“You know my methods. Apply them.”
-Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four
A lawyer is a legal detective, expected to know, interpret, or learn the law relevant to each client’s case. Much of a lawyer’s job is wielding that expertise by putting legal arguments and explanations into writing. Clear, concise, accurate writing is critical to a lawyer’s success. While lawyers are legal experts, they are not all proofreading experts. Just as Sherlock Holmes was often aided by the grounding and common sense of Dr. Watson, so, too, a lawyer greatly benefits from the assistance of legal proofreading service.
A lawyer’s “bread and butter” is legal writing.
Lawyers cannot do their jobs without writing. A lawyer drafts a variety of documents: demand letters, correspondence with a client or opposing party, complaints, motions and responses, and contracts. Mistakes in any of those writings can negatively affect the client’s position. Ambiguities created by the use or lack of punctuation can render a phrase ambiguous.
Grammar mistakes can affect the interpretation of a contract. And poor spelling may weaken the client’s position despite an otherwise perfect legal argument. Further, mistakes in writing may affect the lawyer’s credibility overall, impacting all of the lawyer’s clients. Review this summary by PennState Law, which canvasses the effects of poor legal writing in just a smattering of cases.
Proofreading is hard to do.
As any writer knows, proofreading one’s own work is very difficult. The writer’s brain often sees the written words as they were intended to be, missing mistakes that would be obvious to a set of fresh eyes. Waiting a day or so between writing and proofreading may help the lawyer identify mistakes, but lawyers often don’t have the luxury of time. That’s where a legal proofreading service comes in.
A legal proofreading service: the lawyer’s fresh set of eyes.
A legal proofreading service helps a lawyer by providing fresh eyes to review the lawyer’s writing. Legal writing is a specialized field. Lawyers regularly use terms of art, words that have a specific meaning in the legal context. A term of art can be a Latin phrase commonly used in legal writing, such a “quid pro quo,” or commonly used word that has a narrower meaning in the law, such as “complaint.” (A complaint in general usage is a statement that something is unsatisfactory, but in a legal context, it is a document filed with the court to initiate a civil lawsuit.)
A legal proofreading service hires experienced lawyers to proofread the documents drafted by other attorneys. As lawyers, the legal proofreaders understand the documents they are proofreading and are familiar with the terms commonly used in legal writing.
Legal proofreaders are also skilled in all forms of legal citation. Legal writing often requires citation to sources. A legal proofreading service must also have proofreaders familiar with the relevant legal citation format, whether Bluebook, ALWD, or a format required under local or other rules.
In addition, legal proofreaders are also professional proofreaders in general. They are well versed in writing mechanics: masters of spelling, grammar, style, capitalization, abbreviations, and punctuation. As professional proofreaders, they help make sure the lawyer’s draft is clear and error-free.
Can’t I just hire a non-lawyer proofreading service?
A legal proofreading service employs proofreaders who have the same legal knowledge base as the writing lawyer as well as mastery of the written word. Attorney-proofreaders understand what they are reading and, therefore, can provide insight that a non-attorney proofreader could not.
A general proofreading service uses non-lawyer proofreaders, who lack the legal education and experience to understand the documents they are proofreading. Non-lawyer proofreading services cannot offer full service to law firms because they are only proofreading writing mechanics.
How do I find a legal proofreading service?
The TwoDogBlog™ offers legal proofreading services, employing licensed attorney proofreaders with both legal and proofreading experience. Let the attorney proofreaders at the TwoDogBlog™ be your second set of well-trained eyes. Contact us today to find out how we can make your legal writing error-free.
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