10 Essential Technology Skills and Practices

Technology has become an essential part of practising law and working in a law office (or any office for that matter). My TechTips column from the Summer 2008 issue of LAWPRO Magazine summarizes what I think are the 10 essential technology skills and practices that every lawyer and law office staff person should be familiar with.

Do you know what Alt+Tab does? How about a right-click on your mouse? Do you know how to use Cut, Copy and Paste? How about Paste Special. The text format shortcuts will save you tons of time next time you have to type up a factum.

If you don’t know what I am talking about – please read the article – it will make you a keyboard wizard.


  1. One of the features of Word that I use constantly is the ability to create macros. (As of course as was inevitable, the Word macro feature is far less functional (and is getting worse) than what was available in WordPerfect 5.1.) I use macros to invoke a style, a template document and many other features like special characters, é (Ctrl e), è (Ctrl f), § (Ctrl s), £ (Ctrl l), etc. For this reason, I assign combinations like Ctrl B (a bullet) to macros and use the old WordPerfect function keys, F2 for search, Alt F2 for search and replace, F4 for indent, F6, etc, for things like bold and italics.

    The other feature that saves me literally hours is AutoCorrect. I use this not only to correct the common mistakes I make in typing but for the names of clients, common abbreviations, acronyms, case names, citations, names of statutes, etc. It is particularly useful that one can, for example, produce London Drugs Limited v. Kuehne & Nagel International Ltd., [1992] 3 S.C.R. 299, 97 D.L.R. (4th) 261, from ldxf (f, meaning “in full”) and ldxc (c, meaning “citation”), ldx itself being reserved for the short form, London Drugs. I have some 3,000 to 4,000 such abbreviations. I have also, for example, automated my response to the standard audit comfort letter inquiries that come around the firm.

    I have developed a standard “template” for hundreds of common words. I have a root abbreviation of, say, “cnx“ and from this I make contract (cnx), contractual (cnxl), contractually (cnxy), contracts (cnxs), contracted (cnxd), contracting (cnxg), contractor (cnxr), subcontractor (scnxr), general contractor (gcnxr), and so on.

    And, of course, I have a macro to open AutoCorrect (Alt \)

  2. Hi Angela,

    Thank you so much for that suggestion about AutoCorrect. I’ve been using it more and more lately, but I hadn’t figured out a way of handling different derivatives of a word like “contract”. I’m going to give your approach a try!

    In gratitude, I thought I might share with you something I discovered about typing accented international characters: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/120085 . I hope this helps!

  3. In the unlikely event you are using a program that does not use Windows or Mac … there are ASCII codes for the accented letters too, using the Alt key and the numbers pad, as described here.

  4. I take back “unlikely” – I guess that Control key technique cited by MS works on MS programs. It does not work on my Eudora email. So the Alt key technique becomes more important …

    One can also choose alternative keyboards for different languages, if one types in different ones often enough (and knows the layout of the keys so as to avoid having to paste little labels on the keys), by adjusting the Regional and Language settings in the Control Panel (in PCs). Then one can switch to the other keyboard layout by Alt + Shift.