Draft Better Briefs by Adding AI and Automation to Microsoft Word By Neil J. Squillante | October 7, 2019
The growing number of software products for the legal profession notwithstanding, lawyers still spend most of their computer time in Microsoft Word. Therefore, it makes sense to bring new technologies such as artificial intelligence (Al) into Microsoft Word.
Drafting Assistant in one sentence
Thomson Reuters' Drafting Assistant adds legal research and legal proofreading tools to Microsoft Word—most recently Westlaw Edge Quick Check.
The killer feature
Drafting Assistant resides in a toolbar on the Microsoft Word ribbon. Clicking the toolbar unfurls the Drafting Assistant panel to the left of your brief with Westlaw Edge Quick Check as a new option.
Quick Check uses Al to analyze your brief (or a model brief you plan to repurpose) to reveal cases you didn't cite that may provide more support for your arguments. It also analyzes the citations in your brief and warns you if any of those cases have negative treatment or have been implicitly overruled. The Al behind Quick Check features several breakthroughs in content analysis and draws from Thomson Reuters' vast collection of proprietary content such as KeyCite and the Key Number System. (See our prior article on Quick Check for more details.)
The report contains three tabs: Recommendations, Warnings for Citated Authorities, and Table of Authorities. The Recommendations report organizes suggested cases using the headings in your brief. Westlaw's Copy with Reference technology ensures that any citation you copy and paste into your brief uses the correct citation style
Other notable features
While Quick Check provides a handy hyperlinked list of your brief's citations that you can share with a client or colleague, Drafting Assistant generates an actual Table of Authorities (TOA) for your brief. The new TOA Builder offers more flexibility and enables support staff to fine-tune the TOA without editing the brief. You can even have TOA Builder scan only a select portion of a document for better results, skipping affidavits, caption pages, and other irrelevant material.
Initially, Drafting Assistant identifies the citations in the document for review. You can add missing case names, categorize unknown citations, reorder citations, apply italics or underlining, add websites as authorities, and more. The TOA Builder displays a preview of each edit before you finalize it. When you make edits to the brief, Drafting Assistant preserves your previous TOA edits if you desire, and highlights new citations so you can quickly find and edit them.
Drafting Assistant makes it easier to get started on a brief with the new PDF Converter. This tool enables you to convert a scanned PDF (image) into Microsoft Word format with all the citations and formatting intact.
It's also easier and more foolproof to check your citations. The Flags & Links tool now includes Westlaw Edge's Overruling Risk flag in addition to other KeyCite flags. This Al-based technology identifies cases that rely on an overruled authority for the point you're asserting. If you subscribe to Drafting Assistant, WestCheck, which verifies your citations and quotations, can now limit positive or negative treatment by date or check only for new treatment since your last verification on a specified date.
What else should you know?
Drafting Assistant also includes Deal Proof, a suite of tools for drafting transactional documents. Deal Proof finds discrepancies in defined terms, inconsistent numeration, invalid dates, cross-reference errors, nonconforming phrases, punctuation errors, non-matching signature blocks, and more.