Learn by Doing: Acrobat Tips and Tricks

Mandatory eCourt in Oregon is just around the corner. By court rule, all documents submitted through the eFiling system must be in PDF or PDF/A format and practitioners need to get up to speed now.

How can you become a power user of Acrobat, the powerful PDF authoring software?  By connecting to resources like the Adobe Acrobat Users Community and Acrolaw, the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog.  Consider the usefulness of these shares and posts:

Subscribing to Acrolaw Posts

To follow the posts on Acrolaw [Acrobat for Legal Professionals] visit the home page, scroll down, and in the right navigation pane, choose the ACROLAW RSS FEED or under the BLOGROLL heading, select the third option “Sign up to get my Blog via email.”  Under BLOGROLL you can also follow the author, Rick Borstein, on Twitter or link to his training movies.

Accessing the Acrobat Users Community

Anyone can access the Adobe Acrobat Users Community. Visit the Web page for tutorials, quick tips, resources, and to submit questions.  If you prefer, the users community is active in social media.  Consider following the community on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for the AUC [Adobe Acrobat Users Community] Newsletter.

Buying Acrobat at a Discount

If you don’t already own Acrobat XI Pro – the latest version with all the bells and whistles – Adobe is offering a special deal through December 3: $14.99 per month if you commit for a year; $29.99 per month if you don’t.  [$29.99 per month is the regular rate.] Read more about Acrobat XI Pro here.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Word to WordPerfect Conversion: How to Strip Formatting

If you’re a Corel WordPerfect aficionado, chances are you’ve been frustrated by the “hidden” codes in Microsoft Word documents.

While there are various ways to see Word’s “hidden” formatting, sometimes it’s just easier to strip the formatting out.  Here’s how:

  • Start WordPad*
  • Select File, Open…
  • If you are converting a .doc file – change All WordPad Documents (*.rtf, *.docx, *.odt, *.txt) to All Documents (*.*).  If you are converting a .docx file, there is no need to change this setting.
  • Browse to locate the Word file.  Double-click to open it.
  • Select File, Save as.  Choose Plain Text Document.
  • This warning appears:2014-09-11_15-12-38
  • Click Yes.
  • Close WordPad.
  • Open the file in WordPerfect.  If you receive a prompt to convert file format, click OK.  Format your document as desired in WordPerfect.

*WordPad is a free text editor/basic word processor that ships with Windows.  Find it quickly by using Search all programs and files.

[All Rights Reserved 2014 Beverly Michaelis]

Opening or Converting Old Forms – Tips for Mac Users

As Mac users know, not all legal forms are Mac-friendly (especially older forms).  For untitledexample, what if a colleague sends you a document created in Microsoft Word 97/Windows?

If you have Pages, you should be able to open a Word 97 document without a file converter. Try these steps.

If you have Microsoft Office for Mac, you can search the Download Center for a file converter, but the only one I could spot was the Microsoft Word 97, 98, and 2000 Converter for the Macintosh.  Office for Mac 2011 users report there is no converter for newer versions of office and old files created on the Windows platform do not open.  If you’re an Office user, what should you do?

  • Open the old form in Pages first, then resave it.
  • Try the Insert > File or Insert > Object > Text from File… command.  Launch Word, select Insert > File or Insert > Object > Text from File… browse and find the old form, click Insert.  Inserting a text file into a blank document in Word strips out formatting.  It often works better than using File > Open to access a document created in a non-compatible word processing program.
  • Ask the colleague who provided the form if he or she can resave it for you.  Options include: a newer version of Word for Windows, Word for the Mac, Rich text format (.rtf file), or PDF.  If a PDF is created electronically or scanned then OCRd, you should be able to copy and paste text from the body of the PDF into Word 2011 for the Mac or Pages.  You can also save a PDF as a Word document in Acrobat.
  • Try an online file converter, such as ZamzarOnline-ConvertCloud Convert, or Convert Files.

Final Words of Wisdom

Old forms may be “old” and not converted to a newer platform or software version for a reason – they are old and shouldn’t be used.  Before going to all this effort, be certain this is a form worth converting, meaning it is valid and still legally viable.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

 

Cyber Security and Data Breach Response

lock“Cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”  Barack Obama, President of the United States

The Identity Theft Resource Center has documented over 500 data breaches in 2014 through early September.  This represents a 26.2% increase over the same time period last year. The news isn’t any better for the legal profession.

The latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report notes that “Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year.”  Fourteen percent of law firms “experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.”

