Legal Writing Suggestions – No. 3

Proofread. Editing and proofreading are not the same. Many appellate briefs contain typographical errors. I am not worried about stray commas, misspellings or a split infinitive. I do not decide a case based on a mistake in a brief.  An error that could have been caught through a final reading of the brief simply tells the reader that you did not proofread your brief.

I must admit that there are times we all fail to proofread documents.  Me too.  With appellate briefs, it’s not a fatal error.  It may make the brief slightly less persuasive.  Don’t sweat it.  You may want to ask someone else to proofread your brief if you’re too tired.

Spell check is a valuable tool, which should be used. Spell check will miss some misspelled words and change correctly spelled words. Here are some examples:

trail court = trial court
sea sponge = sua sponte
yo = you
bee = been

The find-and-replace feature can lead to unintended consequences.

Take the time to proofread your brief as carefully as possible. Do not concern yourself with a few mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes.

One thought on “Legal Writing Suggestions – No. 3

  1. Not to mention the oracular statue which somehow speaks on legal subjects: “the statue caps punitive damages,” etc.

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