Writing is a core skill for being a lawyer. That fact strikes fear into the hearts of many lawyers, including those who were English majors. But what if there was a tool that helped you look whip-smart and well-educated? Enter American Legal Style…
Can you tell me a little about your background or service?
I am the creator of American Legal Style for PerfectIt. It is a proofreading and editing software program
that helps to proofread and edit legal documents (transactional and litigation) faster and more effectively.
For most of us, we spend all of our time creating the perfect document but don’t leave ourselves enough time or energy to check it. PerfectIt helps with that.
PerfectIt checks everything from consistent capitalization of defined terms and use of acronyms to Bluebook citation form and legal writing style. Looking up these rules would take forever and most of us wouldn’t do that. It’s also hard to delegate this task to someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time internalizing these rules. But PerfectIt makes it possible to get help with this task—and it cuts down the time.
Why did you decide to offer your service?
I’ve spent a lot of time creating important (and long) documents and coordinating with multiple authors. It’s ripe for errors and inconsistencies. And working a matter with a lot of intricate documents can keep you in the office until 3 a.m. on a regular basis. At that point, you’re not doing your best work. The exhaustion starts compounding and your focus wanes. Once I realized that software could help with this problem, I wanted to be part of making a legal-specific version of it. When I was invited to join the team to transform PerfectIt so that it would work better for lawyers I knew that I had to be a part of making it a reality. I’m now creating software that I love to use and wish I had when I was a junior associate.
How can lawyers benefit from your tool or service?
Every lawyer writes, so every lawyer can benefit from using PerfectIt. Lawyers will save time on proofreading, which is largely considered non-billable work, and will produce better, cleaner written work. By using American Legal Style for PerfectIt, lawyers can cut an hour-long proofreading job down to about 10 minutes and the results are better. PerfectIt finds errors that you wouldn’t spot on your own.
There’s also the intangible reputational benefit of producing error-free work. A great document can earn trust—and a sloppy document can hurt your reputation. For $70 per year, it’s a no-brainer.
Name 3 things that users misunderstand about your service and set the record straight
First, document assembly and automated editing tools are two different things. Document assembly relies on templates, similarities, and high-volume work with very little customization. Comparatively, automated editing tools are best used in creating original, bespoke work for clients. Automated editing tools like PerfectIt help to polish and perfect your work in less time but they don’t remove lawyers from the document creation process.
Second, using PerfectIt to proofread and edit your work isn’t the same as running spellcheck and grammar check. I would use both tools. In your document creation workflow, PerfectIt comes after spellcheck and before your final review and submission.
Third, PerfectIt checks your Bluebook form, but it doesn’t validate your citations. So it can tell whether you’ve left out spaces in “F. Supp. 2d” or added spaces in “F.3d”, but it can’t tell whether the proper cite for Marbury v. Madison is “5 U.S. 137” or “5 U.S. 173” or whether it is the appropriate authority to cite for your proposition.
What can lawyers who fail to use this tool expect?
If lawyers do not use PerfectIt or other automated editing tools, they can expect to continue to waste a lot of time creating documents that still contain errors, even after multiple rounds of proofreading. Multiple rounds of ineffective proofreading can be a drain on your time and energy—you could be practicing at the top of your law license doing substantive, important work instead.
What’s the best actionable advice that you can give lawyers?
You can save time, relieve frustration, and make more money by using simple, inexpensive technology and changing how you staff your matters. Analyze your workflow, improve your processes, and start making small changes now. Every tweak makes a difference. No change is too small. One specific piece of actionable advice is to learn to use and customize styles and cross-references in MS Word. Changes don’t have to take hours or be so frustrating.
What is the special offer you wanted to share?
PerfectIt is only $70 per user per year so it’s already inexpensive. To get you started, you can get a 15% discount for your first year by using the discount code described in the podcast. (People, that is crazy generous. Hurry up and get it.) How can lawyers connect with you?
Please connect with me on Twitter (@IvyBGrey) and on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/ivybgrey
Favorite food or beverage
Speyside single malt scotch. Neat. It’s straight-forward, yet nuanced at the same time.