Students in the first-year legal writing program at Suffolk University Law School this year will get free licenses to WordRake, a legal editing and proofreading add-in for Microsoft Word and Outlook designed for lawyers and other legal professionals.

Suffolk is the first law school to provide its students with WordRake. Some 360 incoming students will receive a license, which WordRake is providing to the school at no cost.

Ivy B. Grey, director of business strategy at WordRake, told me that she hopes the software will help students learn early on in their careers to write clearly and concisely.

“When you go to law school, you learn to write in this flowery language and it becomes ingrained in you that you have to use ‘pursuant to’ and other such phrases,” Grey said. “We want to show students that there’s a better way to write.”

Suffolk’s legal writing program ranked third best in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Law Schools Guide. The program’s director, Kathleen Elliott Vinson, said that WordRake is helpful to students because it requires them to decide, edit by edit, whether each change makes sense contextually.

“Our goal is that after seeing the same types of edits flagged repeatedly, students can improve on the basics and focus more attention on substantive legal analysis,” Vinson said.

Of course, there is an advantage to WordRake in this arrangement as well, Grey said. By exposing students to the software early on, the company hopes that they will continue to use it when they begin to practice law.

The free license covers first-year students only, but the arrangement entitles second- and third-year students and law school faculty to purchase WordRake at a steep discount, Grey said.

WordRake may at some point consider partnering with other law schools in a similar way, but the company will wait for this year to finish to see how the program goes. “This will be our pilot,” Grey said. “We want to make sure that both sides benefit.”

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