Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is Word Processing Dead?

In a recent conversation with a student, she commented that she wished knew more than just how to type on a word processor. She was disappointed with her first year advocacy brief’s appearance. She spent many frustrating hours reformatting and page numbering which took away from precious writing time. With the current generation’s use of mobile devices, texting, tweeting and blogging, the fine art of word processing seems to be on the downward slide. Having worked in a law office many years ago using onion skin paper and carbon, I was struck by this difference. Brief writing can be made much easier by using simple tools available in the basic Word program. For example, the use of styles enables students to automatically format the table of contents and table of authorities. The problem becomes how to find the resources and time to learn to use this tool. Check to see if your University has any continuing education or distance education resource for learning Word. At our law school we are very fortunate to have members of the IT team who are expert word processors and available for workshops and individual assistance. Each fall, I coordinate with the IT department to present a workshop on basic word processing for law students. There are many online tools available as well. For example Lynda.com provides tutorials for a low cost subscription. The time invested in learning to use these tools can be paid back many times over as students go through law school and eventually into the practice. (Bonnie Stepleton)

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