Affinity Consulting Blog


When lawyers and law firm staff are asked about their biggest frustrations as it relates to productivity and job efficiency, managing volumes of paper is often at the top. Paper files have become problematic in today’s technologically driven law firms. People often spend hours of unproductive time filing away and then, later, looking for paper. Paper files can only be in one place at a time; there is no sharing or collaborating on a paper file; you cannot search a paper file, you can only flip paper, one page at a time.

Filing is also one of the most dreaded tasks in a law firm – and it often gets put off. So, even if you have found the file, there is a good chance the paper you need isn’t there. And then finally…what do we do with all those files once we are done with them? Space is not cheap – at your own office or at a storage facility.

If you find text formatted the way you like in a document, you can easily replicate it elsewhere using the Format Painter button in the Clipboard group on the Home ribbon.

This is particularly useful when you have some rogue paragraphs which are formatted incorrectly.

Last month we wrote about the end of technical support from Microsoft for its popular, but now very vintage, Windows XP operating system. At the same time, Microsoft also ended support for Microsoft Office 2003, including Word 2003.

Presenting a PowerPoint from your iPad can result in a more natural and interactive presentation, allowing you walk around, switch between applications, write notes or do white-boarding, and go back to your core presentation.

Getting your PowerPoint on your iPad

My three “choice” apps to have in your toolbox show PowerPoint presentations on the iPad are PowerPoint (available since March 28, 2014), Keynote and SlideShark. There are pros and cons to all three.

PowerPoint is a good choice, but since it is so new, it still lacks a couple key features. It definitely converts the best (because there is no conversion) and offers a large font set and quite a few features. The shortfalls that I immediately noticed were (1) lack of object & text animations, (2) no support for audio AND video, (3) lack of Dropbox integration, and (3) no “presenter view” to see valuable speaker notes. Additionally, in order to edit PowerPoint, you must purchase a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.

Keynote is Apple's answer to PowerPoint. It has been around a long time and is a must-have app. Once your PowerPoint is converted to Keynote, Keynote is going to give you the ability to (1) make edits, and (2) show the presentation. Unlike PowerPoint, it does allow you to animation to objects/text, and it supports video (although it requires that you re-insert video and audio into the Keynote presentation because they are lost in the conversion). The downside is that it the conversion isn't always perfect. I'd give it a B. This requires that you make some aesthetic tweaks and fixes to the presentation.

SlideShark (www.slideshark.com – free) is an app that will convert the PowerPoint to a SlideShark format and then allow you to play/show the slides through the SlideShark app. It converts the PowerPoint very well, including video and audio, and preserving fonts and animations extremely well. I'd give it an B+ on the conversion. SlideShark also has a fantastic presenter view that allows you to easily see your notes and upcoming slides very similar to PowerPoint's presenter view. The latest version allows you to annotate slides during the presentation.

The downside to SlideShark is that you cannot make edits to the slide show from the iPad. You can hide slides or re-arrange them, but you can’t make edits beyond that. You have to make changes in PowerPoint and then re-convert/upload the PowerPoint. With large presentations and low bandwidth, this can take 20-30 minutes.

PowerPoint Instructions

The easiest way to get a PowerPoint on to the iPad in the PowerPoint app is to import it through OneDrive, Dropbox, Email. In whichever method, when you tap on the PowerPoint file, select Open In and select PowerPoint. Once in PowerPoint, the file will be stored locally on your iPad until you delete it, and the only cloud storage location where you can save is OneDrive.

Keynote Instructions

The easiest way to convert a PowerPoint to Keynote and load it in your iPad is through Dropbox or Email. In either case, when you tap on the PowerPoint file, select Open In and select Keynote. Once in Keynote, the file will be stored locally on your iPad until you delete it.

SlideShark Instructions

Go to www.slideshark.com and set up a free account. This will also set up a needed cloud storage area for your presentation, which you can link to Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or Syncplicity. Once the account is created, login and upload your finished PowerPoint. During the upload process, SlideShark will convert your PowerPoint and store it in your private SlideShark storage area.

Next, from your iPad, go to the App Store and download / install the SlideShark app. Launch the app and enter your login credentials. Once logged in, you will have the ability to download from the SlideShark cloud all your converted presentations. Select the presentation and hit the green play button.

Editor's Note: If you want your PowerPoint presentations to be as interesting and persuasive as possible, order and read Paul Unger's new ABA book, PowerPoint in One Hour for Lawyers.

I know a prominent family law attorney in Michigan who swears she is more productive when working at her local coffee shop than in her office. When work needs to get done, and get done now, she grabs her laptop computer and flees the distractions of her office to what many would deem to be the even more distracting environment of a crowded coffee shop. Is she alone? (Let’s find out by completing the survey HERE and we will reveal the results in an upcoming blog post.)

Why does this work for her? Does it work for other lawyers desperate to simply get things done without interruption from colleagues, staff, clients, the office phone, etc.?

When our clients call on us for guidance, we don't just sell them a piece of software. We assess their needs, listen to their goals, learn about their practice and make recommendations. These recommendations include process recommendations, management recommendations, and technology recommendations that will make their lives easier so they can better serve their clients.

This is an awesome responsibility, and we pride ourselves on partnering with the best in the business when it comes to software. That is why for over 20 years, we have teamed up with Tabs3 and PracticeMaster to improve the lives of our clients. Our partnership with Tabs3/PracticeMaster is so solid that we swept the most recent consultant awards for these products.

Affinity’s Practice Management Client Care program, PMCC, gives you a training plan or an ongoing support plan that is vital to using your technologies such as Amicus Attorney, Time Matters, PracticeMaster, PCLaw, Tabs3, or Worldox. Your systems and processes are ever-evolving and you need your technology and your operations to grow with the decisions you make to run your business.

Our PMCC program is a two tier offering – Essentials, which focuses on the ever critical training, or Premier for unlimited, proactive support with training.

Security concerns never completely disappear. Microsoft issued an advisory that attackers are using specially configured RTF (rich text format) files to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2010. Opening one of these files could allow the attackers to take control of your computer.

Many lawyers using iPad's in their practice wondered if the day would ever come that Microsoft released native versions of its Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) for the iPad. That day is here. Not only are the Office apps available now, they are free, sort of.

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