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First Look: LegalBoard

Monday, January 9, 2017 5:26
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(Before It's News)

LegalBoard Legal Keyboard

LegalBoard is the first keyboard designed by lawyers for lawyers. It allows you to add track changes, comments, and common legal terms, symbols, and citations with a single keystroke.

Do Lawyers Really Need Their Own Keyboard?

I’ve seen a lot of lawyers I really respect respond to LegalBoard’s launch like Jeena Cho did:

Jeena asks a good question.

I include myself among lawyers who think that bad typography is a problem plaguing legal writing, and that any barriers we can remove to better typography are to be welcomed.

Related “10 Takeaways from Typography for Lawyers”

But if my Twitter poll is any indication, nearly a quarter of lawyers (at least lawyers that pay attention to this sort of thing on Twitter) don’t even know what typography is.

Let’s focus on the three problems included in the poll, and a few others. I recently did a demo of the keyboard, and here’s what I found.

Features

You start by plugging it in. No software installation required. You just start by pressing a button and switching to LegalBoard mode.1

Symbols

Here is the Lawyerist party line on the biggest obstacle to better legal-writing typography:

One of Windows’ biggest typography shortcomings is working with symbols. Here, a symbol is any character you can’t automatically type into Word using one or two keys. The ones lawyers use the most are the em dash, en dash, §, ¶, and ©. Unless you use a program like AutoHotKey, the only way to enter these symbols in Word (for instance), is to use some combination of Alt + commands.

Here are Word’s default commands for these symbols:

  • Em dash: Alt + Ctrl + Num –
  • En dash: Ctrl + Num –
  • §: Alt + 0167
  • ¶: Alt + 0182
  • ©: Alt + 0169

The bad news is that (as far as I can tell) the keyboard doesn’t do anything to help you use en and em dashes. Sorry.

But the good news is that using §, ¶, and © are much easier.

Goodbye to Alt + commands. You. Just. Press. One. Key.

Same with ©

Spacing

You can change your spacing to single, 1.5, and double simply by hitting one of these three keys. (However, the double-spacing button won’t get you true, Matthew Butterick-approved line spacing.)

Footnotes

The footnote key is very handy, but it may reignite the last year’s citations-in-footnotes showdown on Twitter and elsewhere.

Italics, Underlining, and Bold

You can switch from underlining, italics, and by hitting one of these keys. But please remember to italicize—don’t underline—cases and use bold sparingly. With great power comes great responsibility.

Track Changes and Comments

No need for Alt + commands for these either. They’re conveniently located right next to the footnote key.

Citations, Signals, and Party Names

Instead of writing out “U.S.” every time you cite a Supreme Court case, “C.F.R.” everytime you cite a federal regulation, and “Plaintiff” every time you need to refer to the opposing party. you can just hit a key.

Today, I filed the first-ever summary-judgement motion written on a LegalBoard,2 and using these keys saved me time.

Cost

LegalBoard costs $65. For a comparison, Amazon’s top-selling keyboards range from $30 to $140.

Final Thoughts

Using the LegalBoard won’t make stop lawyers from using two spaces after a period, writing in Times New Roman, or including unnecessary string citations. But it will make legal writing easier for lawyers, at a modest cost. And that’s a good thing.


  1. When LegalBoard mode is off, the keyboard number pad and F1-F12 keys function normally. 

  2. It’s true; LegalBoard confirmed it

First Look: LegalBoard was originally published on Lawyerist.com.



Source: https://lawyerist.com/141345/first-look-legalboard/

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