Do you need legal writing tools for day-to-day working life? The truth is, if you’re in the legal profession, you’re probably already a pretty good writer.
Our jobs are so word-intensive that you really can’t make it all that far in the law if you aren’t a natural wordsmith. That said, we can all use a helping hand from time to time.
The good news is, in this day and age — there’s an app for that! Below you’ll find our 15 favorite legal writing tools that will not only simplify your life but improve your writing as well.
Based on the name, you won’t be surprised to hear that Grammarly is an online tool that assists you in avoiding grammatical errors.
Even though most word processing programs come with a built-in grammar checker, Grammarly takes the game to a whole new level. In fact, the latest version uses artificial intelligence to ensure your writing is mistake-free.
Another great benefit is that Grammarly follows you wherever you write — it can work in Word, LinkedIn, Outlook, Facebook, and anywhere else you might find yourself writing throughout the day.
Readability Statistics in Word
Because those of us in the legal profession are not judged enough, Word now offers a function that assigns you a grade based on the readability of your document.
To do this, you simply need to deploy the program’s readability statistics. This nifty little tool uses the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test and the Flesch Reading Ease test to assign you an actual grade based on how readable your document is.
You might consider checking your ego at the door — the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test literally judges your writing based on how understandable it would be to a grade school student. A score of 8.0, for example, indicates that someone in the eighth grade would be able to comprehend what you’ve written.
Just in case you’re the type of person who absolutely, positively cannot wait to receive feedback on your work product, BriefCatch is an editing tool that gives you writing suggestions in real-time.
It is also the perfect editing tool for those with highly sensitive bosses. According to the website, BriefCatch will “[f]lag words, phrases, and habits that secretly bother many readers.” (Emphasis added). Finally, we have a program that will tell us to our faces how annoying our writing is.
In all seriousness, though, BriefCatch has some really cool features. For example, it will tell you whether your formatting is inconsistent throughout a document. It also tells you if your document does not flow well, contains too many “cumbersome sentences,” or contains citation errors.
In the “Where have you been all my life” category, there’s the Hemingway Editor. According to the app’s website, it is intended to make your writing “bold and clear.” Who doesn’t want that?
Using a series of color-coded “highlighters,” the app will tell you if your writing contains things like (a) sentences in the passive voice; (b) unnecessarily long or complex words; (c) sentences that are difficult to read; or (d) sentences that are “very” hard to read. The program also assigns a grade based on readability. Like Hemingway himself, the app doesn’t sugarcoat its critiques.
Copyscape is a tool typically found in an editor’s online toolbox. The program is intended for rooting out plagiarism by comparing content to just about everything that has ever been published on the internet.
It is a great tool for legal professionals, however, for one simple reason. We’ve all cited to caselaw that itself cites case law. The problem is that somewhere along the line, quotation marks and internal citations can get left out. By using Copyscape, you can see how your text was treated originally and cite accordingly.
PerfectIt/American Legal Style
In addition to providing the typical spelling, grammar, and consistency checks of the other programs, this industry-specific app “includes 13,000 legal-specific checks and only lawyers and trained legal editors would know how to look for.”
Best of all, it is designed to assist both litigation and transactional attorneys. If your firm doesn’t already pay for this one, you might consider purchasing it on your own so you can stand out amongst your peers.
Have you ever edited a colleague’s work only to find the person has a problem with clichés? Sometimes, it is hard for those people to see or admit that they actually have a problem.
Not to worry. Just cut and paste their text into Cliché Finder and let the results speak for themselves. You can thank us later.
Marinara Timer is a fantastic tool that essentially forces you to take breaks from writing at intervals that are intended to increase your productivity.
You can choose from the traditional Pomodoro method (25 minutes writing, followed by five minutes off) or create a custom timer that works for your brain and deadline schedule.
By now, most of you have probably used Google Docs. It is basically an online word-processing software that is not only highly functional but absolutely free.
Better yet, it allows groups of people to collaborate on documents from around the globe in real time. It also saves your edits instantaneously and keeps them in secure files within a cloud. In other words, if the electricity goes out or your computer gives up the ghost, Google Docs has your back.
