Affinity Consulting Blog


We have covered Word's default settings in our newsletter before, but it still amazes me how many people don't change Word's default settings to something reasonable. If you have to change the font or the paragraph settings every time you start a new document, then STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW and take 60 seconds TO MAKE THE FOLLOWING CHANGES:

What's Wrong With the Status Quo? Unquestionably, the most common drafting method used by lawyers is to use old documents as the starting point for new ones. For example, if a lawyer needs a commercial lease for a restaurant tenant in a strip mall, she is likely to try to find an old lease she drafted previously as the starting point. Once the source document is found, it is modified as necessary. While this approach seems logical, it has significant drawbacks.

There are almost always ways to improve work-flow and administrative processes in a law firm or legal department. The protocols in use are often arrived at organically and it's not uncommon for participants to have no idea why things are done a certain way ("that's just the way we've always done it!"). This is an important first step because nothing constructive occurs if you try to automate (or throw money at) a broken process. How do you know this might be an issue in your office? If, for example, you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions:

- Do you suspect that the work in your office could be done more efficiently or faster?

- Do you feel your office is always struggling to catch up or keep up with the workload?

- Are you frustrated with how long it takes to find information you need?

- Do you feel that too much time is spent on the accounting process?

Last summer we published a series of three articles on how a lawyer can use a cheap Google Chromebook as part of his/her law practice. Last year's articles focused on the relatively low-powered Samsung Chromebook with an ARM processor similar to what you find in cell phones and tablets. Late last year, several companies released new Chromebooks featuring the latest dual core Intel Celeron processors based on the Haswell architecture. These processors offer more processing power and extended battery life.

One of the new models is the HP Chromebook 14. As the name implies, it is larger than most Chromebooks with its 14 inch screen. Although less portable than last year's Samsung Chromebook, its added power and comfortable screen size can make it a more well-rounded travel companion for the mobile lawyer.

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.

Change is hard. We know that. But seriously, Windows XP was released in late 2001. That was more than a dozen years ago. Forget about dog years, in tech years, that is ancient history. It isn't that XP wasn't good in its day. But its day was long ago.

Many lawyers and law firm staff are dedicated users of Microsoft's desktop office suite (as traditionally purchased software or via the high-value Office 365 subscription). However, most are not aware of the completely free web-based version of Office. Although it has been around for a while, Microsoft has until now given it a low profile (under its previous name, Office Web Apps). And that was unfortunate because Office Online has a lot to offer. It is a full cloud-based office suite that is a worthy competitor to the better-known Google Docs.

Lawyers and law firm staff are discovering that the traditional ways of interacting with their computers, the keyboard and mouse, are not always the best ways. Windows 8.1 offers a new touch-based interface, for example. But voice interaction with our computers and tablets is potentially more useful.

Unfortunately, the microphones built into notebook computers are of modest quality. To get the most out of voice interaction with your technology, a good external microphone is needed. The portable and inexpensive (approx. $40 at Amazon at other retailers) Blue Snowflake is a versatile choice for lawyers with multiple devices.

Many people are frustrated with the default formatting Word 2007/10/13 applies to new documents. If you have to change the typeface (Calibri), the size (11 pt) or the justification (left) for every new document, there's an easy way to make those changes permanent so they will automatically be built into every future document you create. To make all of the following changes to Word's default Font, Paragraph & Section formatting, just launch Word and open a blank document.

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