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Copyediting is a tricky business. In this age of 24/7 everything, copyeditors save many writers from certain shame, catching errors like leaving the “l” out of public, misspelling client’s corporate names, making sure what is united is supposed to be (rather than, say, untied), and wrestling with the general public’s inability to use “its” and “it’s” correctly.

[Side rant: I simply do not get how people confuse “its” and “it’s”. My 8th grade English teacher in public school in Kentucky taught us a really simple way to figure it out: Can you substitute “it is”? If yes, use the contraction “it’s”; if not, “its.” Yet I see writers of all ages and backgrounds confusing the two. If you can explain it, please, please drop me a comment or email.]

The WaPo recently ran a nice article on what copy editors do. In addition to catching spelling and grammar errors, copyeditors are the ones who stand in the place of your reader and say “huh?” So often, our brains run ahead of our fingers, and we think we explained ourselves beautifully–until the copyeditor asks a pointed question. “If the plaintiff is named Dan Parker, why do you refer to ‘her employees’? Is the plaintiff’s name Dana, possibly?”

Since lawyers mostly hate, loathe, and despise looking silly or stupid, hiring a copyeditor to review web site copy, marketing materials, presentation materials for conferences, and even briefs could be a smart move. (Though to use a copyeditor for a brief, you have to be really committed to getting the thing done at least a day before the filing deadline–hard for many attorneys, I know.) For about a third of a new associate’s hourly rate, you can have errors small and large eliminated, and look smart and polished. What’s not to love?

Should you and your team catch this kind of stuff? In theory, of course you should. But let’s be honest: When you’ve read the same 50 pages about 20 times in two weeks, you and everyone else will glaze over, regardless of title or salary.

Jennifer Alvey is a writer and editor who laughed with gusto at Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. She can be reached at jalvey AT wordsolutions DOT biz. She will not point out any spelling or grammar errors in your emails unless you ask her to.