Top 3 Proofreading Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Like it or not, most clients don’t see the hours and hours of hard work that go on behind the scenes. What they see is the output of your legal work in a set of documents. Clients expect the utmost in professionalism from their attorney and the quality of those documents will determine if you’re zero or hero.

If you’re like most attorneys you will have a set of precedents that you use as a starting point, and into which you copy and paste the current case information and then edit as needed. However it is hard to spot the little details no matter how many times you read and re-read the draft. Your eye is naturally drawn to the legal content and skims over the other bits. The client however does the opposite, and is naturally drawn to the parts about them personally.

Which leads us to the top 3 proofreading mistakes

1) Transposing numbers, or missing a zero – an expensive mistake to make.
This one takes first place simply because if you get it wrong, it may end up costing you dearly. If you have to type $386,867.87 into several documents chances are that you could end up with $368,867,87 in one of them. That’s an $18,000 slip of the finger, not to mention the hassle and loss of face caused by altering the documents in the middle of a settlement.

2) Misspelling your client’s name – unforgivable!
This mistake may not cost you money, but get it wrong and you’ll lose face with your clients. The more times you have to manually type out the name the higher the likelihood of getting it wrong. It is easy to enter “Phillip Johnson” instead of “Philip Johnson”, or “Phillip Johnston” but your client, Mr Johnson, would not be impressed!

3) “He” instead of “she” – easy to miss, and just plain embarrassing
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Get your client’s gender wrong and you’ll get one of two reactions. They’ll either find it amusing (and think you’re unprofessional) or they’ll find it annoying (and think you’re unprofessional).

So, how do you avoid these blunders?
Smart document templates can help you avoid common proof-reading mistakes. By entering the number as matter data in ActionStep once and then having this automatically populate the documents, you eliminate the risk of typing in the wrong number, misplacing a comma or missing a zero. ActionStep inserts participant data directly from the contact database so you can be confident that they will be 100% accurate. Smart document templates get the pronouns and plurals right too. When ActionStep assembles documents it examines the number and gender of the references participants and automatically adjusts the pronouns to match.

ActionStep is a comprehensive legal practice management solution.

Need a laugh? Take a look at these top ten funniest proofreading mistakes by HotDocs.

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