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 Cho (@Jeena_Cho) January 6, 2017
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.
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.
What is the biggest obstacle to better legal-writing typography you face using standard word-processing programs?
— Brendan M. Kenny (@KennyBrendan) January 5, 2017
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.
You start by plugging it in. No software installation required. You just start by pressing a button and switching to LegalBoard mode.1
Here is the Lawyerist party line on the biggest obstacle to better legal-writing typography:
— Lawyerist.com (@lawyerist) January 5, 2017
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 ©
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.)
Italics, Underlining, and Bold
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.
LegalBoard costs $65. For a comparison, Amazon’s top-selling keyboards range from $30 to $140.
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.