Better productivity through technology
By Beverly Michaelis
Lawyers and legal support staff are always looking for ways to improve productivity. Better, faster, easier is the mantra, and many turn to technology for solutions. Here are some tips and tools, as well as a few traps to avoid – all designed to help in the productivity effort.
Free Bates-Stamping macro for WordPerfect Users
Bates-stamping is used in the legal and business fields to sequentially number or date/time-mark images as they are scanned or processed (e.g., marking exhibits during the discovery stage of preparing for trial, or identifying business receipts).
Barry MacDonell’s Toolbox for WordPerfect offers two free Bates- stamping macros for WordPerfect users (versions 7 through 12). Bates numbering.wcm creates sequential, fixed-width Bates numbers (e.g., 00001) on Avery® (or similar) labels or card stock. This macro can also Bates-stamp the numbers directly on pre-printed forms, letters or legal documents or include them in an existing document. Bates-numbering for multi-page documents.wcm creates sequential Bates numbers on each page of an existing multi-page document (or filled sheet of labels) in any of 12 locations around the page.
These and many other WordPerfect macros and templates are available at no charge on MacDonnell’s site at http://home.earthlink.net/%7Ewptoolbox/Homepage.html.
Printing a List of E-mails in Outlook 2000/XP/2003
Want to print a list of e-mail messages in a folder rather than the actual messages themselves? When looking at the message list, select File, Print, and choose Table Style. This will print a list of all the e-mails in your Inbox or folder, including the headings (Importance, Status, From, Subject, Received, etc.) By default, Outlook prints All Rows, which means you will automatically get a list of all e-mails in your Inbox or folder. Note that you can also highlight specific messages and choose to print Only Selected Rows.
Saving Outlook 2002 E-Mail Messages to a Text File
Want to save client e-mail messages to a text file you can read in Word or WordPerfect without opening them individually? In Outlook, go to the folder containing the messages you want to save and choose Select All or select the individual messages you want to place in a text file. With the messages highlighted, choose File, Save As and navigate to the location where you want to save the messages. Give the file a name, such as "Jones e-mail messages." "Jones e-mail messages" will be saved as a text file that can be opened in Notepad, WordPad, Word, or WordPerfect. If multiple messages are saved in this fashion, they will be consolidated into one file. This maneuver should work in other versions of Outlook as well. If the File, Save As option is not available, select the messages you wish to save, right click, choose Print, and check the Print to File checkbox before clicking OK. Because you are "printing" to a file (a text file on your computer) and not physically printing the messages, this is equivalent to the Save As approach.
You Can Have "Reveal Codes" in Word
Word’s Reveal Formatting (on the Format menu, click Reveal Formatting) allows users to determine the source of formatting, show formatting marks and change formatting properties. Unfortunately, Reveal Formatting does not allow direct code editing – a sore point for former WordPerfect users who are accustomed to Reveal Codes. Now there is a software plug-in from Levit & James, Inc. that lets you see all the formatting in Word, including tables, sections, field codes, styles, paragraph settings and so on. CrossEyes v. 3.0.045 is $49.99 and is compatible with Windows Me, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Download CrossEyes from www.levitjames.com.
File Size for Attachments Does Matter:
How to Make Documents Scanned for E-mail Distribution Smaller
If you scan documents to e-mail as PDFs, be sure to change your scanner settings to facilitate the smallest possible file size when sending your attachment. By default, most scanners are set for photos, not documents. This can easily result in a one-megabyte PDF file – an attachment size that could easily be rejected by a client’s ISP or e-mail server. By changing your scanner’s color setting to black and white or grayscale and reducing the default resolution by 100 dpi or more, the file size of your document can be reduced by 50-75 percent.
Looking for a Cheap Alternative to
Outlook for Managing Your Calendar and Contacts?
