Interactive Legal Research & Writing Lessons: Writing Basics - Grammar, Usage and Style (Trevor)

West Academic Publishing
Primary Subject
Legal Writing
Interactive Videos
Modular LRW
Online access will expire 365 days from the date of purchase.


In this three-lesson module, you will gain an understanding of the writing challenges in three areas—grammar, punctuation, and style—that most often trip up law students and lawyers. You will also learn the basics of what plagiarism means and how to avoid it.

Lesson One introduces the writing lessons. It also addresses basic grammar concepts. You will learn about parts of speech; sentences, clauses, and phrases; run-on sentences and sentence fragments; modifier placement and parallelism; subject and verb agreement; pronoun and antecedent agreement; and some verb tense issues that come up in legal writing. You will learn how to join sentence parts properly and how to word and place those parts so they relate to each other properly.

Lesson Two will move on to proper punctuation, which can confirm and clarify the meaning of your sentences. You will learn how to use the punctuation marks most often used in legal writing, as well as what punctuation marks to avoid. Overall, you will learn not only how to punctuate properly, but also how you can effectively use a wider range of punctuation marks than you may have been using.

Finally, Lesson Three goes beyond grammar and punctuation rules to demonstrate, first, how you can make style choices that improve the power and accessibility of your writing, and second, how you can use aspects of other people’s writing without getting into trouble. In the style section, you will learn about writing simply and succinctly, about when to use and not to use the passive voice, about gender neutral writing and continuing developments in that area, and about using simple transitions to clarify how your sentences and paragraphs fit together. Overall, you will learn how to write text your reader will understand on first reading.

In Lesson Three’s plagiarism section, you will learn how quotation, citation, and paraphrasing differ from each other, as well as the basic plagiarism rules that require you to acknowledge the sources you have used in your writing. (In the accompanying citation module, you will learn the basics of how do that acknowledgment.) Overall, you will learn where you are required to recognize how other sources played a role in your writing.

By the end of the three lessons, you should feel more confident in several areas: in your ability to write correctly, in your ability to punctuate correctly, in your ability to craft writing that conveys confidence and compels your reader’s attention, and in your ability to give credit where credit is due.