What makes an excellent legal essay? There are tons of websites offering answers to this question. Writing well is not something you can learn on the internet nor something that you can master quickly. For most students it takes a lot of practice and effort.

Likewise editing and proofreading a legal essay is not for any English native-speaker. You must be a law academic to understand the legal terms, when to use them and how to apply them when constructing your arguments.

Nevertheless, on the right we have listed some key points which our law professors focus on when editing and proofreading your essay.

Clear Structure

An introduction (which sets out what you intend to do in your essay), the body (where you make your arguments and present your research) and a conclusion (where you succinctly wrap it all up and drive your points home).

Strong introduction / conclusion

The introduction needs to clearly state the question that you are seeking to answer. The conclusion needs to show how you answered it and what conclusion you reached. Also, in the introduction, signpost where you are heading in your essay.

Avoid repetition

Perhaps nothing is more annoying to a reader than reading the same point written in several slightly different ways. Be brutal when you proofread your own work. Just because you saw the same point made well in different sources does not mean you need to use them all in your essay.

Perfect footnotes

Some supervisors are very picky about footnotes. YOU should make sure that your footnotes conform exactly to the style dictated by your university. Never paste a URL into a footnote and think that you have just adequately referenced a webpage.

Avoid Plagiarism

Whether you are quoting directly, indirectly, paraphrasing, using the same structure or the same argument…acknowledge your sources! One sure way to fail is to plagiarise others’ writing and hope your supervisor doesn’t notice. Too avoid this, make sure you acknowledge all of your sources all of the time. Sometimes, that might mean a footnote at the end of every sentence.