Tag Archives for " Quick Parts "

11

Why do lawyers resist document assembly?

This post was originally published in September, 2015.

If you have any interest at all in the intersection between technology and lawyering, you should really check out this week’s podcast over at Lawyerist, where Lawyerist’s Sam Glover interviews Dennis Kennedy of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Some of the conversation goes where you’d expect—document review, artificial intelligence, technology versus offshoring, what really constitutes “lawyering”, etc.—but then around the 13:37 mark, the conversation turns to a subject near and dear to my heart; namely, document assembly (which Kennedy apparently has had extensive past experience with).

Although Sam’s not entirely convinced of its value (at one point protesting “I am perfectly capable of automating documents, but in my own practice, I almost never bothered, because it would have only saved me 30 seconds”), Dennis Kennedy responds with what I think are some critical insights:

I think you always have to have volume and … repeatability. And so the best thing is to identify where those things make sense. So I sort of have a couple of principles on document assembly I always think about, that have been part of my learning. I think when you say, ‘What I want to do is find a way to generate the finished document all at once,’ I don’t think you can win with that. So my goal was always to say, ‘Can I use document assembly in a way that generates a really good first draft?’ And by taking the standard to that [level], I think [document assembly] can be really helpful. Although you still have to have volume and repeatability.

Kennedy mentions using Word’s Quick Parts to assemble interrogatories, as an example:

Then I also think there’s this other piece of document assembly that in ancient days people used to call ‘point and shoot’ document assembly, where you’d say, ‘I have this clause file‘ (which, you know, a lot of lawyers think they have or have but they don’t really use) … and whether that’s using, you know, the smart insertion (I’ve lost the name of it off the top of my mind, in Word [Ed. note: Quick Parts]) or whatever where I can go, like, BOOM. I just use a hot key or I click a menu option and I pull those standard clauses in, and I can kind of assemble pieces of documents and other things on the fly to customize them because I do have repeatable components even if I don’t have repeatable documents. So if you said, ‘I’m using document assembly, say, for interrogatories or that sort of thing in a litigation practice,’ you can say, ‘Oh, I see how I can use document assembly for the container of those questions and if I could kind of point and shoot to the questions I want to include, then I’m going to have standard approaches, and that gives me that really good first draft that I can work with.’ And I know I have all the basic stuff, so then instead of saying, ‘Have I included all 30 of these questions or have I remembered everything that should go in here based on my memory,’ it’s all in there and you look through it and you say, ‘Oh, in this case, you know what, we need to ask this, we need to do this,’ and then I think you’re adding the value and turning it from a routine exercise into something that’s actually creative for you and helpful for the client.

At this point, Sam asks a pointed question: “So, why is that we’re still talking about this, though? Like, why isn’t it more widely used and why can’t we say, ‘Okay, it’s just a tool like any other, and yeah, of course lawyers should use it, and they are’?”

Sam and Dennis (starting at the 19:47 mark) take a stab at answering that question in their interview. But what do you think? Why do we see so little document assembly in law firms nearly three decades after that technology’s introduction? Do you agree that many lawyers’ resistance is rooted in a misguided expectation of what document assembly should accomplish (produce a final draft rather than a first one)? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments (click through to the full post here).

7 Building reuseable Microsoft Word footers

One of my coworkers called me — for, like, the umpteenth time  — asking me to pull up document 389729 (not its real name) and “do that footer thing” (a.k.a. my famous footer trick, wherein I insert a three-column table into a document footer so the document number is on the left, the page number is in the middle, and maybe the date/time stamp for the latest draft is on the right).

My “footer thing” is getting to be really popular around the office, and I’ll have to show it to you sometime.  But there’s a way around having to build new footers in documents repeatedly.

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4 Want that “15th day of August, 2012” to self-update? Here’s how

If your documents are anything like the ones I’ve worked on over the years, there’s at least one section (the “Respectfully submitted” or the Certificate of Service in pleadings or the notary acknowledgement, for example) that has this in it:

 

Dated this the 15th day of August, 2012

 

If you start drafting the document on the 15th but don’t actually file (or sign or whatever) until, say, the 21st or the 30th or, heaven forbid, sometime next month or year, you’re either going to have to leave blanks for the day, month and/or year while you’re drafting or remember to update all those dates when you finalize the document.

But what if you didn’t have to do either one? What if your document was smart enough to do its own updating, based on the date you saved it last?

