ber of steps one must execute in
order to set up a document correctly. It’s very common in legal documents
to have a multi-level, outlined paragraph-numbered arrangement. I might have a
five-level deep, auto-paragraph-numbered
outline that for each subsequent level is
maybe indented an additional half inch. I
need to have all of those things working
perfectly so that I can never have an incorrect paragraph number.
When I explain to people all the steps one
must go through to deconstruct and rebuild
a document properly in Word, their typical
reaction is, Are you freakin’ kidding me?
And it merits that reaction. But once you
go through the steps and you set up a document correctly, it’s amazing. But no one
would ever stumble upon the process simply
by using the program. Once it’s set up, it’s
great. But getting there, you’re like, this is
AZAT: Can people avoid using Styles?
HENLEY: A lot of people believe they can
avoid Styles, and it turns out you can’t. You
can’t turn it off. So if you don’t control the
Styles, they control you, because they’re on
every paragraph in every document, in every
version of Word ever created.
So sometimes people say to me, I hate
Styles and I don’t use them. And I think,
yeah, you do, they’re in there. You cannot
draft documents without a style applied to
literally every single paragraph, footnote,
endnote, heading, title, it doesn’t matter
what it is. Even if it’s a comment in the margin, a style is applied to it.
Accepting Status Quo
AZAT: Lawyers will sit through seminars on
multiple technologies. But why do they resist the idea that they should attend a Word
seminar? Why is there a disconnect?
HENLEY: They have accepted what they
can’t do with it. Our biggest enemy is the
acceptance of what we don’t know. For example, people tell me that the automatic
paragraph numbering doesn’t work. Yes, it
does. If it seems to you that it should do a
particular thing, but you can’t get it to do
that thing, most users, in my experience,
will simply assume it’s the software and not
them. They just go, yeah, the software just
can’t do that.
Maybe the reason I’m good with tech-
nology is because I always assumed it was
me. I may have low technology self-esteem.
If I can’t get it to do something that it seems
like it should reasonably do, I feel like that’s
my inadequacy and I need to figure it out.
AZAT: It’s now part of the ethical rules that
lawyers have to keep abreast of technology,
and lawyers usually think of that in regard to
really complex topics, like e-discovery. But
do you think it’s true for Word and Excel,
HENLEY: Oh, yeah, because you can make
really malpractice-type mistakes using the
everyday software. Like you improperly redacted a Social Security number on a PDF
pleading, and you had to go to Acrobat Professional, which has the capability, but you
didn’t know how to do it.
AZAT: That sounds like a foundational and
HENLEY: The fundamental underlying problem with all legal drafting is this: I would
argue 90 percent of new documents are
actually drafted from existing documents.
Lawyers tend to find old documents pretty
close to the next one they need to create.
They save it as a new file name and they start
making changes to it.
AZAT: And you’re saying that’s bad?
HENLEY: That has an incredibly high margin for error. It’s super easy to leave stuff
in that shouldn’t have been there. And it’s
super easy to leave stuff out that you should
Repurposing Docs Has Pitfalls
AZAT: Walk me through a nightmare scenario. When I open and repurpose an existing document, what can go wrong?
HENLEY: Most of those documents, depending on practice area, were negotiated.
And unless you’ve got a photographic memory, you’re not likely to remember every
little thing that was changed or compromised so that the other side would be willing to sign the lease you drafted.
Also, you learn as you accumulate knowl-
edge about a practice area. So you might
have drafted some amazing thing in the last
lease you drafted, but that’s not the one you
started with on the next matter. You hap-
pened to start with some other lease that you
found that you thought was closer, and then
you’ve lost forever that amazing little piece
of drafting you did in that last lease.
You could have five lawyers in the same
practice area in the same firm and they won’t
even use the same documents. That’s totally
normal. So, there’s no accumulation of
knowledge, of intellectual capital. There’s no
knowledge management going on. Everybody’s just finding the last thing they did,
and they’re forgetting to add stuff and take
stuff out. They’re forgetting all the little
compromises they made.
And then on top of that, you’ve got typos. You try to do a search and replace, and
you’ve missed something. You left a pronoun wrong. You deleted the paragraph that
wasn’t relevant, but you forgot there was a
cross-reference to the paragraph in some
other part of the document, and now that
cross-reference is pointing to nothing, or
pointing to the wrong paragraph. That stuff
happens all the time.
Improving Word Skills
AZAT: What is the best way for lawyers to
get better at Word? Not just by using it, I
HENLEY: Using it doesn’t help. I hear from
people who say, I’ve been using Word for 20
years. And I say, send me one of your documents. And then I tell them they use it manually like a typewriter. They don’t let Word
do anything for them. They type all their
paragraph numbers, and cross references,
and the table of authorities, the table of contents. They break a single document up into
multiple documents because they couldn’t
get the page numbering to start over. I see
this all the time.
AZAT: That must be a rude awakening to
HENLEY: They say, I think I’m pretty good
at Word. No, you’re not. You’re just blud-
You can make really malpractice-type
mistakes using the everyday software. Drafting
from existing documents has
an incredibly high margin for error.