CBA Record July-August 2020

I n this time of Covid-19, we rely even more on technology. This is a good moment to consider how technology can improve our legal writing. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a futuristic dream for writing faster and better. It is here now—almost. Many editing products are on the market. They are useful tools for lawyers, but like all technology, cannot be relied on completely. You still need to keep your writing skills up to snuff; having better writing skills will help you use the tools better. I decided to test-drive three software programs designed by lawyers: WordRake, BriefCatch, and Compose. The first two are mainly editing tools; the third claims it will research and write mo- tions for you. The name says it all. WordRake “rakes” your document, and its al- gorithm catches poor grammar, wordy or unclear phrases, andmore. I like the suggested changes. Founded by lawyer Gary Kinder, the program cuts surplus words and follows plain language principles. Everything is clear and concise. It catches phrases the writer might miss. It also corrects passive voice and other style issues. Set-up is convenient. WordRake integrates intoMicrosoftWord and Outlook. It is another tab on the top ribbon of Word. Rather than clicking on “View” or “Review,” you click on the “WordRake” tab. The process is quick; it reviews a 10-page document in seconds. It redlines wordy phrases or passive voice and provides improved text. Interestingly, it is not possible to hit “accept all.” You must go through each suggested change and accept or reject each one. This makes sense. I found the program sometimes altered the text of block quotes from court opinions. The program also may change terms of art from case law. For instance, one brief I ran through the software contained the “significant public impact” test for a state fraud claim. WordRake changed “impact” to “affect.” Forcing you to approve or reject each change saves you from editing the court language or missing the court’s crucial standard. One possible disadvantage – WordRake is for all professional writers, not just legal writers. It makes no comments about your use of citations or legal arguments. You can try WordRake with a seven-day free trial. NOTA BENE BY KATHLEEN DILLON NARKO AI for Legal Writing: The Bots Are Closer than You Think Kathleen Dillon Narko is a Clinical Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and a member of the CBA Record Editorial Board. WordRake: “Rake” Your Document for Clear, Concise Writing

BriefCatch: An Editing Tool Designed for Lawyers BriefCatch, founded by legal writing star Ross Guberman, edits your writing in a similar manner toWordRake. One big difference, though, is that BriefCatch does not correct the text for you. Rather, it gives you options for each replacement – you have to choose. It forces you to think harder about each change. Perhaps this will help the writer internalize the suggested changes. On the downside, BriefCatch does not correct passive voice or provide alternative language. Instead, it identifies passive voice and suggests you change to active voice. For writers who do not understand what passive voice is (like many of my students), this may be less helpful. BriefCatch provides commentary explaining the reason for each change. This is a plus over WordRake. Like WordRake, BriefCatch also integrates well into Microsoft Word. It appears as another tab on the ribbon. Also likeWordRake, BriefCatch provides readability scores based on average sentence length, active voice, and other factors. However, BriefCatch is more detailed in its analysis of your writing style. One thing that sets BriefCatch apart from non-legal writing software is BriefCatch knows you are writing legal documents. It caught several string citations and recommended using fewer case authorities. It also promises not to alter the language inside direct quotations. You can try BriefCatch with a 14-day free trial. Compose: Closing in on AI for Legal Writing Compose comes closer to writing the brief for you than anything else on the market. Created by Casetext, Compose bills itself as “litigation automation technology,” that “takes care of the rote tasks in brief-writing, so attorneys can focus their time on persuasion.” It works as follows: first, you pick the motion from the Compose library of federal motions. Next, you choose the jurisdiction and identify which party you represent. I chose a Rule 12(b)(6) motion based in the Northern District of Illinois. Compose identifies the most common legal arguments for this motion and fills in authority from your jurisdiction. I encountered some missteps with Compose, but it is still an interesting product. Compose claims it gets you through a first draft 10 times faster, saving you time and your client money. Compose also appeals to corporate legal departments by claiming their software will reduce outside counsel and overall litigation spend. It won’t write your brief for you, but it may save you time in identifying basic arguments, standards, and authority. ShouldPracticingAttorneysUseLegalWritingTechnology? We lawyers pride ourselves onwriting well. Lawyers, especially litiga- tors, write a lot.Writing well will likely help advance a lawyer’s career. How does a good writer justify using AI? Shouldn’t we all write well without software input? Shouldwe be concerned about lawyers using AI rather than learning how to write well? At first blush, using AI seems like cheating – like using Google Translate for your Spanish homework or Auto-Tune for singing on key. To help answer these questions, I contacted Joe Regalia, Associate Professor of Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. Regalia has written

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