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Phil Jamieson

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8 Writing Errors That Can Ruin Your Law Firm’s Credibility

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 28, 2024 8:01:00 AM

The legal field rests upon evidence and precedence. We respect that, because so do we.

We’ve proofread and copyedited (easily) tens of thousands of legal documents in the past 20+ years. Often dozens of legal and legal marketing documents in a single day:

Website copy, newsletters, press releases, pleadings, motions, briefs, blog posts, practice descriptions, emails, event/webinar invitations, internal communications, special reports, pitch decks/collateral, slide presentations, correspondence, miscellaneous court filings, RFP responses, and more.

The unfortunate verdict is in: Legal marketing teams and lawyers/attorneys, even at (especially at?) the largest of firms, commit a lot of writing errors.

The sheer volume of daily documentation flowing through the typical law firm is staggering. Combine that volume with the perpetual race against the clock that defines many law firm environments and it’s easy to see why writing quality and proofreading bandwidth suffer.

Our most recent survey of completed legal proofreading jobs revealed an average of 118 errors per document, ranging from 39 to 191 errors. (Have mercy, Your Honor.)

While typos aren’t capital offenses, they are an easy but preventable way to ruin your credibility, embarrass your firm, drive away prospective clients, annoy a judge, and damage or even destroy a case (here are nine such examples).

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Topics: legal proofreading, proofreading for legal documents

Can You Ace This Spelling Quiz? Part 3

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 1, 2024 8:00:00 AM

(Most People Can’t)

This is part 3 of a spelling quiz we recently posed to a group of highly educated legal marketing and business development professionals at an annual conference. They were sure they could ace our questions—after all, communication is the foundation of their businesses.

Guess what?

Many of them made mistakes! In fact, many of them made the same mistakes! They were astounded.

So here’s our challenge: See if you can do better. Then tell us about it in the comments.

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Topics: word quiz, vocabulary quiz

Wide-Ranging Events

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Nov 2, 2023 8:00:00 AM

On this day in 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected 39th president of the United States. In 1947, Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose flew for the first … and last … time. In 1929, Richard Taylor, Nobel Prize-winning physicist who proved the existence of quarks, was born. In 1889, North Dakota was made the 39th state, and South Dakota was made the 40th state. And in 1570, a tidal wave in the North Sea destroyed the sea walls from Holland to Jutland. More than 1,000 people were killed. Do you have what it takes to rise to fame and fortune on your intellect alone? Or are you strictly a flatlander unable to rise to any level of importance in this age of ineloquence? Take our test and find out!

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary quiz

13 Uncommon Punctuation Marks and How to Use Them

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Aug 17, 2023 10:44:53 AM

Punctuation marks are teeny, but they should never be underestimated. They inform the literal and implied meaning, cadence, and emotion of every word we write (and read). That said, sometimes the average exclamation mark or serious serial comma or even an enthusiastic em dash doesn’t cut it. You need something with more flair and precision — an uncommon punctuation mark.

This list is the grammatical equivalent of a chef’s special. The VIP lounge. The decorative embellishments of an A-grade interior designer. Prepare to surprise and impress people with 13 uncommon punctuation marks and how to use them. And fair warning: Your writing may never be the same.


1. Acclamation Point

The acclamation point is used to demonstrate an enthusiastic sense of goodwill or welcome and is placed at the end of a sentence. You could use it when greeting your mother-in-law for a monthlong stay (assuming you love her very much).

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Can You Ace This Spelling Quiz?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jun 22, 2023 8:00:00 AM

(Most People Can't)


We recently posed this spelling quiz to a group of highly educated legal marketing and business development professionals at an annual conference. They were sure they could ace our questions—communication is the foundation of their businesses.

The surprising results?

Many of them made mistakes! In fact, many of them made the same mistakes! They were flabbergasted.

Think you can do better? Have at it (no help from Google or Chat GPT beforehand, though)!


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Topics: word quiz, vocabulary quiz

Can You Come Out Tonight?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Sep 15, 2021 10:30:00 AM

On this day in 1962, the Four Seasons earned their first No. 1 hit with “Sherry.” Frankie Valli had been hard at work trying to become a star for the better part of a decade before the Four Seasons achieved their breakthrough. They had come together as a group in several stages over the previous four years, changing their name in 1961 from the Four Lovers after failing an audition at a New Jersey bowling alley called The Four Seasons. It was keyboard player Bob Gaudio who wrote the song that would launch the group’s career.

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Topics: vocabulary test, word quiz, vocabulary quiz

Match Famous Quotes to their Authors

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Dec 12, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Here's a quiz we posted a while ago that received a lot of response. But, the average score was just 44%. Want to see if you can beat the average? 

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When and How to Use [sic]

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Aug 30, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Let’s be honest. Not many of us know exactly what [sic] means, or how to write it and use it correctly. Do we write sic, (sic), or [sic]? And where exactly do we put [sic] in a sentence or excerpt? Are there multiple meanings of sic or multiple uses for [sic]?

If we do know how to use [sic], some might even argue that using it can make us look a little pompous. Or they might laugh off its use as unnecessary or extraneous. Check out these comments about [sic], published by The Guardian.

Well, here’s most of what you need to know about [sic].

What Does [sic] Mean or Indicate?

According to the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary, [sic] as an adverb is defined as intentionally so written — used after a printed word or passage to indicate that it is intended exactly as printed or to indicate that it exactly reproduces an original. As a verb, it means chase or attack, or to incite or urge to an attack, pursuit, or harassment. In yet its third form it is a Scottish variant of such.

In its adverb form, sic can be written in italics or included in parentheses or brackets when it’s used, although including sic inside brackets is the most common option. But sic is not included in parentheses or brackets when it’s used as a verb or instead of other words like “thus” or “such.”

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Topics: sic

How to Repair Sentence Fragments and Run-On Sentences

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jul 18, 2019 7:30:00 AM

As people use technology more and more in their everyday lives, it’s becoming common to write and speak in fragmented and run-on sentences. Just think about the last batch of text messages or emails you wrote, or the last social media post you read

What Is a Sentence Fragment?

Sentence fragments are grammatically incorrect because they are incomplete. They are usually missing a subject, object, or verb, or they don’t express a complete thought on their own. But sentence fragments are used all the time in writing and speech so it’s easy to miss them or mistake them as being grammatically correct. Consider the following passages:

  • Looking forward to seeing you at tomorrow night’s gala.
  • Be sure to keep our customers satisfied. No matter what.
  • There are some documents that still need to be signed. The client agreement. And the manufacturer’s agreement.

Sentence fragments are used in everyday speech, especially during brief exchanges of dialogue. In fact, sometimes people seem stuffy or odd if they don’t use sentence fragments when interacting with others. For example, if someone asked you in an email, “Did Sue ever get back to you about tomorrow’s meeting?”, it would be perfectly okay to respond with, “Still waiting for her reply.”, although that reply is technically a sentence fragment. Many writers use sentence fragments for stylistic reasons to emphasize certain ideas, phrases or passages. Consider the following example:

Once Maria learned that the vaccine that she was using was causing unforeseen and fatal illnesses, she threw every vial she had of it away. Every single one. And never used or spoke of it again.

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Topics: sentence structure, sentence fragments, run-on sentences

QUIZ: Find the Best Option to Repair the Grammatically Incorrect Sentence or Phrase

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jun 21, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Sometimes there are multiple ways to edit and revise a sentence or phrase in order to make it more grammatically correct, but sometimes there aren’t. Review the sentences and phrases below and select the best option for repairing the grammar mistake that you find. And be sure to share your results with us in the comments.

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Topics: quiz, grammar quiz

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