Affinity Consulting Blog

This is probably the simplest, but most effective, Word tip ever. It can be summarized in one word - Templates! It is amazing how many Word users in law firms don't use templates to create new documents. Instead, they use the very risky process of opening an old documents used in another matter, modify it for the new matter, and select File>Save As. Please, DON"T DO IT! Instead, read this month's Word tip.

Lawyers and law firm staff have developed the very bad habit of taking an existing documents, using Search and Replace to update it for a new client or matter, and then save the document. If you do this more than few times, you are certain to miss important content. When this is discovered, you will be embarassed. Or you may have committed malpractice. It isn't worth it, especially when there is a better solution.

Start small. Take your 10 (or even 5) most used Word documents. Carefully go through each one to strip out everything but the boilerplate language that is repeated from one case or matter to the next. Then revise the remaining language to be the very best it can be. Be sure to check statutory and rule amendments and case law updates to make sure your documents comply with the latest legal requirements. When done, don't save your completed document as a .doc. or docx file. Instead, click Save As Type and save it as a Word Template (.dot or .dotx) file. Word will automatically change the location to your default templates folder. When you want to use your template, click File>New and Word will give you with a list of templates to use.

If you want to share your terrific new template with others in your firm, save it to your Workgroup templates folder on your server or other shared location everyone can access. You may have to change Word's settings (under Options>Advanced>General>File Locations in recent versions of Word) to make your Workgroup templates folder point to the shared location. Everyone in the office should do the same thing so that their Workgroup templates folder setting points to the same shared location.

That's it! Simple and effective.

And Free!

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