Basic Word Skills for Legal Professionals
The skills you need to succeed in The New Legal Normal
- An ex-WordPerfect user coming to Microsoft Word with some trepidation?
- A solo practitioner running your law practice sans assistant?
- A paralegal, legal assistant or other law office staff member who's being crushed under a heavy workload in the face of layoffs or hiring freezes?
Whether you've worked with Microsoft Word for a while or are brand new to it, it could seem as though Word is designed to be intimidating. All those buttons across the top and dialog boxes and menus ... what are you supposed to do with all that?
If you work in a law office, you probably spend a large percentage of your day sitting in front of a computer, and what time you don't spend sending emails is spent with Microsoft Word. After all, so much of legal practice involves creating and editing documents.
But just because you use something every day doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of it. And with the way law practice is changing these days, you can’t afford to miss any opportunities to extract the maximum performance and productivity out of the tools you use every day.
Think about the last document you edited. How much time did you spend looking for certain features or struggling with the bad formatting that someone else put there?
Considering how much of your day is spent in front of Microsoft Word, and how important efficiency is becoming in law offices everywhere, doesn’t it make sense to learn how to use this tool well so that you can deal successfully with your ever-increasing workload?
Why most Word training is a waste of time
Oh, you’ve tried to learn Microsoft Word on your own. You took that all-day training class your firm offered, only to be so overwhelmed you forgot most of it by the time you got back to your desk.
Or, you bought a book. But you’re too busy actually working to read a manual. Or maybe you’ve searched for help online, only to find confusing and conflicting instructions.
You're not the problem - the training is
You see, traditional ways of learning how to use software set you up to fail. Classroom instruction dumps too much information on you all at once. Most software manuals are reference books for experienced users, not instructions for beginners.
And searching for help online? Forget it. Even a simple search brings back screen after screen of confusing (and often outright wrong) instructions.
Where can you get the help you really need?
You know you need to update your skills to do your job better. After all, it’s frustrating (and time-consuming) to struggle with even basic tasks in Microsoft Word. If only someone could take you by the hand and show you, step-by-step, how to make Microsoft Word do your bidding (and maybe even translate your WordPerfect tasks to Microsoft Word) . . .
I've been where you are
Hi, my name is Deborah Savadra (a.k.a. the Legal Office Guru). I’ve worked in and around law firms for over 20 years as a legal secretary, paralegal, and software trainer.
Like a lot of you, I started off with WordPerfect. Back when I began working in a law firm, WordPerfect was still in the DOS version. (Yes, I am that old!)
Geek that I am, I learned all sorts of ways to get the most out of WordPerfect. I had my “WordPerfect Function Key Claw” perfected, I programmed macros right and left, and when I wasn’t doing my own work, I was walking around helping the other staff with their WordPerfect challenges. I made WordPerfect sing!
But then came the day I left the legal field. In the “outside world,” they only used Microsoft Word. I was forced to adapt. I took classes, pored over software manuals, and generally figured it all out (often the hard way).
Fast forward a few years. After moving into software consulting and training, I found myself drawn back to working with law firms. And because I had so much Microsoft Word experience under my belt, I became the “go-to girl” for anyone still having trouble making the transition from WordPerfect (and trust me, a lot of folks are still struggling).
So I’ve seen (and heard) it all: the hair pulling, the fist pounding, and every other variation of “Word Rage.” I’ve been asked every question, seen every formatting foul-up, and performed major surgery on some seriously messed up Microsoft Word documents. (I’ve also stopped several people from throwing their computers out the window!)
I've made the leap to Word - and I can help you make it, too!
Of course, being the “Word expert-in-residence” in a law firm, I get a lot of the same questions over and over again. So, to keep from repeating myself, and to save a little time, I started a blog of Microsoft Office tutorials. That way, I could often refer people to a specific blog post (often with video) when they had a question. It made my expertise available when I wasn’t.
But blogs are, well, … disorganized by their very nature. What you need is a systematic, step-by-step way to learn Microsoft Word.