Tech Tools To Help With DEI

So many interactions people have are in asynchronous settings. Emails, documents, social media, recorded videos, marketing collateral, and more speak for you and for your firm. Make sure to leverage tools that help ensure that these impressions and interactions reflect your respect for others and further your commitment to DEI efforts.

Plain Language

Lawyers write every day. Yet how you express yourself in writing is as important as what you say. Many clients are under duress and need to “hear” the tone of your words when they read. Remember, when working with consumer clients, the average reading level of the U.S. population is 9th grade. Readability is of utmost importance. Several applications can help you write effectively for your audience and make sure that your tone is positive and helpful.

Composing Email

When communicating via email, brevity is best. Many recipients are reading on mobile devices, almost ensuring that their attention is diverted. Another difficulty with writing an email is striking the right tone. It is easy to misread and misinterpret an email message. Grammarly studied the most effective opening for an email, and “Hi [Name]” was the most effective. Boomerang studied the best closing, which was some variation of “thanks.”

Along with correct grammar and punctuation, tone and readability are essential to effective email communication. Two applications can help check your email for these elements.

Boomerang Respondable

In addition to a lot of useful bells and whistles for getting an email to resurface in your inbox, Boomerang has a feature called Respondable that provides real-time scoring on subject length, word count, question count, and reading level. Advanced features also track positivity, politeness, and subjectivity. These tools are not always right, but they might make you stop to reflect on communicating more effectively. Boomerang for Gmail or Outlook is free for a limited number of emails a month, and it includes basic Respondable scores. To get Boomerang Respondable Advanced Features for Gmail or Outlook you will need the Pro package at $15 per month.


Grammarly checks for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It also checks for clarity, engagement, and delivery. The application works with Gmail and Outlook, as well as Google, any browser, and the Windows desktop. In other words, Grammarly is available to check your writing anywhere you are composing a message or document on your computer. The annual plan is $140 per year for Premium.

In an email, Grammarly provides an overall score for correctness, clarity, engagement, and delivery. The Grammarly Tone Detector shows whether your tone is friendly, confident, or optimistic. You can help it understand if it is reading your tone correctly. The results are imperfect, but it will make you stop and think about how you are coming across to the reader.

Composing Documents

recent MIT study examined why legal documents are notoriously difficult for nonlawyers to understand. The study reveals why legal language is “borderline incomprehensible”. The researchers found that center-embedding and use of uncommon words were the biggest culprits causing difficulty for reading comprehension. Passive voice, use of uncommon words, and unusual capitalization also contribute to the layperson’s inability to comprehend legal documents. The study found that use of words like “lessee” and “lessor” versus “tenant” and “landlord” contributed to the confusion.

Of course, it depends for whom you are writing and what you are writing it for – a blog post for education and marketing will be a completely different exercise than writing a brief, motion, or contract. In legal writing, some of the elements the MIT Study cites as problematic are required. However, you can still work to make your writing as easy to follow as possible.


WordRake is an editing program created specifically for lawyers. An add-in to both Word and Outlook, the software “rakes” your documents in search of unnecessary and obtuse words, suggesting edits to improve clarity and concision. It is the creation of Gary Kinder, a lawyer, writing expert, and writing coach. WordRake searches for phrases lawyers often use –– such as “in addition to,” “pursuant to” and “in accordance with” –– and suggests simpler words such as “besides” and “under.” It acts as a good editor to help simplify and strengthen your writing. WordRake offers a seven-day free trial. After that it is sold on a subscription basis. A one-year subscription to the Word add-in is $129 for one year, or you can purchase a subscription to both Word and Outlook for $199. WordRake works on Mac and Windows for Word; in Windows, WordRake only can be used in Outlook.


Another Microsoft Word add-on, BriefCatch, has many similar features to WordRake. They both suggest edits to make your writing more concise. BriefCatch also provides a statistics panel that provides scores on “reading happiness,” “sentence length,” “flow index,” “punchiness” and “plain English.” You can see suggestions on how to improve each score. BriefCatch also provides a narrative report to provide a summary of improvement opportunities, including how often you use the same transitional devices (e.g., “moreover”) or overused terms (e.g., “the fact that”). BriefCatch is $250 per year for a Microsoft Word plugin, and WordRake is $129 per year for the Microsoft Word plugin (Mac or Windows).

Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor is an installed piece of software for Windows or Mac ($19) that highlights wordy sentences, overuse of adverbs, passive voice, and complicated words. This is an especially useful tool for writing blog posts or content intended for the layperson and published online.

The new BETA version of the Hemingway Editor with Artificial Intelligence will suggest fixes for the issues it identifies. You can test out the product for free, and if you like it, subscribe to Plus version for $100 annually ($10 monthly).

Law school doesn’t necessarily teach lawyers how to write with empathy. Boilerplate templates and the firm’s “best of breed” document libraries may compound on writing that is often too dense and difficult to read. When writing to and for client consumption, think about best practices and leverage these tools to get a little help.

