Blog Post

Is there anything worse than typos in legal documents?

November 2, 2017

The legal profession is famous for its zero tolerance approach to poor presentation, grammatical errors and typos. What other industries see as small, innocuous mistakes are in legal environments often enough to delay a trial, cause confusion and generally show lack of attention to detail. Lawyers do, and need to, care about precision and accuracy: their clients demand it. But spending hours checking for typos can increase legal costs and make clients ultimately unhappy.

Many law firms have figured out the best way to deliver first-class documents is not to impose the task on junior associates, but to delegate it to document specialists and outsource not just proofreading, but also document processing, transcription, secretarial and virtual services support.

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Not just typos

When documents are published or distributed, they reflect the sender’s communication skills both in the message and how they are physically presented. Mis-spelling, poor grammar and punctuation are known to induce negative feelings towards the person or company responsible for the text.

Proofreading is the final step in the writing and editing process of any document. An extension to proofreading is what at Exigent we call ‘Document Examination’: documents are ‘examined’ for the following:

  • consistency in layout and numbering;
  • accurate cross-referencing links;
  • correct use of definitions;
  • language and speech for correctness and consistency; and
  • ambiguities or confusion.

English as the legal lingua franca

“We’re a team of individuals who share a common love of English and particularly the rules that define our beautiful language.  Proofreading for fluency is a new addition to our service offering. It evolved from working with several international law firms, in different time zones with various mother tongues, who all use English as their common language. Our job is to help create fluency and ease of understanding in what are often long and complicated documents” commented one of Exigent’s professional proofreaders.

“There are several reasons why we enjoy what we do and the tight deadlines (that are all too common in the legal industry) keep us on our toes. As language is dynamic, we never stop learning and improving our skills and adopting new words such as the Oxford Dictionary naming of ‘emoji’ as ‘word of the year’.”

Exigent’s top 10 proofreading corrections

  1. Inverted quotes – because they’re quite sneaky.
  2. Numbering – so it follows strict rules.
  3. Semi-colons – to separate items in a list starting with a colon – to make it crystal clear.
  4. Italic brackets – because it takes a good eye to catch them.
  5. Cross-references – because working them out can be a puzzle.
  6. Conforming definitions – because it can be challenging.
  7. Missing full stops – because they’re essential and are often not where they’re supposed to be.
  8. Deleting white spaces – because they’re taking up unnecessary space.
  9. Formatting – because it greatly improves the presentation of the document.
  10. Alphabetical order – because it’s clearer.

Since its foundation in 2003, Exigent has offered a comprehensive proofreading service to all of its clients, providing more than 15,000 hours of quality-checking expertise in the last 12 months alone. Please visit our page to know more about how Exigent can help you to keep your legal documents typo-free.

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