MS Word - it's easy when you know how

“Word training” in a law firm is not just an exercise in how to use Word. This is because, in the legal sector, Word is used in a very unique way.

Warning: We are going to get a little bit technical here.

It's all in the construction of your Agreement

A practical approach to training lawyers was developed by LTC4, involving a programme of workflow-based (not feature-based) training in the various technology skills needed in a law firm.

We decided to take a microscope to this and specifically look at a law firm’s Agreement template and how it is used - and often misused - by lawyers.

(If you don’t already have an Agreement template, see me after class!)

Your firm’s Agreement template is probably the most complex Word document that you will ever use. It is underpinned by your firm's house style template and contains Style Groups specifically designed for different sections of the Agreement.

And each Style Group belongs in its own section:

  • Cover

  • Parties

  • Background/Recitals

  • Agreement (body)

  • Definitions

  • Schedules

The three main sections are Agreement (body), Definitions and Schedules.

The names in the Style Groups should be easily identifiable (eg, Heading 1, Heading 2 or Schedule 1, Schedule 2).

So, if you use a Schedule number in the body of the Agreement where you are using Heading numbering, you will have a problem. Why? Because Schedule numbering is for schedules and Heading numbering is for the body of the Agreement.

It makes sense, doesn't it. It's not difficult to follow if you know what Style groupings you use at your firm, and where each should be used.

And it can take less than an hour to show you how this works.

Note: I have used Microsoft style names here (Heading and Schedule) but many law firms use a system of standardised names developed by the UK Document Excellence Group (UKDEG). We can convert your documents to this numbering framework to allow your lawyers to work efficiently not only in your firm’s Agreements but in other firms' as well.

So, with a good template and a bit of Word training can help you navigate even the largest Agreement with ease. You will look good to your clients because your Agreement is correct and consistent, and they're getting it at 6.00pm, not 2.00am!

Bluebird can assist any law firm with training on its current templates and house style. Or we can design and convert old precedents to a fresh new look, and train your teams to use it.

Bluebird also has a team of experts trained to understand your house style, and to create correct and consistently formatted Word documents, at a fraction of your hourly rate.

Contact Leanne Bentley for more details at

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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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