everyone involved at various stages throughout each case where information must be relayed from one person to another without any confusion whatsoever on what exactly needs doing next so that nothing gets missed when moving onto step two after completing step one successfully. It’s also much more efficient since these documents tend not to get lost either way and can be easily accessed when needed again later down the road.

Mistake # Eight: Not Using Well-Researched Evidence

When you are writing a legal document, it is important to use evidence that has been well researched. 

You need to make sure that your sources are reliable and up-to-date if possible before presenting them as such within any statement or argument being made by anyone involved at all times throughout each case where information must be relayed from one person to another without any confusion whatsoever on what exactly needs doing next so nothing gets missed when moving onto step two after completing step one successfully because, these documents tend not get lost either way which makes things easier for everyone involved at various stages throughout each case where information must be relayed from one person to another.

Mistake # Nine: Not Formatting Documents Correctly

When you are writing a legal document, it is important to format it correctly. This means using the correct font, margins, and spacing. If your documents are not formatted correctly, they will be difficult for your readers to read and understand. To make sure that your documents are easy on the eyes of those reading them over time, use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial, set your margins at one inch all around, and use double-spacing between lines.

Mistake # Ten: Not Using Consistent Language

In legal writing, it is important to use consistent language. This means using the same tense throughout your document and not switching between past, present or future tenses. 

For example, if one sentence of yours begins with “The witness testified under oath,” then all sentences in that paragraph should begin with a similar phrase such as “Mr./Mrs./Ms… testified….” To make sure you are always using consistent language when writing any kind of legal document for use within court proceedings at some point down the road later on after being submitted by someone else involved who also happens to be related somehow either through marriage or other ties like their job title would indicate too since these documents tend not get lost either way. 

Try to keep each piece under 500 words when possible while still getting the point across without any confusion whatsoever (although sometimes this may not always work out perfectly depending on what needs explaining).

Mistake # Eleven: Not Proofreading Documents Carefully

Before submitting a legal document, it is important to proofread it carefully. This means checking for typos, mistakes in grammar and spelling, and formatting errors. 

If your documents are not properly proofread, they will be difficult for your readers to understand and could potentially damage your case. To make sure that your documents are error-free, triple check them for mistakes and have someone else do a final read-through as well.

Mistake # Twelve: Not Paying Attention to Detail

In legal writing, it is important to pay attention to detail. This means making sure that your documents are thorough and accurate. It is also important to be precise in your language. 

To make sure that you are paying attention to detail when drafting legal documents, take the time to read over your work several times and proofread it carefully.

Mistake # Thirteen: Failing to Follow Court Rules

When drafting legal documents, it is important to familiarize yourself with the court rules that will apply to your case. Failure to follow these rules could result in your document being thrown out of court. To make sure that you are following court rules correctly, consult a lawyer or review the court rules for your jurisdiction.

Mistake # Fourteen: Making Assumptions About the Reader’s Knowledge

When writing a legal document, it is important to remember that the reader may not have any legal knowledge. As such, you should always explain terms and concepts that the reader may not be familiar with. To make sure that your documents are easy to understand for all readers, take the time to define any terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to them.

Mistake # Fifteen: Failing to Answer Questions Fully

When responding to a legal question, it is important to answer it fully and completely. Failure to do so could result in your opponent using your response against you in court. 

To make sure that your responses are thorough and complete, take the time to research the question thoroughly and draft a response that addresses all aspects of it.

You may avoid making these mistakes by using the following legal writing tips:

  • Use a clear and concise writing style.
  • Avoid vague or ambiguous language.
  • Break up long sentences into shorter ones for easier reading comprehension by readers who may not want to struggle trying their best just because you didn’t give them any breaks along the way when really all that’s required from attorneys themselves is some patience on our part instead which might seem like not such an easy task these days considering how much pressure there seems to be put upon lawyers across this nation especially if they’re working hard towards making it back home safely without running out of time first before getting caught speeding through red lights late at night after having too many drinks at dinner with friends etc., but I guess what am saying here in brief summary form would be something like how even though it’s important to write clearly
  • Use active voice when possible. Don’t use passive voice unless it’s absolutely necessary. Active: The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence. Passive: The defendant was sued by the plaintiff for negligence.
  • Write short, simple sentences. Long and complex sentences are difficult to read and understand. Keep your writing tight!
  • Avoid using jargon or legal terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader (e.g., “heretofore”). Instead of saying something like: “The party heretofore known as Plaintiff seeks summary judgment on her claim for breach of contract.” Try this instead: “Plaintiff wants a judge’s decision without having to go all the way through trial because she thinks there is enough evidence against Defendant in order for them not only win their case but also get what they’re asking from him.” You can see how much easier it gets when we break down long sentences into smaller chunks so that even the non-legal folk can follow without feeling lost or overwhelmed.

Legal writing is an essential skill for lawyers. In order to persuade judges and jurors, you need to be able to write with clarity and power. By following these 15 tips for writing an effective legal argument, you will be able to produce powerful legal writing that is sure to make an impact. For more information on legal writing, please consult a lawyer or review the court rules for your jurisdiction. Thank you for reading!

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How to Write Persuasive Legal Analysis

Last Updated: January 22, 2022

This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD . Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013. This article has been viewed 8,749 times.

Writing persuasively in a legal setting is one of the most important skills an advocate can learn. Whether you are an attorney or you are representing yourself, your ability to convey your arguments in a convincing way is often the difference between winning and losing a case. Before you start writing your persuasive legal analysis, you need to understand the purpose of your writing, conduct legal research, and outline your main points. When you start writing, structure your paper in a way that makes all of your arguments stick out and resonate. After you write your persuasive legal analysis, be sure you revise your work in accordance with accepted techniques.

Preparing Your Legal Arguments

Step 1 Find your purpose.

  • When you think about the purpose of your paper, you can begin to answer questions about your writing. For example, if you know your purpose, you might be able to answer the following, "Could this paper be organized in a way that would make my client's case seem stronger to the reader?" If your audience is a trial court judge who is known for his or her reliance on precedent, you will want to put your precedential arguments up front before any policy arguments. [1] X Research source

Step 2 Focus on your audience.

  • If you are writing to a trial court, they will most often be interested in comparing the rules, reasoning, and facts of your case to previously decided cases. Therefore, your writing should try to compare and contrast your fact pattern and law to similar cases that were decided in the past.
  • An appellate court, on the other hand, is only interested in whether the trial court correctly applied the law in your case. If you are writing a brief to an appellate court, you will want to focus your attention on court rules and legal precedents. The trial court's reasoning will be important in these briefs. [3] X Research source

Step 3 Appeal to your audience's ethics, emotion, and reason.

  • The U.S. legal system operates under a series of primary laws , which are binding upon every court in that particular jurisdiction. In other words, if there is a primary law on the books in your court's jurisdiction, that court must make determinations within the parameters of that law. Primary laws include statutes, common law (judge-made law), and administrative adjudications. Each jurisdiction (e.g., each state and the federal government) will have a different set of primary laws you must follow.
  • You may also choose to use secondary sources of information to supply persuasive arguments in your writing. Secondary sources are materials that explain, critique, or analyze primary laws. Secondary sources include encyclopedias, treatises, and practice guides. [4] X Research source

Step 5 Conduct quality legal research.

  • For example, if you need to research the law of contract damages, start by asking yourself the simple who, what, when, where, and why questions (e.g., what is the contract about, where is the contract being executed, and why is it being signed). Next, make sure you understand the legal issues at play (e.g., what jurisdiction are you in and is it a civil or criminal case)
  • Use the words you came up with to search through legal materials. If you do not have access to online legal libraries (i.e., Westlaw or Lexis), then you should try to visit a law library. Start by looking at practice guides and treatises on your subject.
  • Finally, track down the primary laws you found and read them. [5] X Research source

Step 6 Structure your arguments convincingly.

  • For example, begin your analysis by stating the issue clearly. Your issue should be the legal question that, when answered, determines your entire case. An acceptable issue statement might ask, "Is there an agency relationship if there was no compensation paid?"
  • The rule statement will describe the law or test that applies to the issue. For example, your rule statement might state, "An agency relationship is created when there is an agreement that the agent will act for the benefit of the principal at the principal’s direction or control regardless of whether compensation is paid."
  • The analysis works to apply the facts of your case to the applicable rule. This will be the longest part of your argument when you actually write it.
  • The conclusion will answer your issue question. [9] X Research source

Drafting Your Legal Brief

Step 1 Create an introduction.

  • Include any important background facts and facts that will emotionally resonate with your audience.
  • Put important facts in positions of emphasis and make sure you include significant unfavorable facts (although you can certainly try to bury them).
  • When you revise your statement of facts, try to edit out any legal conclusions and personal editorials.

Step 3 Summarize your argument.

  • Under each point heading will be your arguments, which will be in IRAC/CRRACC format.
  • Each point heading may be seen as the Issue or Conclusion piece of the IRAC/CRRACC format. If you are drafting your legal brief in this way, you will go directly into the rule after creating each point heading.

Step 5 State the relevant legal rules.

  • Be sure you raise unfavorable legal standards and distinguish them away. You cannot simply ignore authority because it is not in your favor.

Step 6 Apply the legal rules to your facts.

  • Be sure you incorporate all of your legally significant facts here and relate them to some legal standard.

Step 7 Present counterarguments.

  • Point out flaws in the other party's logic and move on.

Step 8 Make a conclusion.

Revising Your Written Product

Step 1 Use specific writing techniques.

  • For example, if your client was run over by a vehicle, describe that vehicle as a "1965 black Stingray" in order to help your audience remember that fact. However, if your client ran over the other party in a car, you might only describe the car as a "vehicle", which will help make that particular fact less memorable. [11] X Research source

Step 3 Choose the appropriate term of address.

  • For example, if you are claiming the defendant abused his or her discretion, you might want to say something like, "The defendant abused the privileges offered him; he abused the procedures designed to protect him." [13] X Research source

Step 5 Adjust sentence length.

  • For example, if a number of witnesses had nice things to say about the defendant, but your client had a different perspective, highlight your client's perspective by using a short sentence. Hide the other perspectives in a long sentence. This is what it might look like: "Julia was uniformly described by all the witnesses who had personally known her as a strong-willed, positive and independent woman. The plaintiff himself called her 'independent and abrupt.'" [14] X Research source

Step 6 Insert information into a sentence with purpose.

  • For example, write, "Julia Easley was on a large and complex daily regimen of drugs, including..." instead of, "Julia Easley was drugged into a vegetative state daily." [16] X Research source

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The Power of Legal Writing: How to Craft Compelling Arguments

legal persuasive essays

Table of Contents

In the realm of law, effective communication can be the difference between success and failure. Legal writing, specifically the ability to craft compelling arguments, is a skill that holds immense power. Whether you’re a practicing attorney, a law student, or simply someone interested in the art of persuasion, To understand the nuances of persuasive legal writing is essential. This blog post delves into the intricacies of how to harness the power of legal writing to construct compelling arguments.

The Essence of Persuasion

At its core, legal writing is a form of persuasion. It’s about presenting your viewpoint in a manner that influences the reader’s perception and sways their judgment. Whether you’re drafting a motion, a brief, or a legal memorandum. The goal is to convince your audience—be it a judge, a jury, or another attorney—of the validity of your argument. Your ability to construct interesting arguments can profoundly impact the outcome of legal proceedings.

