Dictation and legal transcription services are widely accepted as solution to ensuring high quality, timely legal documentation. They help lawyers avoid many errors including those caused by the practice of ‘copy and paste’. Recent reports show how copying and pasting from earlier works and other documents can be a bane for lawyers. In fact, a Nigerian lawyer told Punchng.com that one of the mistakes he made in his early days in practice that he would never repeat was the habit of ‘copy and paste’. “I have had to withdraw court processes after filling them in court because of this kind of mistake,” he said.
Copy and paste is one of the most widely used functions of a computer and a useful one when combined with other shortcut tools. It speeds up your work as it allows you to use information without having to type it out. It’s no wonder that busy attorneys tend to use this function when sending mails, drafting documents, and making reports. However, reports show that lawyers are at risk of making serious errors when using copy and paste. This occurs when they fail to review and edit the information that they reproduce before they present the newly created document to the judge or to their clients and adversaries.
In an article published by Law360, an expert analyzed the mistakes that lawyers make when copying and pasting comments and narratives. While the author admits that some mistakes can be minor and not affect the integrity of the document, he provides several examples of the pitfalls caused by copy and paste.
A U.S. District Judge granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after reviewing nearly identical pleadings filed by a plaintiff, commenting that the plaintiff had filed the same “cut and paste,” cookie cutter complaint in all the cases. The judge pointed out there were the same spelling, typographical and party gender and number errors in all the pleadings and noted that “this slipshod litigation practice does not improve during the course of the lawsuits”.
Here’s why legal professionals should be careful not to overlook copy paste errors:
- Errors in legal documents, even trivial ones, can have grave consequences. Not catching these minor mistakes send out a wrong message to your colleagues, clients, the judge, and most important, your opponents. This will affect your firm, impact your credibility in court, and diminish your ability to retain and attract clients. Even a single incident can erode a client’s confidence that had been built up through years of hard work.
- Errors in documentation can prolong litigation. If your adversaries realize that the opposing counsel is not reviewing their work, they may conclude that you are negligent and error prone. They may decide to take the case further, go a few more rounds in litigation and even proceed to trial believing the other side will make more mistakes and that this will make a substantial change in the overall case.
- Judges are often disinclined to forgive counsels who neglect proofreading and will not take their work seriously. Legal documents should be reviewed for relevance, responsiveness, privilege and confidentiality. Cutting/copying-and-pasting errors, though seemingly unimportant, can have devastating results and irrevocably damage your reputation as a reliable lawyer.
- If sworn statements or affidavits contain cutting-and-pasting errors, it will affect the credibility of witnesses. The responsibility for the mistakes will fall on the attorney who created the document, who will have to explain the circumstances leading to the error.
- Not reviewing documents received from outside such as from a hospital can have disastrous consequences. Studies have shown that physicians copy-and-paste into the electronic medical record quite often, which sometimes leads to inadvertent but grave errors. Relying on such records can have grievous consequences for the attorney.
- Copy-pasting can lead to charges of plagiarism.
Copying/cutting and pasting can be a useful tool for attorneys in a hurry. The key to using it well is to review the new document, paraphrase where necessary and review it before presenting or sending it out. On the other hand, they can rely on a technologically advanced legal transcription service provider for digital transcripts from dictated reports, which can be used to produce high quality documents. An audio transcription company can deliver custom solutions in quick turnaround time.