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  • Fixing funky text spacing in Word
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  • Autonumbering discovery requests … in five keystrokes!
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  • Using Sections to customize headers, footers and page numbers

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Buy a plugin, help a child

Buy a plugin, help a child post image

I’ve been an admirer of Standss – Outlook Productivity for a while now, but I wasn’t aware of their pro bono work, particularly the project with a children’s hospital. Standss has developed a database to help ensure that children in Fiji affected by Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) get the antibiotics they need (provided free by the Fiji government) on a regular basis. The database helps track an affected child’s course of treatment by reminding parents that antibiotics are due:

We approached the Children’s Hospital in Suva with the idea of creating a database that allows the hospital to track compliance down to the individual patient level. The aim of the database is to identify children who are not complying with the medical treatment necessary to control the disease. This enables the hospital to identify which patients are missing injections and to intervene early by calling their parents.

The first version of the database has already been developed is currently being trialled at the main Children’s Hospital in Suva. We hope to eventually link this system to mobile phone companies so that parents get reminded of as their children’s appointments (by SMS text) are due. This should further increase compliance while reducing the workload of the overworked nurses and doctors at our hospitals. The data from the database will also be submitted to Government to aid with decision making that will hopefully save unnecessary operations, cost and even lives.

Click here for more information on the project. (You’ll notice, as you scroll down, that these kinds of charitable endeavors are something Standss engages in frequently; other projects including supporting a home for the elderly and helping children with school supplies.)

We’ve spent a lot of time and emotional energy in the United States arguing about health care in recent months, with little to show for it. Here’s an opportunity to support a program that actually seems to be helping children live longer, healthier lives while conserving resources. Find a plugin of theirs that solves your biggest Microsoft Outlook problem and help fund this worthy cause!

How to create numbered headings using Styles

I seem to make my best discoveries about Microsoft Office when I’m annoyed. (See my last post, for example.) It’s that kind of annoyance that says, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” For some reason or another, this time it was paragraph numbering. But not the normal kind where you have the paragraph number indented about half an inch on the same line with the start of the paragraph. The document I was working on (a will) had the paragraph number floating centered above the paragraph. While I was drafting the document, I just knew the attorney I was working for would be moving paragraphs all over the place, and I didn’t want to stop to renumber them when he did.

blawgworld-600

This post won BlawgWorld’s Pick of the Week Award 3/10/14!
Click the image above for more details.

I remembered one of the paralegals I work with telling me that it was possible to embed numbers in Styles. So I went nosing around in Styles, looking to modify my Heading 1 so that it had an automatically incrementing Arabic numeral and a period, like so:

Click here to see what I mean …

In praise of text expansion (or, how to keep from typing the same thing 100 times)

Here in the last several weeks, I’ve been busy. And when I say “busy”, I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill “I have a nice steady flow of work” level of busy. I’m talking “so overloaded I’m farming out scut work to other people”, “oh my gosh, I just had that piece of paper in my hand a moment ago”, “I wonder if I can still get that Xanax prescription filled” level of busy. It was insane.

So naturally, I was looking for every time saver I could get my hands on. If something could save me even a few seconds (especially on a repetitive task), it was worth it.

One of the things I found myself doing was typing the same long complicated phrases over and over and over again. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly love typing. (As proof of that, I’m using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write this article. I’m all for letting the computer do the work.) And when my brain gets a little overloaded and the pace starts getting on my nerves, my already sketchy typing skills go to pot. So I have no patience whatsoever for typing the same long complicated phrase 100 times.

So if you find yourself stuck typing “Brief in Support of American Amalgamated Consolidated Widget Corporation’s Second Amended Motion for Leave of Court to Conduct On-site Inspection” for the umpteenth time, I’m going to show you how to get out of all that repetitive typing. It’s a concept called “text expansion”, and you don’t even need extra software to do it (although there is software that will do that).

Click here to find out how to do more typing in less time

A Complete Novice Explores E-Discovery

I’ve been a technology addict for going on three decades now, starting with a beginner’s programming course on an Apple IIe. I’ve been the one, particularly with law firm environments, who’s ended up teaching others how to use technology. But lately, I found myself bumping up against my limitations in one area: e-discovery.

Considering the way that things are going in the legal field, let alone the larger world, that shouldn’t be too terribly surprising. It’s tough to find anyone these days who doesn’t send most, if not all, of their communications through a smart phone, a tablet, and/or a desktop computer. And who doesn’t have at least one social media account?

In recent weeks, I’ve had to do things like research video codecs, explain how an expert witness could examine a damaged hard drive without altering the data, and interview vendors to see who’s best qualified to mine social media data. Even five years ago, I might never have done any of those things.

One thing I’ve noticed in crawling the Internet looking for information on these topics is how much the various resources assume you already know. (The phone calls with the social media vendors were particularly humiliating for me. I lost track of how many times I said, “I don’t know — I’ll have to get back to you on that.”) That’s why I was grateful to get a heads-up from the folks at TechnoLawyer’s LitigationWorld newsletter on the release of their “Quick Start Guide to Mastering Ediscovery.” When they say this guide is for beginners, they’re not kidding. It assumes nothing about your prior knowledge of technology. Even the most basic terms like “byte” are defined (handy for conversations with the, ahem, technology-challenged among your co-workers).

The “Quick Start Guide to Mastering Ediscovery” is free to TechnoLawyer members. Click here to subscribe to their incredibly valuable free newsletters and get free access to the Guide in the TechnoLawyer member library.

(Photo credit: Tim Simpson http://www.flickr.com/photos/timmy2s/8331089314/# under Creative Commons license)

Reader Question: How to embed the current paragraph number in your text

woman holding question mark

One reader who works in insurance defense law (a woman after my own heart — so do I) asked me this question recently:

In a case where I am automatically numbering the beginning of each paragraph (sometimes up to 100)…and then have to refer to the same paragraph number in the text (e.g., 1. Deny the allegations contained in paragraph “1”), how can I get the number in the text to match the corresponding number of each specific paragraph so that if I have to delete a paragraph, I will not have to go into every paragraph to change the text to say responding to paragraph”2″ to correspond with the actual numbered paragraph? I know it has something to do with using fields in the text.

Again, a woman after my own heart. She’s trying to automate something to minimize the amount of repetitive editing she’ll have to do as the document changes. I like people who think ahead like that.

And she’s right: it does have “something to do with fields in the text.” But which one is appropriate here? The answer may surprise you … and you might find a use for it in your own documents, too.

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