We all know how letters and other documents actually get produced in most firms: the last similar correspondence is opened, saved as a different document and modified.
This method does have benefits: In one fell swoop, you get the formatting, inside and outside contact information, matter information, etc.
But there are also drawbacks - maybe “pitfalls” would be a more suitable term: If any of the inside or outside contact information has changed (new staff on the file, client has moved or experienced other life changes) then your staff have lots more work to do. And if something has changed and your staff are unaware, then there is a high probability of embarrassing mistakes.
We believe there’s a faster way to produce accurate documents. And you probably already have all the necessary software!
Before we discuss the specifics, I should mention that our solution is predicated on the existence of a centralized contact list for your firms clients. If you DON’T have such a thing, then you really need to talk to us ASAP.
Let’s deal with the challenges one at a time….
ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR STAFF WHO ARE SIGNING THE CORRESPONDENCE.
How about a scenario where the start of a new document presents the creator with a list of all the people in your firm who sign letters? And once the creator selects the author, what if all the required information about the signator was automatically placed in the document? The correct spelling of the name, the email address and direct phone - even their LSUC number if needed - could all appear in the document at the correct location.
And what if all of this staff information was contained in a single file? New staff member? No problem. Add their name and information to the spreadsheet and any staff member can do a letter for that new person right away. Someone leaving the firm? Remove them from the list and - immediately - that former employee no longer appears in the author drop-down when anyone creates a new letter.
We can set this up for you, using your existing software. Your staff can manage it without calling us. It’s a win!
ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CLIENT WITH WHOM YOU ARE CORRESPONDING.
Your centralized contact list has this. If it’s Outlook, Amicus Attorney, Time Matters, or just about any other program, we can integrate your central contact list information into the document. The creator need only select the recipient from a list, and the required address information and salutation are brought into the document in the right location and format.
ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUBJECT MATTER.
This one usually requires a practice management (PM) software such as Time Matters or Amicus Attorney. As long as the matter file in your PM system is accurate, we can integrate information from that as well.
OK, there IS a limit to our powers here. But, if you have standard content we can help you with the best way to automate that as well. If it’s simple text, perhaps Word’s Quick Parts/AutoText feature can do the work. If it’s complex formatting (like a fax cover sheet) then perhaps a separate template would be best.
So, compare this to opening an old document and resaving.
Our way is better - for everyone: the staff creating the document, the office manager dealing with staff turnover, the firm trying to project a consistent style in correspondence, and the client, who gets a new document every time.
We’d love to help you do this. Give me a call at 416-410-8191, extension 214.
- Doug Banwell