Barron Henley and Allan MacKenzie
Barron: Quit using copy/paste and search replace to create documents! You copy over errors into all your documents. Most of the people, who consider themselves power users, don’t use word processing software effectively at all. Movement away from per hour billing to flat fee means you need to work quicker and get more done!
Allan: Within Word you can use fields to simply fill in a letter, or other common docs, you can even set up the template to use fill in questions to fill in those fields. You can use styles to reuse what is typed in one field in another field. Use Autotext, not just globally, but specific to a template as well, makes it easier to find and use in that template. So, you can create a clauses folder with autotext entries and simply enter the clauses that are relevant to only that template. If you use links to a template your letter will update any time you change the autotext library for that template, say if you make part of it underlined, then you hit Ctrl-Shift-F9 to close links before saving. Minor programming in 2003 will allow you to automate that as well. (Note, need to research exactly how these sorts of macros are written and how we could use them.)
Autotext in 2007 is different, you need to add it to the quick access toolbar to reach it…
Commercial Drafting Systems: Can be a nice option if you don’t have time to design these yourself. Lexis has forms, ABA, and your local Bar Association have good forms. This helps to keep up with law changes, because they send you updated forms, and usually have listserv to help communicate with other users of the form set, who also happen to be in the same practice area as you. On the other hand, they can be expensive, and are charged SAAS, so it’s ongoing, may not include all you need or every state, some are difficult to learn, or maybe don’t work very well. Biggest complaint Barron hears is complexity of system in some cases.
Document Assembly Products:
Dynamic Document Drafting
HotDocs (a Lexis Nexis Product) is the market leader. HotDocs has a web-based component as well. Barron is showing off doing a letter in Hot Docs by answering questions. Simplified training, want to do a letter, “open the letter template”. You program the one template and everyone shares that so you know every letter is going to have the correct stuff in it.
What documents to automate: create chart, two axis how frequently you use them, and how difficult they are to do. Start easy when you’re learning how to program templates! If you start with the hardest document you handle, you’ll never get anywhere, start with things like fax cover sheets, and grow from there. You can still save lots of time with these simple documents being automated, maybe 5 minutes at a time.
Barron is on office.microsoft.com talking about training videos that are on there. Also suggests the Word MVP site. He wishes he could give every law office the simple understanding of how to really use their word processing software. He actually got applause with that one..:)
OK, this will be the last post for today, not going to try to blog 60 sites in 60 minutes, it goes too fast, and then I’m off to spend the afternoon with the wife before flying home. I’ll have more to say about the event overall soon.