Legal tools for a Word 2010 Add-In Macro / Word for Law Firms
If you’re thinking a third party customized macro add-in by a quality third party vendor might be a good idea for your lawyers, then the next step is knowing what to shop for.
There are at least twelve document production functions critical to law firms not provided by native Word.
When you’re shopping for a legal macro package, remember these advantages.
1. Improved Template Organization:
The ability to organize templates is inherent in Word, but geared to the individual. A well-designed macro package should provide access to firm templates for all users, organized by Practice Group, Clients, Matters, or Individuals.
Enhanced functionality such as contact integration and author formatting preferences should be a part of customized templates. In addition, some template organizers provide access to non-Word files such as Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDF’s and web links.
2. Author Document Preferences:
Wouldn’t it be nice if attorney formatting preferences for different types of documents and situations were “remembered” and available from within templates? A flexible macro package can provide this, allowing individual customizations within the firm’s standard document templates. A good example is personal information on the firm letterhead.
3. Advanced Legal Numbering:
Ideally, a macro package will include a legal numbering tool that significantly reduces time and frustration associated with Word numbering. You should be able to create unlimited multi-level outlines, linked to unique style names, in a single document that provides a simple numbering solution for complex documents.
4. Improved use of Styles:
Better understanding of Styles by users (and consequently the consistent use of Styles) is a historic strength of macro solutions. A good styles organizer is a must! This should be available from every document, making it easy to select standard firm styles and style sets. Also, the administration of styles (the creation, maintenance and distribution of standard styles) should be convenient for the IT staff.
5. Automated Clean-up Tools:
With the increase of electronic documents, and the introduction of new Office file formats, it is increasingly important to quickly clean and re-format legacy documents or problem documents. Without an automated “clean-up tool”, users can spend hours re-formatting a single document.
6. Document Assembly:
A document assembly tool is a selection of commonly used pieces of legal text. It is similar to Document Building Blocks (or AutoText) in older versions of Word except it is available to all personnel instead of one individual. Depending on your needs, a good macro package can offer basic to high-end tools that re-use contact and matter data from a common data source and provide guided interview processes for the selection of clauses in document production.
7. Access Contacts & Matters:
Now what about contact and matter data? An advanced legal macro add-in integrates with a central matter and contact database for production of standard documents. Access to a central database should be available from the Ribbon or Task Pane for quick access when working in documents.
8. Automated Pleading Generator:
An advanced third-party macro automates the generation of Pleadings. A macro package should save and re-use common elements such as parties, captions and service lists through a secure, centralized location for important matter information. This eliminates the dangers of copy-and-paste.
9. Labels and Envelopes Production:
It is important to automate Labels and Envelopes tools in native Word with options to include author information in the return address. Access to the contact database is a bonus feature to look for, allowing simple mail merges from the firm’s single data source.
We’re not only discussing mailing labels. A macro solution should have tools for the production of Bates Labels with flexible number sequencing and legal file labels with customized category organization.
10. Table of Contents Generator
Word’s own table of contents generator has a recurring problem in the legal environment, the problem of lead-in text. Often a table of contents must include the first sentence of a paragraph, but not the entire paragraph.
This lead-in text typically has an auto number that must be part of the table. While this is possible in native Word, it is very cumbersome! A quality table of contents generator makes it automatic. It should also encourage the use of heading styles for formatting text (and creating the table) and place the table of contents at any location in the document.
11. Central Administration
Your IT staff should have one-stop access to administrative settings for the macro package, and the development and customization tools should be available from the Ribbon. Make life easy for your IT staff!
12. Maximize Training Time and Minimize Costs (Bonus!):
Standardize Word for all users, provide useful tools, and make sure it isn’t necessary for them to self-customize. All of these reduce training time, a primary but often overlooked benefit of third party macros.
A tremendous amount of time is spent drafting, formatting, editing and assembling documents. Microsoft Word, the all-purpose word processor, is a great application to accomplish all of this. But it can be made better! How? With legal-specific functionality. The cost-effective way to reach this goal is through a well-designed, comprehensive and easily-customized legal-specific macro package for Word 2010 (and 2007).