All learning is good

Anyone who has worked with me or reads my posts on Linked In, knows that I know a bit about Microsoft Word. I have spent most of my working life becoming an expert in its tricks, its foibles, its pitfalls and a multitude of shortcuts and workarounds.

The key phrase here is “most of my working life”.

Although I have developed my Word expertise over 25 years, I still learn things. I was recently delivering training at a law firm and an associate showed me a shortcut I didn’t know about. I had developed my own method of getting “the thing to do that thing” … and there was a shortcut the whole time!

He got a gold star and went straight to the top of my class.

I never assume I know everything about Word. I still have to ask my other learned friends (you know who you are) how to do things I knew once how to do but have forgotten… or Microsoft has moved!

Learning is good. And we want lawyers to learn too.

Those of us of a certain age will remember the late 1980s when we protested about lawyers having a computer on their desk at all! These days we don’t even grimace when lawyers create and update their own documents – well, we don’t grimace much.

But lawyers doing their own documents means the sources of Word knowledge and expertise are dwindling.

Document specialist departments have been centralised and are often not in the office - sometimes, not even in the same country.

In very large firms, secretarial ratios are seven or more to one lawyer, when three used to be considered hard work. In undertaking a variety of tasks for a number of lawyers, secretaries don’t have the time to focus on a long Word document, and their skills decline.

A survey from Lloyds states that smaller firms still enjoy a ratio of two to one (0.56 of a secretary per fee earner to be exact), but the skill set does not include the specialist knowledge to work in corporate services and their complex Word documents.

Trainers (if firms employ one) provide a range of training - software roll-outs, telephone systems, billing software, timekeeping and inductions of new joiners and trainees. Some firms have online resources available or conduct training from other countries.

So, who is delivering training in Word? Who is writing and maintaining the firm’s templates? Where is the precedent library? Who is overseeing quality control? And when was the last time they were checked?

Who is doing Word?

Well, no one really … because “everyone knows how to use Word”. There are some excellent customisations out there that can make document production easier, but do you understand how numbering works? In your office? In your house style?

This is Native Word.

There is a growing gap of knowledge in the basics, and we advocate covering that before anything else. And ”the basics” means the most important and ubiquitous software you will use in a law firm …

MS Word.

Bluebird helps law firms define their house style (their brand), creates document templates, and produces learning materials that are specific to a lawyer’s legal agreement and easy to follow.

Get in touch if you would like to know more about taking your practice to the next level of efficiency.

Leanne Bentley

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Bluebird Innovative Office Support is a trading name of Bluebird Support Services Limited, company number 10219923. Registered Office: Alpha House, 4 Greek Street, Stockport. SK3 8AB, UK

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