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GRADUATION STUDY b a DEGREE IN ENGLISH

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  • GRADUATION STUDY b a  DEGREE IN ENGLISH

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING HO CHI MINH CITY UNIVERSITY OF LAW GRADUATION STUDY B.A DEGREE IN ENGLISH Major: Legal English HOW TO WRITE LEGAL ENGLISH EFFECTIVELY WHEN LACKING SUFFICIENT LEGAL BACKGROUND Supervisor: Phan Le Chi, MA Student: Le Thi Hoang Chau Student ID: 1652202010012 Class: LE41 Ho Chi Minh City, 2020 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT When I was a sophomore, I read a few excellent graduation theses of other students I thought I would never have a chance or ability to conduct a thorough study and express my ideas or opinions as well as those students had done However, everything happened in the way completely contrary to what I thought I became one of the students qualifying for doing a graduation study I was nervous and eager for what I need to to complete my study successfully When I received the list of topics, I chose this study topic because it caught my attention immediately In addition, I felt very lucky when I knew my supervisor was Ms Phan Le Chi She is one of the lecturers that I have always admired since I had a chance to attend her courses on legal writing and broaden my knowledge by virtue of her unique teaching method and extensive experience During the process of doing this study, she wholeheartedly supported me in providing information that I could not find on my own Moreover, she also gave me useful advice and comments for my papers Therefore, I would like to express my deepest thanks to her because what she did has greatly contributed to the success and completion of my study Additionally, I would be glad to show my gratitude to all the lecturers who were in charge of the courses I attended since my study also applies skills and knowledge that I have learnt from them I am especially grateful to my friends, Tran Nhu Quynh and Bui Tien Phat They always stay by my side, support, and encourage me to accomplish something challenging in the final year at university Furthermore, they also gave me a number of books and references that I could never find on my own What they have done really strengthens my motivation to overcome difficulties in writing this study Moreover, I would like to give my warmest thanks to Vo Minh Nga and Le Nguyen Phuong Quynh They helped me make my study better by proofreading it to review the contents and spot all mistakes that I could not realise by myself LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS Ed – Editor; ed – edition; n.d – no date; p – page; and pp – pages LIST OF TABLES Table 1.1: Specific types of legal texts in informative writing – Law office memoranda…………………………………………………………………………… Table 1.2: Specific types of legal texts in informative writing – Letters…………… Table 2: Specific types of legal texts in persuasive writing………………………… 10 Table 3.1: Specific types of legal texts in planning and documentary writing – Wills and contracts……………………………………………………………………………… 11 Table 3.2: Specific types of legal texts in planning and documentary writing – Constitutional documents and case briefs…………………………………………… 12 Table 4: Expressions about rights and duties………………………………………… 38 TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1 Background study and study question .1 Study objectives .2 Scope of study Literature review Study methodologies Structure of study .5 CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION OF WRITING LEGAL ENGLISH .6 I What is writing legal English? II Types of legal English writing III The standards of a good piece of legal English writing 13 IV The impacts of good or bad legal English writing 15 CHAPTER TWO: LEGAL BACKGROUND IN WRITING LEGAL ENGLISH .17 I How much is sufficient legal background in writing legal English? .17 II The impacts of lacking sufficient legal background on writing legal English 20 III How legal writers have sufficient legal background? .21 CHAPTER THREE: METHODS OF WRITING LEGAL ENGLISH EFFECTIVELY WHEN LACKING SUFFICIENT LEGAL BACKGROUND 24 I Prewriting stage 24 II Writing stage 33 III Editing and proofreading stage 40 CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY .42 I Summary of study 42 II Limitations of study .43 III Suggestions for further studies .43 INTRODUCTION Background study and study question Regarding learning general English, writing is one of the most important productive skills Writing reflects the process of thinking, because it usually requires writers to transfer what they think in mind to written form with well-organised order of ideas However, the majority of people rarely prefer practising this skill set, because they find it more challenging than the others They usually write long and rambling essays, since they not know the effective ways to go through the whole writing process They usually skip most of the preparing stages and write down any sudden idea in their mind immediately Consequently, their essays can be obscure and illogical In applying English to the field of law, having good writing skills is strictly and commonly required, because the wrong use of words or punctuation marks can change the meaning or cause ambiguities, leading to serious legal consequences In reality, legal writers also have the same problem with writing in general English, which usually leads to complicated texts Additionally, due to the academic nature of law, writing requires final documents to be suitable with different legal contexts As a result, legal workers frequently face the problem of getting accustomed to all types of legal texts In addition, there is also another main difficulty It is having no or little legal background about a particular legal area This problem results from the widely-held perception In particular, when discussing something about law, most people tend to believe that all legal writers must have intensive knowledge of law or remember every single legal regulation applied to solve a legal issue However, in fact, the