“Why Do So Many Lawyers Use WordPerfect?”

Interesting answers to the question posed to Ask MetaFilter today.

Of course, it begs the question of whether in fact “so many lawyers” actually do use WordPerfect. Do you or folks at your firm? If so, why?


  1. Well – this might have been true in the late Nineties, all major North American law firms switched around WP 7.

    This had virtually nothing to do with the quality of the word processing programmes (BTW I still recall how easy it was to programme macros in WP 5.1), but because clients moved to Microsoft Office and because Microsoft from its end had compatibility problems (none such from WP’s end).

    I have WP suite of products on this machine but I confess that I seldom even glance at them.

    There may be an exception for Ottawa firms, because the federal government still has a soft spot for Corel, and because when you’re that size you can make merit-based choices.

    But it’s simply not true today to claim any significant market share for Corel WordPerfect among large law firms.

  2. Simply not true, and as Simon says, hasn’t been for quite some time.

  3. Word Perfect is now inconvenient for law firms that exchange documents electronically because of the ubiquity of Word.

    We followed our clients to Word. This was made easier by the fact that the advantages of the earlier versions of Word Perfect faded as its various owners tarted it up to emulate Word. Word Perfect became even buggier than Word.

    Although Word Perfect’s automatic numbering and outline styles worked better than Word’s. Word’s cross-reference, table of contents and tables components were far superior.

  4. If I had my druthers, I’d still be using WordPerfect, for the same reason that, if I had my druthers, I’d drive a stick shift. With WordPerfect, I’m doing the driving. With Word, Word does the driving.

  5. I’ve never seen anything but Word used anywhere I’ve worked. Since lawyers, as a group, are generally risk-averse and change-phobic, I imagine that (as Bruce Eddy mentions in comment 3) they will only move from Word to whatever comes next (web-based suites?) after their clients have done so in sufficient numbers.

    Interestingly (to me anyway), whenever I’ve suggested changing to another product — Open Office, for example — the primary concern has always been formatting incompatibilities. What seems to be most important is that the lawyer feels comfortable with the way the document looks on his or her screen, and they will simply assume that because it’s a Word document, it will look exactly the same everywhere else. And, as everyone knows, this is guaranteed when using Word.

    These are often the same lawyers who use Word as their email editor because they “want their email to look professional.” Descriptions of the horrific mess of extraneous code contained in Word-generated email usually elicits a glassy-eyed stare.

  6. My preference years ago was WordPerfect primarily because there wasn’t the metadata created that there is with Word (thinking in terms of ediscovery). But times changed and clients demanded their law firms be able to share documents with them.

    Any law firms using Google Docs yet? ;-)

  7. I’ve worked mostly in firms that used Word actually, although a couple did use WordPerfect (and I preferred it). It seems to really be on the decline though.

  8. I think most law firms use Word. The US DOJ-AD uses WordPerfect, but I think that’s because they are always investigating Microsoft for antitrust issues. The Federal Government (ours) seems to prefer WordPerfect, but I’ve always thought that was because Corel was based in Ottawa.

    I actually prefer WordPerfect, but the blasted thing crashes with large files.

  9. Folks, here are the actual numbers from the annual ABA Survey of Legal Technology, 2007 edition. Almost 2000 responses to the survey. 35.7% of lawyers reported having WordPerfect available. 96.3% reported having Word available.

    If you are the kind of person who likes to have almost total control over the coding of your documents, WordPerfect is great. How many times have you wasted time on a document in Word because some hidden code was causing a formatting problem? Certain versions of WP were notoriously flaky (v7 esp), but I found WP 11 to be very stable – I can’t remember it ever crashing. Hard to live without Office though. It’s the standard.