4 Software Hacks for Paralegals

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

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“I don’t have time to draft that brief right now. I guess I’ll have to stay late again.”

Sound familiar?

It’s easy to waste time performing repetitive tasks and not even realize it. Below are a handful of software hacks to help you can regain control of your time.

Use “Quick Parts” to Insert Frequently Used Text

Tired of typing the same letter over and over? Can’t find the specific language from that contract you prepared three years ago? One of the best kept secrets in Microsoft Word and Outlook is the Quick Parts feature, found on the “Insert” Tab.

Quick Parts collects any text or image you want into a gallery so you can easily insert it into another document at a later date. When it comes to form letters, specific language often used in a pleading or contract, and even computer signatures, Quick Parts are a paralegal’s dream come true.

All you have to do is highlight and save the text or image to the Quick Parts gallery as you work. In the future, any time you need to insert it in another document (or email message), simply click the down arrow on the Quick Parts button or type the name of the saved Quick Part and the “F3” button on your keyboard. The text will populate automatically and you just saved yourself ten minutes of searching for the perfect wording.

Turn Hundreds of PDFs into One Simple File

Here we go again – another thumb drive from an opposing attorney with 300+ PDF files that will take three hours to open individually and save to the case management software.

Adobe Acrobat to rescue! All you have to do is select all the PDF files you want to combine, right click and select “Combine files in Acrobat.” You can even rearrange the pages so the final document is in the order you prefer. Each of the PDFs becomes a bookmark in the combined file for easy access.

Would you rather leave file conversion and printing to the experts (which may be a more cost effective solution)? Contact a litigation support vendor in your area!

Creative Uses for Mail Merge

The “Mail Merge” feature of Microsoft Word is a useful tool for populating pleadings, correspondence, contracts or any other document you frequently draft with specific case information.

  • Each time you open a case, save the case information in an Excel or an Access file. When creating a field, consider anything you would have to refer to in the case, such as “Plaintiff,” “Defendant,” “Docket Number,” “Opposing Attorney,” etc.

  • Next, set up your Microsoft Word forms using Mail Merge. Any time you would type the Plaintiff’s name, for example, select the “Plaintiff” field instead from the Insert Merge Field button on the Mailings tab.

  • Then, each time you need to draft that particular document, you just have to select the data source and finish the merge. No more “search and replace” or looking up specific case information and typing everything in every time you draft a document.

Maintain Your Sanity With Outlook Reminders

Is work coming at you faster than you can handle? As soon as an email arrives that you don’t have time to take action on, right click and select “Follow Up” and then “Add Reminder.” You can schedule a time for it to pop up to remind you.

Make sure every day you review those reminders to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. You can access your list of reminders on the “View” tab of Outlook.

Struggling to keep track of emails? Consider purchasing a document management system that integrates with Microsoft Outlook which can assist you in automating email storage, setting up rules, compliance in eDiscovery and more.

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