Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



legal writing, Neil Guthrie, writing tips


The second edition of Guthrie’s Guide to Better Legal Writing is Neil Guthrie’s revised anthology of email queries and blog posts. The scope of the book is in its title: it offers practical tips and advice to legal writers. Guthrie’s definition of “legal writing” addresses written communication between lawyers, law students, and the layperson, although legal drafting is addressed intermittently. The book is not intended to be a comprehensive review of grammar and punctuation. Instead, it has an approximate agenda that is enhanced by the author’s personal narrative.

The author follows their own advice as outlined in the suggestions for choosing a writing topic (p. 2):

  • They write about something they practice and know. Guthrie has taught legal research and writing at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto; has helped develop the legal research and writing curriculum for the Law Practice Program at Ryerson University; and is director of professional development, research, and knowledge management at Aird & Berlis LLP.

  • They recycle old work. This is the second edition of Guthrie’s Guide to Better Legal Writing.

  • They ensure pieces can be published in more than one place, with minor adjustments. Both editions of the book expand on a collection of emails that evolved into a continuing blog series on

  • They get their writing in front of the right audience. According to WorldCat, the second edition is already available in most academic law libraries across Canada.