Legal Document Preparation and Formatting

Papers play an important role in law firm operations, and understanding how to correctly produce and format legal documents is a valuable skill. A lawyer and their support team may produce a mountain of documents in a single case, ranging from court filings to briefs to affidavits.

All of this documents must be flawless in order to be valid, and because they are time-consuming, human mistake is possible. Furthermore, various papers have varying legal formats, making it much more difficult.

Common Legal Forms
There are papers that are ubiquitous in all sorts of law, regardless of practise area. These are some examples:

Briefs are arguments for why the filer should win the case or have a motion granted.
Affidavits: A sworn declaration asserting that a fact is accurate
Instrument: A legal instrument in the form of a deed or a will that provides rights.
Pleadings: The earliest stages of a lawsuit that include all parties’ allegations and defences.

Legal Document Preparation and Formatting Best Practices

Although the criteria and needs vary depending on the type of document, there are some essential features that ensure it is full and polished.

Paper Dimensions
Paper size regulations vary by nation, however the United States adheres to the American National Guidelines Institute (ANSI) standards. Legal paper is bigger than the standard paper size that most people use on a daily basis, which is 8.5 × 11 inches. The junior legal size is 5 x 8 inches.

Legal manuscripts are an exception, because they adhere to typical publication procedures, such as 8.5 × 11-inch paper with print on just one side.

The typeface is often disregarded, although it is critical in legal papers. The typeface conveys the tone of the document as well as the image of the lawyer and firm, thus it is critical that law firms consider this.

Courts may also have a say in what typefaces are acceptable for legal documents. Different courts employ different typefaces, hence there is no one “catchall” font for all court papers. Expectations may change between local, circuit, and state supreme courts.

It is critical for legal firms to examine court-approved typefaces and identify commonalities. If there are no standard typefaces, legal firms can use the font approved by the most frequently visited courts.

Margins and Spacing
Legal papers require precise spacing and margins. These are meant to improve the readability of papers.

Poor space, for example, makes it more difficult for readers to digest the information on the page. Legal papers already contain a lot of legalese, so improper spacing can muddle matters even worse.

Although most word-processing applications include automated margin and spacing formatting, law firms can also specify the margins manually. The top margin should ideally be two inches, and the bottom margin should be one inch. The majority of legal documents utilise 1.5 or double spacing.

Binding and printing
Some legal papers will be drafted as booklets, which are not easily printed. The Supreme Court is quite picky about how booklets are made and whether they are legal, even down to the colour of the cover for specific categories of papers.

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