Structure and Organization

An effective legal argument requires a well-structured and organized presentation. A haphazardly composed argument can confuse readers and diminish the impact of your message. Consider these structural elements:

  • Introduction: Begin with a concise introduction that outlines the main issues and your position. Clearly state the purpose of your writing and grab the reader’s attention. A compelling introduction sets the stage for a convincing argument.
  • Statement of Facts: Present the relevant facts of the case in a clear and chronological manner. Provide enough context for the reader to understand the situation, but avoid unnecessary details. A solid grasp of the facts is crucial for building a powerful argument.
  • Legal Analysis: This is the heart of your argument. Break down the legal principles that support your position. Cite relevant statutes, case law, and precedents. Address counterarguments and distinguish them from your own stance. Your ability to dissect and analyze legal principles demonstrates your expertise and strengthens your argument’s credibility.
  • Application: Apply the legal principles to the facts of the case. Show how the law supports your interpretation and this particular instance should apply it as follows. The skillful application of legal concepts to real-world scenarios demonstrates your understanding and strengthens your argument’s persuasiveness.

legal persuasive essays

Clarity and Precision

In legal writing, clarity is paramount. Avoid jargon and complex language that could alienate readers. Use straightforward language and sentence structures to ensure your argument is easy to follow. Each word should have a purpose, and each sentence should contribute to the overall flow of your argument. Clarity ensures that your argument’s core ensures the message is not lost in convoluted language.

The Power of Rhetoric

Rhetorical techniques are tools that can elevate the persuasiveness of your writing. These include:

  • Analogies and Metaphors : Drawing parallels between your case and familiar situations can make your argument more relatable. Metaphors can vividly illustrate complex concepts and make them easier to understand.
  • Emotional Appeal : While legally writing, incorporating typically focuses on logic, a touch of emotional appeal can humanize your argument. Be cautious, however, not to rely solely on emotion. Balancing emotional appeal with logical reasoning can create a well-rounded argument.
  • Repetition : Reiterating key points can reinforce your argument’s importance. Use repetition strategically to emphasize your main arguments. Repetition serves as a memory aid and underscores the significance of your points.
  • Parallelism : Structuring sentences or phrases in a parallel manner can create a rhythmic quality that makes your writing more engaging. Parallelism adds a cadence to your writing, making it more compelling to read.

Legal Research and Authority

Solid legal writing relies on thorough research. To construct a compelling argument, you must be well-versed in the relevant statutes, regulations, and case law. Cite authoritative sources to back up your claims and interpretations. Well-researched arguments are not only more convincing but also command respect from your peers and the court. Your ability to substantiate your arguments with credible sources lends weight to your position.

legal persuasive essays

Editing and Proofreading

Even the most compelling argument can be undermined by errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Carefully edit and proofread your work to ensure its professionalism and coherence. If possible, have a colleague review your writing to provide a fresh perspective. A polished piece of writing reflects your commitment to excellence and enhances the impact of your argument.

Practice and Feedback

Becoming skilled at legal writing takes practice. Regularly draft arguments, seek feedback from mentors or colleagues, and refine your approach based on their input. Learning from your mistakes is crucial for growth in this domain. Constructive feedback provides valuable insights and enables you to continually improve your persuasive writing skills.

What Makes a Good Citation in Legal Writing and Research?

A good citation in legal writing and research serves as a crucial foundation for your arguments. It demonstrates the validity of your claims. Whether you’re crafting a legal memorandum, a brief, or a scholarly article, proper citation practices are essential and the persuasiveness of your work. Here’s what makes a good citation in legal writing and research:

legal persuasive essays

Accuracy and Precision

Accurate and precise citations are fundamental. Each citation should lead readers directly to the specific source you’re referencing. This includes providing the correct page numbers, volume, reporter, and year of the case or statute. Double-check your citations to avoid errors that could undermine your credibility and the reliability of your argument.

Relevance and Authority

Citations should be relevant and authoritative. Cite cases, statutes, regulations, and secondary sources that directly support the points you’re making. Prefer primary sources like court decisions, statutes, and regulations over secondary sources like law review articles or commentaries. Using well-established and respected sources adds credibility to your arguments.

Use of Parallel Citations

Parallel citations involve referencing the same case or statute from multiple sources. For example, Someone might publish a court case in both a regional reporter and a national reporter. Including parallel citations strengthens your citation’s reliability. As it demonstrates that in the same case, someone has recognized and reported across different sources.

Context and Explanation

While citations provide authority, Don’t assume readers will understand the significance of a citation without explanation. Briefly describe the relevance of the cited case or statute to your argument. Explain how it supports your position or undermines counterarguments. This helps readers understand the legal principles at play and reinforces the persuasiveness of your argument.

Credible Sources

Choose credible and reputable sources for your citations. Rely on official court decisions, statutes from official legislative bodies, and established legal treatises. Avoid citing sources that lack credibility or authority, as this could weaken your argument.

Proper Bluebook Format

The Bluebook is a widely recognized citation style guide in the legal field. Adhering to the proper Bluebook format ensures consistency and uniformity in your citations. This includes formatting rules for cases, statutes, regulations, books, articles, and other legal sources. Correct citation format enhances the professionalism of your work.

Cross-Checking Citations

Cross-check your citations to ensure their accuracy and completeness. Verify that the information you’re citing matches the original source. Utilize online databases or legal research platforms to confirm details like case names, volume numbers, and page numbers. Inaccurate citations can lead to confusion and undermine the reliability of your work.

Timeliness and Currency

When citing cases or statutes, consider their timeliness and currency. If there have been subsequent developments, amendments, or overruled decisions. It provides this information to give readers a complete understanding of the legal landscape. Staying up-to-date with changes in the law is essential for accurate and persuasive citations.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations play a role in legal citation. Misrepresenting or cherry-picking citations to manipulate the meaning of a case or statute is unethical. Ensure that your citations accurately reflect the source’s content and intent. Misleading citations can damage your credibility and harm the integrity of legal discourse.

In legal writing and research, proper citation practices are integral to building convincing arguments.  Accurate, authoritative, and well-explained citations demonstrate your understanding of the law and strengthen the persuasive impact of your work.

In Conclusion Crafting compelling arguments through effective legal writing is a skill that can open doors, win cases, and influence decisions.  By mastering the art of structuring arguments, using clear and precise language. Can consistently refine your work, and you can harness the power of legal writing to make your voice heard in the complex world of law. Your ability to construct persuasive and compelling arguments can shape the course of legal discourse and bring about impactful change.

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Legal Writing

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  • Legal Citation & the Bluebook

Books and Articles

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legal persuasive essays

Below is a short list of books and scholarly journal articles related to persuasive writing, with a focus on legal persuasion. You can search for other relevant resources in the  ASU Library catalog  using subject headings such as   Persuasion (rhetoric)  and  Law-language .  Books located at other ASU Library locations can be requested and delivered to you at the Law Library; sign in to your library account to make a request. Legal Persuasion: A Rhetorical Approach to the Science  (Linda L. Berger and Kathryn M. Stanchi, 2018) This title integrates research from cognitive science with classical and contemporary rhetorical theory, synthesizing these two disciplines and applying them to legal persuasion. The persuasive synthesis is illustrated through concrete examples and the authors provide excellent explanations of why, how, and when to utilize certain persuasive methods and techniques.

The Mindful Legal Writer: Mastering Persuasive Writing  (Heidi Brown, 2016) The Mindful Legal Writer  focuses on why and how persuasive writing is used in law practice. Chapters address how to employ persuasive writing techniques in court filings, oral argument, and transactional practice and appendices provide examples of the types of legal document discussed in the book.

Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing   (Michael R. Smith, 2013) This book focuses on classical writing strategies and rhetorical application, giving the reader writing tools that can be applied in a wide range of legal (and non-legal) settings. 

Briefs and Beyond: Persuasive Legal Writing (Mary Beth Beazley and Monte Smith, 2021) This title instructs the reader on how to use persuasive elements in complaints, demand letters, and legal documents. It specifically addresses persuasion with statutory authority, how to use cases effectively, and evidence in persuasive writing. 

Readings in Persuasion: Briefs that Changed the World (Charles Calleros and Linda H. Edwards, 2012) Readings in Persuasion instructs the reader on foundational persuasive legal writing techniques including rhetoric, voice, emotion, metaphor, and narrative. The text also presents a number of famous cases and explores their history, and the persuasive legal writing that impacted the case outcomes.

The Art of Advocacy: Briefs, Motions, and Writing Strategies of America’s Best Lawyers   (Noah A. Messing, 2013) This book contains more than 150 examples of advocacy to show lawyers how to write winning briefs and motions.

Kathryn Stanchi,   Persuasion: An Annotated Bibliography , Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (2009). This 2009 bibliography provides an excellent list of books and articles that discuss persuasion in legal writing. Resources listed address such topics as classical rhetoric, metaphors in legal writing, argumentation theory, "framing" of legal arguments, and semiotics.

The databases listed below provides access to journal articles and other resources that have examples of persuasive writing or provide instruction for writing persuasively, across academic disciplines. The databases are available on-campus or remotely with an ASURITE password.

Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost)  A multidisciplinary article database which covers thousands of mostly English-language popular magazines and scholarly journals. Includes topics in the social sciences, humanities, general science, education and most areas of academic study. 

HeinOnline  HeinOnline provides PDF full text of law reviews and journals with pre-1980 scholarship that is not available on Lexis or Westlaw.

Humanities Full Text (H.W. Wilson)  Indexes articles in the fields of film, folklore, gender studies, history, journalism, communications, language, literature, literary and political criticism, philosophy, and religion. Coverage is from 1984 to the present.

JSTOR  This database provides image and full-text online access to back issues of selected scholarly journals in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences.

Literature Online  Contains the full-text of selective creative works in all genres of literature, a database of critical articles, author biographies and reference works.

PsycINFO  Covers the research literature in all areas of psychology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. Other subjects such as neuroscience, psychiatry, and physiology are also included. The database provides indexing and abstracts for journal articles (mostly peer-reviewed), books, chapters, and dissertations. Coverage is from 1887 to the present.

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A Guide to Mastering Legal Writing

February 8, 2024 | DRI

A good argument wins cases and builds your reputation as a persuasive and credible legal professional.

Legal writing is crucial for defense attorneys and in-house counsel to present cases and influence outcomes effectively. The ability to craft persuasive arguments not only strengthens your advocacy but also enhances your professional reputation. And while learning these skills may be especially vital for lawyers new to the practice, more experienced attorneys will also benefit from a quick review of these core concepts.

In this blog, we will provide practical tips to enhance your legal writing. These tips will help you make strong arguments that are effective in court or meetings.

Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is crucial in legal writing. When speaking to a judge, jury, or executives, adjust your arguments to match their knowledge and viewpoint. Use language that is accessible to non-legal professionals without sacrificing the depth required for legal accuracy. Read this article from for more guidance on Legal Writing Principle 8: Know The Audience .

Clearly Define Your Objective

Before you start writing, articulate the primary objective of your argument. Having a clear goal will improve your writing when attempting to achieve certain outcomes in a legal case. These outcomes include getting a case dismissed, winning a summary judgment, or reaching a settlement. State your goal early on and use it as a roadmap throughout your document.

Need more guidance specifically on legal memos? This post from Point First can help.

Develop a Compelling Introduction

A strong introduction sets the tone for your entire argument. Clearly state the issues, frame the legal context, and highlight the key facts favoring your position. Engage your audience from the beginning, making them eager to delve deeper into your argument.