majority of people working in legal field hardly have sufficient legal knowledge What they usually need is skills to analyse and understand legal principles to apply in writing appropriately Unfortunately, even a lot of legal workers, especially those who are inexperienced, not realise this fact As a result, with such mindset, they become afraid of writing and not know how to gain their own sufficient legal background to produce legitimate and well-organised papers to accomplish certain purposes and bring benefits for clients Therefore, it is urgently necessary to know how to write legal English effectively when lacking sufficient legal background In Vietnam, the demand of using legal English in field of law is presently getting higher and higher due to the rapid and sustainable development of foreign investment as well as the integration of Vietnam into the global economy For this reason, legal learners or professionals are trying to improve not only their legal English but also legal writing skills in English Unfortunately, they usually have problems in finding the most appropriate source about writing legal English Although they have to work under Vietnamese law or civil legal system mainly, the majority of available references or publications are based on American or common law The differences in nature of the two systems impact the steps of searching for applicable laws and writing, which consequently impedes progress in writing skills for Vietnamese people studying and working in legal field Therefore, this study will focus mainly on writing legal English in Vietnamese legal system Throughout the study, four study questions can be raised in order to discuss this topic fully The study questions are: - What are the standards of the good writing of legal English? What impacts does the lack of sufficient legal background have on writing legal English? - How can they make it sufficient during the writing process? - What are the most effective methods or strategies to write in case of lacking knowledge about law for Vietnamese legal practitioners? Study objectives The study aims to investigate all the issues mentioned in the study questions In addition, it will propose suitable and efficient methods of resolving the problems of writing legal English in case of having no or little background in legal field for legal workers or learners in Vietnam Scope of study This study focuses on suggesting methods of writing in case of legal background shortage Moreover, in order to suggest efficient strategies, it is necessary to understand some legal aspects relating to the topic They include (i) the definition and specific types of writing legal English; (ii) the understanding of sufficient legal knowledge and its impacts on writing legal English Accordingly, this study will also cover such aspects, allowing readers to understand the reason why certain methods are suggested Furthermore, this study will also primarily cover certain methods to suit the nature of the legal system in Vietnam Literature review For the last few decades, a number of authors have been discussing the importance of legal background in legal English writing The large majority of their publications have a similarity in highlighting the importance of conducting legal research to find applicable legal principles Edwards (2018) focuses on proposing specific methods of writing briefs, letters, and memoranda in her publication, Legal Writing – Process, Analysis, and Organisation Particularly, the author incorporates the steps of finding legal rules into the process of writing each type of legal texts Moreover, the publication clearly states that the step of searching for legal regulations in writing briefs is different from that in writing memoranda Nevertheless, this book imposes a limitation on the general process of conducting legal research to find applicable rules Specifically, as it solely discusses writing process of briefs, letters, and memoranda, readers can easily assume that legal writers only need to conduct legal research when writing these three legal texts Consequently, it does not give the general process to find legal rules to write legal English in the most effective way Unlike Edwards, Bast and Hawkins (2010) have a different approach to the process of gaining adequate legal background Before giving steps of legal research, they indicate the necessity of understanding a legal system thoroughly Therefore, their publication, Foundation of Legal Research and Writing, gives specific information about the American legal system and two sources of law, including a primary source which is laws like constitutions, cases, or administrative regulations; and a secondary source which contains commentaries on the law, such as legal review articles Subsequently, they provide eight steps of study to locate legal rules in accordance with the identified legal sources Moreover, they not focus on giving any different process of legal research for different types of legal texts This means they make an effort to give the most general process of searching for legal rules so that readers can apply it in almost all contexts of writing Another source of legal writing is Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing (Neumann & Tiscione, 2013) The authors base on American legal system and describe their perception of legal writing which should include the general understanding of final products (how the final writing looks, what it accomplishes, and so on) as well as writing process Moreover, they also emphasise the importance and the difficulty in legal research of written legal documents Consequently, in their publication, they focus on discussing both components and process of studying enough information or legal regulations before producing certain legal English writing, especially letters and memoranda Similarly, in Legal Research and Legal Writing for Paralegals, Bouchoux (2016) strongly emphasises the significance of doing legal research before giving various methods of writing in law practice Following Bouchoux, Samborn and Yelin (2016) have developed