Finally, just in case you find yourself stuck in the office, longing for the days when you could write term papers from your favorite coffee shop, be sure to check out Hipstersound.
With this cool online sound generator, you can instantly and virtually transport yourself to crowded cafes in culture-rich places like Rio de Janeiro, Paris, or even Texas. It also has rain simulators and a host of other relaxing sounds that should help you stay in the mood to write.
PerfectIt: American Legal Style
PerfectIt, when used with the optional American Legal Style, is one of the most potent and intricately detailed legal writing tools available to legal professionals.
The base PerfectIt software scans documents, identifying internal consistency errors encompassing hyphenation, capitalization, paired punctuation, bullets, numbers, figures, and headings.
However, American Legal Style takes it a step further by enhancing PerfectIt’s capabilities with an extensive database of almost 25,000 legal-specific corrections that typically only a seasoned legal writer or editor would recognize the need for.
Lexis+ Brief Analysis
Brief Analysis is a tool that extracts legal concepts and citation data from your brief. It uses AI to identify key concepts and find related documents in Lexis+.
The AI considers variations in language, ensuring a comprehensive search. It also helps you identify weaknesses in opposing arguments and recommends relevant cases and guidance.
The tool highlights where these cases apply in your document and provides links to full case summaries. Additionally, it locates similar briefs in Lexis+ to serve as templates for your work. This streamlined approach saves time and strengthens your legal arguments.
Westlaw Edge Quick Check
Quick Check on Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge is a secure tool that rapidly assesses your brief to uncover crucial legal references that conventional research might miss.
By uploading your brief or memo, you receive a quick report with relevant recommendations based on your document’s headings.
Use Quick Check to ensure the quality of your final draft, identify potential vulnerabilities in an opponent’s document, refresh a past successful argument, or easily compare multiple documents within a case.
Westlaw Drafting Assistant
From Westlaw again, Drafting Assistant is a Word plugin that aims to make life easier and quicker for legal professionals whipping up contracts on a daily basis.
Whether for transactional or litigation documents, this tool accelerates the drafting process, aids in locating legal authorities, verifies citations, and ensures accuracy.
For transactional documents, there are integrated drafting tools, review capabilities, model documents, automated templates, and document benchmarking to reduce errors and save time. For litigation documents, document preparation and formatting for court proceedings is made quicker by the ability to seamlessly reference leading authorities while minimizing citation and copy errors.
Clerk is legal software developed by Judicata that offers a novel approach to legal briefs. It evaluates briefs in three key areas: Arguments, Drafting, and Context.
In the Arguments section, Clerk assesses the strength and historical success of legal arguments, helping lawyers choose reliable cases and principles. It also encourages a balanced approach to argument presentation and suggests relevant, historically effective arguments.
In Drafting, Clerk assists lawyers in selecting cases that support their desired outcomes and checks for quotation errors. It points out potential misquotes or substantial modifications that can alter the meaning of quoted text.
In the Context dimension, Clerk recognizes the context of a case, providing insights into the odds associated with various elements. It helps lawyers find cases that go against the odds and adapt their arguments accordingly.
Clerk is a valuable tool for improving briefs and increasing the chances of success, while also aiding in analyzing and countering opponents’ briefs. It promises to streamline the motion practice process for lawyers.
In the legal profession, writing skills are paramount, but even the most adept writers can benefit from the modern arsenal of legal writing tools. From the essential Grammarly, utilizing AI to identify grammatical errors, to readability assessments in Word and real-time writing suggestions, these tools will really elevate your day-to-day legal writing.
PerfectIt with American Legal Style is a standout choice for legal professionals, offering a wide array of legal-specific checks to ensure document quality. Lexis+ Brief Analysis and Westlaw Edge Quick Check simplify research, provide valuable recommendations, and save time.
Tools like Drafting Assistant, Judicata Clerk, and others cater to both transactional and litigation needs, streamlining drafting and research processes.
Embracing these legal writing tools not only enhances your writing but also boosts efficiency and document quality, benefiting both you and your clients. In a competitive field, these tools can help you stand out by delivering clear, accurate, and effective legal work.