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A Paralegal’s Guide to Editing and Proofreading

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Paralegals probably do not do as much writing as research, but writing still is a good part of the workload. The organization in each office is different, but paralegals may be called upon to analyze and summarize documents in discovery, to digest depositions, to write factual memoranda, and to do some preliminary drafting of documents or briefs. Good command of the rules of written English and a clear writing style will see you through. Again, this is not work you will do on your first day. A senior paralegal or the attorney charged with your orientation and training will instruct you as to what is expected of you with each writing task.

A Paralegal’s Guide to Editing and Proofreading

A final dimension to the paperwork handled by a paralegal is the editing and proofreading. It goes without saying that the paralegal must edit and proofread his or her own work. He or she may also be called upon to edit attorneys' work and to proofread the work of the secretarial staff. Much of the editing and proofreading are done in the office. Occasionally, a paralegal may be sent directly to the printers to check out minutes of an important executive board meeting or a prospectus or other offering hot off the press. This type of assignment tends to be highly pressurized and to involve an all- nighter. The detail-minded paralegal who is willing to tackle such an assignment is well compensated for the extra effort.

The chief requirement of proofreading is attention to detail. The proofreader must give special attention first of all to the general sense of the material. Gaps in meaning generally occur when a line of text was inadvertently skipped in transcribing. If the material doesn't make logical sense, if it doesn't "hang together," read it again going back to the draft as needed. Everything that the writer intended must appear in the final copy. Beyond the overall meaning, proofreading and editing must give consideration to grammar and proper English usage. Agreement of tense and number are important, as are parallel constructions and use of the best word to convey the precise meaning.

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