their publication, Basic Legal Writing for Paralegals, to indicate how to determine legal authorities or governing laws and use them appropriately as adequate preparation before starting to write Overall, at the moment, most of the available publications relating to writing legal English mainly discuss three matters, including (i) the American legal systems and sources of law, (ii) steps of legal research, and (iii) writing process Most authors strongly emphasise the necessity of legal research to gain sufficient legal foundation for writing effectively However, these present publications are based on US or common law system Additionally, there are very few books about writing legal English based on civil law system This leads to the difficulties for Vietnamese legal learners or practitioners in finding the most appropriate methods to gain sufficient legal background and write effectively The reason for this is that the nature of these two law systems is distinguishable Consequently, the process of legal research in civil law system can be different from that in common law system Study methodologies There are several study methodologies that will be applied throughout the study Firstly, the qualitative study method will be applied to convey definitions or characteristics of writing legal English Secondly, in accordance with the synthesis method, the study will summarise several relevant studies or publications of various authors on the same question In addition, the study will also use the analytical study (vi) Other sources Although court judgments and decisions are not as binding as precedents, legal writers are advised to study them to give legal answers about the likely result of their present cases Moreover, these court judgments and decisions are also a source of consideration for the Justice Council of the Supreme People’s Court to decide which one will become a precedent (Quang, 2017, p 77) Therefore, it is not pointless to study and analyse the application of court judgments and decisions to present cases Regarding bills, they indicate the tendency of changes in legal documents in the future For this reason, legal writers need to inform clients of drafted regulations in bills so that clients can consider carefully what they should appropriately with the existing laws and can still avoid problems resulting from possible changes in legal documents in case bills will be passed in the future However, bills can be altered in the process of creating legal documents (Quang, 2017, p 79) This means regulations in bills are not mandatory and should be used for reference solely In the process of analysing legal principles or other information applicable to present cases, writers need to take notice of several matters The first one is that it is unnecessary to analyse the application of all six legal sources in every case Particularly, in some civil cases with foreign elements, parties are allowed to mutually choose certain laws or customs which not contravene basic legal principles in Article of Civil Code 2015 and will be applied to govern their relationship as well as solve any dispute in the future In this situation, legal writers need to search for legal regulations in accordance with the laws or customs which parties have already chosen The purpose of doing this is to respect the will of parties and to reflect the nature of equality in civil cases Secondly, customary law and precedents are studyed and analysed when legal writers cannot find any legal principles after referring to precedential cases in a law firm, treaties, and state law This means if they are able to find legal principles from the first three sources, it will be not necessary to conduct further study into customary law or precedents Another matter writers should pay attention to is gaining an overview on an unfamiliar legal field before studying the six legal sources In particular, when doing legal research, legal practitioners can be placed in two possible situations The first one is when a legal issue is related to a certain legal area in which they have expertly 31 specialised This means they are already familiar with what issues that legal area governs, what normative legal documents relate to that area of law, and what relevant treaties regulate these issues In other words, they can locate and analyse relevant legal regulations and other information of the identified legal issue in the six sources of reference quickly However, the other situation is when legal writers have to deal with a legal problem which is connected to an unfamiliar law branch This means they have little or no understanding about such legal field For this reason, looking for legal rules in the six sources can be extremely overwhelming In this case, they need to get themselves familiar with that law branch by learning about elementary matters, including all related fields of law, legal documents and treaties regulating the legal issues they are dealing with By doing this, they can have a brief overview on an unfamiliar law branch and relevant legal regulations in the six sources more easily d) Legal answers After gaining sufficient legal background with applicable principles as a result of adequate legal research, writers have to prepare their legal answers Specifically, they should identify more important legal issues which need to be solved first Next, in each legal issue, writers have to determine what specific legal answer is, what legal principles support that answer, and what reasoning and arguments should be given to analyse the application of those legal principles Furthermore, writers should pay attention to organizing applicable legal principles and appropriate arguments in the descending order of importance The reason is that the more people read the writing, especially the long one, the more they tend to lose concentration Therefore, organizing the most striking legal principles and arguments first is fundamental to the effectiveness of the writing In conclusion, before starting to write, legal writers necessarily thorough preparation for their writing