Category Archives for "News"

5 Want your next raise? You’ll have to test for it

I was having lunch with a friend of mine recently, and she was telling me about the new staff bonus plan they just announced at the megalawfirm where she works. It seems legal assistants and other staff members have an opportunity to earn $1,000 by scoring 90% or above on a series of tests on tech skills including proficiency in Microsoft Word.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “bonus”? My bad. I meant “salary adjustment”. You see, the $1,000 isn’t on top of whatever annual raise they get. It IS their annual raise.

Keep reading →

Google Docs user alert: You can now use Pleading Paper there, too!

Quick shout-out to The Droid Lawyer, who has somehow come up with a working template for pleading paper for Google Docs. It’s specific to California, and it costs $10 (as of the time I’m hitting the Publish button), but if you have to do pleadings in this format, it’s arguable worth more than $10.

Of course, if you’re sticking with Microsoft Word, you can always take my free Pleading Paper e-course (which includes links to the current Microsoft templates and shows you how to use and alter them) by clicking on this link right here.

Buy a plugin, help a child

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!

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 under Creative Commons license)

Announcement: Two bonus lessons added to WordPerfect Lover’s course

In reviewing the WordPerfect Lover’s Guide to Word course, I decided that the course wasn’t really complete without lessons on how to print labels and envelopes. So I’ve added those two lessons as bonuses, bringing the total number of lessons to ten.

What does the WordPerfect Lover’s course teach?

  • Understanding the Microsoft Word Ribbon interface
  • Navigation and Views
  • Creating and saving documents
  • Opening and editing existing documents
  • Character formatting
  • Paragraph formatting
  • Page and document formatting
  • Printing and finishing your document (including metadata cleanup)
  • NEW! Printing envelopes
  • NEW! Formatting and printing labels

All current and future course enrollees who complete the first eight lessons have access to the two new lessons at no extra charge! Just my way of doing some continual improvement of the offerings here at Legal Office Guru.

For more information about the course, click here. If you’re already enrolled for the course, go to your Account page (click here) and log in to see your new lessons.

1 Why I use web video as a teaching tool

I stumbled across this 20-minute YouTube video of Khan Academy founder Salman Khan one recent morning.  In it, he talks about how he, quite accidentally, stumbled across the methods he and his site are using to revolutionize education. (If you're not familiar with Khan Academy and its impact on education, watch the video and find out why people like Bill Gates are contributing so much to this nonprofit.)

While I'm certainly not aiming (just yet!) for the scale of his accomplishment, what really struck me about his talk was how similar the genesis of Khan Academy is to Legal Office Guru's. Both sites started out as a repository for personal tutorials (in his case, long-distance tutorials he did for his young cousins who were having trouble with math; in mine, solving problems for current and former co-workers) done after our "day jobs."  Both of us defaulted to the "heard but not seen" instructor mode not due to some grand design, but because neither of us has a video camera. And both of us were pleasantly surprised to see others finding the content useful.

During 2011, this blog changed a lot. A new design went live in January. I started making longer (and more complex) videos after (finally!) getting some hardware and software upgrades this spring. And early this summer, I started doing more outreach to related blogs — becoming a contributor on blogs like Attorney at Work and Lawyerist.

And more change is coming. Stay tuned!

Turning PDFs back into Word

Ever wish you could take a pdf that someone’s e-filed and edit it for your own use?  (Yeah, me too.)

Well, apparently now you can at … for free, even!

Only you can decide whether this service is safe enough for confidential client documents.’s privacy policy states that files that are uploaded and converted are deleted immediately upon processing and never touch human hands.

But if you don’t want to re-type, and you like free services, you can’t beat this!