Corel WordPerfect Legal Suite 8
This article will focus on the features and functionality that Corel has added in its
new WordPerfect Legal Suite. The Legal Suite is aimed at small to medium size firms of
5-20 attorneys. Its goal is to provide all the features and basic products that such firms
need in their practice, including document redlining, advanced table of authorities, case
management software, advanced document generation and automation capabilities, and an
enhanced legal speller. It does this by bundling a truly impressive list of products with
those already included in the Professional Suite (i.e., including Paradox). The
list includes many of the leading products in their respective fields. As a bonus, Corel
also ships with Dragon's "Naturally Speaking," one of the leading continuous
speech recognition products. And all that for under $200 street price ($100 if you already
have WP 8).
The "catch" is that some of the products are "lite" versions
(Amicus) and that it will cost you extra to upgrade to the full-featured version. Even so,
the Suite is a tremendous bargain. If you start using particular aspects of the Suite and
discover that functionality you need is missing, it will probably be worthwhile to
One of the slickest features in the Legal Suite puts your 16 most-recently used
graphical characters in a drop-down menu off the property bar. Instead of Ctrl-W, then
picking from a very large selection (or remembering that a small bullet is 4,3!), you
click on the drop-down and voilą! People who frequently use foreign characters will
especially love this. It always puts your last-used character first, and keeps 16 on hand.
Click on "More" to get the standard graphical character interface.
An extremely useful Nexal addition is what they term "Save Gets". You simply
block any text and save it to a letter A-Z. Click on the drop-down button and select to
insert anything from graphical signatures or signature blocks to fax forms, common
addresses or caption boxes. You can reserve some letters for recurrent text in a long
contract or other document (like the Alt-number macros in WP 5.1). In addition, you can
save entire sets of these "instant macros" for specific types of documents: one
for litigation or interrogatories, another for contracts, another for real estate, etc.
Corel has also written a "Pleading Expert" that goes far beyond what Word 97
offers. The "Expert" steps you through the creation of caption boxes and other
information that is then saved to a style (for example, for a particular court). You can
create different styles for different courts or even the requirements of different judges.
Once saved, you can then pick which style you need and fill it in for a particular case.
The options are very specific and detailed. The answers to various options (which court,
etc.) are stored in a database and can be accessed to "fill in" specific
documents as needed. This is a strength, but also a weakness, since once the style for the
caption is defined, it cannot be edited further.
When I first found out that CompareRite was being dropped from the WP 8 Legal Suite, I
was very concerned. Not only is CompareRite a law firm standard, but no other word
processor has ever come close to its functionality. However, the Legal Suite does an
excellent job. All the options offered by CompareRite are also available in the Legal
Suite. You select the options you want, including different color text for additions and
deletions. Footnotes are compared in the footnote itself, not at the end of the document.
The feature even worked correctly when tested on documents with tables and footnotes that
span pages. In addition, you are no longer limited to comparing documents in the same
format: you can now compare a WordPerfect document to a Word document, for example.
Virtually the only thing it will not do that CompareRite does is to save different
configurations for different attorneys: one set for Attorney A, one for B, one for C.
The Suite also include West's CiteLink, which generates a Table of Authorities without
the cumbersome process of marking each citation. In addition, if you turn on the Hyperlink
feature and have an active Internet connection, clicking on the cite takes you to the West
Group's database of cases and you can download the particular reference from the Internet
(for a fee).
Amicus Attorney is one of the leading practice management programs for small and
medium-size law firms. The version that ships with the Legal Suite is a single-user
"lite" version of the new 32-bit version of Amicus (Amicus III). The
"lite" version lacks a number of customization options and some features,
including the ability to synchronize with a PalmPilot (PalmPilot synchronization exists
from the Corel Address Book within the Suite). Upgrades to the full version are $149, but
the "lite" version is still very powerful. It lets you control all your
client/matters from the Amicus "files" screen. Amicus includes a calendar, to do
lists, links to time and billing products, easy document generation using HotDocs and
All the features of the Amicus system are tied to the rolodex feature: whether you are
opening a new matter, generating a letter in WordPerfect, tracking the time of a phone
call, or making an appointment, you can access the same rolodex. The Legal Suite can now
be set so that any entry in either the Amicus rolodex or the WordPerfect Address Book is
instantly ported to the other, so that the two are always in sync. If you delete somebody
from one address book, it is also deleted from the other.
