To Grow to Be a Successful Lawyer: Editing and Revising

The next step after outlining is the first draft. The draft must be written, edited, revised, redrafted, and re-edited. Each of these phases is important, and each phase is time-consuming. But once a first draft is created, the rest is fine-tuning.

I draft my paper early so that I will have plenty of time to revise and edit it.

First I write the entire paper without stopping to edit, consulting my outline as I go along. Then I put the memo aside for a period of time—a minimum of 24 hours. When I go back to look at it with fresh eyes, many problems with jump out at me.

After the 24-hour period, I first go through the paper to look for substance, that is, whether the paper is well-organized and whether it explains the analysis well. Have I explained well? Have I left any gaps in the analysis? Have I assumed too much knowledge that the reader may not have?

After I’ve corrected for substance, I spend time looking for typing errors, spelling errors, citation errors etc.

In my last fine-tuning, I rewrite sentences for clarity and concision.

I find it helpful to ask a colleague to read it as well – I call it “another two eyes review”.

Have you tried these steps?