Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tips for avoiding sloppy legal writing

From our buddies at the always informative blog Attorney@work.  And, yes, most of these are obvious but that doesn't mean they aren't worth repeating.

Sloppy Writing Sucks!

  • Your writing will be better if you use a dictionary and thesaurus. Spell-check does sometimes suggest alternative word choices (I get it every time I use “advise”), so use it but pay attention. Don’t just blow through it. Be careful of Auto-fill, too. The unintended consequences can be embarrassing, to say the least.
  • Have someone else read your writing. This might be a secretary, your spouse, a colleague. How much time you spend on this exercise will perforce be dictated by the importance of the communication. Consider doing it with everything for a day to improve your awareness of the issues.
  • Always proofread before sending. A good practice is to save a draft of what you write and go work on something else. When you return to your draft, your fresh eye may pick up previously unnoticed errors. The longer the time between drafting and review, the better the review will be—although, yes, this is really hard at the fast pace of legal practice today.

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