The Amicus phone call tracker allows you to see all your previous phone calls with a
particular individual or regarding a particular matter (if you use it systematically, of
course). If you upgrade to the network version of Amicus, it will also let you see all
phone calls regarding a particular matter made by any attorney in the firm! The phone call
module allows you to enter notes concerning the call and, when you are done, generate a
"call back" reminder that goes into your calender, and then do a time entry when
you have finished. This makes it much easier to carry through on all the disparate tasks
that frequently get lost in the shuffle.
Amicus also has an excellent timer, which if used systematically together with the
phone call tracker can increase the billable time you capture by up to 20%. When you open
the timer, you assign a client/matter to the item. When you close it, the item is
deposited directly into your time sheet. The full version of Amicus provides direct
integration into TimeSlips and PCLaw, and properly formatted imports into a large number
of popular time and billing packages.
The Amicus calender allows you to track appointments, to do items, etc. They can all be
linked to specific files and you are reminded to enter your time after an appointment has
been completed. However, the Amicus calendar does duplicate much of the functionality
present in CorelCentral. Therefore, in implementing the Legal Suite, you need to make a
fundamental choice concerning which calendar you wish to use. If you plan to use Amicus as
the basic practice and document management tool for your firm, it makes more sense to use
the Amicus calendar (and possibly not even install CorelCentral since its functionality is
duplicative). On the other hand, if Internet access and e-mail is of primary importance,
you might want to make CorelCentral your calendar of choice. The important thing is to use
only one of them.
The Legal Suite ships with a large number of options for generating and saving
documents. If you begin your document generation from within Amicus, you have the option
of using either the HotDocs templates that ship with the program or WordPerfect templates.
Since both sets of templates are installed by default, it may take some experimentation to
decide which one you prefer. At that point, you can delete the other template from the
appropriate directory and have a more efficient system. In addition, using the HotDocs
Designer, you can modify forms that come with the product or create your own from scratch.
Making new document templates is doubtless the area of the Legal Suite that has the
steepest learning curve. However, if there are documents or forms that you use repeatedly,
the effort invested here will have a very high return, in addition to giving you
unparalleled flexibility in creating automated documents on your own.
The WordPerfect Legal Suite incorporates all changes and improvements previously made
to WP 8 (though Service Patch 3), which means that all the ODMA functionality should work
with more advanced document management systems such as PCDocs, GroupWise, iManage or
WorlDox. During testing, I used the Suite with WorlDox with no problems at all.
Just Speak Naturally
The WordPerfect Legal Suite is the first of the Corel products to ship with the new
Dragon Naturally Speaking. This is one of the first natural language speech recognition
products and has won many awards. Assuming you have adequate sound on your PC and a
headset microphone, it allows you to dictate into WordPerfect. You can speak normally, and
no..longer..have..to..pause..between..words. This product requires a substantial system,
however. Corel recommends 48Mb of RAM, which means you probably want at least 64Mb, and if
you want to run any other products at the same time, even more. In addition, if you plan
to do serious amounts of dictation, you probably want to upgrade to the Professional
edition, which features a larger vocabulary and greater customization. If you upgrade to
the newly-announced Dragon Legal Suite, you can even purchase a module that lets you
transcribe dictaphone tapes.
Software vendors are notorious for understating what it takes to run their products in
a production environment, as anyone who has ever tried to run Windows 95 with 8Mb of
memory can attest to. However, memory is cheap these days, and it is the one area where a
small investment can pay tremendous dividends. A recent ROI study (PC Computing,
April 1998) showed that adding $50 or $100 worth of memory to a PC can pay dividends in
the thousands of dollars over a year's time. Personally, I would recommend a newer Pentium
class machine with 64 Mb memory if you plan to have a number of these products open at the
same time. And with 64Mb memory, you will be able to run Dragon's naturally speaking
decently, but little else. If you contemplate upgrading to Windows NT 5.0, you should be
thinking in terms of 128Mb memory.
Even if you do not plan to use all the features that ship with the Legal Suite, the
Nexal add-ins and the qualitatively upgraded Document Compare feature provide extremely
useful capabilities that are not in the shipping version of the WordPerfect Professional
Suite. Taken together the programs bundled here do indeed provide just about everything a
small law firm will need for its day to day practice (not counting specialty software for e.g.,
real estate, bankruptcy, etc.). And since it builds on WordPerfect 8, it is also pretty
stable. Finally, Dragon's voice recognition provides icing on the cake (if you have the
hardware to support it). The legal suite is a powerful answer to the question: what do I
need to upgrade for?