Specifically, they should identify their intended and potential readers to use appropriate language and writing style Additionally, they have to clarify contents properly at this stage to know exactly what should be included and discussed in the writing, and avoid wandering away concerned legal problems In particular, writers should identify writing purposes and main legal issues which need solving in a legal case, collect all relevant facts or information, prepare legal analyses 32 by giving explanation and arguments for applicable legal principles based on sufficient legal background as a result of legal research, and clarify legal answers to each legal issue II Writing stage After preparing for all necessary elements, writers will begin their writing stage to convey what they have prepared at the previous stage in written form At this stage, they should produce a piece of legal English writing so that it can meet all the standards of good writing, including brevity, clarity, precision, and forcefulness as clarified in section III of Chapter One In order to so, legal writers have to pay attention to writing tone and three components of a whole text The writing tone compatible with a writing purpose is fundamental to the standards of clarity, precision, and forcefulness because the inappropriate tone can make readers confused about the actual purposes of texts and messages writers want to convey In particular, if legal writers aim to inform certain information, such as results of legal research, they should write in an informative style This means they should stay neutral and objective rather than persuasive The reason is that writers usually have to explain both advantageous and disadvantageous legal regulations so that readers can consider and make informed decisions (Bast & Hawkins, 2010, p 295) On the other hand, if writers’ purpose is to persuade, the writing tone should be far more persuasive Specifically, when legal writers want to convince clients to follow their certain advice after analysing both favourable and unfavourable results, they have to strongly emphasise benefits of their advice and drawbacks of other solutions In addition, in case writers need to persuade judges to rule in favour of their clients, they need to give and explain regulations which are beneficial for clients’ position solely or deny other disadvantageous legal rules (Bast & Hawkins, 2010, p 21) Regarding the planning and documentary writing, its tone should be formal and objective for several reasons The first one is that some documents of this writing type take legal effect, such as wills or contracts Therefore, their tone should be pretty formal Additionally, the nature of this writing purpose is to document clients’ will and specific legal information such as a case 33 brief For this reason, legal writers cannot put any subjective opinion and must maintain the precision of those legal information objectively in their writing At this stage, writers should also take notice of three components of a whole text, namely words, sentences, and paragraphs These elements are intrinsically related to one another In particular, appropriately precise words with their own function and meaning are connected to create a sentence Subsequently, the logical combination of various sentences with concise and relevant contents creates a paragraph supporting a certain point or argument Furthermore, several paragraphs are connected and organised properly to create a complete text about a legal problem This clearly means these components interrelate closely For this reason, each of them also impacts on all four qualities of an effective legal text (i) Words Words are the smallest component in writing legal texts However, they greatly affect effectiveness of writing Therefore, legal writers should focus on the three most crucial matters as follows: - Legal English language and plain language On the one hand, legal writers need to use international legal English expertly in their writing because it is widely used in both civil and common law systems Moreover, acknowledging it well is essential in certain legal contexts Particularly, there are a number of legal terms having the same spelling as general words, but they mean differently In some situations, using general English to convey legal meaning is impossible because it can lengthen a sentence or paragraph and distract readers from obtaining important ideas or information For example, “consideration” in general English means the act of thinking carefully when people plan or decide something; or a reward or payment for a service.14 On the contrary, in legal contexts, it means a thing which is given in exchange for performance or the promise to perform Furthermore, it is really hard to find another term in general English with the same meaning to be used instead of “consideration” Accordingly, if writers want to use general English to express understandable meaning of “consideration”, they have to use its long definition 14 Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries Retrieved from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/consideration?q=consideration 34 Consequently, it lengthens a sentence and obscures main information In addition, using legal English well helps writers distinguish the meaning of the same legal terms in different legal contexts For instance, in the context of a criminal case, “to execute” means to kill somebody as a legal punishment However, in contractual context, legal writers have to know “to execute” means to sign or enter into a contract On the other hand, legal writers have to consider using plain English Particularly, legal English also includes various legalese originated in Latin, such as “ad hoc” – “for this purpose”, “inter alia” – “among other things”, and lots of archaic terms, like “herein”, “hereafter”, “thereby”, and so on Even though these words are strictly academic and make legal writers sound more professional, writers should use simple and ordinary words with the same meaning The reason is that most of their readers are clients or laypeople