Structure Matters

Organize your arguments logically to make them more digestible and impactful. Use headings and subheadings to create a clear structure, and consider the following outline as a starting point:

  • Introduction
  • Statement of Facts
  • Legal Analysis
  • Counterarguments

This structure allows your readers to follow your reasoning easily and reinforces the coherence of your overall argument. Using a legal document template is a good way to maintain consistency and ensure you include all key elements.

Articulate a Strong Thesis

Craft a clear and concise thesis statement that captures your main argument. This statement should be the thread running through your entire document, providing a roadmap for your reader. Avoid ambiguity and make your stance clear.

Support with Authority

Back up your arguments with relevant legal authority, such as statutes, case law, and legal precedents. Cite recent and persuasive authorities to bolster your position. Ensure your citations are accurate and well-researched, enhancing the credibility of your argument. Helpful legal research tools include Fastcase, CourtListener, Caselaw Access Project, and more.

If you’re a member of DRI, you can also access LegalPoint . This robust resource provides DRI members with exclusive access to a vast online library of DRI articles, books, and materials. Members can search thousands of documents and filter them by practice area and resource. In addition to searching all of DRI's LegalPoint content, you can also access Defense Library Series (DLS) books separately and review the table of contents and individual chapters.

Use Persuasive Language

Choose your words carefully to convey authority and conviction. Eliminate unnecessary legalese and use plain language when possible. Craft sentences that are concise, impactful, and leave no room for manipulation.

Read this Medium article for more tips on persuasive writing: A Lawyer's Guide to Persuasive Writing: 5 Rules to Live by .

Address Counterarguments

Anticipate opposing viewpoints and address them head-on. Acknowledge weaknesses in your position and provide strong rebuttals. This demonstrates your thorough analysis of the topic and enhances your credibility by showcasing your understanding of the law.

Edit and Revise

Great legal writing is often the result of careful editing and revision. Review your work for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Check for grammatical errors and ensure your arguments flow logically. Consider seeking input from colleagues to gain different perspectives, or get assistance from technology such as Grammarly.

Becoming skilled at legal writing, especially making convincing arguments, takes time and effort. By understanding your audience, clearly defining objectives, structuring your arguments effectively, and using these practical tips, you can elevate your legal writing skills and enhance your effectiveness as a civil defense attorney or in-house counsel. A good argument wins cases and builds your reputation as a persuasive and credible legal professional.

Want to publish your legal writing with DRI? Visit our Publications page for details on sharing your expertise with colleagues worldwide.

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Guides and handouts.

If you need an accessible version of any of the documents below, please contact [email protected] .

Assessing Legal Authority

A Guide to Reading, Interpreting and Applying Statutes A Guide to the Basics of International Law Federal Law, Federal Courts and Binding and Persuasive Authority Which Court is Binding

Bluebook Citation

Differences in Citation in Scholarly and Practitioner Legal Writing Bluebook Signals Explained Citations to International Agreements, Cases and Arbitration Under Bluebook Rule 21 Everything You Wanted to Know that the Bluebook Does Not Tell You Clearly Introduction to Bluebooking: Some Basic But Confusing Rules Parentheticals Bluebook Rule 18: Citation to Internet and Electronic Resources under the Bluebook Some Common and Obscure Bluebook Rules or How to Really Impress Even the Most Exacting Bluebooker

Grammar and Style

Crafting Mid-Level Organization Concise is Nice Ten Rules of Grammar and Usage that You Should Know Guiding Legal Readers Through Your Legal Document Tips for Effective Organization Tips for Effective Punctuation in Legal Writing

International Law

A Guide to the Basics of International Law Citations to International Agreements, Cases and Arbitration Under Bluebook Rule 21

Judicial Writing

The Appellate Court Bench Memorandum In Chambers: Effective Writing Tips for the Judicial Interns and Law Clerks The Trial Court Bench Memorandum

Legal Analysis

Creating Effective Rule Statements A Guide to Reading, Interpreting and Applying Statutes Guiding Legal Readers Through Your Legal Thought How to Craft an Effective Case Comparison Identifying and Understanding Standards of Review Persuasive Writing Using Cases in Legal Analysis Using Secondary Sources and Persuasive Authority What do you Mean What Do You Mean “There’s More than One Way to Do It”? Legal Analysis and the Rhetorical Setting

Legal Research

The Art and Craft of Strategic Legal Research Legal Research Resources at GULC and Beyond A Guide to the Basics of International Law Using Secondary Sources and Persuasive Authority You Have Your Topic, Now Get the Research Done Researching for Administrative Law Internship

Oral Advocacy

May It Please the Court: Oral Arguments in Law School May It Please the Court: Additional Thoughts on Oral Argument

Persuasive Writing

From Memo to Appellate Brief Persuasive Issue Statements Persuasive Writing Writing the Statement of the Case in an Appellate Brief Writing Effective Point Headings Writing for Trials Writing for Trial: The Motions in Limine

Scholarly Writing

Checklist for Scholarly Writing Choosing a Successful Paper Topic Creating a Good Scholarly Paper Developing a Thesis Statement Introductions and Conclusions for Scholarly Papers “Righting” the Write On Competition Strategies for Outlining Your Scholarly Paper The Home Stretch: Revising and Polishing the Scholarly Paper Tips for Getting Your Scholarly Paper Published Turning your First Draft of a Seminar Paper into a Final Draft You Have Your Topic, Now Get the Research Done

Transactional Writing

Tips for Achieving Clarity in Contract Drafting

Writing for Practice

How to Write a Client Advice Letter Emailing Professionally How to Handle an Assignment at your Summer Job In Chambers: Effective Writing Tips for the Judicial Interns and Law Clerks

Writing Checklists, Process, and Tips

Checklist for the Fall Legal Research and Writing Exam Checklist for Scholarly Writing Checklist for the Client Letter or Memo Checklist for the Writing Process Checklist for the First Year Writing Process Crafting Mid-Level Organization Concise is Nice Final Exam Tips Getting the Most Out of Your First Draft Formatting a Legal Document in Microsoft Word Just Do It – Tips for Avoiding Procrastination Outlining Tips and Techniques for Class Outlining for Exams Tips and Techniques for Taking Notes in Class Ten Tips for Transitioning to Legal Writing Tips for Effective Organization Tips for Effective Punctuation in Legal Writing Turning your First Draft of a Seminar Paper into a Final Draft Writer’s Block and How to Work Through It

Writing for Law School Classes

Final Exam Tips Tips and Techniques for Taking Notes in Class Outlining Tips and Techniques for Class Outlining for Exams

Writing Samples and Cover Letters

Building a Writing Portfolio Choosing the Right Writing Sample Government Cover Letters Revising and Preparing a Writing Sample Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Writing Samples Writing a Judicial Clerkship Cover Letter Writing Samples for Public Interest Positions

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Persuasive Writing: Outlining Your Argument

By Michael J. Simkin, Esq.

All legal writing is persuasive writing. Whether drafting a lawsuit, communicating with opposing counsel, or discussing strategies with a client, a lawyer’s writing must convince someone of something. A lawyer’s tools are the words, phrases, and sentence structure used to persuade a reader to reach the desired conclusion.  

Of the many definitions of persuasion, two stand out. The first; persuasion is the act of persuading. The second; persuasion is a belief held with complete assurance. These definitions complement each other. Merely making the reader consider your opinion is not enough. To be persuasive, you must convince someone to change their beliefs and embrace your position.  

Making a Game Plan  

All persuasive writing begins with a game plan . You must: 

  • Whether it be to see your side of the argument, give you information, or to settle a dispute, you must have a solid understanding of what you want to achieve before you begin your persuasive writing. 
  • Have a clear understanding of your goal to help you outline a clear argument.  
  • Have a theme and be consistent. 
  • Example: Two neighbors on the top and bottom of a hill have had grudges between them for many years concerning inconsequential issues. However, the downslope owner needs cooperation from the other to add a retaining wall to prevent damage to her property. If representing the downslope owner, point out how consent to add a retaining wall will prevent possible liability to the upslope owner.  
  • Example, if sending a demand letter to an unrepresented party, stress that you seek an amicable resolution and provide a solution. This should open communications and if the opposing party retains a lawyer, lead them to find a compromise without litigation.   
  • If you are speaking to a lawyer who is emotionally or personally involved with the case, it may be more difficult to convince them of your position. How you phrase your goal may be more important than the reasons supporting it.  Focus on the desired result and why that benefits all parties.  
  • Whenever possible, frame your goal as mutually beneficial. Use positive language that prioritizes the benefits to the opposing side. 
  • Do not lie or use misleading information. Stick to outcomes that you know are possible.  The reader’s trust in you and your argument for a particular result is critical. “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”–– Aristotle 
  • Maintain an awareness of how information is presented on the page. Large paragraphs may be tiring for the reader and cause the reader to skip over content you want conveyed.   
  • Understand how varying the physical placement of information in a paragraph impacts how a reader reacts or interprets your argument. 
  • Please refer to the eNews article, Persuasive Writing: Paragraphing for Lawyers article written by Michael Simkin, for more information on paragraphing. 
  • Use of positive phrases encourages the reader to consider what you wrote and not close their eyes to what you are saying.  
  • An email that begins with a negative statement and ends with a positive may cause the reader to skip to the end and not consider your argument.  
  • Example: “My client is not liable and refuses to pay. [Followed by three paragraphs of antagonistic discussion].” Even if you conclude your letter with “however, my client proposes to ….” the conciliatory phrase may be overlooked by the reader because once he sees the negative, self-serving, aggression in your letter, the reader may stop reading and conclude there is no resolution. 
  • When the tone is only negative, there is no persuasion. “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”— Desmond Tutu. 
  •  Begin your paragraph with a positive statement such as “We should be able to resolve the problem, but will your client consider …” Or “Mediation would be beneficial, but can we informally obtain a copy of ….”  As opposed to “We must obtain our discovery before considering a settlement proposal.” 
  • You need to consider opposing positions throughout your handling of the file. “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears—by listening to them.” — Dean Rusk  Be objective, even if the opposition’s written tone is aggressive. Tit for tat does not win cases. Antagonistic verbiage is not persuasive. Respond with analytical writing that draws a conclusion supported by law or facts.    
  • Do not evade a good argument by the opposition. Rather, provide an alternative solution.  
  • Understand that your readers are operating with a different mindset. That is why you need to persuade them. It is okay if they initially object . 
  • Decide what you are willing to compromise on. Proposing a compromise can make it easier for the reader to side with you. If you are considering a compromise, keep your original goal in mind and be aware of which parts are important to maintain. 

Persuasive Appeals  

Everyone believes something for a reason. To persuade someone of your opinion, consider why they may hold that opinion so you know how to change it. A successful persuasive communication may appeal to: 

  • Consider your issue and the common-sense elements that may be involved. 
  • Make sure your writing doesn’t contain any logical inconsistencies or fallacies . 
  • Emotions run high during legal proceedings. Anger, dread, sadness, exhaustion—these are all reasons why a reader may think what they do.  
  • Consider how your goal may or may not align with their emotions and how a change of phrasing or tone can better address their emotions. 
  • Utilizing fact is one of the best tools in persuasive writing. Truth makes your argument stronger and easier to side with. 
  • Some facts to include: Facts of the case, photos, direct quotes from correspondence or other materials, an accurate representation of the case thus far, laws, specific names/dates/locations, etc. 
  • Your writing should include citations to applicable law or favorable facts.   

Sample Persuasive Outline  

Successful persuasive writing can vary widely in layout as it depends on intention, tone, and audience. Below is one sample outline based on the IRAC method. 

