Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Legal writing: peer review in the office

Suppose your law office is going to implement a program of peer review as a way to improve the writing of the lawyers in the office. I think this is a good idea, but you've got to take some steps to make sure the program works.
  1. Adopt a style guide or have one produced. You will need a way to settle disputes about proper grammar, punctuation, usage, and form. Without a way to settle disputes, the documents the office produces will not be consistent. And consistency is usually one of the goals of a peer-review program.

  2. Increase the writing IQ of everyone in the office. Provide training, insist that everyone read a certain source or sources on writing, and foster a respect for the modern approach to high-level professional writing.

  3. Teach people how to critique. The ability to effectively comment on others' writing is not an inherent talent, it's a learned skill.

Any office that decides to use peer review to improve writing is to be commended.

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