Inclusivity and Allyship

You only have one chance at making a first impression. Often, that impression may be in writing or online, versus in person. There are a few tools that can help make sure your writing is respectful and inclusive.

Microsoft Editor

Microsoft Editor has gone way beyond spellcheck in Microsoft Word. It looks for conciseness, inclusive language, vocabulary and more. It is also available as a browser plugin so you can leverage the Editor online when you are posting to your firm’s Facebook page or adding a blog post to WordPress. It will also give you a report with the Flesch reading ease score and grade level.

You may need to go into the settings to add and remove refinements. For instance, to insure the inclusiveness checker that looks for gender bias, age bias, and more, you will need to go into the settings and toggle on the inclusiveness options.

Add Name Pronunciation and Pronouns on LinkedIn

If your name is frequently mispronounced, you can help people who visit your LinkedIn profile learn how to say it by adding an audio file. Even for those who have “easy” names, considering adding your spoken name to ally with those whose names are frequently mispronounced.

To record and display your name pronunciation on Android or iOS:

  1. Tap your profile picture then View Profile.
  2. Tap the Edit icon (a diagonal pencil) from your introduction.
  3. Tap + Record Name Pronunciation.
  4. Tap the recording button and hold it down to record you pronouncing your name.
  5. When you’re satisfied, tap the Use button followed by Save.

While you are updating your profile, consider adding your pronouns as well.

Generative AI for Editing

If you would like to edit a document to change gendered pronouns to the singular they and adjust for subject-verb agreement, you can copy and paste the text into a Generative AI tool like ChatGPT, Bing Chat, or Google Bard. However, some GenAI tools like Claude2 and Perplexity allow you to upload a limited amount of documents so you don’t need to copy and paste. For instance, in Perplexity, upload a document and submit the prompt “Change all singular third-person pronouns to the singular they and adjust subject-verb agreement,” and it will suggest edited text with footnotes and suggest further prompts for refinement.


Make sure that your presentations, written word, video conferences, recordings and more are as accessible as possible. There are many tools you can use to check for and add accessibility.

Dyslexia Style Guide

The Style Guide suggests ways to help ensure that written materials reduce the difficulties experienced by some dyslexic people and allows for the use of text to speech to facilitate reading. Here are some Chrome extensions that are useful for people with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Friendly Font

Founder Christing Boer developed an innovative typeface that makes it easier for children and adults with dyslexia to read. Products (some free, some not) include an office suite, a font to use on your network, and a Chrome extension. Many of these tools can be deployed at work or used to create alternate versions of documents. For your website, you can link to the free Open Source Chrome extension OpenDyslexic, which converts website text to a dyslexia friendly font.

Accessibility Checker in MS Office

In Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Microsoft has an accessibility checker. It can be found in the Review tab of the Ribbon. Depending on which application you are using, the Accessibility Checker can identify and help you correct hard to read text contrast, add alt text to images, suggest changing colors that are difficult to read for those with color blindness and much more.

Speaker Coach

In MS PowerPoint and Teams, you can rehearse a presentation with Speaker Coach. Turn on Speaker Coach during a live Teams meeting and it will privately send you a summary of your presentation skills including total speaking time, use of repetitive language, cadence, inclusiveness, pace, filler words, and more.

In MS PowerPoint you can rehearse a slide show with Speaker Coach to evaluate pitch, euphemisms, culturally sensitive terms, when you are reading the text on your slides, your speed, and much more. After your rehearsal you get a report that includes statistics and suggestions for improvements.

Video – Transcripts and Closed Captions

During live video conferences and in recorded videos, it is a best practice to include captions and transcripts. The good news is that it is easy to generate these thanks to artificial intelligence built into tools like Teams and Zoom. Adding captions to YouTube videos and videos on social platforms like LinkedIn is also quite doable.

In Zoom during a live meeting, you can turn on Closed Captions to display on the screen. These captions will be included in the recording. If you record to the Zoom cloud, you can also generate an audio transcript. These options are only available in paid plans.

Microsoft Teams also has the functionality to create closed captions in live meetings, and add captions and transcripts to recorded meetings.

If you would like to add a transcript and captions to a video that has already been recorded, you can generate a .VTT file and insert it into a video. You can do this in Microsoft’s Steam (which comes with your business license for MS 365), or with tools like Descript.

Descript offers many additional features, including recording tools, remote recording, transcription generation and editing, video editing, AI voice cloning, podcast show notes, text to speech and much more.

If you are creating videos for marketing or educational purposes, you can also look at AI tools like Pictory. Pictory lets you repurpose content into videos. You can upload a script or an article and create a video with subtitles or edit video using text to automatically add subtitles.


Regardless of whether you are generating content for your team, your clients, potential clients, the public, or other attorneys, you can use these tools to help deliver a message that is clear and inclusive. Get help with plain language, tone, bias reduction, pronoun awareness, and user-friendly multi-media with these tech tools and techniques.

Catherine Sanders Reach serves as director of the NCBA Center for Practice Management.