In litigation, teamwork plays out a little differently. You usually work with your teammates... alone. It's less about group brainstorming sessions and more about splitting up tasks and parts of a brief and then going at it alone in your office.
But whoever said divide and conquer never worked at a law firm. Today, we'll talk about how to avoid dividing it and then spending three hours to put it back together.
Whether you're working on a 500-page arbitration statement of claim, a 60-page answer, or a 300-paragraph Rule 56.1 statement, splitting up drafting tasks comes with many challenges in terms of formatting and keeping the document internally consistent in terms of format, style, and substance.
Here are a few tips to avoid a last-minute rush to make your brief/pleading/discovery response consistent when you put it all together.
Prevention is Better than the Cure
Set up ground rules with your team before they start drafting to ensure internal consistency. Lists and styles guides can be a lot of help and ensure the various sections are ready to merge when time comes.
In terms of formatting, in the absence of an applicable firm style guide or court rules, make sure the team members are aware of the following standards:
Font size (both above the line and in the footnotes);
Line and paragraph spacing (both above the line and in the footnotes);
Use of Oxford comma;
En-dashes in page ranges;**
Heading levels and styles, including heading capitalization.
In terms of style, agree upon the following:
Defined terms and abbreviations;
Citations location (footnote v. text);
Whether to minimize footnotes and use of parentheticals;
Exhibit citation style;**
Legal citation style; **
How to refer to docket documents (Complaint or ECF No. 3 or Dkt. No. 3);**
Use of ids/long-cite/short-cite during drafting, since these might change when merging different sections;**
When to spell out v. use symbol for things like section, paragraph, etc.;
Any idiosyncrasies that might result in inconsistencies (i.e., using USD v. $).
In terms of substance, decide on the following:
In the case of responsive documents such as answers to complaints, discovery responses, or responses to Rule 56.1 statements, any form language to be used;**
Any themes or factual points to be repeated or reinforced throughout the brief;
Any key evidence to be used, especially if the fact section is drafted by someone different than the legal sections.
**How LitKit Can Help Divide and Conquer
Asterisk above means that LitKit can help you ensure consistency in drafting and address those items. We know from personal experience how important consistency is when drafting a motion or pleading. Here is how we help you divide and conquer.
In terms of formatting, LitKit can automatically switch from one to two spaces between sentences while avoiding citations and change hyphens to en-dashes in page ranges while avoiding properly used hyphens.
In terms of style, LitKit can save and import exhibit citation style for consistency between the different sections of the document. Using the Citations Tool, lawyers can easily update exhibit citation formatting with one click.
LitKit also allows users to save and share citations to exhibits and legal authority that are likely to be used for consistent formatting and easy merging. Long-cites, short-cites, and id. citation will automatically appear in the correct order, and exhibit numbering will be updated as the sections come together.
Finally, in terms of substance, LitKit's Response Tool allows users to save, reuse, and share form language among the team, including form objections and responses.