Things That Make My Work Easier

June 2, 2016

In May 2014, I posted a review of one of the best tools to ever cross my desk – WordRake. I meant to post an updated review in May 2015, but … the Texas floods happened.

You’re asking, what it this WordRake of which you speak?

It’s a software add-in for Microsoft Word and Outlook that acts as an ‘in-line editor designed for professional business writing.’

“WordRake is designed to edit documents and emails to remove useless phrases and words, making your documents and emails clear and concise.” Take the sentence below. The original was composed in perfect legalese, but the raked version is much easier to read and presents a stronger argument.2016-06-02_15-19-21

I write a lot – pleadings, memoranda, correspondence, and more for my clients; magazine articles; my blog; training materials; and homework*. After a week of ‘raking’, I discovered I use ‘that’ a lot more than necessary. WordRake clarified my thoughts without changing my voice.

It’s so easy to use – highlight and rake. Within a minute or so, WordRake scans the document and provides suggested edits. All that’s left is to review the suggestions and decide whether to accept or reject them. I am still surprised by how much unnecessary and cumbersome language it finds in my writing. Bottom line, WordRake continues to make me a better writer.

Click below to see WordRake in action:

Sign up for a free trial today (no credit card required). You’ll be hooked.

* I finally graduated!! On May 13, 2016, I earned the right to add MATD (Master of Arts in Training & Development) to my credentials.

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Not Quite Speechless . . . “Paralegals an Embarrassment”

August 26, 2015
Image: www.ForCounsel.com

Image: www.ForCounsel.com

Y’all know me – ‘speechless’ and ‘without words’ rarely apply to me. It usually happens when I am too stunned by the comment(s) to respond immediately.

Imagine my reaction to a blog post titled: “Your Paralegals are an Embarrassment“. I clicked the link. My hope was to read ‘. . . of riches’.  (It pains me to post the back link, but I’m no ’embarrassment’.)

Hope.dashed.

The author gleefully states, “Today, I’m going to really annoy the paralegals.”

ANNOY?
Oh, bless his heart.

In short, the author (and several commentators) think our profession is overrated; we should and can be replaced by technology; and/or entry level associates provide more value to a practice than we do.

REALLY???

My comment, awaiting moderation as of 10:45 a.m.:

“Wow. Just, wow. You really have zero, zilch, nada, no appreciation for our profession.

“Paralegals have largely been replaced by technology.” Well, using that logic, so have many attorneys. Tell me, when was the last time tech checked the local rules and forms to confirm that all was indeed in order? Oh, right, ‘my software/service vendor does that automatically.’ Not so much. I have a client in California who relies on his vendor to provide all the latest local rules’ forms updates. All it took was ONE rejected filing for him to realize that the vendor was not updating the forms and that it was more cost effective to have a paralegal take a few extra minutes to make sure the forms in use are, and remain, current.

“Is client communication better handled by the paralegal or by the attorney managing the matter? What about simple tasks like preparing documents for trial?” Let’s look at this from the client’s point of view – does your client want to pay your hourly rate or a paralegal’s?

And if you think paralegals don’t specialize and create niches, you should recheck your sources. 99% of us are – Brad, what did you call it? – oh, right, ‘hybrids’. Our titles may not reflect the jobs we actually do, but, and trust me on this, we’ve always been hybrids.

All of you seem to think the only way to ’employ’ a paralegal is to hire one as a full time staff member. Most solos/small firms don’t have the budget for full-time, salaried employees – especially when those employees’ services aren’t required full time. You want paralegals who are ‘tech-driven’? Open your eyes! There’s an entire subset of trained, experienced, certified/certificated, practice-specific virtual paralegals. We, yes, ‘we’, provide as needed services. That means ‘pay as you go’. You want to improve your bottom line, increase productivity, and keep your clients happy? Think virtual.”

On another note … I wonder if it ever occurred to the author to post credit for his use of the image?

10 Comments



Half a Lawyer?