Specifically, clients’ purpose of consulting with legal writers is to understand clearly what they can and cannot in accordance with laws and what they should to gain the best benefits This means clients not want to read the incomprehensible legal writing and struggle to know the meaning of legalese Moreover, if clients have to read the writing with unintelligible archaic terms, they can find it completely vague and not forceful In addition, even when readers are other legal practitioners, legal writers should also use plain English because this group of readers is already busy Therefore, reading a complicated legal text with Latin or archaic terms can be unclear and time-consuming However, legal writers should take notice of following the house style of writing in their workplace Particularly, in reality, there are still lots of law firms using Latin or archaic phrases to keep the writing short and avoid repetition of words regardless of the current tendency towards using plain English Therefore, legal writers need to follow the house style of writing in their workplace to ensure the consistency in writing style of a law firm In this case, legal writers can still help clients fully understand their writing by giving further explanations - Glue words and working words In the writing process, adequate consideration for glue words and working words is necessary In particular, while working words give certain messages or information, glue words give merely obvious meaning and no additional meaning, or connect working words to make a complete and grammatical sentence (Written Legal 35 English, 2016) This means the number of glue words should be just sufficient to highlight other working words conveying certain information Specifically, excessive glue words along with a few working words will obviously lengthen sentences and obscure intended messages As a result, too many redundant words make readers feel uncertain about their understanding of the writing, or even miss important information Therefore, legal writers have to eliminate any unnecessary words with no meaning or obvious meaning to enhance brevity, clarity, and forcefulness In writing legal English, the most common type of glue words is prepositional phrases including two or more words which can be replaced by single-word prepositions (Haggard & Kuney, 2007, p 249) For example: In order to file a claim with respect to injuries that have occurred in the course of the work day, an employee must have medical costs that are in excess of $100 In the event that the employee claims the injuries will cause a permanent disability with the result that the employee can no longer work, the claim will be held in abeyance until such time as this can be determined (Haggard & Kuney, 2007, p 278) + in order to to + with respect to about + in the course of during + in excess of over / more than + in the event that if + with the result that so that + until such time as until Suggested answer: To file a claim about injuries that have occurred during the work day, an employee must have medical costs over $100 If the employee claims the injuries will cause a permanent disability so that the employee can no longer work, the claim will be held in abeyance until this can be determined Nominalizations also cause lengthy and unclear writing due to the use of glue words In particular, nominalizations are fancy terms for changing verbs to nouns (Haggard & Kuney, 2007, p 255) This means certain glue words such as more verbs 36 with no additional meaning need to be used to ensure sentences are perfectly grammatical Consequently, nominalizations merely complicate sentences with more words and not communicate intended messages or information directly For example: + It is the understanding of our client that… - The nominalization of the verb “understand” requires “it” to be used as a dummy subject for the grammatical purpose Moreover, readers cannot figure out easily immediately who is the subject, and what the subject does or thinks Suggested answer: Our client understands (that)… + Public policy gives recognition to the need for a healthy economy (Haggard & Kuney, 2007, p 279) – The verb “give” does not indicate what the public policy actually does Suggested answer: Public policy recognised the need for a healthy economy - Expressions about legal rights and duties When getting involved in legal cases, clients are always concerned about their legal rights and duties in accordance with law Therefore, the use of clear and precise expressions can protect or maximise legal interests for clients Furthermore, it also helps clients avoid legal infringement by fully acknowledging their legal duties Consequently, it can be considered an ethical rule that legal writers have to ensure precise and forceful statements about legal rights and duties In particular, Haggard and Kuney (2007) suggested several phrases used to express rights and duties in different situations (pp 307-319): 37 Expressions about rights and duties shall / shall not something; or will Situations When people have legally enforceable obligations to or refrain from doing something to be not required to something When people not have to fulfil obligations which have already been specified in another legal documents to be entitled to something When people owe rights to something to be not entitled to something When people’s preexisting rights are limited or negated to waive When people want to give up their rights to release When people’s legal rights are violated by other parties but they want to exempt those parties from legal responsibility may something When people have privileges to something may not something When people’s privileges are limited or denied be immune from something; or When people are exempt from certain be not responsible for liabilities Table 4: Expressions about rights and duties (ii) Sentences Sentences also affect the qualities of effective legal texts For this reason, legal writers have to pay attention to the two most important matters, including sentence length and structure Regarding sentence length, a