Issue -> Summarize the problem. 

  • Include facts to build a compelling story. 

Rule -> Explain how the problem can be legally solved. 

  • Citations aid your credibility, so include them whenever possible. 

Analysis -> Anticipate Possible Objections. 

  • Objections can and will come. Think about the possible problems with your pitch and work to patch those.  
  • Perhaps include additional law that makes their objections invalid. You can directly address their objections as to make it absolutely clear that you’ve fully thought the issue out. 

Conclusion -> Ask for a specific action. 

  • The sum of all previous sections should be your action. What specific thing do you want the person to do.  
  • The more specific, the better. Broad requests make it easier for someone to misinterpret what you want or object to it. 

Compliance Techniques  

If dealing with a tricky reader, you may want to utilize a compliance technique. Compliance techniques are psychological methods of persuasion. Some include: 

Foot-In-The-Door: Ask a smaller request first, then a larger one. The person may be more willing to perform as they feel they’ve already done one thing, so they might as well do another. This is an example of sequential compliance.  

Door-In-The-Face/Lowball : You make a very big request first then make a smaller one. The smaller one (which has been your goal all along) will seem much more reasonable, making the reader more likely to act. This is another example of sequential compliance. However, this technique may backfire and prolong the process. 

Ingratiation : Ingratiation works by making you seem familiar or amiable with the reader. You can use a variety of techniques for this including flattery, agreement (agreeing with them on a variety of topics), self-presentation (presenting yourself in line with their ideals), helping them, and more. 

Blame a Third Party: Blaming someone not present, a supervisor or party not directly involved shifts the roadblock. An example is, “it’s not me, it’s my wife”, or “the insurance adjuster is the problem not us”.    

Further Reading: 

This document by Georgetown University Law School’s Writing Center highlights many elements of persuasive legal writing and includes many examples. 

This article by Ted Pelletier for Plaintiff Magazine explains how persuasive writing involves guiding the reader. 

This PowerPoint by Legal Services of Central New York takes you through the steps of persuasive writing. 

This document by Indiana University Law School gives overall tips to legal writing, including a description of good and bad writing. 

This document by University of Minnesota Libraries explains what persuasion is. 

In Chapter Nine Communicating for Results: A Canadian Student’s Guide explains persuasive writing techniques. While the textbook is not free, free resources are available online. 

This document by North Carolina Appellate Advocacy Training goes in great detail about persuasive legal writing techniques. 

Bio of Michael J. Simkin, Esq.  Admitted in California, New York and the Law Society of Ontario Canada

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Editing, Citations and the Table of Authorities: Keys to Persuasive Legal Writing

Effective legal writing combines articulate argumentation, authoritative citation, and proficient use of tools like the Table of Authorities.

Table of Authorities and the Keys to Persuasive Legal Writing

Table of contents

The hierarchy and importance of legal authorities, selecting and citing authorities for maximum persuasion, using credibility and sound reasoning to ensure persuasion, the table of authorities and how to build it, use the toa as a citation balancing tool, combine writing skills with technology for better legal advocacy.

Effective legal writing connects compelling arguments to cited support from relevant legal authorities. Understanding the hierarchy of these authorities will amplify the strength of your assertions. Tools like Microsoft Word’s Table of Authorities (TOA) feature can improve your productivity.

Combine your legal writing skills with technological assistance to elevate the quality of your work, ensure adherence to court timelines, and help you concentrate on your argument.

The TOA does more than list the citations: It improves the credibility of your arguments and helps you avoid depending too much on certain types of sources — particularly nonbinding secondary sources.

Remember, citations infuse credibility into your writing, bolstering its persuasive power. Effective legal writing combines articulate argumentation, authoritative citation, and proficient use of tools like the TOA.

In our legal system, courts refer to previous decisions — precedents — for guidance. Precedents provide consistency and confidence in the law. Binding precedents fall under the doctrine of stare decisis , requiring courts to follow their own decisions and those of higher courts in the same jurisdiction. Persuasive precedents require courts to consider previous decisions for guidance.

Legal authorities fall into three categories: binding primary, persuasive primary, and secondary sources. Each carries a different weight, influencing their impact on legal arguments and their citation order.

  • Binding primary sources: Constitutions, statutes, regulations and court rulings carry the most weight. These primary authorities provide binding precedents.
  • Persuasive primary sources: Persuasive authorities are primary sources from other jurisdictions or lower courts. These sources are not binding but offer more perspectives.
  • Secondary sources: While carrying the least weight, these sources offer valuable analysis of primary sources, adding depth to arguments. Secondary authorities include legal treatises and law review articles. They often bring clarity and insight that enrich legal narratives.

Understanding the weight of different authorities helps you strategically structure arguments to solidly support your claims and highlight the strengths of different sources. Factors like factual relevance, recency and judicial trends influence authority and determine citation order.

A persuasive legal brief requires a sound citation plan , dictated by the Bluebook’s guidelines and enhanced by thoughtful, stylish citation strategy. Rule 1.4 of the Bluebook stipulates that authorities should be arranged based on their weight and relevance to the issue. Think of it as an extension of your argument, putting binding precedents first, persuasive precedents second, and secondary authorities last. The right citations can help you convince a court to follow, distinguish or overrule precedent.

Treat citations as an integral part of the writing, editing and revising process, not mere technicalities. Citations communicate important details about the authority’s weight and validity , such as the issuing court and year of the decision. You need not repeat that data in the prose. During revision, carefully assess citation placement to ensure every legal assertion requiring support is adequately cited.

To improve your credibility, make sure the authority you use to support your arguments is sound, properly interpreted, and presented according to Bluebook rules. Even if your legal brief is well written, it may fail if the judge feels your position would require taking legal risks. So, clearly explain why an appellate court would likely adopt your reasoning and conclusions.

The TOA, a critical tool in legal writing, provides an organized list of legal citations in a document. It helps readers — including judges and opposing counsel — efficiently locate and review the authorities cited. However, the TOA primarily serves as an alphabetical index of all legal citations in your brief, offering a clear layout and easing navigation and review of references. It isn’t designed to reflect the weight of authority.

To create a TOA in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  • Identify legal citations in your document for your TOA.
  • Determine where your TOA should be placed within the document.
  • Position your cursor at the desired location.
  • Navigate to the References tab on your Word menu and select the Insert Table of Authorities option.
  • Follow the prompts given by Word to create your TOA, selecting your citation format, adjusting settings and adding citations.

WordRake has a video tutorial and Legal Office Guru has a written guide with screenshots .

NOTE: TOA requirements may vary by jurisdiction. For example, some jurisdictions require a Table of Points and Authorities (a combined TOA and table of contents).

Your TOA serves as more than a reference list — it’s a strategic tool for assessing and improving your legal writing and citation practices, which makes it a valuable part of your legal writing strategy . For example, it can be useful in helping you notice an imbalance of references in these situations:

  • Overcitation: Unnecessary repetition or excessive citations can clutter your prose and diminish the impact of your strongest authorities. Carefully assess your citation placement during revision to ensure every assertion requiring support is cited but not overdone.
  • Overuse of string cites: String cites are lists of citations that all support the same point. Using too many can make your argument confusing. The TOA can reveal if you’re relying too much on these, pushing you to reconsider your choices and achieve balance.
  • Overreliance on secondary sources: If no mandatory authority exists in your jurisdiction, persuasive authority from a higher court or a court at the same level could be your best choice. Be mindful, though — if your TOA is mostly citing secondary sources, you might need to revisit your research and argument. Strengthen your argument with more binding authority to give the judge the confidence they need to make a favorable decision.

Mastering legal writing requires an approach that balances clarity, persuasiveness, and a comprehensive understanding of legal authorities and technology. Integrating Microsoft Word’s TOA and other tools into your writing process helps legal professionals meet court deadlines and improves overall legal writing quality. Save valuable time you can better use to effectively communicate persuasive arguments.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

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legal persuasive essays

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legal persuasive essays

Ivy B. Grey is the Chief Strategy & Growth Officer for WordRake . Prior to joining the team, she practiced bankruptcy law for 10 years. Ivy was recently recognized as a 2020 Influential Woman in Legal Tech by the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). She has also been recognized as a Fastcase 50 Honoree and included in the Women of Legal Tech list by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. Follow Ivy on Twitter @IvyBGrey or connect with her on LinkedIn .

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8.7: Tips for Writing Academic Persuasive Essays

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The previous chapters in this section offer an overview of what it means to formulate an argument in an academic situation. The purpose of this chapter is to offer more concrete, actionable tips for drafting an academic persuasive essay. Keep in mind that preparing to draft a persuasive essay relies on the strategies for any other thesis-driven essay, covered by the section in this textbook, The Writing Process. The following chapters can be read in concert with this one:

  • Critical Reading and other research strategies helps writers identify the exigence (issue) that demands a response, as well as what kinds of research to use.
  • Generate Ideas covers prewriting models (such as brainstorming techniques) that allow students to make interesting connections and develop comprehensive thesis statements. These connections and main points will allow a writer to outline their core argument.
  • Organizing is important for understanding why an argument essay needs a detailed plan, before the drafting stage. For an argument essay, start with a basic outline that identifies the claim, reasoning, and evidence, but be prepared to develop more detailed outlines that include counterarguments and rebuttals, warrants, additional backing, etc., as needed.
  • Drafting introduces students to basic compositional strategies that they must be familiar with before beginning an argument essay. This current chapter offers more details about what kinds of paragraphs to practice in an argument essay, but it assumes the writer is familiar with basic strategies such as coherence and cohesion.

Classical structure of an argument essay

Academic persuasive essays tend to follow what’s known as the “classical” structure, based on techniques that derive from ancient Roman and Medieval rhetoricians. John D. Ramage, et. al outline this structure in Writing Arguments :

This very detailed table can be simplified. Most academic persuasive essays include the following basic elements:

  • Introduction that explains why the situation is important and presents your argument (aka the claim or thesis).
  • Reasons the thesis is correct or at least reasonable.
  • Evidence that supports each reason, often occurring right after the reason the evidence supports.
  • Acknowledgement of objections.
  • Response to objections.

Keep in mind that the structure above is just a conventional starting point. The previous chapters of this section suggest how different kinds of arguments (Classical/Aristotelian, Toulmin, Rogerian) involve slightly different approaches, and your course, instructor, and specific assignment prompt may include its own specific instructions on how to complete the assignment. There are many different variations. At the same time, however, most academic argumentative/persuasive essays expect you to practice the techniques mentioned below. These tips overlap with the elements of argumentation, covered in that chapter, but they offer more explicit examples for how they might look in paragraph form, beginning with the introduction to your essay.

Persuasive introductions should move from context to thesis

Since one of the main goals of a persuasive essay introduction is to forecast the broader argument, it’s important to keep in mind that the legibility of the argument depends on the ability of the writer to provide sufficient information to the reader. If a basic high school essay moves from general topic to specific argument (the funnel technique), a more sophisticated academic persuasive essay is more likely to move from context to thesis.

The great stylist of clear writing, Joseph W. Williams, suggests that one of the key rhetorical moves a writer can make in a persuasive introduction is to not only provide enough background information (the context), but to frame that information in terms of a problem or issue, what the section on Reading and Writing Rhetorically terms the exigence . The ability to present a clearly defined problem and then the thesis as a solution creates a motivating introduction. The reader is more likely to be gripped by it, because we naturally want to see problems solved.

