Excellent drafting and legal writing skills are crucial for lawyers and law students. After all, your job is so word-specific that you cannot afford to overlook even a small mistake when writing an argument, contract, or a legal letter. However, since the job of drafting legal documents is tiresome and time-intensive, you are also more likely to make mistakes. In addition, concentrating on grammar, spelling, etc. can remove your attention from the thing that matters most, which is winning your case.
So, without any further delay, let’s get to know about them.
Launched in 2009, Grammarly is one of the most popular digital writing tools available. Using natural language processing and artificial intelligence, Grammarly is an all-in-one tool for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, as well as plagiarism detection, and writing advice. Perhaps this is the reason it has over 10 million daily active users.
Like many writing tools, it has two versions. The free version covers the basics (spelling, punctuation, and grammar), while the paid version takes one step further and provides suggestions on best-writing practices and stylistic modifications.
What makes Grammarly better than other tools, is that though you implement it in your browser, it will work in your Word and social media profiles, offering suggestions and changes regardless of where you are typing.
2. One Look Reverse Dictionary
One Look Reverse Dictionary is another excellent legal writing tool. Its main purpose is to explain a concept and provide several synonyms that you can choose from to incorporate into your writing. This helps avoid repetitive word usage, keeping your writing fresh.
BriefCatch is a Word plug-in designed to offer quick editing suggestions and feedback at any stage of a draft. It is extremely useful for scanning documents and catching inconsistencies and errors. Similar to Grammarly, its real-time writing advice is extremely helpful.
Moreover, it is quite user-friendly. As soon as you install BriefCatch, it appears as a tab in word. Then, simply click on the tab and select one of four available options: “Stats,” “Report,” ”Catch,” and “Explain.”
4. Hemingway Editor
Hemingway Editor detects complex sentences within your document and suggests ways to simplify them, using a series of color-coded highlights. Some of the things it might flag include: complex words, passive voice sentences, and difficult-to-read sentences.
Like Grammarly, Hemingway Editor has both a paid and a free version. We recommend giving the free version a try, just to see if it is a good fit.
5. Google Docs
Google Docs is a popular online writing tool found inside the Google Drive app. Since this software is compatible with all types of devices and operating systems, it has become the first choice for many professionals, as it allows you to write, edit, and share your text in real-time.
6. PerfectIt/American Legal Style
PerfectIt is an industry-specific tool, designed for anyone in the legal profession. When you use it with American Legal style, it improves the process of drafting, editing, and proofreading legal documents. Generally, the tool works like a spell-checker, highlighting the issues, recommending changes, and allowing you to either accept or reject its recommendations.
Perfect/American Legal Style has over 13,000 legal-related checks, making it an ideal app for lawyers and legal editors.
7. Cliche Finder
As the name indicates, the Cliché Finder app helps you find, highlight, and eliminate clichés in your legal writing. This is particularly useful if you find yourself using the same, tired expressions over and over again. Simply copy and paste your text into the app, and see what it recommends.
Although Scrivener was originally developed for authors, professionals from various fields have been using this impressive word-processing program. Scrivener enables users to arrange their entire document as they write it, using what the company calls its “three-ring binder approach.” What this means is that each section you write goes into its own subfile, allowing you to write in whatever order you want, and then quickly and easily rearrange what you have whenever you are ready.
9. Readability Statistics in Word
If you’re looking for an ideal way to check the readability of your legal documents, you can’t find a better option than Readability Statistics in Word. Created by Microsoft, the tool uses the Flesch Reading Ease test and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test to provide the readability score of your document.
Copyscape itself is not a writing tool. Instead, it is designed to root out plagiarism. The tool helps you compare your content and detect cases of content theft. While we are certain that you would not knowingly plagiarize, it is easy to forget to cite a study, case, or whatnot as you are writing. However, that doesn’t free you from the consequences of perceived plagiarism. If you find yourself constantly forgetting to paraphrase or reword passages from other sources, Copyscape can help.
Being a lawyer, your ability to communicate well is possibly the most crucial skill you can possess, both in spoken and written words. Don’t forget, a small mistake in legal documents can make or break a case, and in the process, ruin your reputation. You don’t want to be known as the lawyer who can’t spell!
All of these programs are excellent resources, and each of them has unique features that can help you take your professional writing to the next level. Take advantage of some of the free versions and trials that are out there, get a feel for what you need and like, and then let whatever programs you use to take away the stress of writing. Let them help you focus on winning.