How to Edit and Proofread Your Legal Documents

By Terrance Palmer posted 12-09-2020 01:55


Drafting any legal document takes time, dedication, and focus. 

But, when you’re dealing with tight deadlines and an immense body of material, it can be even tougher to edit efficiently with all that pressure and stress on your shoulders. 

Keep in mind that when editing a legal document, you must ensure that it’s done correctly because you’re dealing with something that you’re going to be presenting in court.

If you’re looking for tips on how to eliminate mistakes when editing your legal documents, you’ve come to the right place. 

Read on for tips from the pros on how to edit your legal documents to ensure efficacy and accuracy. 

  1. Have an Editing Checklist

There’s no shortage of document checklists for you to choose from as a legal clerk. 

But, you want to pick one that enables you to edit your work for consistency, readability, spelling, and grammar. As long as all of these important markers are covered within the checklist, then you’re good to go. 

  1. Get Rid of Fluff

I know you paid top dollar to learn all of that fancy Latin legal jargon, but the people you’re editing the document for won’t understand a word of what you write if it’s in legalese. 

Sure, there are certain terms that must be included in the document and that’s unavoidable but for the most part, you want to keep the document as simple as possible. 

  1. Don’t Use Long Sentences

One of the best and easiest ways to edit any document is to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. 

Consider how your document would look and sound to them. According to Net Lawman, you should try and keep sentences short and simple. 

If there’s a particularly long article, split it into two shorter sentences instead, as that will make for a document that’s much easier to read and understand. 

  1. Follow the Bluebook

The Bluebook is the secret weapon of all successful litigators, especially those who are still new to the profession. 

That’s because it acts as an encyclopedia of all of the citations that you’ll need for your work including statutes and cases that’ll help your case. 

  1. Take Breaks

If you want to effectively edit your legal document and make sure that it’s not only legible but accurate, then you must take breaks in between the first and second and third drafts. 

That way, you can edit it with a fresh perspective that enables you to see things that you wouldn’t have been able to see before. 

  1. Read the Document Aloud

Another effective tool that you can use is to read aloud to yourself. 

This will enable you to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and it’s one of the easiest ways to spot mistakes in your work. 

  1. Ask Somebody to Take a Look at It

After all is said and done and you think that your document is finally done, it’s a good idea to ask someone at your workplace to look at your work from an expert’s perspective. 

Then, ask a non-legal person to look at it as well, so that you have both perspectives covered as part of your editing process.