Document Assembly for Real Lawyers

“You’ve heard it from just about anywhere technology advice gets spread: Document assembly systems save time, boost productivity, reduce errors—and all while helping to eliminate reinventing the wheel when drafting documents. Sounds fabulous. But are real-life lawyers actually adopting document assembly in their practices? For insights into that—and, better still, tips on how to get the benefits without taking a wallop to the wallet—here’s the scoop from some folks in the know.”

This article  in Attorney at Work, featuring interviews with Jim Calloway and Catherine Sanders Reach, outlines the current state of document assembly software and usage in law firms.

Interested in learning more about document assembly? See the archive of the CBA  CLE “Smarter, Better, Faster, Document Assembly”  and check out the free How To… Automate Functions in MS Word and How to… Control Formatting with MS Word Styles and Templates.

Add-on: SimplyFile for MS Outlook

There are many MS Outlook add-ons that mimic functionality that is already built into the application. Though Techhit’s SimplyFile http://www.techhit.com/SimplyFile/ would seem to fall into that category since MS Outlook has a strong rules function and has added the “Move” group in the Home tab, it is actually amazingly useful despite some overlap. SimplyFile is an “intelligent filing assistant for Microsoft Outlook” and costs $50US.

So, is it worth it? Find out in my new Slaw.ca post “SimplyFile for MS Outlook

Lawyers Moving to Windows 8?

Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 8, released on October 26, 2012.  It is optimized for touch screen computing and completely revamps the user interface. Recently a CBA member asked me if I was aware if law firms were switching to Windows 8.  My response, in part:

“I haven’t heard of any firms switching to Windows 8, though it will become more difficult to order new computers, especially from big box retail stores, without the new OS. I would recommend against it until we know how the software that lawyers tend to use (practice management, PDF creation, etc.) works with it. I haven’t heard of any compatibility issues, but that is likely because few have made the move.”

Legal bloggers advise caution before moving to the new OS. Here are some thoughts from the legal blogosphere:

As I mentioned, getting a new PC with an older (Windows 7) version of the operating system will be increasingly difficult. If you are in the market for a new PC and are not interested in Windows 8 this is a good time to buy while you still have choices.

Here are a few reviews of Windows 8 from technology publications:

Note that older machines may not have the computing power to run Windows 8 and all reviewers agree that users of the older Windows operating system will have to re-learn something they have been familiar with for years.

Change is often challenging. Microsoft’s new OS is attempting to bring the best of traditional computing and ease of use of tablet computing together. As with any major change to a familiar product there will be a time of (sometimes painful) transition. Add the increasing dominance of cloud computing options that make decisions about operating system de minimis and computer users should at least smile at the increased opportunity for choice in today’s technology market.

Upcoming LPMT Programs and Training

Don’t miss upcoming CLE programs and free training sessions:

Coming up in August:

  • How to… Take Control of Social Media with Hootsuite
  • How Lawyers Can Use Collaboration Tools

Coming up in September:

  • How to… Use MS OneNote for Project Management
  • How to… Automate Functions in MS Word
  • Smarter, Better, Faster: Document Assembly

Coming up in October:

  • How to…  Get the Most Out of LinkedIn
  • How to…  Manage Complex Tasks in Basecamp
  • How to…  Use MS Outlook Add-ons
  • Intersection of Ethics and Technology

PLUS Law Firm Startup Bootcamp on Oct. 4 – everything you need to know to start (or update) your law firm!

Register online at the Chicago Bar Association – CLE - CLE Seminars  and check the LPMT “Upcoming Programs” calendar for program descriptions, dates and times.

New How to… and CLE Archives Available

New archives available:

Did you know that if you registered for a CBA LPMT CLE program or training class you can go back and watch the recording any time?  Simply log in to the Chicago Bar Association website and look under “Webcasts” and then select “My Seminars” from the drop down menu.  If you missed a session, the links to the recordings will be available on the LPMT site listed in the Program Archives link under “Upcoming Programs”. Just register to watch.

Also, all Chicago Bar Association members have access to previous progam materials, as well as white papers and other information.  Click on the “Articles (CBA Members Only)”  tab in the site header.

Fog Bank: When the Cloud Is Down

Read my Attorney At Work article on how lawyers who are dependent on the cloud can be productive even when offline:

Sometimes you just don’t have access to the Internet. Whether you’re traveling in a plane, or in a remote (or sometimes not so remote) area that has no WiFi, 3G or 4G coverage, or simply because your cable or T1 line is down due to weather or some other outage, on occasion you will have some forced downtime because you can’t access your cloud-based documents, send emails, or pull up a client’s contact information from a cloud-based provider. In fact, it is likely to happen at the most inopportune moment. Fortunately, there are ways to access online information locally.

Turn Email Notification Off in MS Outlook 2010

In a recent CBA CLE program on Managing Information Overload (CBA members find materials here), I described how the pop-up notification in MS Outlook when new messages arrive can be a distraction. Here is a quick video tutorial on how to turn it off, or change the settings:

Adding Repeating – but Not Recurring – Appointments in the Outlook Calendar

The MS Outlook calendar lets users easily add recurring appointments by entering them into the calendar and then adding a frequency by clicking on the “recurrence” button. This works well for events that occur on a regular schedule – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.  However, you may find that you need to schedule events that happen frequently but do not fall into a specific pattern.  One easy way to add an appointment to multiple non-recurrent days is to copy the appointment. Simply create the appointment, then in the calendar view select  it and hold down the <Ctrl> key. Then drag and drop the appointment to other days as needed. If the time for the event  changes simply drag the event to the correct time.

Want to see how? Watch this video!

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