sentence should be as short and brief as possible If a legal text is full of long sentences, it will definitely overwhelm readers and make them easily lose concentration while struggling to obtain important information In order to keep a sentence brief, legal writers should try to convey one idea or message in each sentence The reason is that incorporating more than one idea in a sentence will force writers to use complicated structures Moreover, elimination of glue words also makes sentences more succinct In terms of sentence structures, legal writers should take great notice of structure and tenses - Active voice or “Subject + Verb + Object” (or SVO) structure Writing sentences in active voice is far better than passive voice because SVO structure enhances clarity and forcefulness of the writing Specifically, active voice 38 helps legal writers clarify who carries out a conduct, what action needs to be done, and who or what is affected (Haggard & Kuney, 2007, pp 256-257) while passive voice can cause confusion between subjects and objects Additionally, in order to ensure the concision of sentences in active voice, legal writers should keep subjects, verbs, and objects close to one another and avoid adding clauses between them In particular, legal writers sometimes use relative clauses after subjects to give extra information Consequently, this will lengthen and complicate sentences, which makes readers spend more time on rereading the sentences to understand them fully and correctly However, writers have to use passive voice in case when they cannot identify who is a doer of certain action, or when they want to emphasise objects affected by certain actions rather than subjects (Bast & Hawkins, 2010, p 431; Bouchoux, 2016, p 577) This means both active and passive tenses are used in certain situations However, active voice is still preferable - Tenses Tenses of sentences are also important Writers have to be flexible about tenses In particular, writers have to use past tense when restating facts or events clients have given or when citing precedents (Bouchoux, 2016, p 175) Additionally, when discussing legal answers of cases, writers have to use present tense rather than past or future tenses to avoid confusion (Haggard & Kuney, 2007, p 260) (iii) Paragraphs Legal writers need to take notice of the three most fundamental matters when writing paragraphs The first matter is the number of main ideas conveyed in a paragraph In particular, writers should try to express only one main idea in each paragraph This will help readers follow the flow of ideas easily and know how many ideas the whole writing communicates and what they are Consequently, legal writers can ensure clarity and forcefulness, as well as avoid wordiness Secondly, legal writers should consider whether main ideas of paragraphs are relevant to topics or legal questions that are being discussed Even though a paragraph is well written with a clear main point, that paragraph cannot support the topic or enhance precision and forcefulness of the writing when its point is irrelevant Finally, the other essential matter is logical organisation of paragraphs appropriately Sometimes, legal writers should 39 arrange paragraphs of their writing in the descending order of importance This means paragraphs with more important points should be followed by those with less crucial points On the contrary, if a paragraph conveys a point which establishes a foundation for the better understanding of other points, that paragraph should also be presented in the writing first In other words, writers can occasionally put paragraphs with the most essential points after others To conclude, after adequate preparation, legal writers will enter the crucial writing stage to present what they have prepared in the written form They should write in such a way that their writing meets all standards of well-written legal texts Specifically, legal writers have to pay attention to the writing tone which should be appropriate to the writing purposes In addition, they also need to take notice of the three main components of a text, including words, sentences, and paragraphs because they greatly affect brevity, clarity, precision, and forcefulness of the writing III Editing and proofreading stage After completing the writing stage, legal writers need to spend considerable time on reviewing and revising their papers carefully This is one of the most essential stages in the writing process The reason is that at the writing stage, they are entirely engrossed in conveying information they have prepared properly As a result, they not notice many mistakes while writing Therefore, this final stage gives writers a chance to make their writing more perfect by reviewing and revising contents and language Thorough review and revision in the contents of the writing are all-important In particular, before correcting mistakes, legal writers have to reread, check - whether the writing discusses all legal questions that need solving; - whether it gives enough reasoning and arguments to support for their legal answers; - whether it analyses the application of legal principles correctly; - whether their presented main points are connected to one another logically; - whether there is any ambiguity; 40 - whether there is any inconsistency in contents; - whether there is any spelling or grammar mistake; and - whether there are too many glue words in a sentence After reviewing and revising various matters of contents and language, legal writers need to read and check everything again for multiple times In addition, they should have other people, such as another legal writer, review and revise their papers The reason is that writers themselves are entirely engrossed in their writing This means they cannot stay objectively to spot their own mistakes Therefore, getting other people to review and revise the writing is necessary for its effectiveness To sum up, the editing and proofreading stage is crucial for the good qualities of a legal text Normally, this stage allows legal writers to reread their writing, realise