Usually, legal documents format vary in their content. There are mainly three basic types of legal documents, including letters such as demand, notice, and negotiation letters. These documents can be prepared without seeking any help from an advocate.
There could be a time when you might need to draft legal documents. For all you know, as a lawyer, you could be drafting an international contract one day or for a lawsuit, contracts, or negotiations the other. Or, often in life, you will come across various legal documents. To make sure everything is on point, it is necessary to understand what should be included in that document, the format of the document, and finally, how to draft it so that it gets the legal sanction.
Usually, legal documents format vary in their content. There are mainly three basic types of legal documents, including letters such as demand, notice, and negotiation letters. These documents can be prepared without seeking any help from an advocate. You can write letters and notices to resolve disputes without filing a lawsuit. Letters are often written in response to demand or offer and as notice to initiate court proceedings.
Other documents that are generally needed in the course of a court trial include directives, agreements, contracts and pleadings. Pleading can be a petition, complaint, or affidavit. Wills and trusts are also types of directives.
An agreement mentions obligations/promises made by parties to one another and series to carry out the business/transaction. You might need an advocate if you intend to make a legal notarized contract. Different documents have different formats and content; some similar documents would even have different requirements varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Following are a few points to keep in mind for appropriate legal documents drafting for court proceedings-
If you intend to prepare your legal documents without any assistance from an advocate, you will need to consider the following.
- Research sample documents on the internet
- Visit the public library to get more information
- Contact the clerks of the appropriate court to understand the exact legal format of the required documents.
Before drafting, you should outline your objectives that need to be addressed in the documents.
If documents are pleadings that need to be filed in court, it's better to hire a lawyer to draft your documents as they are professionally trained, legally competent, and aware of the rules followed in that specific jurisdiction.
You can even resort to online software to draft standard legal documents. However, at times, this software fails to deliver specialized products and hence it's better to hire an advocate as he can prepare a customized draft.
You can obtain a format for legal documents like letters and agreements on their state court's websites. Usually, these websites provide forms that can be used for references. If not a state court's site, many law-oriented websites provide formats, samples of legal documents that you can refer to.
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Before you start drafting a legal document, the first and foremost task is to give it an appropriate heading. It can be a letter containing letterhead or title of the agreement or case caption depending upon the type of the draft. Letterhead includes information such as –
- Telephone number
- Fax number of the writer
- Logi/sign of the firm/company.
The data can differ depending upon what kind of information you intend to give.
Title: The title of the agreement would include the name of the agreement, the chief purpose of the agreement as a heading in a large/bold format.
Pleading Documents: In pleading documents, you would even add case captions, including the name of the parties, city, state, court, and case number. It may also have the address of the parties or their phone numbers, etc., including the definitions section if needed.
Many legal documents have a definitions section in the beginning, to make the document more readable and less superfluous. For example, "Stark Technologies Pvt Ltd" can be addressed as "company" in the document to reduce redundancy.
Date: Also, it is important to mention the date in the document, especially if the date of drafting is supposedly different from the date of enforcement.
Objective: After adding an appropriate title and date, you should establish the objectives which need to be accomplished in the body of the draft document.
Font: To draft the document more efficaciously, you should use a readable font such as Times New Roman.
Division & Language: You should make divisions in the draft containing a variety of relevant topics that are overall exhaustive. The language of the document should be formal and should not contain excessive legal jargon. It should be reasonable as in the case of the agreement; the other party should find the terms of the agreement readable and comprehensible before complying with them. It should be clear from ambiguity, and important points should be conveyed with clarity.
Citation: You can cite relevant legislation according to the standard uniform style of citation—for instance, bluebook.
- You should ensure the format of the draft should conform with the formatting rules of the court in the jurisdiction. For example, typeface, sections, font, margin, line-spacing, etc.
- You should provide a line for the signature of the relevant authority.
- You should also thoroughly proofread the document to ensure if objectives are mentioned with utmost clarity.
- Correct any lexical, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors you spot.
- After completing the said prerequisites to draft a document, you should file it in the appropriate court if you intend to make the document official or give it legal force.
- Make sure you sign it along with other parties to the contract or have it notarized by a public official. This will make the document legally enforceable.
- Apart from the aforementioned things one should keep in mind, it's necessary that the document's tone is in an active voice in drafting any documents. For instance, it should be "Party A shall pay party B, XYZ amount on fulfilment of CDF obligations" Instead of "XYZ amount of payment will be given to party B by party A only after party A successfully fulfils the CDF obligations as decided by both parties."
- The document should be clear and specific and not ambiguous. For example, "The access should be granted only to few people" should be instead "Only 3 people will be granted access" Thus, the document should be more clear and specific.
- Lastly, one should avoid using a lot of legal jargon since people party to the contract won't be able to understand it, so it should be clear, simpler, yet professional. For example, "Both parties should not act au contraire to contractual obligations as it would be illegal and unscrupulous on their part" should instead be "Both parties are bound to fulfil contractual obligations.
You could be an aspiring advocate or a layman; by considering these pointers, the document would be more accurate, specific, and simple.