How many days do I have again?

It’s hard to calculate how many days are between a certain day and another, especially if they are far apart. If your deadline to file a motion is 60 days before your hearing date on October 12th, 2015, what date is that? Luckily, there are several ways to determine that calculation. We’re going to cover Excel, Outlook, and a web tool called Timeanddate.com.

If you frequently need to keep track of court calendar deadlines, services like Deadlines.com (formerly Deadlines on Demand) or Juralaw (if you practice in Illinois) can keep the dates straight for a price. There are several ways to count how many days for free, however, and best of all you can use these tricks for all your deadlines—not just court specific ones.

 

The first is with Excel. In cell A1 type the date of your hearing: 10/12/2015. In cell B1 type “=A1-60” and hit enter. Excel will calculate the date automatically, changing the cell contents to say “8/13/2015.” If the date of your hearing changes, replace the date in cell A1 and the date of your filing deadline will automatically change with it.

excel screenshot

 

To find out if that date falls on a weekend, click cell B1, go to the cell formatting drop down menu under the Home tab and select “Long Date.”

long date excel spreadsheet

 

The cell data will change to tell you what day of the week 8/13/2015 is. In this example it is Thursday, but if it were on a weekend you could adjust your deadline as needed.

If you don’t have Excel handy, you can also add or subtract a date on the web. Timeanddate.com has several different calendaring calculators. Use their date calculator to add or subtract from a date. Still using the example of 60 days until your hearing date on 10/12/2015, enter 10/12/2015 as your start date. Select “(-) Subtract” from the dropdown menu, and enter “60” under “Days.”

subtractdateweb

Press “Calculate new date.” The result will be “Thursday, August 13, 2015.” Timeanddate.com also features calculators to determine the number of days between two dates, time duration between exact times and finding the week number of any date.

Finally, there’s Outlook.

Enter the October 12, 2015 hearing for your client on your calendar. After the appointment is on your schedule, bring up the Go To Date box by right clicking the date (or typing Ctrl – G if you’re a keyboard shortcuts person).

hearing for my client

In the box that appears, place your cursor before the date and type “60 days before”

60 days before

Press OK, and you will be brought to August 13, 2015, where you can now enter a new event for your motion filing deadline. You can also find out dates in the future by typing “x days after.”

Get on Track (With Track Changes)

Microsoft Word provides a handy feature for document collaboration called “Track Changes”. Used by professionals the world over, this functionality has many benefits and a few pitfalls. For instance, when receiving a document that has Track Changes enabled it is often difficult to read because of all the markup. Did you know that you can make it much easier to focus on important text changes by going to “Show Markup” and uncheck “Formatting”?

Turn off formatting markup in Track Changes

Turn off formatting markup in Track Changes

Track Changes with no format tracking is much easier to read

Track Changes with no format tracking is much easier to read

When you send out a document with Track Changes enabled you can click on the arrow in the Track Changes button and select “Change Tracking Options” to toggle off “Track Formatting” so your collaborator can have a cleaner copy of the changes too!

Turn off formatting in Track Changes when sending a tracked document

Turn off formatting in Track Changes when sending a tracked document

What if you forgot to turn on “Track Changes” when you sent out a document and now you want to see if there are changes in the returned document? No problem! In the Review tab, Compare group click Compare and choose “Compare” to do a side by side blackline of your document versus the one you’ve just received. In the options you can toggle off all formatting differences so you will have a clean comparison of the differences in the text, without formatting adding an unnecessary layer of complexity.

Options for Document Comparison

Options for Document Comparison

Compare feature show blackline, plus original and updated document in three panes

Compare feature show blackline, plus original and updated document in three panes

Want to learn more about using Track Changes? Check out this useful article from PC World article “How to track changes in Microsoft Word without going insane”.

Know What You Are Sending (With A Little Help) in MS Word

Microsoft can warn you  before sending, saving or printing a document with comments or tracked changes

Microsoft can warn you before sending, saving or printing a document with comments or tracked changes

Eighteen jurisdictions have ethics opinions on metadata.  All of them suggest that a lawyer who is sending an electronic document should take reasonable precautions to prevent disclosure of confidential information. While technically not metadata, the comments and tracked changes in a Microsoft Word document do present a significant opportunity to unintentionally expose  confidential information.  There are many ways to remove and reduce exposure of metadata, but one very important aspect is that the sender is aware of what is being sent. In some cases you may fully intend to send a document with comments and tracked changes.

Whether intentional or not, a notification that a document you are saving, sending, or printing has tracked changes or comments could be useful.  Fortunately you can do exactly that with a setting in MS Word.  In Word 2010-13 go to File – Options – Trust Center – Trust Center Settings – Privacy Options and check the box that says “Warn before printing, saving, or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments”.

Once this option is checked if you click to save or save as, print to a physical printer or to PDF,  save to PDF or use a PDF conversion tool like Acrobat or Nuance, or use any command under the “Save and Send” menu you will get a warning that the document has either comments and/or tracked changes and asks you to click yes to continue.  However, the warning system is fallible because if you attach the file from an email program, such as MS Outlook you will get no notice.

Disaster Planning: Turn Off Email Address Autocomplete

February LPMT Tech Tip

Headline after headline after headline reveal attorneys suffering disaster because of mis-sending email. While slowing down and paying more attention can help, turning off some of the convenience features built into email applications can’t hurt. In MS Outlook (2010 & 2013) go to File – Options – Mail – Send Messages and uncheck “Use Auto-Complete List to Suggest Names when Typing in the To, CC, and BCC Lines”.

autocomplete

 

 

 

 

Then click on “Empty Auto Complete List”.

autocomplete button

 

 

 

 

If that seems a bit too nuclear you can selectively remove old or easy to abuse AutoComplete email addresses that appear in email by clicking on the X next to the name that appears. This will clear it from your auto-complete list.removefromlist

 

 

 

 

 

If you use keyboard shortcuts like <Cntrl + Enter> to send an email you can turn it off. Why? Because this method  is so quick that it can be dangerous! You can turn off that shortcut by unchecking the option box, which appears in the same options menu as turning off AutoComplete. Now you won’t be able to create a disaster in the blink of an eye.

cntroenter

 

 

 

 

For Gmail you must delete individual contacts for them not to show up in AutoComplete, though you can go to Settings and choose to add contacts youself instead of the default “When I send a message to a new person, add them to Other Contacts so that I can auto-complete to them next time”.

gmailcontacts

 

There are other remedies for common mistakes like the “Reply All” monitor from Sperry for MS Outlook or Google’s “Undo” option in Labs (which can also be done in MS Outlook and is actually just putting a short delay on the “send” time). However, the main way to having embarrassing, costly or worse things happen from misuse of email is just to slow down on the send button.

 

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.

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