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No. 11, October 1999  

Amicus Attorney IV

    Gavel and Gown software released Amicus Attorney IV in late August. The new version of this market-leading case management software accomplishes two main tasks: it increases the speed and reliability of the program and scales it up for use by larger firms. It also incorporates many improvements and a major new feature, the Call Center.
    Amicus Attorney IV now comes in three versions: the single user Organizer version; the Advanced Edition for up to 20 or so users (equivalent to the old "Team" version), and a Client/Server edition that will accommodate up to 200 users.
    Case Management software, such as Amicus, helps attorneys organize their work by integrating their phone calls and other messages, contact lists and calendar and to do lists with the firm's list of client/ matters. These in turn are linked to time and billing software, so that when, e.g., you complete a phone call information concerning it is transferred to a time entry. Amicus integrates with third-party software such as HotDocs and CompuLaw's court rules program. Studies show that assiduous use of such software can increase an attorney's captured time by 10-20% per year (the key word here being "assiduous").
    The speed and reliability of Amicus IV has been dramatically improved by shifting much of the processing from the server to the client workstation. In some cases, such as opening the program, benchmark tests show that with 15 users, the Advanced Edition is up to 10 times faster than the previous version, and the Client/Server version is even faster.
    Amicus now also includes a major new feature, the Call Center. This is a beefed up version of the previous "yellow stickies" feature (which still exists). It functions as an internal e-mail service which allows you to route messages around the office and save them to a particular client file. This remedies one of the insufficiencies of the "yellow stickie" function, namely that the information contained in them could not be associated with a file.
    Amicus IV also integrates with single user e-mail programs such as Outlook Express. However, it is not MAPI compliant and does not work with corporate e-mail systems such as GroupWise, Exchange or Lotus Notes. This is a significant failing in a program designed for use in firms with more than 20 or so users.
    A large number of other ease of use and minor improvements have been made. Many of these are related to the database and program administration, but end users will also appreciate others, such as the introduction of the Responsible Attorney function. Instead of all users associated with a file getting various notifications that Amicus can generate, such as how much time has been spent on a file, now only the Responsible Attorney receives them. The new Amicus also supports Groups, which makes it much easier to assign users to files with a single Group selection, rather than having to repeatedly select each user individually. In addition, the number of custom fields has been dramatically increased, to 50 per file type and 20 for contacts (versus 10 and 3 respectively in the old version). The number of phone numbers has also been increased to 20.
    At the same time, in the process of making major improvements to the program, Gavel and Gown has failed to make many minor corrections that users have been asking for. If you have a particular issue that has been nagging you, the new version may or may not fix it. For example, it is still not possible to pick what columns appear in the Client index view; nor replace the category "lawyer" with "attorney. Everyone has their own list of things that weren't fixed. In this respect, Amicus IV is very much a work in progress: major changes and improvements now make the program easier to use, faster and more reliable, and enable larger firms to use the program effectively, but many minor changes that were long overdue did not get made.
    The Client/Server version uses the excellent Faircom database rather than SQL. This means that a firm does not need to purchase SQL licenses on top of the program. However, the Client/Server version will not run on a Novell server and does need a dedicated NT server for firms of more than about 20 users. This could be an issue for firms unwilling to invest an additional $5-7,000 for an NT server to run the program.
    All in all, Amicus IV is a must upgrade for firms currently experiencing performance or network problems. In addition, firms for which the Call Center would resolve a potentially troublesome problem of how to save e-mails and other inter-office messages to a file will want to upgrade. In addition, firms at the higher end of Amicus' previous capacity or that were too large to use it easily, should consider the Client/Server edition.

Heckman Consulting Relocates

    Heckman Consulting has relocated from Norwalk to Old Saybrook, Connecticut, at the mouth of the Connecticut River. This will make it more convenient for us to service clients in Hartford and the Eastern part of Connecticut. Our new address information is:

        Heckman Consulting
        One Fencove Court
        Old Saybrook, CT 06475
        Tel: (860) 395-0881
        Fax: (860) 395-0386
        E-mail remains the same: heckman@heckmanco.com.