Where to Start

With such staggering numbers, it is easy to become overwhelmed.  If you are concerned about cyber security but don’t know where to start, begin here at the ABA Web site. If you are a prolific user of mobile devices, be sure to check out the ABA’s suggestions for Security on the Go.  To understand the state of security in US law firms, read this post by Bob Ambrogi.

Make Encryption Your Best Friend

Encryption is a powerful way to protect sensitive data belonging to you and your clients. The ABA post Playing it Safe provides a good overview.  Since TrueCyrpt is no longer available, check out the following reviews of encryption software: LIfehacker, GFI, PC World, and Gizmo.

You’ve Heard it Before: Use Strong Passwords

It seems we are reminding lawyers every other day about the importance of using strong passwords unique to each account or Web site.  See these recent posts on the ABA Law Technology Today blog:

Firewalls, Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus, Malware Protection

The best protection is comprehensive.  This excerpt from The 2014 Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide provides guidance.  Don’t be afraid to hire an IT expert to help.

Purchase Cyber Liability and Data Breach Coverage

The Professional Liability Fund (PLF) Excess Claims Made Plan automatically includes a cyber liability and data breach response endorsement with these features:

  • Forensic and legal assistance to determine compliance with applicable law
  • Notifications to individuals as required by law
  • 12 months credit monitoring to each notified client
  • Loss mitigation resources for law firms

If you aren’t eligible or don’t wish to purchase excess coverage through the PLF, contact a commercial carrier.

Protect Yourself Against Scams

The security measures outlined above are a good start toward protecting your firm and your clients from scams.  For more complete protection, get educated.  Order the free PLF CLE: “Protecting Your Firm and Your Client from Scams, Fraud, and Financial Loss,” and talk to your bank about fraud protection services.

[All Rights Reserved – 2014 – Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

The State of Law Firm Security

Viruses are More Common at Law Firms than Encryption, ABA Survey Shows

Firms-with-virus

“Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year, according to the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. At the same time, only a quarter of law firms had any kind of email encryption available for their lawyers to use, the survey found.

Also, 14% of law firms experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.”

Bob Ambrogi

Read the full post here.

Taming AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office

14526236790_b44b8d57ba_zIs AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office driving you batty?  Don’t despair.  Like most features in Office, the settings are completely within your control.

By choosing File > Options in Microsoft Office, you can:

Changes made to AutoCorrect in any Office program are global.  For example, if you delete the AutoCorrect entry in Outlook which converts tm to the superscript ™ trademark symbol, this change will apply in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  acNOTE:  This does not mean the trademark symbol is forever lost, only that Office will stop autocorrecting tm when typed with parentheses.  You can still insert the superscript version at will by choosing Insert > Symbol.

To add, delete, modify, or rename AutoCorrect entries in Office 2010 or 2013, follow these steps.  In Office 2007, launch Word, select the Office Button > Word Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options:

ac optionsAs noted above, changes made to AutoCorrect options in Word will apply throughout Office.  It isn’t necessary to open each program individually to modify AutoCorrect entries.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Getting the Most Out of MS Office for iPad

So you’ve download Office for iPad, now what?  Learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by watching the tutorials available from InvestinTech.  If you are new to Office for iPad, start with the General Tips.  Some of the more popular InvestinTech topics are:

Each tutorial includes screen shots and easy-to-follow instructions.

InvestinTech is primarily known as PDF solution provider.  While on the site, check out their line of PDF products.  If you’re not in the market to buy, InvestinTech also offers some nifty FREE tools:

  • Slim PDF Reader
  • Docx to Doc Online
  • PDF to HTML Online
  • HTML CSS Templates
  • PowerPoint Templates
  • Able2Extract Mobile Apps – Allows you to convert PDFs into editable Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and create PDFs on your mobile device.

Share your favorite Office for iPad tips by commenting below.  Enjoy!

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.

Email Filing Assistants for the Mac

Are you tired of dragging messages to Inbox folders?  Try using an email filing assistant to speed up the process!

How do Email Filing Assistants (EFAs) Work?

Email filing assistants help “automate” filing of email into folders by using algorithms to learn and adapt to your email filing habits.  After you “train” the assistant for a time, filing email in the correct folder is a simple process.

Whether you are sending a message or replying to a message, the filing assistant “guesses” which folder the message belongs in.  (Accuracy rates are 80-90%).  There are no configuration wizards, no set-up, and no rules to maintain.

