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You are probably already well aware of how technology has shaped the way legal professionals work. Over the years we have seen the increased use of e-mail to interact with colleagues and clients, computer-based presentations to communicate key messages in the courtroom, and even speech technology for dictation and document creation. While these innovations have improved our work processes, they have only scratched the surface of how technology can improve the legal community’s productivity. As lead product manager for Microsoft Office, and someone surrounded by a family full of lawyers, I know this sentiment all too well. Over the years, I have heard from them how Microsoft Office (mainly Microsoft Word) has improved the way they do their jobs — but even more frequently, where it has fallen short. LOUD AND CLEAR The same message was loud and clear at the first Microsoft Legal Executive Summit in 1998. The summit brought together Microsoft executives, representatives from more than 100 law firms, and delegates from companies such as Lexis Nexis, Hummingbird Ltd. and Payne Consulting Group Inc. We were asked to assess whether Microsoft Office was meeting the needs of the legal community. What did we learn? The legal community was frustrated. Feedback touched on areas such as security, speech and digital signatures, but most addressed Word — the creation and revision of documents. As a result of those sessions, we formed the Microsoft Office Legal Advisory Council to help guide us as we developed Office XP, which launched in May 2001. We made numerous changes based on their suggestions; perhaps the most compelling are four: “Reveal Formatting,” “Document Recovery,” “Send for Review” and “Legal Blacklining,” and “Legal Smart Tags.” REVEAL FORMATTING Given the importance of document consistency and structure in the legal community, it was no surprise that getting more information about a given document was highlighted as an area for improvement. As a result, the “Reveal Formatting” feature was added to Word 2002. Using the “Reveal Formatting Task Pane,” users can see font, paragraph and section formatting for specific parts or sections of a document, and also can compare formats within a document. At the council’s insistence, improvements also were made to “Bullets and Numbering,” “Table of Contents,” and “Mail Merge” to help meet the specific requirements of legal document formatting and enable simple, less time-consuming creation of such documents. DOCUMENT RECOVERY Unfortunately, most of us have been in a situation where we had almost finished a document or presentation — and our computer crashes. Recreating the document from scratch is not only frustrating, it wastes a lot of time. The council made it clear that legal professionals want to focus their attention on their work, not on worrying about their files or software. In response, we added “Document Recovery” to Office XP, so that users can recover a document as it was at the time an error happened — even if the document was never saved. SEND FOR REVIEW, LEGAL BLACKLINING In previous versions of Word, reconciling changes and making revisions was cumbersome because changes appeared in the actual text and cluttered up the document. Many members of the Legal Advisory Council felt that this process bogged down the creation of legal documents, especially long and complex material. It was difficult for users to keep track of changes and to be sure they had the most accurate version. To address this issue, we designed the “Track Changes” feature in Word 2002, to show revisions in the margins of a document. It better reflects how people mark up documents on paper. The new “Send for Review” and “Legal Blacklining” technologies streamline the process of routing a document to everyone who needs to make revisions. It allows users to view those revisions in one customizable view, and even saves all revisions into a third document, leaving the original untouched so law firms can maintain a record of all document revisions and versions. LEGAL SMART TAGS Accessing information is critical to every business but especially to the legal community where access to data such as public records, case history and news stories is essential. Smart Tags, a new technology in Office XP, help people mine this important information within the context of the task they are working on without having to spend a lot of time searching for it. For example, a lawyer may be working on a contract in Word 2002 that contains numerous case citations or case names. In a world without Smart Tags, anyone reading this document would need to go to the Web and search for information on that citation or case. With Smart Tags, however, that information is automatically recognized, marked and made available for anybody to access without leaving the document to search for it. In fact, both Lexis Nexis and Westlaw have downloadable Smart Tags ( office.microsoft.com/services/), allowing professionals to link to information provided by these services, such as a person’s name, address or legal case name, directly from the Office application. This means more time can be spent focusing on the job at hand rather than searching for important information. We have made great strides with Office XP, but it is only our first step. As we head into the future there is much more work that can be done in Microsoft Office to meet the needs of the legal community. We value the advice from the legal community and look forward to hearing more from you. If you have specific feedback about Microsoft Office, please e-mail us at [email protected]. The above technologies designed for the legal industry are just a sample of what’s available with Office XP. David Jaffe is lead product manager for Office, with Microsoft Corp., based in Redmond, Wash. E-mail: [email protected]. Web: microsoft.com/office.

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