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3 The four dates you can embed in your Word documents

One of the most fun discoveries new Microsoft Word users make is the self-updating date. You may already know exactly what I’m talking about: you click a couple of times, and suddenly you’ve got today’s date embedded in your document, and it will update itself every time you open the document.

But what if what you want isn’t necessarily today’s date? What if you need the document to reflect the date it was saved, or printed, or created?

The good news is, you can get any of those with a couple more mouse clicks and a little know-how.

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1 Work smarter not harder

The 4 Biggest Time-Saving Microsoft Word Features You’re Probably Not Using

Learning Microsoft Word can seem a daunting task. So many features! Where’s the best place to start?

If you want to boost your productivity in Microsoft Word fast, you really need to master these four features first. Learning how to leverage these can shave seconds or even minutes off repetitive daily tasks, which adds up to getting more work done daily (or even leaving the office at a decent hour!).

Here are the four best areas for you to spend a little self-education time, before you’re subjected to one of those legal technology audits you keep hearing about.

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2 Guest Post @ Lawyerist: 5 Microsoft Office Hacks to Finish Tasks Faster

Want to move things from your inbox to your outbox a lot faster? It’s time you upgrade your skills in Microsoft Office to find faster ways of doing common tasks, like:

  • Speed-formatting your text with Styles (it’s a one-click operation!)
  • Using shortcut keys for speed typing
  • Employing templates to speed document creation for common forms
  • Accessing boilerplate text instantly with Quick Parts and AutoText
  • Getting one-click access to commonly used commands with the Quick Access Toolbar

Click here to get your learning on over at Lawyerist.

Guest Post @ Lawyerist: Sharing AutoText and Quick Parts with Others

If you’ve started building a library of boilerplate text in Microsoft Word using either AutoText or Quick Parts, you may have wondered to yourself whether you can distribute those to your assistant/paralegal or other attorneys in your practice area at your firm.

In response to a request from a Lawyerist reader, I’ve not only unlocked the secrets behind where these entries are stored, I’ve also detailed a method for storing and distributing these entries for others to use.

Click here to read this illustrated article over at Lawyerist.

1 Guest Post @ Lawyerist – Recycle text with Quick Parts and AutoText

Got a lot of texts you use over, and over, and over? Then you’ll be interested in my guest post over at Lawyerist entitled “Recycle Text with Quick Parts and AutoText.” In it, I show you exactly which feature is a better choice (answer: depends on what kind of typist you are, among other things), how to set these features up, and how to gradually build up a library of document building blocks you can use to instantly access those recycleable texts you love.

Click here to read the full article.

(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5644838033/)

5 Instantly access boilerplate text with Quick Parts

Admit it: you repeat yourself.  A lot.

Oh, you don’t think you do.  But if you work in a law office, you’re probably constantly going back to old documents, picking up bits and pieces of text to drop into your latest magnum opus.

Stop doing that!

For one thing, it’s just so inefficient.  Even worse, you’re constantly in danger of forgetting to edit something client-specific when you do all that cutting-and-pasting.  (Do you really want to repeat that time you forgot to change “he” to “she” in the Notary Acknowledgement and your client had to correct you before she signed her name?)

Here’s a better solution: Quick Parts. Continue reading

2 The Spike: It’s more than plain cut-and-paste

No, I’m not talking about a medieval torture instrument (sorry to those of you who are disappointed) — I’m talking about a cool “undocumented” feature in Microsoft Word.

The Spike allows you to gather up several different pieces of text into a holding area and paste them as a block into a document.

This could come in handy if you have, say, discovery requests you want to pick-and-choose from prior cases.  Just start going through your various old files, save each block of text into the Spike with CNTRL-F3, and assemble away!  Or use it to ease the editing of a document when the attorney is moving large blocks of text around.

So what’s the difference between this and the Clipboard?  The Spike allows you to work with multiple pieces of copied text at once, while the Clipboard only allows you to paste in the last piece of text you copied.

A caution, though: the Spike cuts text from your originating document instead of copying it and leaving the original text intact.  As long as you don’t save the altered original document, though, no harm done, right?

According to Lori Kaufman of HelpDeskGeek.com, “The Spike is a useful feature if you need to quickly and easily rearrange and move non-contiguous text or create a new document from pieces of another document.”

Use the Spike or just open up a new document window to assemble text?  It’s up to you.  But do head over to HelpDeskGeek.com and check out their tutorial before you decide.

(Hat tip to HelpDeskGeek.com via the ever-popular LifeHacker blog for the heads-up on this feature.)