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We’ve all done it – casually re-reading a brief you just filed to find a (now) glaring typo. Or discovering a letter you wrote to a client months ago in which her name was misspelled. Oops.

As lawyers, our reputation is everything – with clients, colleagues, and the court. Consistently making spelling errors, typos, and grammatical mistakes in your pleadings and correspondence may give you a reputation of a lawyer who is sloppy and not detail-oriented. On a more serious note, egregious errors could call your credibility before the court into question or even result in sanctions. It also makes more work for the court to decipher what you said or cited. Something we all want to avoid.

In your efforts to get a pleading on file or a letter out before the end of the day, you may fail to adequately proofread your work to catch those unfortunate typos and spelling errors. The good news is, there are some easy fixes to making your briefs and letters reflect high-quality writing.

Work smarter, not harder, when it comes to your written work product:

  • Print out a draft! Despite many attorneys and firms attempting to move toward being “paperless”, there is no substitute for actually printing your letter, pleading, or brief as a way to avoid the dreaded auto correct errors.
  • Task your assistant with proofreading your work. Leave enough time before filing to allow your assistant or paralegal to review your work. After working hours on a brief, it is easy to overlook grammatical errors. A fresh set of eyes will catch those mistakes.
  • Shepardize your citations to make sure you don’t misquote a rule or statute. Notwithstanding our duty to state the applicable law or rule, make the court’s job easy by plugging your citations into a research site to ensure they are accurate.
  • Control F. Anyone still using this command? If you aren’t, you might consider it. If the parties in your case have unusual or lengthy last names, try searching for the name to make sure it is consistently spelled correctly throughout the document.

Want more tips? Click the links below for more AttPro resources on legal writing.

The High Cost of Poor Legal Writing
Clear and Concise Legal Writing

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Information provided by AttPro Ally is not intended as legal advice. This publication provides best practices for use in connection with general circumstances and ordinarily does not address specific situations. Specific situations should be discussed with legal counsel licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction. By publishing practice and risk prevention tips, Attorney Protective neither implies nor provides any guarantee that claims can be prevented by the use of the suggested practices. Though the contents of AttPro Ally have been carefully researched, Attorney Protective makes no warranty as to its accuracy, applicability, or timeliness. Anyone wishing to reproduce any part of the AttPro Ally content must request permission from Attorney Protective by calling 877-728-8776 or sending an email to [email protected].