Amicus Attorney III
Amicus Attorney III is a 32-bit upgrade from the current version (2.6.3). The main
additions concern increased ease of use and integration with other programs. Contact lists
and file indexes can now be sorted by column simply by clicking on the column heading.
Amicus III also features Internet connectivity, including the addition of Web addresses to
the contact list, as well as the ability to synchronize calendar, To Do and contact items
with the popular Palm Pilot. The program is mapi-enabled, so you can use your e-mail
program simply by clicking on the contact's e-mail address. Finally, the Calendar is now
multi-media enabled, so you can set it to remind you of appointments verbally rather than
simply beeping at you.
METZ Phones Pro
METZ Phones Pro (7.01) is now available. The program now uses MS SQL-Server and Access
rather than Paradox, enabling it to offer substantially improved options for synchronizing
a master database with a user's personal database. You can also do direct mail merges with
METZ from MS Word or WordPerfect. METZ 7 includes a number of usability improvements,
including the ability to re-order columns by dragging and dropping, and to sort columns by
clicking on the header. The Hot Key Paste feature now lets the user change the sort order
on the fly. You can search for duplicate records and sort by State or Zip code. Finally,
METZ can create custom reports, including in HTML format. The PalmPilot link is now built
directly into METZ, there is no longer any need for a 3rd party application.
Tips & Tricks
Want to get rid of pop-up tips for the toolbar icon in Office 97? The only way
to do it permanently is to start from Excel. Otherwise the tips are re-enabled every time
you open Excel.
Need automatic numbering in the middle of a paragraph in WordPerfect 8? Simply
press Ctrl-Shft-F5. Choose the last level (8) so as not to interfere with any other
Your open documents are listed on the Application Bar (at the bottom of the
screen) in WP 8. Click on the one you want to change documents.
Heckman Consulting, which has several years experience installing
and configuring Summation Blaze, recently became an authorized reseller of Summation
Building a Small Office/Home Office
With the exponential growth of small businesses, they have even developed their own
acronym: SOHO stands not for an artsy area in New York City, but for Small Office/Home
Office. What you need to build one varies widely depending on what type of business you
have as well as what the definition of "small" is. For the purposes of this
article a "small" office has fewer than 20 employees. These are some of the
issues you need to address before undertaking to set up a small office.
Are You a "Belt and Suspenders" Type?
What is it going to cost me? The answer to this question is more complex than it might
appear. You no doubt carry all kinds of insurance (health, life, automobile, property,
etc.). When people approach me about "saving money" on computer equipment, I
always ask them how they feel about insurance. Compaq has been running ads lately with a
headline: "given these prices, why get the more expensive cheap machine?" The
point here is that all computer equipment used in an office setting will, sooner or later,
fail. This is especially true of the pieces of the computer that involve moving parts, i.e.,
the hard drive.
"Cheap" PCs which are entirely acceptable as home machines can develop
strange quirks when attached to a Network. I learned this the hard way when I bought a
Micron and attached it to my network. After about eight hours on the line with technical
support, they finally confessed that Micron home PCs were "flaky" when used with
3Com network cards (one of the most reliable network cards on the market). If I had to pay
someone for that eight hours, it would have more than wiped out any savings on the
So when considering whether to "save money" on a lower-end item, you should
also take into account what will happen if that piece of equipment is suddenly unavailable
for several days. This is not just a question of repair/replacement costs, but also the
effect on your business. For key pieces of equipment, the extra expense is just another
form of business insurance. Of course, all the "extra" amounts can add up
rapidly: so with each of the elements of a network that are described below, you simply
need to make a conscious choice about where you can intelligently cut expenses and where
it really isn't worth it.
To Server or Not to Server
One of the first questions you need to decide is whether or not you need a server-based
network. Basically, if you have three or more people using different PCs at the same time,
you should get a network server, not just use Windows 95 or some other peer-to-peer
networking. A dedicated server brings a number of advantages in terms of data security,
centralized ease of administration, use and backup. It also brings savings of scale in
terms of Internet, faxing and modem connections. Finally, it avoids the performance hit
and potential data loss that can happen to a PC on a peer-to-peer network. Yes, it means
buying an extra machine, but you will be much better off in the long run. This article
assumes you will need a server.