WordPerfect Law Office 2000

    The next version of the WordPerfect Legal Suite, based on WP 9, will be known as WordPerfect Law Office 2000 and is due to be released at the end of November. The basic functionality will be the same as the WP 8 Legal Suite. It will include the Organizer (single-user) version of Amicus Attorney IV, West's CiteLink, and the HotDocs document assembly program. In addition, it will include a special edition of ExpertEase's DealProof.
    DealProof (which was reviewed in our Newsletter No. 9, March 1999) is an advanced proofreading tool that will check a document to ensure that, e.g., definitions and dates are consistent, that no dates are omitted, etc.
    WP 9 includes vastly improved filters for converting to and from Word documents. Even firms that are not in a position to upgrade to WP 9 and firms using Word should consider buying a copy for Word conversion (WP generally does a much better job of conversion than does Word). WP 9 also includes the ability to publish a WordPerfect document to the Adobe Acrobat PDF format (with some limitations concerning graphics inserts). In addition, WP 2000 for the Law Office package will include Service Pack 2 for WordPerfect, so that the bugs that plagued the original release of WP 9 should largely be eliminated.

Tips & Tricks

Fixing Footnotes. Ever inherit a document in which the footnote format no longer matches the margin, font, etc. of the document? Fortunately, there is an easy way to fix this problem. At the very beginning of the document, select Format | Styles (or Alt-F8). Select the footnote style and click "Edit." Then insert the proper margin, font, etc. All your footnotes will change to this format - unless of course, someone has previously edited each one manually!

Edit Your Toolbar. WordPerfect or Word will be much easier to use if you edit the toolbar to put some of your most frequently used functions on it.
    In WordPerfect, right click on the toolbar, select "Edit" and add buttons for features you want. Then click OK. Some features I commonly put on toolbars include: Envelopes, Margins, Line Numbering, Paragraph Formatting and Double Underscore (useful for bills).

Woody's Office Watch. Woody Leonhard, publisher of the "Microsoft Annoyances" series (for Word, Office, Excel, Windows, etc.) has an excellent web site that is a must for any heavy-duty Word User. It now features a column specifically designed for legal users. To subscribe, go to www.wopr.com.

Word Can't Count Words

    A recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit has highlighted the fact that Microsoft Word may issue erroneous word counts when submitting briefs.
    Fed. R. App. 32(a) (7) limits the allowable length of a brief to 14,000 words, and of a reply brief to 7,000 words. Under Rule 32 (a) (7) (B) (iii), footnotes count toward this limit, but the "corporate disclosure statement, table of contents, table of citations, statement with respect to oral argument, any addendum containing statutes, rules or regulations, and any certificates of counsel do not count toward the limitation." Thus, you determine the "countable" words by selecting the body of the brief and doing a word count.
    Unfortunately, recent versions of Microsoft Word (97, 98 and 2000) do not count the words in footnotes under these circumstances. This can lead to underrepresenting the number of words in a brief and creating a situation where, in the words of the Court, "Counsel...may unintentionally file a false certificate and a brief that exceeds the word limits... Current versions of Corel WordPerfect...do not have this problem. WordPerfect does what lawyers may suppose that Word does (or should do): it automatically includes footnotes in its word and character counts." The full decision of the Court of Appeals can be found at http://laws/findlaw.com/ 7th/991754A.html.
    In order to count words correctly using Word, you must manually add together counts for the body of the text and footnotes. After the initial outcry when this problem turned up, Microsoft issued a macro that allows Word users to obtain a correct count without going through the steps manually. It is available (along with detailed instructions) at http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/2000/downloadDetails/swcmacro.htm.