Consider these two persuasive introductions, both of which end with an argumentative thesis statement:

A. In America we often hold to the belief that our country is steadily progressing. topic This is a place where dreams come true. With enough hard work, we tell ourselves (and our children), we can do anything. I argue that, when progress is more carefully defined, our current period is actually one of decline. claim

B . Two years ago my dad developed Type 2 diabetes, and the doctors explained to him that it was due in large part to his heavy consumption of sugar. For him, the primary form of sugar consumption was soda. hook His experience is echoed by millions of Americans today. According to the most recent research, “Sugary drink portion sizes have risen dramatically over the past forty years, and children and adults are drinking more soft drinks than ever,” while two out of three adults in the United States are now considered either overweight or obese. This statistic correlates with reduced life expectancy by many years. Studies have shown that those who are overweight in this generation will live a lot fewer years than those who are already elderly. And those consumers who don’t become overweight remain at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (like my dad), known as one of the most serious global health concerns (“Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet”). problem In response to this problem, some political journalists, such as Alexandra Le Tellier, argue that sodas should be banned. On the opposite end of the political spectrum, politically conservative journalists such as Ernest Istook argue that absolutely nothing should be done because that would interfere with consumer freedom. debate I suggest something in between: a “soda tax,” which would balance concerns over the public welfare with concerns over consumer freedom. claim

Example B feels richer, more dramatic, and much more targeted not only because it’s longer, but because it’s structured in a “motivating” way. Here’s an outline of that structure:

  • Hook: It opens with a brief hook that illustrates an emerging issue. This concrete, personal anecdote grips the reader’s attention.
  • Problem: The anecdote is connected with the emerging issue, phrased as a problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Debate: The writer briefly alludes to a debate over how to respond to the problem.
  • Claim: The introduction ends by hinting at how the writer intends to address the problem, and it’s phrased conversationally, as part of an ongoing dialogue.

Not every persuasive introduction needs all of these elements. Not all introductions will have an obvious problem. Sometimes a “problem,” or the exigence, will be as subtle as an ambiguity in a text that needs to be cleared up (as in literary analysis essays). Other times it will indeed be an obvious problem, such as in a problem-solution argument essay.

In most cases, however, a clear introduction will proceed from context to thesis . The most attention-grabbing and motivating introductions will also include things like hooks and problem-oriented issues.

Here’s a very simple and streamlined template that can serve as rudimentary scaffolding for a persuasive introduction, inspired by the excellent book, They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing : Definition: Term

In discussions of __________, an emerging issue is _____________________. issue When addressing this issue, some experts suggest ________________. debate In my view, however, _______________________________. claim

Each aspect of the template will need to be developed, but it can serve as training wheels for how to craft a nicely structured context-to-thesis introduction, including things like an issue, debate, and claim. You can try filling in the blanks below, and then export your attempt as a document.

Define key terms, as needed

Much of an academic persuasive essay is dedicated to supporting the claim. A traditional thesis-driven essay has an introduction, body, and conclusion, and the support constitutes much of the body. In a persuasive essay, most of the support is dedicated to reasoning and evidence (more on that below). However, depending on what your claim does, a careful writer may dedicate the beginning (or other parts of the essay body) to defining key terms.

Suppose I wish to construct an argument that enters the debate over euthanasia. When researching the issue, I notice that much of the debate circles around the notion of rights, specifically what a “legal right” actually means. Clearly defining that term will help reduce some of the confusion and clarify my own argument. In Vancouver Island University’s resource “ Defining key terms ,” Ian Johnston offers this example for how to define “legal right” for an academic reader:

Before discussing the notion of a right to die, we need to clarify precisely what the term legal right means. In common language, the term “right” tends often to mean something good, something people ought to have (e.g., a right to a good home, a right to a meaningful job, and so on). In law, however, the term has a much more specific meaning. It refers to something to which people are legally entitled. Thus, a “legal” right also confers a legal obligation on someone or some institution to make sure the right is conferred. For instance, in Canada, children of a certain age have a right to a free public education. This right confers on society the obligation to provide that education, and society cannot refuse without breaking the law. Hence, when we use the term right to die in a legal sense, we are describing something to which a citizen is legally entitled, and we are insisting that someone in society has an obligation to provide the services which will confer that right on anyone who wants it.

As the example above shows, academics often dedicate space to providing nuanced and technical definitions that correct common misconceptions. Johnston’s definition relies on research, but it’s not always necessary to use research to define your terms. Here are some tips for crafting definitions in persuasive essays, from “Defining key terms”:

  • Fit the descriptive detail in the definition to the knowledge of the intended audience. The definition of, say, AIDS for a general readership will be different from the definition for a group of doctors (the latter will be much more technical). It often helps to distinguish between common sense or popular definitions and more technical ones.
  • Make sure definitions are full and complete; do not rush them unduly. And do not assume that just because the term is quite common that everyone knows just what it means (e.g., alcoholism ). If you are using the term in a very specific sense, then let the reader know what that is. The amount of detail you include in a definition should cover what is essential for the reader to know, in order to follow the argument. By the same token, do not overload the definition, providing too much detail or using far too technical a language for those who will be reading the essay.
  • It’s unhelpful to simply quote the google or definition of a word. Dictionaries contain a few or several definitions for important terms, and the correct definition is informed by the context in which it’s being employed. It’s up to the writer to explain that context and how the word is usually understood within it.
  • You do not always need to research a definition. Depending on the writing situation and audience, you may be able to develop your own understanding of certain terms.

Use P-E-A-S or M-E-A-L to support your claim

The heart of a persuasive essay is a claim supported by reasoning and evidence. Thus, much of the essay body is often devoted to the supporting reasons, which in turn are proved by evidence. One of the formulas commonly taught in K-12 and even college writing programs is known as PEAS, which overlaps strongly with the MEAL formula introduced by the chapter, “ Basic Integration “:

Point : State the reasoning as a single point: “One reason why a soda tax would be effective is that…” or “One way an individual can control their happiness is by…”

Evidence : After stating the supporting reason, prove that reason with related evidence. There can be more than one piece of evidence. “According to …” or “In the article, ‘…,’ the author shows that …”

Analysis : There a different levels of analysis. At the most basic level, a writer should clearly explain how the evidence proves the point, in their own words: “In other words…,” “What this data shows is that…” Sometimes the “A” part of PEAS becomes simple paraphrasing. Higher-level analysis will use more sophisticated techniques such as Toulmin’s warrants to explore deeper terrain. For more tips on how to discuss and analyze, refer to the previous chapter’s section, “ Analyze and discuss the evidence .”

Summary/So what? : Tie together all of the components (PEA) succinctly, before transitioning to the next idea. If necessary, remind the reader how the evidence and reasoning relates to the broader claim (the thesis argument).

PEAS and MEAL are very similar; in fact they are identical except for how they refer to the first and last part. In theory, it shouldn’t matter which acronym you choose. Both versions are effective because they translate the basic structure of a supporting reason (reasoning and evidence) into paragraph form.

Here’s an example of a PEAS paragraph in an academic persuasive essay that argues for a soda tax:

A soda tax would also provide more revenue for the federal government, thereby reducing its debt. point Despite Ernest Istook’s concerns about eroding American freedom, the United States has long supported the ability of government to leverage taxes in order to both curb unhealthy lifestyles and add revenue. According to Peter Ubel’s “Would the Founding Fathers Approve of a Sugar Tax?”, in 1791 the US government was heavily in debt and needed stable revenue. In response, the federal government taxed what most people viewed as a “sin” at that time: alcohol. This single tax increased government revenue by at least 20% on average, and in some years more than 40% . The effect was that only the people who really wanted alcohol purchased it, and those who could no longer afford it were getting rid of what they already viewed as a bad habit (Ubel). evidence Just as alcohol (and later, cigarettes) was viewed as a superfluous “sin” in the Early Republic, so today do many health experts and an increasing amount of Americans view sugar as extremely unhealthy, even addictive. If our society accepts taxes on other consumer sins as a way to improve government revenue, a tax on sugar is entirely consistent. analysis We could apply this to the soda tax and try to do something like this to help knock out two problems at once: help people lose their addiction towards soda and help reduce our government’s debt. summary/so what?

The paragraph above was written by a student who was taught the PEAS formula. However, we can see versions of this formula in professional writing. Here’s a more sophisticated example of PEAS, this time from a non-academic article. In Nicholas Carr’s extremely popular article, “ Is Google Making Us Stupid? “, he argues that Google is altering how we think. To prove that broader claim, Carr offers a variety of reasons and evidence. Here’s part of his reasoning:

Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self. point “We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain . “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” evidence Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged. analysis

This excerpt only contains the first three elements, PEA, and the analysis part is very brief (it’s more like paraphrase), but it shows how professional writers often employ some version of the formula. It tends to appear in persuasive texts written by experienced writers because it reinforces writing techniques mentioned elsewhere in this textbook. A block of text structured according to PEA will practice coherence, because opening with a point (P) forecasts the main idea of that section. Embedding the evidence (E) within a topic sentence and follow-up commentary or analysis (A) is part of the “quote sandwich” strategy we cover in the section on “Writing With Sources.”

Use “they say / i say” strategies for Counterarguments and rebuttals

Another element that’s unique to persuasive essays is embedding a counterargument. Sometimes called naysayers or opposing positions, counterarguments are points of view that challenge our own.

Why embed a naysayer?

Recall above how a helpful strategy for beginning a persuasive essay (the introduction) is to briefly mention a debate—what some writing textbooks call “joining the conversation.” Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s They Say / I Say explains why engaging other points of view is so crucial:

Not long ago we attended a talk at an academic conference where the speaker’s central claim seemed to be that a certain sociologist—call him Dr. X—had done very good work in a number of areas of the discipline. The speaker proceeded to illustrate his thesis by referring extensively and in great detail to various books and articles by Dr. X and by quoting long pas-sages from them. The speaker was obviously both learned and impassioned, but as we listened to his talk we found ourselves somewhat puzzled: the argument—that Dr. X’s work was very important—was clear enough, but why did the speaker need to make it in the first place? Did anyone dispute it? Were there commentators in the field who had argued against X’s work or challenged its value? Was the speaker’s interpretation of what X had done somehow novel or revolutionary? Since the speaker gave no hint of an answer to any of these questions, we could only wonder why he was going on and on about X. It was only after the speaker finished and took questions from the audience that we got a clue: in response to one questioner, he referred to several critics who had vigorously questioned Dr. X’s ideas and convinced many sociologists that Dr. X’s work was unsound.

When writing for an academic audience, one of the most important moves a writer can make is to demonstrate how their ideas compare to others. It serves as part of the context. Your essay might be offering a highly original solution to a certain problem you’ve researched the entire semester, but the reader will only understand that if existing arguments are presented in your draft. Or, on the other hand, you might be synthesizing or connecting a variety of opinions in order to arrive at a more comprehensive solution. That’s also fine, but the creativity of your synthesis and its unique contribution to existing research will only be known if those other voices are included.

Aristotelian argumentation embeds counterarguments in order to refute them. Rogerian arguments present oppositional stances in order to synthesize and integrate them. No matter what your strategy is, the essay should be conversational.

