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THE MAGAZINE      September 2002
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Edited By Milton W. Zwicker

A must-have business magazine that inspires better practice management, and a book packed with legal-specific word processing tips.

 

Harvard Business Review

Monthly periodical. (Harvard Business School Publishing.) $118 per year/12 issues. (800) 274-3214; www.hbr.org.

Reviewed By Milton W. Zwicker

Recently my wife asked me to tidy up my home workspace, which is mostly filled by management books and business periodicals. She was brave enough to suggest I stop my 30 magazine subscriptions. Otherwise, we would need to add another room to our home. I haven’t yet taken her advice, but I have thought about which magazines are absolutely essential to me. I’ve concluded that I cannot live without the Harvard Business Review.

For many years, HBR has been my best source of inspiration on how to manage my practice and my law firm. The magazine is an invaluable source of information on management, marketing, planning, relationship building and many other topics involved in growing a law practice. Most of the best-know management thinkers of the past 50 years (such as Peter F. Drucker, James Haskett and Theodore Levitt) have published in HBR’s pages.

The May 2002 issue provides a fine example of why this magazine is a great tool for lawyers who are looking for fresh ideas.

Take the short piece "How Surveys Influence Customers." It offers powerful evidence of why we should survey our clients. The authors say, "Surveying people may induce them to form judgments that otherwise wouldn’t occur to them."

Another article, "How Resilience Works," is essential reading for anyone trying to cope with professional dissatisfaction or a firm breakup—both of which are significant concerns in the legal profession today. Author Diane L. Coutu writes, "Resilience is neither ethically good nor bad. It is merely the skill and the capacity to be robust under conditions of enormous stress and change." She also describes the three characteristics she believes are essential to building this skill and capacity: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values; and an uncanny ability to improvise.

Because lawyers are in the persuasion business, the title of the article "Change the Way You Persuade," by Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller, should be enough to grab the attention of just about any practitioner. As the authors note, "All too often, people make the mistake of focusing too much on the content of their argument and not enough on how they deliver that message." The authors believe that we can improve our persuasion success rates by tailoring our arguments to the decision maker’s style. Their research shows that executives typically fall into five decision-making categories: charismatics, thinkers, skeptics, followers and controllers.

My favorite article in the May 2002 HBR is "Why Business Models Matter." Most lawyers spend little time thinking about this subject. This article shows why we should pay more attention to our business models. As the author explains, "A good business model remains essential to every successful organization, whether it’s a new venture or an established player." Such models, the author continues, "are, at heart, stories—stories that explain how enterprises work. A good business model answers Peter Drucker’s age-old questions: Who is the customer? And what does the customer value? It also answers the fundamental questions every manager must ask: How do we make money in this business? What is the underlying economic logic that explains how we can deliver value to customers at an appropriate cost?"

I’m thinking about making a promise to my spouse: I can stop all my subscriptions to business magazines with the exception of HBR.

 

Microsoft Word 2002 for Law Firms

Payne Consulting Group, Inc. (Premier Publishing, 2001.) $39.99. ISBN: 0-76153394X. www.premierpressbooks.com.

Reviewed By Milton W. Zwicker

Microsoft Windows and its many applications—Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access and FrontPage, to name a few—are essential tools for most lawyers. Chances are high that your clients also use Microsoft tools, especially Word. Since it’s best to communicate with clients in the same format that they use, it’s best to be productive in MS Word. I found a great resource for fulfilling this objective in Microsoft Word 2002 for Law Firms.

Donna Payne and her co-authors make a living teaching lawyers and support staff how to get the most out of Word. Their experience is evident throughout this volume, which is packed with information for legal practitioners. It is split into 21 chapters and 3 appendixes. Each chapter includes screen shots, tips, notes and exercises to help readers find their way through Word. Few stones are left unturned.

At almost 800-pages, this is not a book to master in a single sitting. The best way to use it is in short sessions, and then to refer back to it on an as-needed basis.

Some readers will want this book just to hone their skills in particular features. For example, I am not a Word novice, but I have trouble with styles. So I dove into styles first. According to the authors, "Understanding styles is not only vital to understanding how Word works, it will also allow you to leverage the true power behind the application and simplify the way you produce documents." They also write, "Styles are the backbone of Word."

Since they are the backbone, let’s take a look at Chapter 9 on styles. The authors provide several practice exercises. One of them is found on the CD-ROM that comes with the book. However, I’m still working to master styles. The exercises were not enough for me. I favor more visual representations of screens and steps than the authors provide. In the exercise on page 269, for example, the authors say: "Notice how the style changed automatically to Body after you pressed Enter." I think I saw this on my monitor, but I wish the book contained a picture of what the authors say I should see. I prefer show and tell to tell alone. Indeed, experts tell us that we learn and retain much more when pictures are included. When steps are laid out using text only, it just takes longer to master them.

There is still plenty of helpful information in this volume, such as the practical, and honest, coverage of a feature called Reveal Formatting. It is a new function released in Word 2002, which tries to address the issues handled by the Reveal Codes feature in WordPerfect (a feature loved by many WP users). Reveal Formatting lets you display the formatting attributes for documents. In Figure 5.12 the authors explain: "Realistically, Microsoft could not match WordPerfect’s Reveal Codes exactly, but Reveal Formatting, if used correctly, should satisfy many former WordPerfect fans."

In addition, the knowledge of Word that readers gain from this book will be helpful in using Microsoft’s other applications, such as PowerPoint. The familiar menu items are a very compelling argument for using these Microsoft products. Also, many vendors design their software to mesh with Word—another good reason to work through this volume.

I would prefer that the authors used more visuals, but apart from that, I found Microsoft Word 2002 for Law Firms packed full of useful hints and information. Anyone with a desire to master Word might be hard pressed to find a better resource.

Would you like to review or recommend a book or a favorite resource? Please contact Milt Zwicker at zwicker@zwickerevanslewis.com.

Milton W. Zwicker (zwicker@zwickerevanslewis.com) is Managing Partner of Zwicker Evans & Lewis in Orillia, ONT, and the author of Successful Client Newsletters (ABA, 1998).