and correct mistakes about contents and language In addition, they need to read their revised writing a number of times or have other people read it to spot remaining mistakes The reason for this is that legal writers have stayed deeply involved in the writing stage, which makes them unable to realise their own mistakes 41 CONCLUSION OF STUDY I Summary of study Writing legal English well has become more and more important in Vietnamese legal practice due to social and economic integration This is a skill set that legal practitioners need to acquire because they have to produce a great number of legal texts frequently In law practice, a piece of writing can have either negative or positive effects on both readers and writers Therefore, in order to write well and avoid unexpected consequences, legal writers need to understand the standards of good legal English Specifically, they include brevity, clarity, precision, and forcefulness However, a number of legal writers have a problem of maintaining or improving these qualities of their writing That problem is lacking sufficient legal background which may make legal writers possibly give subjective reasoning or arguments This leads to the production of imprecise and unforceful legal writing because those reasons are not based on compelling legal principles Therefore, legal writers have to establish their legal foundation In particular, they not necessarily remember all legal rules What they need to acquire is the skills to locate, apply, and explain legal principles from the six legal sources of reference in the order of importance as follows: (i) precedential cases in a law firm; (ii) treaties which Vietnam is a contracting party to; (iii) state law; (iv) customary law (domestic customs and international customs); (v) precedents; and (vi) other sources (e.g court judgments and decisions that are not recognised as precedents, and bills) This means they can have sufficient legal background by taking an intermediate step of conducting legal research In order to write effectively when lacking sufficient legal background, legal writers have to carry out legal research to prepare certain legal principles for their writing Therefore, legal research should be incorporated into the writing process In particular, this process usually includes prewriting stage, writing stage, and editing and proofreading stage First of all, legal writers have to prepare certain elements at the prewriting stage Specifically, they have to consider intended or potential readers, and prepare the contents of their writing by: 42 a) identifying writing purposes and main issues of a legal case; b) collecting relevant facts or information; c) conducting legal research into the six legal sources of reference for sufficient legal background and analysing legal principles; and d) identifying specific legal answers The second stage is writing what legal writers have prepared at the previous stage At this stage, legal writers should pay more attention to a number of problems when writing words, sentences, and paragraphs Finally, the last stage is editing and proofreading the writing It allows writers to review and revise mistakes about contents and language of their papers II Limitations of study Even though the study proposes the method of gaining sufficient legal background to write legal English effectively, it also has a limitation to the process of conducting legal research due to the restriction of time and the number of pages In particular, it indicates the most crucial matters or difficulties which arise in the process of legal research due to a wide range of regulations in each legal source of reference Nevertheless, this does not mean other problems which the study does not mention are inessential for legal writers to take notice of Unfortunately, it lists neither all possible problems in the process of legal research nor compatible solutions Furthermore, the understanding of these potential obstacles is absolutely necessary because they can prevent legal writers from doing adequate legal research to find the most precise legal principles supporting reasons or arguments III Suggestions for further studies For the reason explained in section II of this Chapter, it will be great if a further study on problems of conducting legal research and compatible solutions is carried out properly The purpose of this suggested study is to 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North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press Legal documents Civil Code 2015 Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents 2015 Law on Treaties 2016 Resolution no 04/2019/NQ-HĐTP of the Justice Council of the Supreme People’s Court Web sources Judicial Academy (2017) The legal professional training programme Retrieved from http://hocvientuphap.edu.vn/daotao/Lists/ChuongTrinhDaoTao/Attachments/ 8/chuong%20trinh%20chi%20tiet%20dao%20tao%20nghe%20luat%20su% 20theo%20he%20thong%20tin%20chi.pdf Precedent Portal of the Supreme People’s Court (n.d.) The total number of published precedents Retrieved on 24 April 2020 from https://anle.toaan.gov.vn/webcenter/portal/anle/anle Written Legal English Retrieved from https://writtenlegalenglish.com/free-legalenglish-exercises/ Written Legal English (2016, February 11) Legal English writing: Unit – Glue words v working words [Video file] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9vaCcGAfFY Retrieved from ... solving in a legal case, collect all relevant facts or information, prepare legal analyses 32 by giving explanation and arguments for applicable legal principles based on sufficient legal background... clearly indicated an adequate answer to a legal question can only be reached when all relevant laws are found by means of legal research Additionally, in reality, the Legal 22 Professional Training... general or legal English writing in particular has three main categories: informative writing, persuasive writing, and planning and documentary writing In each category, there are several legal
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