Notice how Ana Mari Cauce opens her essay on free speech in higher education, “ Messy but Essential “:

Over the past year or two, issues surrounding the exercise of free speech and expression have come to the forefront at colleges around the country. The common narrative about free speech issues that we so often read goes something like this: today’s college students — overprotected and coddled by parents, poorly educated in high school and exposed to primarily left-leaning faculty — have become soft “snowflakes” who are easily offended by mere words and the slightest of insults, unable or unwilling to tolerate opinions that veer away from some politically correct orthodoxy and unable to engage in hard-hitting debate. counterargument

This is false in so many ways, and even insulting when you consider the reality of students’ experiences today. claim

The introduction to her article is essentially a counteragument (which serves as her introductory context) followed by a response. Embedding naysayers like this can appear anywhere in an essay, not just the introduction. Notice, furthermore, how Cauce’s naysayer isn’t gleaned from any research she did. It’s just a general, trendy naysayer, something one might hear nowadays, in the ether. It shows she’s attuned to an ongoing conversation, but it doesn’t require her to cite anything specific. As the previous chapter on using rhetorical appeals in arguments explained, this kind of attunement with an emerging problem (or exigence) is known as the appeal to kairos . A compelling, engaging introduction will demonstrate that the argument “kairotically” addresses a pressing concern.

Below is a brief overview of what counterarguments are and how you might respond to them in your arguments. This section was developed by Robin Jeffrey, in “ Counterargument and Response “:

Common Types of counterarguments

  • Could someone disagree with your claim? If so, why? Explain this opposing perspective in your own argument, and then respond to it.
  • Could someone draw a different conclusion from any of the facts or examples you present? If so, what is that different conclusion? Explain this different conclusion and then respond to it.
  • Could a reader question any of your assumptions or claims? If so, which ones would they question? Explain and then respond.
  • Could a reader offer a different explanation of an issue? If so, what might their explanation be? Describe this different explanation, and then respond to it.
  • Is there any evidence out there that could weaken your position? If so, what is it? Cite and discuss this evidence and then respond to it.

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, that does not necessarily mean that you have a weak argument. It means, ideally and as long as your argument is logical and valid, that you have a counterargument. Good arguments can and do have counterarguments; it is important to discuss them. But you must also discuss and then respond to those counterarguments.

Responding to counterarguments

You do not need to attempt to do all of these things as a way to respond; instead, choose the response strategy that makes the most sense to you, for the counterargument that you have.

  • If you agree with some of the counterargument perspectives, you can concede some of their points. (“I do agree that ….”, “Some of the points made by ____ are valid…..”) You could then challenge the importance/usefulness of those points. “However, this information does not apply to our topic because…”
  • If the counterargument perspective is one that contains different evidence than you have in your own argument, you can explain why a reader should not accept the evidence that the counterarguer presents.
  • If the counterargument perspective is one that contains a different interpretation of evidence than you have in your own argument, you can explain why a reader should not accept the interpretation of the evidence that that your opponent (counterarguer) presents.
  • If the counterargument is an acknowledgement of evidence that threatens to weaken your argument, you must explain why and how that evidence does not, in fact invalidate your claim.

It is important to use transitional phrases in your paper to alert readers when you’re about to present an counterargument. It’s usually best to put this phrase at the beginning of a paragraph such as:

  • Researchers have challenged these claims with…
  • Critics argue that this view…
  • Some readers may point to…
  • A perspective that challenges the idea that . . .

Transitional phrases will again be useful to highlight your shift from counterargument to response:

  • Indeed, some of those points are valid. However, . . .
  • While I agree that . . . , it is more important to consider . . .
  • These are all compelling points. Still, other information suggests that . .
  • While I understand . . . , I cannot accept the evidence because . . .

Further reading

To read more about the importance of counterarguments in academic writing, read Steven D. Krause’s “ On the Other Hand: The Role of Antithetical Writing in First Year Composition Courses .”

When concluding, address the “so what?” challenge

As Joseph W. Williams mentions in his chapter on concluding persuasive essays in Style ,

a good introduction motivates your readers to keep reading, introduces your key themes, and states your main point … [but] a good conclusion serves a different end: as the last thing your reader reads, it should bring together your point, its significance, and its implications for thinking further about the ideas your explored.

At the very least, a good persuasive conclusion will

  • Summarize the main points
  • Address the So what? or Now what? challenge.

When summarizing the main points of longer essays, Williams suggests it’s fine to use “metadiscourse,” such as, “I have argued that.” If the essay is short enough, however, such metadiscourses may not be necessary, since the reader will already have those ideas fresh in their mind.

After summarizing your essay’s main points, imagine a friendly reader thinking,

“OK, I’m persuaded and entertained by everything you’ve laid out in your essay. But remind me what’s so important about these ideas? What are the implications? What kind of impact do you expect your ideas to have? Do you expect something to change?”

It’s sometimes appropriate to offer brief action points, based on the implications of your essay. When addressing the “So what?” challenge, however, it’s important to first consider whether your essay is primarily targeted towards changing the way people think or act . Do you expect the audience to do something, based on what you’ve argued in your essay? Or, do you expect the audience to think differently? Traditional academic essays tend to propose changes in how the reader thinks more than acts, but your essay may do both.

Finally, Williams suggests that it’s sometimes appropriate to end a persuasive essay with an anecdote, illustrative fact, or key quote that emphasizes the significance of the argument. We can see a good example of this in Carr’s article, “ Is Google Making Us Stupid? ” Here are the introduction and conclusion, side-by-side: Definition: Term

[Introduction] “Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey . Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial “ brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”

I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. …

[Conclusion] I’m haunted by that scene in 2001 . What makes it so poignant, and so weird, is the computer’s emotional response to the disassembly of its mind: its despair as one circuit after another goes dark, its childlike pleading with the astronaut—“I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m afraid”—and its final reversion to what can only be called a state of innocence. HAL’s outpouring of feeling contrasts with the emotionlessness that characterizes the human figures in the film, who go about their business with an almost robotic efficiency. Their thoughts and actions feel scripted, as if they’re following the steps of an algorithm. In the world of 2001 , people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.

Instead of merely rehashing all of the article’s main points, Carr returns to the same movie scene from 2001 that he opened with. The final lines interpret the scene according to the argument he just dedicated the entire essay to presenting.

The entire essay should use rhetorical appeals strategically

The chapter “ Persuasive Appeals ” introduces students to logos, pathos, ethos, and kairos. Becoming familiar with each of those persuasive appeals can add much to an essay. It also reinforces the idea that writing argumentative essays is not a straightforward process of jotting down proofs. It’s not a computer algorithm.

  • Logos (appeals to evidence and reasoning) is the foundational appeal of an argument essay. Clearly identifying the claim, then supporting that claim with reasoning and evidence will appeal to the reader’s logos demands. As the previous chapter on argumentation mentions, however, what constitutes solid evidence will vary depending on the audience. Make sure your evidence is indeed convincing to your intended reader.
  • Pathos (appeals to emotion) are a crucial component and should permeate should every section of the essay. Personal anecdotes are an effective way to illustrate important ideas, and they connect with the reader at an emotional level. Personal examples also cultivate voice .
  • Ethos (appeals to character, image, and values) is essential to gaining the reader’s trust and assent. The tone of your essay (snarky, sincere, ironic, sarcastic, empathetic) is immensely important for its overall effect, and it helps build the reader’s image of you. A careful attention to high-quality research reinforces a sincere and empathetic tone. When supporting certain claims and sub-claims, it’s also important to identify implied beliefs (warrants) that your reader is most likely to agree with, and to undermine beliefs that might seem repugnant.
  • Kairos (appeals to timeliness) impresses the reader with your attunement to the situation. This should be practiced especially in the introduction, but it can appear throughout the essay as you engage with research and other voices that have recently weighed in on the topic.

All of these appeals are already happening, whether or not they’re recognized. If they are missed, the audience will often use them against you, judging your essay as not being personable enough (pathos), or not in touch with commonly accepted values (ethos), or out of touch with what’s going on (kairos). These non-logical appeals aren’t irrational. They are crucial components to writing that matters.

Argument Outline Exercise

To get started on your argument essay, practice adopting from of the outlines from this Persuasive Essay Outline worksheet .

Home — Essay Samples — Government & Politics — Barack Obama — Operation Geronimo Persuasive


Operation Geronimo: a Justified Use of Force in Self-defense

  • Categories: 9/11 Barack Obama Osama Bin Laden

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Words: 886 |

Published: Apr 17, 2023

Words: 886 | Pages: 2 | 5 min read

Table of contents

Introduction, operation geronimo.

  • Dunlap, C. (2019, February 01). Yes, the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden was lawful. Retrieved November 21, 2020, from
  • Hodgin, S.L. (2014). Killing Osama Bin Laden: Legal and Necessary. Widener Law Review Delaware Law: Widener University.
  • International law, codification, legal affairs, legal, committee, Terrorism, charter, criminal accountability, administration of justice, jurisdictional immunities, cloning, safety of United Nations and associated personnel, ad hoc, Diplomatic Conferences, Reports of International Arbitral Awards, Summaries of International Court of Justice Judgments and Advisory Opinions, Legislative Series, Juridical Yearbook, Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, Books (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2020, from
  • Legality of Targeted Killing Program under International Law. (2019, October 31). Retrieved November 21, 2020
  • Wpengine. (2014, November 14). The Legality of Killing Osama bin Laden. Retrieved November 21, 2020, from          

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legal persuasive essays

Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority Essay

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Supporting arguments.

On April 29, 2011, the then US commander in chief, President Obama, authorized an operation that ultimately led to the killing of the most wanted man on the CIA watch list, Osama bin Laden. In this Operation Geronimo persuasive essay, we discuss historical actions via the spectrum of legal and political lenses.

Reports indicate that President Obama had been consulting with the National Security Council for months on the probability of Osama bin Laden being within the suspected hideout and the possibility of authorizing a mission. Ultimately, President Obama gave the orders, and Osama bin Laden was killed in a military exercise dubbed Operation Geronimo, thus ending a decade-long search mission to capture the head of Al Qaeda. The killing of Osama bin Laden was a reprieve for millions of Americans and the international community, especially after the events of September 11, 2001, the infamous Twin Towers bomb attack by Al Qaeda. Nevertheless, questions abound on whether President Obama had legal authority for Operation Geronimo. Read this Operation Geronimo case study and discover arguments supporting Obama’s right to execute the plan.

One needs to investigate the decision using US domestic and international laws to understand President Obama’s legality in authorizing Operation Geronimo. The agnosticism surrounding the legality of permitting Operation Geronimo hinges on President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333, which states, “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination” (Fisher & Becker, 2021, p. 2). However, this order does not define assassination contextually (Koven & Perez, 2022), and thus, the Operation cannot be termed illegal based on this understanding. In addition, after the 9/11 bombings, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution. The resolution allows the US commander-in-chief “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons” (Fisher & Becker, 2021, p. 2). Therefore, under this resolution, President Obama was within the confines of the US domestic laws to authorize the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, who was actively involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

However, even with the legality of such authorization, questions abound on how the execution of the operation observed laws of armed conflict, viz. “military necessity, proportionality, and distinction/discrimination” (Solis, 2021, p. 268). Military necessity was qualified in this case as Bin Laden had attacked the US, and he was a threat to international peace by propagating terrorism. Likewise, the force that was used after entering Bin Laden’s house was proportional to the danger that he posed to the elite squad, for he allegedly reached for his firearm to retaliate. Finally, the discrimination requirement was fulfilled as the people who died in the ensuing confrontation were collateral damage but not targets of the assault. Operation Geronimo case study could become an ideal tool for assessing the behavior of public officials in the national security context.