EFAs for Mac Users

I’ve written before about electronic filing assistants for PC/Outlook users, but what about Mac?

Option One – EFA Lite 2 or EFA 3 from Schulz

The first contender is the Email Filing Assistant from Schulz Software. The company offers a free versionEFA Lite 2 and a pro version for $6.99 – EFA 3.  Both are compatible with Apple Mail and require Mac OS X or later.  This chart explains the differences between the two versions.  EFA Lite 2 is unrated in the App Store.  EFA 3 (the pro version) has a three-star rating from 8 reviewers.

If you are tempted by EFA’s free version, check out this post from Addictive TipsEFA does not offer support or documentation, although there is an FAQ page. A few testimonials are available here.

Option Two – Msg Filer

A second option is MsgFiler.  From the outset, MsgFiler seems to be a more tried and true brand – touting a rating of 4.5 mice from Macworld and 4.5 stars from 130 reviewers on the App Store.  The testimonials are numerous.  Support appears to be more robust than EFA and the documentation section of the MsgFiler site has helpful screenshots and detailed how-tos.  The app is $9.99 in the Mac App Store, and from all appearances is well worth it.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

 

 

 

Case Numbers are Not Unique – Oregon eCourt Week

This is the final post in my week-long series on Oregon eCourt. Today we take note of a small, but potentially important detail: case numbers are not unique in the eCourt system.

After logging on, eCourt users have an option to search case records, court calendars, or find judgments with money awards. If you elect to search Civil, Family and Probate Case Records, the following search screen appears:

search screenThe first option is to search by Case Number. Here is an actual search result that generated three listings in three different jurisdictions for the identical Case Number. Identifying information has been redacted for privacy reasons:

case numbers

Identical case numbers across judicial districts do not pose a problem so long as you are aware of the possibility.

Other Options when Searching Case Records

Searching by Case Number is the first option presented when searching case records. Users may also search by Party, Attorney, or Date Filed.

other search criteria

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis.

 

Searching eCourt Calendars – Oregon eCourt Week

Today we explore how to search court calendars in the Oregon eCourt system.

There are two options for searching calendars. The first uses a publicly accessible link from the Oregon Judicial Department home page. The second approach requires logging in to the eCourt system. The search methods are identical regardless of the approach used.

The following search criteria are available when searching eCourt calendars:

  • Attorney
  • Case
  • Judicial Officer
  • Party or Defendant Name
  • Date Range

Search by Case is the default search method. To search by any other criteria, click the drop-down arrow.

When searching by Attorney, use the attorney’s last name and first name or bar number.

search by attorney

When searching by Judicial Officer, the search screen offers a pull-down menu of all judicial officers in the state in ascending order, beginning with Abar, Donald and ending with Zuver, Julie:

search by judicial officer

When searching by Date Range, you can filter your search by Case Category. Case categories include: Criminal, Family, Civil, and Probate/Mental Health. By default, all four are selected. De-select categories you do not wish to include in your search.

date range

Phonetic Searches Using Soundex

Phonetic searches are available when searching by Party or Defendant Name or by Attorney if using last name and first name criteria. Check the Soundex box in the upper right portion of the screen to retrieve calendar dates for search names that sound alike.

eCourt Calendar Searches Limited to 90 Days in the Future

When searching the calendar, date ranges cannot be more than 90 days in the future. If you attempt to search more than 90 days out, the following message will appear:

date range message

Searching OJIN Circuit Court Calendars

Search OJIN Circuit Court Calendars here. Search criteria are limited to Date, Party Name, and Attorney. Note these conditions:

The (OJIN Circuit) Court Calendar allows entering up to four identifiers to locate an event occurring on a specific court docket. A minimum of at least one identifier is required. Providing more information will result in more accurate search returns.

The Party Name and Attorney fields are case-insensitive and can be all or part of a name. For example, entering “John” in the Party Name field will give results of all the cases with “John,” “Johnson,” and “Van Johnson.”

Names are stored in the same manner as in the OJIN system “Last First Middle” with no commas and one space between names. For example, Michael Jay Smith is actually stored as “Smith Michael Jay.” Searching for “Michael Jay Smith” will not find any results; however, searching for “Smith Michael” or “Smith M” or “Smith Michael Jay” will include the desired results.

You can only search for the first plaintiff and defendant on a case. You can only search for the first three attorneys on a case, with the system first looking for attorneys on the scheduled event and then for active attorneys on the case. Search results will return the first 500 entries on the docket.

OJIN Online subscribers have access to more functionality.

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.