Try Chaos Software’s Time & Chaos v. 6 for $45 per user. The program can be run on your network (just install the data file on your server) or on individual computers. Since the licensing is "per user" rather than "per computer," there is no extra cost to load the program on both your office and home machines. Time & Chaos can handle calendaring, task management and contact management. More than one user can be in the same calendar at the same time, and each user can access any other calendar – depending on permission settings. Users can color code, delegate tasks and coordinate meetings by comparing free time on calendars. Time & Chaos can also generate reports, and it syncs with Outlook, Pocket PC and Palm-based PDAs.
Version 6 supports mail merging with Word 97 or higher. Users desiring WordPerfect support should use Version 5. For more information or a free 30-day trial, go to www. chaossoftware.com/. Requires Windows 98/2000/XP.
Access Your PC From Home
Looking to access your office computer from home? You have several options. Remote Desktop on Windows XP allows access to a Windows session that is running on your computer when you are at another computer. This means you can leave programs running at work and, when you get home, you can see your desktop at work displayed on your home computer, with the same programs running. When you connect to your computer at work, Remote Desktop automatically locks that computer so no one else can access your applications and files. When you return to the office, simply unlock your computer by typing CTRL+ALT+DEL.
To use Remote Desktop, you need the following:
- A computer running Windows XP Professional (the remote computer) with a connection to a Local Area Network (LAN) or the Internet;
- A second computer (your home computer) with access to the LAN via a network connection, modem or Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. This computer must have Remote Desktop Connection installed.
- Appropriate user accounts and permissions.
While Remote Desktop is free, there is a cost associated with setting up and maintaining the LAN or VPN connection. The process is not for novices and requires proper configuration of firewalls and other appropriate security precautions.
Alternatively, several software programs allow you to access your computer remotely over the Internet without using a LAN or a VPN. Four such products are: RemotePC from Pro Softnet (www.pro-softnet.com), LogMeInPro (www.logmein.com), WebEx PCNow from WebEx Communications (http://pcnow.Webex. com/) or the popular GoToMyPC from Citrix Online (www.gotomypc.com). LogMeIn.com and WebEx Communications offer a free "basic service" option. All four programs feature encrypted, secure communications, remote printing ability, sharing and transferring of files and wireless access for users who purchase a monthly or yearly service plan. Prices vary but aren’t expensive – $9.95 per month and up.
Create PDFs Directly in Word
WordPerfect has supported the ability to print directly to PDF for some time. Now that capability is coming to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other Microsoft products. Microsoft Office 12, which is now in beta testing, will support native PDF output. Word users will no longer need to use special plug-ins or PDF makers, such as Adobe Acrobat, to create PDFs for electronic filing, e-mail attachments or document storage. Creating a PDF in Word will be as simple as choosing File, Print (to PDF). If you’re a Word user, this is great news. Office 12 is due to be released later this year.
Keep Up with Technology Developments
No time to keep with up the latest in gadgets, tips and tricks? Consider joining TechnoLawyer at www.technolawyer.com. Receive weekly e-newsletters with product reviews, technology tips and other helpful information. Submit and receive answers to your own technology questions. The service is free to users who contribute to this virtual community.
Another terrific resource is Law Office Computing magazine. Each issue includes software reviews, feature-by-feature product comparisons, practical hardware advice, word processing tips and more – all geared specifically to the legal profession. Subscriptions start at $39 per year. Subscribers receive the print magazine six times per year and have full access to Law Office Computing’s online resources, including the issue and product review archive. For more information, visit www.lawofficecomputing.com.
If you have the time and inclination, consider attending Techshow, the ABA’s annual legal technology conference and expo, scheduled for April 20-22, 2006, in Chicago. The ABA Techshow includes over 50 education and training sessions in 16 different tracks and a two-day expo of more than 100 technology companies. Complete information including sessions, speakers and vendors can be found at www.abanet.org/techshow/. Register early and receive an additional $100 off your registration fee by listing the OSB Professional Liability Fund Program Promoter Code PP14 on your registration form.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author is a lawyer and practice management adviser with the Professional Liability Fund. If you have practice management questions relating to technology or other issues, contact the practice management advisers, Beverly Michaelis, Dee Crocker or Sheila Blackford, at (503) 639-6911 or (800) 452-1639. Their services are free and confidential.
© 2006 Beverly Michaelis