Network Operating Systems
If you have a network, what software do you want to use? Both Microsoft and Novell make
"Small Business" versions of their network operating systems geared to companies
that have only a single server and fewer than 25 employees. While Microsoft certainly has
the mindshare, the issue is not always clear-cut. If you plan to use Microsoft products
for your main business applications (Word, Excel, Access), Microsoft Back Office is a good
choice. Be aware, however, that Microsoft products are much more hardware-intensive than
Novell's. You can run a small business quite adequately on a Novell server with 64Mb
memory, but you probably want to start at 128Mb for an NT server. A similar relationship
exists for other products. The Gartner Group recently did a study showing that the
Microsoft e-mail product, Exchange (and variants) cost about 3 times as much per user per
year to operate as the Novell e-mail product, GroupWise. And GroupWise is even a better
But the most important issue with Microsoft Back Office is whether your business uses
legacy applications. (Someone has defined a legacy application as one that works).
Microsoft NT is notoriously flaky when running DOS or 16-bit legacy applications, so if
you depend on one of these products (and many specialty vertical applications for specific
businesses fall into this category), double check, then check again to make sure it will
work with NT before going that route. If possible, try to find someone in your line of
business that is using the same application, or check with relevant professional
associations (many of which have technology committees). You definitely do NOT want to
install a nice new NT server and then find out that your key application doesn't work.
How Much PC Do You Need?
Assuming you do have a network, how powerful does the PC have to be? If your business
requires that you travel to client sites and make presentations, consider getting a decent
laptop and having it do double duty as a workstation. You can expect to pay $1,000-$1,500
more for a laptop than a desktop PC, but you appear qualitatively more professional to
your prospective clients, and it could be the difference between getting an account and
not getting one.
All the major manufacturers (Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Micron) have two lines of PCs: home
PCs (they are the ones you mainly see advertised) and business-oriented PCs. Business PCs
tend to come with built-in network connections, and less in the way of sound and video
systems, yet they cost around $300-400 more than a home PC. This is one area where
"saving money" can actually cost you more, as I found out with my Micron. The
reason for this is that the business PCs are designed to have more consistent parts and
the home PCs sometimes come with virtually all their IRQs used, so that trying to add
another piece, such as a network card, can be an adventure. If you get away with it, fine.
If not, caveat emptor.
Network Hub. You will need a network hub to connect the network. You will have
fewest problems if you buy all your network cards and related equipment from the same
manufacturer. For example, 3Com makes excellent network hubs and network cards and you can
be sure that they will all work with each other. Especially if your business involves
significant amounts of graphics or large databases, you should buy 10/100 PCI cards and
hubs. This will allow your network to have optimal performance further into the future.
UPS. You should get Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) at least for the server.
If possible, you should get a UPS such as the ones that American Power Conversion makes,
which connect to your server via a serial port. In event of a power outage that lasts
longer than 10-15 minutes (the life of the battery), the UPS will shut down your server
properly, thus preventing any loss of data. Consider the extra cost as a form of
Backup. Backup is a critical issue. When (not "if") your server goes
down, you could experience anything between 48 hours of down time when no business records
are available (just ask yourself how many times you have called a bank or other
institution and been told "I'm sorry the computers are down right now") to total
loss of all your data.
Some form of tape backup is probably your best bet. Not only can you automate backups
so they occur in the middle of the night, but they allow for easy off-site storage (what
if there is a fire in your office?). Travan tape systems are inexpensive, but the tapes
can stretch and become unreliable, so they need to be re-formatted periodically. DLT
backup tape systems are more expensive, but faster and more reliable. If you are willing
to invest the time to take proper care of your tape systems, this is one area where you
can save some money. Both Seagate (Backup Exec) and Computer Associates (Arcserve) make
excellent backup programs, and tape drives are available from a number of manufacturers.
Virus Checking. You should definitely have some form of anti-virus program,
especially if you are using Word. How you configure it depends on how many documents or
files you receive from outside your organization and how much Internet e-mail you receive.
You should check with your ISP to see whether they do anti-virus checking on your e-mail.
The better ones do. You can run your anti-virus checker on each PC every time it boots up
or you can get a server version that will check all the files on the server. Symantec
(Norton), MacAfee, and Dr. Solomon are three of the best. For network-based systems,
Inoculan from Computer Associates is a good product.
What to do about printers, scanning and faxing depends on the exact mix of what you do.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- When I need to fax things, how often do I need to fax a regular sheet of paper (as
opposed to a document from the computer)?
- Do I regularly need to scan anything that is not just a flat piece of paper?
- Do I need to scan high-resolution images?
- What volume (how many pieces of paper) do I print every month?
- Do I need to print in color, or just in black and white?
