I thought the program was amazing. Shelley was very clear and it is enjoyable being involved in a seminar when the teacher/speaker is not only knowledgeable but clearly has a passion for the work they are doing. Overall a great program and very well presented.

SAO Legal Writing specializes in reader-driven writing development for legal professionals. We provide customized on-site writing programs and consulting to law firms, corporate and government law departments, and administrative tribunals.  Our focus is on developing the specific strategies and skills legal professionals need to improve and refine their writing, whatever the context or document.

Private writing consulting is our specialty.  Sample consulting topics include general legal writing development, legal analysis, writing organization, and time management.

Our writing programs are custom-designed, interactive, and built around three fundamental principles of effective legal writing:

  Legal writing is thinking on paper
  Revising is the essence of good legal writing
  Effective legal writing is reader-driven.

Some writing programs are general while others focus on particular documents. All programs can be delivered as stand-alone sessions or part of a larger orientation program or retreat.  Programs are most effective when followed by a 45-minute private writing consulting session with each participant.

Legal Writing Specialist




Shelley Appleby-Ostroff is the founder of SAO Legal Writing.   A lawyer herself, Shelley understands lawyers’ specific writing challenges, myriad writing tasks, and unique time pressures.

Shelley was called to the Ontario Bar in 1988 and received her law degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1986. Shelley has more than 20 years experience as a practicing lawyer, senior counsel and executive in the federal public service, mediator, and executive coach.  She is a member of the International Coach Federation and loves helping legal professionals become better writers.

In addition to working with legal professionals in Ottawa and Toronto, Shelley is completing her Masters degree in Writing Studies at Carleton University. She also teaches legal writing at the University of Ottawa’s law school, where she is one of the program directors of the Legal Writing Academy.

Shelley designs and conducts all programs and consulting.