June 26, 2014

Seen on Facebook … a teaser for a recent Above the Law article:

half a lawyer??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Half a lawyer’????

srsly?!

Someone neglected to look up ‘para’ before writing such an outlandish, inappropriate, and, well, offensive comment.

The prefix ‘para’, from Greek, does not mean ‘half’. It does, however, mean “at or to one side of, beside, side by side” or “ancillary or subsidiary to roles requiring more training, or of a higher status”.

Paralegals work side-by-side with attorneys. We are degreed, certificated and certified, and some of us even have post graduate degrees. The only time the expression ‘half a lawyer’ might apply would be with regard to our salaries.

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WordRake – Make Yourself a Better Writer

May 28, 2014

I have just completed a 1-year free trial of WordRake, and, well, I love it!

WordRake® software is an add-in to Microsoft Word.  It will “rake” any Word document and suggest edits to make the document clearer and more concise.”

I discovered WordRake at ABA TechShow 2013 and was offered an opportunity to test-drive it for a year. What I saw during the live demo was amazing. They highlighted a 30-page brief, clicked WordRake, and, within a minute, WordRake had identified a host unnecessary/cumbersome language and made suggestions to be accepted or rejected.

I use WordRake on almost everything I write – my blog, articles for print media, homework (I’m still in grad school), and work. It really has made me a better writer.

On May 13th, WordRake released a new version –

WordRake 2 removes unnecessary words, enlivens your sentences, and teaches you how to be a better writer. All inline within Microsoft Word, just like a live copy editor. Only faster. WordRake 2 can edit 25 pages and suggest 200-300 improvements in one minute.

Compose in Word, click the “rake” button, and watch WordRake 2 instantly ripple through your document, revealing edits to tighten and clarify your writing.

Click below to see WordRake in action:

Give it a shot. Sign up for a free trial today (no credit card required) and see for yourself how you can streamline your writing.

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I Am a … Grammar Nerd!

February 3, 2014

There, I’ve said it.

It does not require a 12-step program, nor do I need a sponsor. Although <wait for it!> perhaps the offenders might need a program or sponsor or mentor …

How do you know if you’re a grammar nerd? Well, the folks at Grammarly shared this quick assessment:

To quote George Takei, “Oh, Myyy!”

I’m ALL 10. In fact, I posted this as a Facebook status in July 2013:

I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads, wondering what the fuss is all about. Lemme ‘splain [why yes, I DID do that on purpose!] …

This is more than the usual misuse of there/their/they’re, to/two/too, weather/whether, and so many more … it’s an anti-grammar epidemic of stellar proportions!!

My job as a paralegal is to act as the second set of eyes for all documents that leave my attorneys’ desks. There are few things as frustrating or upsetting – professionally speaking – as

  • seeing that your client’s name, any party name, (oof!) the judge’s name, or even your attorney’s name is misspelled on a filed/recorded document;
  • realizing that a misplaced or forgotten comma has changed the intent of a document; or
  • noticing a missed zero, comma or other key factor in a financial document;

and the list goes on.

Sure, it’s their signature on the document; but we all know what flows downhill …

Of course, there’s the other side of the discussion: shoddy writing and language skills reflect poorly on you. Now, I’m not saying we all have to have Masters degrees (have I mentioned that I’m working on my 2nd one?), but I believe that in order to be taken seriously by peers, colleagues, prospective employers, educators … heck, anyone with a clue … it is imperative to use good grammar (and spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.) at all times.

If you follow this blog or my Facebook / Twitter posts, you know I cannot abide laziness in writing – specifically when it comes in the form of a cover letter or introduction asking me to consider the author for a job or as a submission for a grade from a classmate in my grad program. Look, I’m not talking about the errant typo – it happens to all of us. I’m referring to correspondence and documents riddled with mistakes that make me weep.

The following excerpt is from a final paper submitted in a graduate program:

Unacceptable!!! This is graduate school – real-freaking-life here. People need to take more pride in what and how they write.

End.of.discussion.

I am a Grammar Nerd and damn proud of it!!

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