Here are some criteria, depending on the answers to the above questions:
- If you mainly do business correspondence, definitely get a laser printer. Inkjets really
don't cut it for regular business use.
- If you only do a small volume of faxing that is not from a computer, you may want to
just get a scanner and dispense with a separate fax machine (you can set up a PC to
receive faxes in ways that are more convenient than a fax machine anyway).
- If the only thing you ever scan is black and white paper (i.e., documents, bills, etc),
you might be happy with a low-end sheet-fed scanner such as the Paper Port Visioneer or
the small HP 5s3 scanner. These feed up to about 10 sheets at a time. If you need to scan
graphics, you will want a flat-bed scanner (which takes up more room).
- If your needs in the fax/scan/print area are minimal, you might consider the new Hewlett
Packard 3100 multifunction machine, which can be used as a printer, fax machine, scanner
and copier. At a street price of about $700, this is a real bargain, and is the first
multi-function machine that contains a laser printer (as opposed to inkjet).
- If all you need to do is fax from the desktop, consider WinFax Pro. This is the industry
leader and can also be set up to function as an answering machine, assuming your PC has
- Depending on your needs, it may be worth while to get a laser printer and then a second
color deskjet printer for occasional use. I have had very good luck with the Epson
400/600/800 series (the higher numbers indicate faster speed).
Phone Lines and Internet Access
Obviously, your phone requirements depend on the size and type of your business. The
Internet is another important variable. If you can make do with a 56k modem (which will
actually deliver a speed somewhere around 40k), i.e., if your needs are minimal, then a
simple modem solution might be adequate. Depending on where you live, you might want to
investigate an ISDN line and some of the newer services that are just starting to come on
line, such as modem cables and ADSL. Then you need to find a provider that has ISDN access
only a local call away and that is still a local call from where the phone company
has its ISDN ports. ISDN costs more, but if you need the access, it is worth it. You can
also use the second ISDN line for incoming fax calls or a second phone line.
If you have multiple PCs, think about using a program such as iModem or iShare from
Artisoft (which also makes Lantastic, a peer-to-peer networking system), which lets
multiple users make use of the same modem (iModem) or use the same Internet connection
Finally, there are a number of small-business telephony units for around $1,000 or
$1,500 that can serve as automated answering machines/voice mail units without the expense
of a PBX.
Whichever network system you install is likely to come with an e-mail package
(Exchange/Outlook for Microsoft, GroupWise for Novell). Even if you are a small business,
there are benefits in company-wide e-mail. It comes with calendar/scheduling modules built
in, so that you may not need a separate application. E-mail can be worth it simply by
getting rid of the yellow stickies on your monitor and phone messages piling up on your
desk. More importantly, while you may already have an individual e-mail address, you
appear much more professional by finding an ISP that will register your company name.
Jheckman@kalmon.com is much more professional than Louie2126@aol.com. You can then hook
your e-mail system to the Internet just for e-mail. This enables you to leverage the
Internet, for example by providing automatic company or other information to anyone who
sends a message to e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org.
It doesn't take very long to get tired of swapping out CD Roms or spending 10 minutes
to find out who was last using the one you happen to need. Put a CD Rom multi-changer on
your list. This allows you to load 5 to 7 CDs (or more) attached to the server and have
all users be able to access them all the time. This is a great time saver, especially if
you use specialized databases on CDs. The Business Phone Disc is one of the most popular
ones, and there are many vertical market CDs for specific industries.
Where and How Do I Buy All This?
As to the how, even if you feel confident you can assemble all the pieces once you get
them, you may want to hire a consultant, even if only for the planning stage, to ensure
that all the right questions get asked. In general you want to start from what you need to
accomplish, find the software to do it, then figure out what hardware you will need to do
it all. And keep in mind the "90% rule" of computers: it should be fairly easy
to get 90% of what you want; it will be difficult (and probably very expensive) to
get the last 10%. Figure out what it is you can do without if need be.
Once you have a detailed idea of what you need, you have several options for purchasing
equipment and software. The cheapest solution is likely to be a major mail-order supplier,
whether for computers (Dell, Gateway, etc.) or for software. You can frequently buy from a
consultant or VAR (Value Added Reseller), but they typically cannot meet mail-order prices
because they do not have the volume. Buying from a VAR may be a good option is you are
willing to pay a slight premium and the "value added" part is really there.
The above article originally appeared in the May 1998 issue of the Danbury Area Computer
Society. It is also available on their web site at