As mentioned earlier, the authorization had to align with international laws. Under the international law rules of jus ad bellum, “State can justify an international use of force if the force was either used in self-defense following an armed attack or expressly permitted by the United Nations (UN) Security Council” (Lieblich, 2021, p. 1). In this case, the US was a victim of Bin Laden’s armed attack on 9/11, and capturing him was a way of self-defense. Conversely, the rules of jus in bello set “the parameters on the allowable scope and nature of that force” (Lieblich, 2021, p. 2). Therefore, the US had the legal basis to enter Pakistan and execute its mission within the confines of international law. There have been allegations that the US violated Pakistani sovereignty by raiding Bin Laden’s hideout without the involvement of the local authorities (Roy et al., 2022). The UN Charter emphasizes respect for territorial sovereignty, which all nations should respect (Koven & Perez, 2022). However, Article 51 of the same UN Charter creates a legal leeway for the US to pursue its aggressors as self-defense, even to the extent of breaching the other countries’ territorial sovereignty (Finkelstein, 2021). Therefore, President Obama acted within international law by authorizing Operation Geronimo.

Osama Bin Laden orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which changed the way the US defended itself against such hostilities. After the attacks, Congress authorized the then-US President to pursue the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks inside and outside the country. Therefore, after President Obama received intelligence reports that Bin Laden’s hideout had been identified, he had the legal obligation and power to authorize a military attack. Later, questions on the legality of such authorization based on domestic and international laws were raised. Operation Geronimo’s persuasive essay proved an essential step towards realizing the nuanced nature of presidential powers in national security. More questions emerged about how the mission was executed and whether rules of armed conflict were observed. However, this paper has answered these questions to uphold the argument that President Obama had the legal authority to order Operation Geronimo and to execute the plan.

Finkelstein, C. (2021). The status of state and nonstate actors in postwar hostilities: Restoring the rule of law to US targeted killing operations . Vand. J. Transnat’l L ., 54, 1163. Web.

Fisher, D., & Becker, M. H. (2021). The heterogeneous repercussions of killing Osama bin Laden on global terrorism patterns . European Journal of Criminology , 18(3), 301-324. Web.

Koven, S. G., & Perez, A. F. (2022). Ethics of targeted killings and assassinations . Public Integrity , 24(3), 319-328. Web.

Lieblich, E. (2021). The humanization of jus ad bellum: prospects and perils . European Journal of International Law , 32(2), 579-612. Web.

Roy, M. I., Khalid, A., Rehman, A., & Khalid, F. (2022). Operation Neptune Spear and the Manhunt (Implications for Pakistan United States Counter Terrorism Synergism 2001-2020) . Journal of Political Studies , 29(2). Web.

Solis, G. (2021). The law of armed conflict: International humanitarian law in war (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 24). Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority.

"Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority." IvyPanda , 24 Sept. 2020,

IvyPanda . (2020) 'Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority'. 24 September.

IvyPanda . 2020. "Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority." September 24, 2020.

1. IvyPanda . "Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority." September 24, 2020.


IvyPanda . "Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority." September 24, 2020.

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Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian Marcelo Rodriguez attended the Annual Meeting of the Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) in Georgetown, Guyana, May 12 – 16. Rodriguez presented, “From Metadata to Big Data: Trends of New Technologues in the Area of Law.”    

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The fate of the former President goes to the jury. Which team was more persuasive?

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Closing arguments are expected on Tuesday in Donald Trump’s hush money trial. NPR's Juana Summers talks with jury expert Adam Shlahet about who presented the most compelling case to the jury.

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Guest Essay

Will Roy Cohn Save Donald Trump’s Hide One Last Time?

A black-and-white photograph of a dour-looking man in a suit, holding a paper cup.

By Kai Bird

Mr. Bird is the director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography. He is working on a biography of Roy Cohn.

Sitting still for hours on end in a chilly, drab courtroom, unable to speak his mind, forced to listen to people say objectionable things about him, Donald Trump at a defense table in Manhattan’s Criminal Court may seem as far from his usual domain — the cheering crowds and the trappings of wealth — as could be imagined.

But it was in another courthouse just down the street that Mr. Trump’s wily mentor, Roy Cohn, pulled off one of his greatest legal feats. It was Mr. Cohn who taught Mr. Trump how to manipulate the law, and other people, to his advantage. His ghost now hovers over the former president’s entire legal outlook, influencing proceedings in ways large and small. The outcome in this case may be the final verdict on Mr. Cohn’s brilliant, sinister strategies.

Mr. Trump always admired Mr. Cohn’s bravado and belligerence; Mr. Cohn’s whole worldview seemed to validate the young developer’s crassest instincts. “If you need somebody to get vicious,” Mr. Trump once said, “hire Roy Cohn.” His legal strategy boiled down to: Delay and deny. Don’t hesitate to attack the judge and prosecutor (“I don’t care what the law is; tell me who the judge is” was his most famous line). Address the press every chance you get. And intimidate and ridicule witnesses.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have aggressively sought every delay possible and called for mistrials or new judges on a regular basis. Of the four criminal proceedings Mr. Trump faces, the one wrapping up now is probably the only case that will be heard before Election Day — and if Mr. Trump wins a second term, all bets are off. He attacked Justice Juan Merchan and witnesses so many times that he has been placed under gag orders — and then fined, when he repeatedly failed to honor them. And as for litigating a case through the media, Mr. Trump went Mr. Cohn one better: He founded his own social media organization, Truth Social, and litigates his cases there.

In the Manhattan case, the defense attorney Todd Blanche went for the jugular when cross-examining Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, shouting , “The jury doesn’t want to hear what you think happened!” and invoking a disparaging remark that Mr. Cohen had made — about Mr. Blanche himself — with such fidelity that Justice Merchan rebuked him for his profanity. Later, the attorney Susan Necheles sought to shame Stormy Daniels, a porn star, accusing her of “selling” herself and having “a lot of experience making phony stories about sex appear to be real.”

Most recently we learned that the former president would not be taking the witness stand and exposing himself to cross-examination, choosing instead to let a stream of prominent Republicans visitors make his case for him on the courthouse steps. That is the strategy that Mr. Cohn lived by.

Roy Cohn was indicted four times by Manhattan’s legendary prosecutor Robert Morgenthau. “I said to him, ‘Roy, just tell me one thing,’” Mr. Trump wrote in “The Art of the Deal.” “‘Did you really do all that stuff?’ He looked at me and smiled. ‘What the hell do you think?’ he said. I never really knew.” The most notorious of these cases involved charges of conspiracy, extortion, blackmail and bribing a former city appraiser inside the Foley Square courthouse. The trial dragged on for 11 weeks.

Mr. Cohn filed a formal affidavit of prejudice against the judge, asking him to recuse himself from the case. Mr. Cohn also claimed that the indictment should be dismissed because it was the result of a “personal vendetta” against him by Mr. Morgenthau. Both motions were denied, but they served to delay the prosecution’s case.

On Dec. 8, 1969, the last day of the proceedings, Mr. Cohn’s lawyer, Joseph Brill, was about to make his summation when he complained of chest pains and was rushed to a hospital. The court adjourned, not knowing what would happen next.

The following afternoon, Mr. Cohn, dressed in a monogrammed shirt and a dark-blue suit with thin stripes, astonished the judge and prosecutors by announcing that he was prepared to make his own summation.

It was an ingenious strategy that in effect allowed him to testify on his own behalf — which he had avoided doing — without having to submit to a cross-examination.

He spoke, brilliantly and without notes, for an hour that day, then for an extraordinary seven hours the next day. Peter King, who would go on to serve as a member of New York’s congressional delegation, was there as a young lawyer in Mr. Cohn’s firm. “It was effective, low-key,” he told me last week. “It was emotional, but in a quiet way. No histrionics. He was like the ultimate perfect summation.” By the end, one female juror was weeping , overcome with emotion.

It took the jury a mere four hours to declare him not guilty. Mr. Cohn turned to the assembled reporters and said simply, “God bless America.”

Mr. Trump has found his own ways to communicate to the jury without submitting to cross-examination, closing his eyes to shut out testimony he cannot abide and even audibly cursing at one point while Stormy Daniels was on the stand.

Of all the lessons Mr. Trump learned from his mentor, the value of treating people transactionally may have been the most important. The former president has run through countless lawyers in his decades of legal proceedings. Many were discarded. Some were not paid. But he held Mr. Cohn in high regard and took his lessons to heart. In 1981, he gave his mentor a pair of huge diamond cuff links as a gesture of profound gratitude. Years later, a friend of Mr. Cohn’s had them appraised. They were worthless fakes.

Kai Bird is the director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography and a co-author with Martin J. Sherwin of “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” He is working on a biography of Roy Cohn.

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Trump jury ends 1st day of deliberations eyeing Trump talks with Cohen, Pecker

“You are the judges of the facts, and you are responsible for deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty,” Justice Juan Merchan told jurors.

NEW YORK — The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial deliberated for several hours Wednesday in the first criminal case against a former U.S. president, weighing a momentous decision that could brand the presumptive GOP presidential nominee as a felon just five months before Election Day.

“You are the judges of the facts, and you are responsible for deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty,” New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said while giving the jurors their final legal instructions. The panel was dismissed in the late afternoon and will return to the task Thursday morning.

The judge emphasized that the verdict is solely theirs to make and that they should not take anything he has said or done from the bench as suggestive of whether Trump should be found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to an adult-film actress ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump guilty verdict

legal persuasive essays

The jurors began deliberating shortly before noon. Around 3 p.m., they sent out a note asking to rehear testimony that had been presented during the trial on four distinct topics, which suggested they were focused on Trump’s alleged involvement and knowledge of the scheme.

Three of the jury requests were for certain pieces of testimony from David Pecker, a friend of Trump’s and the former chief executive of the company that published the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid. Pecker testified about his efforts to buy potentially damaging stories about Trump to prevent those details from harming his candidacy during the 2016 election.

Specifically, the jury asked to hear testimony about a phone call between Trump and Pecker, as well as Pecker’s testimony on discussions between Pecker’s organization and Trump’s camp about money paid for a Playboy model’s story of an affair with Trump. The jury also wanted to rehear Pecker’s testimony about a key August 2015 meeting at Trump Tower that prosecutors say was central to the conspiracy, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony about that same meeting.

When juries ask for readbacks of testimony, it has to be read to them in court, because transcripts are not provided to jurors. That rule reflects concern that if printed transcripts were provided during jury deliberations, the papers would take precedence over jurors’ understanding and memories of the evidence that was presented during the trial.

While lawyers conferred on exactly which parts of the trial transcript to read back to them, the jurors sent another note, asking to have the judge’s legal instructions read to them again — meaning the panel could spend much of Thursday morning hearing readbacks.

On Tuesday, the jury heard lengthy closing arguments from the prosecution and defense. The legal instruction from Merchan, also known as the judge’s charge , lasted more than an hour.

Speaking to reporters outside court, Trump — who must stay inside the courthouse throughout the deliberations — offered a much shorter legal analysis.

“Mother Teresa could not beat these charges, but we’ll see,” he said, referring to the late nun who cared for the sick and dying in India.

Trump is accused of orchestrating a scheme to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels in 2016 — buying her silence about an alleged sexual interaction with him years earlier, and then reimbursing Cohen for having paid the money to Daniels.

The charges of falsifying business records are based on the allegation that Trump wrongly classified the payments to Cohen as a legal expense, rather than a campaign expense.

“Everything Mr. Trump and his cohorts did in this case was cloaked in lies,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said at the end of his nearly five-hour summation Tuesday. “The name of the game was concealment, and all roads lead inescapably to the man who benefited most: the defendant, former president Donald Trump.”

