GPSolo Magazine - December 2003

Word Processing

For years there’s been a raging battle between Microsoft Office and Corel Office. At its core is the war between Word and WordPerfect. It’s a bit like two tykes standing in the playground and arguing whether my daddy can beat up your daddy. Who cares?

The real issue in document production is being able to provide clients with documents in the form and format that suit their goals and objectives. We should not have to tell clients that we provide documents in Word format but should be able to ask them, “What format do you prefer for computer documents?” Client service is our mantra.

With this in mind, it’s time to stop the battle of which is best . . . and simply acknowledge that a lawyer today needs to have both options in the office. At a minimum, you should be proficient in one and have basic survival skills in the other. Both work—and both produce documents that look very similar, if not identical.

We’ve all been through the game of let’s convert a Word document into WordPerfect, and the reverse. Sure, it works most of the time. But when it doesn’t, and you’re left with no dashes or quotation marks and a bunch of hieroglyphs instead, it’s absolutely maddening to try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Converting the document is a first option but shouldn’t be the last resort.

OK, now you’re going to tell me that one is easier to use than the other. We’re going to sit here and talk about paragraph numbering, metadata, and reveal codes. This debate also has no answer; each program has a somewhat different structure. Years ago I learned of a very interesting comparison involving two artists and their work. The first artist works in stone and makes wonderful sculptures from marble. He knows that within that massive stone is a beautiful sculpture. It’s a bit like Word. You start with the shape and form and then carve away the less useful parts. The second artist works in clay. He starts with a lump then adds and subtracts and moves pieces around. He too produces a wonderful statue. That’s a bit like WordPerfect.

Which artist is better? I dare say that either is great—each produces a beautiful end product. Treat word processing the same; it’s merely a tool. In the hands of a capable artist, it can produce a beautiful document.

Bruce L. Dorner is a solo practitioner with a primary office in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and remote offices wherever he finds a place to connect to the Internet. He can be reached at callmylawyer@attglobal.net.

 

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