Book Review: The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Word 2010

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Ben M. Schorr, The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2010, Chicago, Ill: American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2011, 267 pages inclusive of index.  Softcover, $69.95, ISBN 978-61632-949-5

 

The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2010 is an informative, accessible, and eminently useful addition to any law library or law office.  With easy-to-understand explanations and multiple screenshots for the visual learners, The Lawyer’s Guide will help people get everything possible out of one of the most-used applications in Microsoft Office.

Author Ben Schorr has previously written The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2007 (as well as guides to Microsoft Outlook) and brings that perspective to this guide, which opens with a rundown of the ways in which Word 2010 has been enhanced and updated since Word 2007.

As I typed my first draft of this review on Word 2010, I could easily see some of the new and improved features discussed in the book.  Some of them I already knew about and use with regularity, but (just to give one example) the ability to see the full contents of the Clipboard from the Ribbon was an excellent feature, and I’m sure I will make use of it in the future.

After an introduction to the changes and enhancements, we move on to the basics of documents.  This section raises another excellent feature of the guide, the tips and tricks and cautionary points sprinkled throughout the text.  Many of these discuss the mistakes and inefficiencies that lawyers were (and are still) prone to in Word (reusing an existing document for a new client, editing it, and then accidentally saving the new version over the old is a pitfall pointed out in Chapter 3).  From the basic, we continue into the specifics of tools so necessary for lawyers using Word: lists and footnotes, tables of authorities and tables of contents, sharing documents, protecting them, and finding templates to help in crafting the most professional of filings. 

Throughout, the writing style strikes just the right note: casual without being condescending.  Explanations and accompanying illustrations walk the user through new (and previously-undiscovered) features.  For example, Chapter 5 is “Stuff Lawyers Use.”  The first “stuff” discussed is a template for pleadings.  Schorr points out that Word has had a template for pleadings in the past, but that many people did not know this because it was not easy to find.  He then reveals the Word 2010 pleading templates via a quick and easy search in the New Document Window.

That is just one example.  The Lawyer’s Guide assumes that its target audience is not made up of a lot of computer science majors.  Chapter 8 shows how to create Building Blocks and macros, but it is not “required reading,” and the reader is advised to simply skip to the next chapter if the subject does not appeal to those with a less technological bent.  Overall, the book is useful without being burdened with too much jargon that the target audience may not understand (or care about). 

In short, The Lawyer's Guide makes a great “go-to” for the novice Word user, and even the most seasoned of writers will likely find some time-saving tips and techniques to allow them get the most out of Word 2010.  Highly recommended.


Stephanie Ziegler is a reference librarian at Ohio State University’s Moritz Law Library in Columbus, Ohio

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