Steinglass said the alleged conspiracy “could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

Defense attorney Todd Blanche told jurors that the prosecution’s evidence was so weak that they should return “a very quick and easy not-guilty verdict.”

While giving his instructions, Merchan reminded the panel that Trump cannot be acquitted just because Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to a campaign finance violation related to the same payment. The judge also told jurors that it was improper for them to consider any potential consequence of convicting Trump.

“If the verdict is guilty, it will be my responsibility to impose the appropriate sentence,” said the judge, who on Tuesday scolded Blanche for telling jurors that Trump could go to jail if convicted.

Merchan also addressed whether Trump may be found guilty regardless of whether he was personally responsible for making false entries in records. He could be convicted, the judge said, if it was proved that “he solicited, requested, commanded, importuned or intentionally aided [another] person to engage in that conduct.”

As the judge walked the jurors through his instructions, Trump closed his eyes on and off.

Merchan explained key terms for the panel such as reasonable doubt, redactions in documents and implicit bias. He also spoke to them at length about how to weigh witness testimony, particularly from Cohen, who has admitted to crimes and testified against Trump.

“You may consider whether a witness has any interest in the outcome of a case,” the judge said. “You are not required to reject the testimony of an interested witness. … You may, however, consider whether an interest in the outcome will affect the truthfulness of a witness’s testimony.”

Trump New York hush money case

Donald Trump is the first former president convicted of a crime . Follow live updates .

Can Trump still run for president? Yes. He is eligible to campaign and serve as president if elected. Here’s everything to know about next steps , what this means for his candidacy and the other outstanding trials he faces.

What happens next? Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11. He faces up to four years in prison, but legal experts say incarceration appears unlikely. Trump has 30 days to file notice of an appeal of the verdict and six months to file the full appeal.

Reaction to the verdict: Trump continued to maintain his innocence , railing against what he called a “rigged, disgraceful trial” and emphasizing voters would deliver the real verdict on Election Day.

The charges: Trump was found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records . Falsifying business records is a felony in New York when there is an “intent to defraud” that includes an intent to “commit another crime or to aid or conceal” another crime.

legal persuasive essays


  1. Persuasive Essay: Argumentative essay samples

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  2. 1 Persuasive Legal Analysis

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  3. 50 Free Persuasive Essay Examples (+BEST Topics) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  4. Persuasive Essay

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  5. 50 Free Persuasive Essay Examples (+BEST Topics) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  6. Persuasive Letter Outline in Word and Pdf formats

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  1. Authoritative and persuasive words of Advocate Busisiwe Mthamzeli

  2. Dissecting Writing Prompts & Rubrics

  3. Introduction to persuasive essays

  4. Welcome to Plain English Legal Writing for Law Students

  5. Effective Persuasive Techniques in Legal Writing

  6. How to write a persuasive essay?


  1. 11 Tips for Persuasive Legal Writing (With Examples)

    Tip 7: Be clear. When writing any type of legal document, state your point directly and clearly within the first few sentences to help guide the reader along. Assume the reader has very little time or patience, that they hate to read, and that they're only going to read the first 200 words.


    persuasive writing is, as one professor puts it, "essential to the practice of law." 3. Persuasive writing enables you to make strategic decisions about how to present and package your arguments to ensure your document is as convincing as possible. This handout provides a brief overview of the differences between objective and persuasive ...

  3. 16 Legal Writing Tips for Powerful, Persuasive Legal Writing: How to

    16 Legal Writing Tips for Powerful, Persuasive Legal Writing Tip #01: Start with a Strong Introduction. Your introduction is the most important part of your argument. It is the first thing that the judge or jury will read, and it needs to be strong in order to capture their attention. Make sure to introduce your argument clearly and succinctly ...

  4. How to Write Persuasive Legal Analysis

    X Research source. 6. Structure your arguments convincingly. Once you have a good idea of the applicable law, your facts, and your purpose, you can begin to structure your persuasive legal analysis. When you structure your writing, do it in the way you think will be most logical and convincing to your audience.


    The organization of your writing will determine whether or not a reader will understand and be persuaded by your argument. Brilliant rhetoric will only carry you so far—if your piece does not ... Most legal writing requires the writer to analyze a set of facts using legal rules gleaned from a myriad of sources, including cases, statutes, and ...

  6. A Lawyer's Guide to Persuasive Writing: 5 Rules to Live by

    The five-paragraph essay format was the bread and butter, for essay prompts, that was taught to students educated in the United States and contained the Introduction (Paragraph 1), the body (Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4), and the conclusion (Paragraph 5). In law school, we were taught a different format called IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion).

  7. Legal Writing: How to Craft Compelling Arguments

    Legal writing, specifically the ability to craft compelling arguments, is a skill that holds immense power. Whether you're a practicing attorney, a law student, or simply someone interested in the art of persuasion, To understand the nuances of persuasive legal writing is essential.

  8. PDF Persuasive Legal Writing

    Persuasive legal writing involves knowing precisely what one wants to say — and saying it — clearly and simply. Long sentences, for instance, are usually the product of the failure to think through what one wants to say and how to say it. Short sentences can be powerful and persuasive: this is a case about a broken promise.

  9. Persuasive Legal Writing

    The Mindful Legal Writer focuses on why and how persuasive writing is used in law practice. Chapters address how to employ persuasive writing techniques in court filings, oral argument, and transactional practice and appendices provide examples of the types of legal document discussed in the book. This book focuses on classical writing ...

  10. A Guide to Mastering Legal Writing

    A good argument wins cases and builds your reputation as a persuasive and credible legal professional. Legal writing is crucial for defense attorneys and in-house counsel to present cases and influence outcomes effectively. The ability to craft persuasive arguments not only strengthens your advocacy but also enhances your professional reputation.

  11. Guides and Handouts

    Legal Analysis. Creating Effective Rule Statements. A Guide to Reading, Interpreting and Applying Statutes. Guiding Legal Readers Through Your Legal Thought. How to Craft an Effective Case Comparison. Identifying and Understanding Standards of Review. Persuasive Writing. Using Cases in Legal Analysis. Using Secondary Sources and Persuasive ...

  12. How to Write, Edit, and Review Persuasive Briefs: Seven Guidelines from

    I. INTRODUCTION. The ability to write a clear and persuasive brief is one of the most important weapons in a lawyer's armory; this is especially true for appel-late practitioners. Although oral advocacy skills are important, a liti-gant's briefs are reviewed long before oral argument, when judicial law clerks are drafting their bench memoranda ...

  13. Persuasive Writing: Outlining Your Argument

    All legal writing is persuasive writing. Whether drafting a lawsuit, communicating with opposing counsel, or discussing strategies with a client, a lawyer's writing must convince someone of something. A lawyer's tools are the words, phrases, and sentence structure used to persuade a reader to reach the desired conclusion.

  14. Legal Analysis II

    Learn 35+ advanced legal analysis techniques that will help you write with authority and persuade decision-makers. Learn how to develop persuasive arguments for your target audience with the fundamental cognitive science principles, document organization, and advanced legal analysis techniques. Try for Free. Let's Talk.

  15. The Table of Authorities: Tools for Persuasive Legal Writing

    Navigate to the References tab on your Word menu and select the Insert Table of Authorities option. Follow the prompts given by Word to create your TOA, selecting your citation format, adjusting settings and adding citations. WordRake has a video tutorial and Legal Office Guru has a written guide with screenshots.

  16. Interactive Legal Research & Writing Lessons: Persuasive Writing

    Lesson 4 describes Judicial Opinion Writing. You will parse the parts of a judicial decision and gain an insider's view of chambers. A judicial decision includes many subparts, such as the procedural history, facts of the case, a short statement of the legal issue, and this lesson walks you through these intrinsic parts.

  17. 8.7: Tips for Writing Academic Persuasive Essays

    This very detailed table can be simplified. Most academic persuasive essays include the following basic elements: Introduction that explains why the situation is important and presents your argument (aka the claim or thesis). Support/Body. Reasons the thesis is correct or at least reasonable.

  18. Operation Geronimo Persuasive [Essay Example], 886 words

    Operation Geronimo. The doctrine of Jud Ad Bellum allows a nation to justifiably use force internationally if it is in "1) self-defense following an armed attack or 2) expressly permitted by the United Nations" (Hodgin, S.L, 2014, p.6). The attack on 9/11 against the United States was sufficient evidence to satisfy the first prong.

  19. Operation Geronimo and Presidential Authority Essay

    Introduction. On April 29, 2011, the then US commander in chief, President Obama, authorized an operation that ultimately led to the killing of the most wanted man on the CIA watch list, Osama bin Laden. In this Operation Geronimo persuasive essay, we discuss historical actions via the spectrum of legal and political lenses.

  20. Persuasive Legal Writing Skills for Effective Gender-Based Violence

    Part 2 of the Legal Writing Skills Webinar Series, "Persuasive Legal Writing Skills for Effective Gender-Based Violence Advocacy," taught by Southwestern Law School Professor Maleaha Brown, took place Thursday, May 23, 2024. Created with Sketch Beta. Renew Your ABA Membership It's time to renew your membership and keep access to free CLE ...

  21. Replay

    In this replay, you will learn how to use simple but powerful writing skills for presenting the facts and applicable law to opposing counsel, a mediator, an arbitrator, or a court. Our presenters will provide instruction on the important legal writing techniques that will make your writing clear, forceful and ultimately persuasive.

  22. For the Record: Expert Insights on Admissions Tests, Aging and the Law

    Assistant Director of Legal Writing and Clinical Professor Tessa Dysart was appointed to the editorial board of the Western Legal History Journal, a publication of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society. Woods Article Cited in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Decision .

  23. Elektrostal

    Law #130/2004-OZ of October 25, 2004 On the Status and the Border of Elektrostal Urban Okrug, as amended by the Law #82/2010-OZ of July 1, 2010 On Amending the Law of Moscow Oblast "On the Status and the Border of Elektrostal Urban Okrug" and the Law of Moscow Oblast "On the Status and Borders of Noginsky Municipal District and the Newly ...

  24. South Carolina Redistricting Case Shows Supreme Court Rift Over Racism

    The case, Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, is an object lesson in the conflict between two competing theories of how we should think about racism in America today. The ...

  25. The fate of the former President goes to the jury. Which team was more

    Law. The fate of the former President goes to the jury. Which team was more persuasive? Closing arguments are expected on Tuesday in Donald Trump's hush money trial. NPR's Juana Summers talks ...

  26. Opinion

    Guest Essay. Jamie Raskin: How to Force Justices Alito and Thomas to Recuse Themselves in the Jan. 6 Cases ... He taught constitutional law for more than 25 years and was the lead prosecutor in ...

  27. Opinion

    The powerful defense available to Mr. Trump's attorneys was lost amid all the clutter. At the beginning of the trial, Mr. Trump's team had a clear path to victory. He was charged with 34 ...

  28. Will Roy Cohn Save Donald Trump's Hide One Last Time?

    Mr. Trump always admired Mr. Cohn's bravado and belligerence; Mr. Cohn's whole worldview seemed to validate the young developer's crassest instincts. "If you need somebody to get vicious ...

  29. PDF 7-30-07 revised Gen'l Affidavit

    GENERAL AFFIDAVIT Russian Federation..... ) Moscow Oblast ..... ) City of Moscow.....

  30. Trump jury deliberations to begin after judge gives legal instructions

    3 min. 0. NEW YORK — The jury in Donald Trump's hush money trial is receiving final legal instructions Wednesday morning from the trial judge, and will then begin deliberating in the first ...