In a recent blog post about avoiding cringeworthy emails, I discussed the importance of proofing your law firm’s emails before they’re sent out. Attorneys can better proof their emails, websites, and blog content with grammar and spell checkers. One that may be of interest to law firms is a tool offered by Grammarly.com.
Grammarly’s Main Features
Error correction: Grammarly shows users corrections for several types of errors, including contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, and sentence structure. This tool points out errors to you and makes those mistakes easy to correct. By clicking on an underlined word, users can select options from a drop-down menu to replace it. If none of the given options are correct, you can type in a new word. You can also tell the software to ignore what it thinks is a mistake. Here’s an example screenshot from one of Grammarly’s demo documents:
Browser add-on: This software has a free browser add-on that volunteers Grammarly’s services for other websites such as Facebook, Twitter, email services like Gmail, and more. This add-on is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. If you don’t feel like using this tool, no problem: This software lets you turn the service on or off when you choose.
Online text editor: For those who’d prefer not to use the browser add-on, Grammarly has an online text editor that will save drafts of your writing in your Grammarly account and edit it as you work. When you’re done editing, you can easily copy and paste your corrected text wherever you’d like.
Free grammar resources: Grammarly offers some helpful grammar resources for its users. Their website has a forum that allows users to answer and ask questions about English grammar. It also provides an online style and writing guide, as well as an online thesaurus. Additionally, there’s a blog that provides its readers with writing tips, guest posts from writers, and more.
Grammarly’s Advanced Features
Advanced issues checker: This feature will point out problems such as an unclear use of an antecedent or use of passive voice.
Plagiarism checker: Grammarly offers those who subscribe to its premium features the ability to check their work against 8 billion web pages to help confirm that original content is being written. Additionally, this tool provides users with suggested citations to ensure that writers are giving other authors appropriate credit for their work.
Vocabulary enhancement: Grammarly has tools to help writers find the right word, whether users need a word that increases the accuracy of their writing or enhances its creativity.
Professional proofreading: Even better than having software check your work is to have an actual person there to proof it. Grammarly offers professional proofreading services, around the clock, for those who sign up for their premium features.
Grammarly’s Advantages For Law Firms
Grammar and spelling are important in our culture. It’s important to explain yourself clearly, but grammar and spelling are also part of establishing credibility and reputation. For these reasons, a tool such as Grammarly has plenty of benefits for law firms.
This tool doesn’t always work perfectly. After all, Grammarly is a software, not a person. However, grammar and spell check tools can act like an editor looking over your shoulder. These tools can point out mistakes that tired minds or tired eyes may miss.
Grammarly’s browser add-on, which implements grammar and spell check on a number of frequently used sites, is a big advantage. It allows users to catch errors they might make outside of Grammarly’s text editor, such as on social media or in an email. The browser add-on is customizable with an easy on/off switch, which means users can choose where they want to use it.
For grammar perfectionists, the advanced spelling and grammar checker will point out errors in antecedent agreements and other advanced grammar problems. An add-on like this may or may not justify the cost of buying a subscription to Grammarly, depending upon your law firm’s needs.
Grammarly’s Drawbacks For Law Firms
Grammarly will make odd suggestions and mistakes now and then. For example, it may not recognize specific brand names, or it may not recognize certain legal terms. However, much like Word and other familiar word processing programs, Grammarly gives users the opportunity to add words to its dictionary, meaning that if you use a term it doesn’t recognize, you can simply add it to the dictionary and Grammarly will not alert you to this “mistake” in the future.
Grammarly sometimes fails to alert its users because they’ve used the wrong word but the right part of speech. For example, I typed “Their website has a form called Grammarly Answers,” instead of the word I’d meant to write: “forum.” Because both of those words are nouns and could potentially work in that sentence, Grammarly didn’t see a problem with it. However, upon closer examination, I spotted the error. Again, it’s always worth checking your work one last time before you send it out.
At this time, those using PCs can integrate Grammarly into Microsoft Word. However, Grammarly’s online text editor is just as easy to use. Anyone can use it, regardless of whether they’re using a Mac or PC.
Can Grammarly Be Used With LawLytics?
Grammarly integrates nicely with LawLytics, as well.
Adriano Dominguez, LawLytics’ resident technical supporter, did a test run of the software and gave it a good review overall.
He described the free version as a tool that “covers most everything you need.” He notes that the software’s free elements alert users to a majority of mistakes. Only those with access to the premium features can learn why there’s a grammatical issue.
However, this likely isn’t a big drawback for users unless they want to know more about grammar or spelling. In general, Grammarly is a good tool to help catch errors in anything you write, whether it’s on your law firm’s website, in your emails, or elsewhere.
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