Life After Reveal Codes (sic)

    The following "rant" was originally posted on the Technolawyer forum (www.technolawyer.com) and is presently scheduled for publication in the ABA's Technology issue of Law Practice Management magazine in the "Network2d" technology insert section.

    I can't take it any more. Having (mainly) refrained from the reveal codes / styles dispute, let me throw in my two cents. As an avid reader of Woody's Office Watch (all you ever wanted to know about MS Office at www.wopr.com), I was directed to Microsoft's White Paper: "Word 97: Life After Reveal Codes." To paraphrase Mark Twain: there are lies, damn lies, and then there are Microsoft White Papers.
    The MS White Paper (or should it be called a Purple Paper?) has two core assertions. The first is: "the concept of codes in a word processor dates back to the days when ... documents [were sent] to dot matrix printers as streams of information. Unlike WordPerfect, Microsoft was designed in the age of the laser printer, a tool that accepts information an entire page at a time instead of as a stream of text and codes." So streaming text is old fashioned and "objects" ("a page at a time") is the newer, more powerful, sexier tool.
    So let's see: major book publishers rely on ... streams of text to produce large books, manuals, etc. (My wife, a computer typesetter, used a $30,000 program that generated 1200 page books from streams of text coming in from various databases).
    So let's see: the Internet (that's as modern as you can get, right?) uses HTML which is based on... streams of text surrounded by codes.
    So let's see: XML, SGML, all the "new" Internet publishing mechanisms are based on guess what? streams of text.
    The truth is much different: heavy duty publishing has always relied on text streaming, it has nothing to do with old fashioned vs. modern. It has to do with the way text is input in heavy-duty applications (long documents, newspaper, books, etc.) vs. light weight applications for which a "page at a time" is adequate: short letters, etc. If the Internet is the future, then streamed text is the future, not the past.
    I would also note that MS 2000's "round trip" ability with HTML depends on proprietary extensions, so if you try to post one of these documents on the web, a very large number of people will not be able to read it (unless they upgrade to MS office 2000).
    The second big lie is implied in the statement "Word is a What You See Is What You Get word processor. This means Word shows you on screen exactly what your document will look like when printed out. This reduces the need for formatting codes, because you can see formatting as you apply and manipulate it." The underlying implication is that WordPerfect is not a WYSIWYG program. Microsoft's ongoing strategy is to compare Word 97 to WP 5.1 without every stating so explicitly. This is an apples and oranges comparison. For what its worth, the fact is that WordPerfect is much more WYSIWYG than Word: footers do not appear grayed out in WordPefect as they do in Word, documents are editable at any resolution, there is no need whatsoever for a "print preview", etc.
    However, being "WYSIWYG" is not a panacea. How many Word users complain that changes are made that "suddenly" affect the whole document and they have no clue how to undo them? One of the common "tips" for converting WP to Word documents is to strip out all formatting and start from scratch.
    Defenders of Word like to speak of the power of "fully debugged" styles. This is truly a glorious phrase, but what does it mean? Basically, that somebody has probably spent dozens of hours figuring out how to make the style do what it is supposed to do and nothing else under any circumstances no matter how weird. And this brings us to the question of time and money. All the suggestions for developing styles, writing Visual Basic macros, etc. are a question of your hourly billing rate (or your consultant's rate). It means investing considerable time up front, hoping to recoup it later on in increased productivity. Anybody who has read the legal column in Woody's Office Watch knows that this is not for the faint of heart nor for anybody who has anything better to do for the next week or so. As a friend of mine used to say: MS is a consultant's dream, since they are a prime purveyor of software that almost works - hence the need for more consulting dollars.
    As I said at the beginning, I follow Woody's Office Watch avidly, especially the legal column. Anybody who can a) understand what they are describing and b) thinks this is a reasonable way for a word processor to work should by all means switch to Word.


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No.21 April 2002
Future of Case Management Programs
No.20 October 2001
Disaster Recovery Small and Medium Firms
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