Top 12 Timesaving Smartphone and Computer Tricks for Lawyers

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“Gone are the days when  ‘Luddite’ or ‘caveman’ lawyers could practice with impunity,” wrote Georgetown Law’s Karin S. Jenson, Coleman W. Watson, and James A. Sherer. The “Model Rules” specifically recognize the need for technological competence.

Computer tricks for Lawyers

You need to be technically competent to be competent as a lawyer. But you want to learn those skills quickly. Unfortunately, computer work is pretty solitary, so it’s tough to pick up tips and tricks from watching your peers.

That’s why I’ve scoured the internet for some tricks and hacks to make lawyers faster and more efficient online.

Computer Tricks

1. Find information more quickly with Ctrl + F

Search is, according to Alexis C. Madrigal, Contributing Editor for The Atlantic and author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology, the single most important function of our networked computers today (word processing being a close second).

How’d you like to speed up your searches? Research shows that people who use this trick are on average, about 12% faster in all of their search behaviors. “That doesn’t sound like much,” said Dan Russell, who studies how people search and research, “But it’s one of the biggest improvements we’ve *ever* seen. It’s a huge improvement over people who don’t know this small trick.”

Russell has also called Control+F, “the single most important thing you can teach someone about search.”

If you didn’t know about this tip, don’t feel bad. 90% of internet users didn’t know about it in 2011. So that’s today in lawyer technology adoption years.

How to do it

Hit the Ctrl key, hold it down, and then hit the F key. If you’re on a Mac, hold down the Command key.

A little search bar will appear in the upper right or left corner of your screen. Left or right depends on which application you’re using.

Type the word you want, and you’ll be scrolled down to the first instance. You’ll see how many times the word appears, and you’ll be able to see each one using up and down arrows.

Master-level tip

Add a space to exclude irrelevant results. For example, typing in “search” will highlight every instance of “research.” To exclude those, type in “ search.”

Alternate use tip

Use “control f” to mean find. Example: “Control f dat bonus.”

2. Scroll faster with the space bar

Most of most lawyers’ days are taken up with reading and writing. And more and more of that is happening online. Which makes scrolling through pages quickly important.

Ditch the mouse wheel, cursor on the scrollbar, and the down arrow key.

Instead, use the spacebar to jump down one full screen at a time.

Add Shift to the equation (Shift+spacebar), and you’ll scroll up a full screen with each press. Hold down the spacebar, and reach the bottom of the page fast as can be.

If pressing the spacebar doesn’t seem to do anything, make sure that the cursor isn’t in a text field on the page.

Master-level tip

If you’re hitting space and the page isn’t moving, it may have a text entry field.

3. Edit faster with find and replace

Does the document say “touch” when it should say “hit?” Or did your clerk use two spaces after a period? (Fired). Do not, under any circumstances, go through and replace each instance.

Instead, use Find and Replace. It works in Word and Google Docs.

In Word, just press Crtl+H. Put the offending term or punctuation in the find box and the desired one in the replace box and choose all.

Master-level tip

Like Ctrl+F, if you find “search” and replace it with “find” you may end up with “research” being replaced with “refind.” So use your spaces accordingly.

4. Correct your spelling with a right click

If you see that red squiggly line while you’re typing on the internet, right click it. Chances are, you’ll get a list of correctly spelled words to replace the one you’ve butchered. This works in Facebook, Gmail, and many other sites.

5. Search from any web page

In 2011 the Task Force on Identifying Skills and Knowledge for Legal Practice conducted a survey of attorneys to find out how they were doing legal research.
Even in 2011, the vast majority of respondents were beginning their process with a Google search either very frequently, frequently, or occasionally.

Computer tricks for Lawyers

Going to google.com is for suckers.

Instead, type your search terms right into the browser bar.

Choose which search engine you want your browser to use in your preferences. This works in mobile too.

This is a good time to remind you to update your browser. Update your browser. Newer versions come with more power, better user interfaces, and fewer security holes.

Smartphone Tricks

6. Type a period faster

When your sentence ends, bypass that tiny period button. Just double-tap the spacebar (I guess the double space habit dies hard) to insert a period and a space so you can start typing your next sentence.

7. Add in .com, .net, .org, and more in one touch

Press the period key and hold it down. A list of suffixes such as .com, .net, .org, and .edu. will appear. Without lifting, move your finger to the suffix you want to type and lift to enter it. Important note: doing this on your desktop will not bring up a shortcut, and will not leave you feeling super smart.

8. Undo without looking for the key

Whether you’ve typed some text, deleted some text, pasted some text, or cut some text, you can shake your iPhone or iPad to get an “Undo” option. This option doesn’t appear on the keyboard, so you’d have to shake your iPhone with frustration to stumble upon it — sort of like an Etch A Sketch.

9. Find and Replace on Android

In the document:

  1. Hit the Menu icon .
  2. Hit Find and replace.
  3. Type in the word you want to replace in the “Find” text box at the top.
  4. Hit Enter .
  5. Scroll through all instances of the word using the arrows at the top of the screen.
  6. If you want to replace the word, type the replacement into the “Replace with” text box at the bottom.
  7. Hit Replace to switch the words for one instance in the document. Hit All to replace all instances of the word in the text.
  8. Hit back on the document to continue editing.

10. Find and Replace on iPhone

In the document:

  1. Hit the Menu icon .
  2. Hit Find and replace.
  3. In the top left, type the word you want to replace in the “Search text” box.
  4. Hit Search.
  5. Scroll through all instances of the word using the arrows at the top of the screen.
  6. If you want to replace the word, type the replacement into the “Replace with” box in the top-right.
  7. Hit Replace to switch the words for one instance in the document. Hit All to replace all instances of the word in the text.
  8. Hit the X in the top left to continue editing.

Email Tricks

11. Permanently de-clutter your inbox

Your default email inbox should contain only emails that you must respond to. Everything else should go to folders to be addressed when necessary.

The first step is unsubscribing from all those junk emails. It’s nearly impossible to do this manually because so many either email you too rarely or without any set schedule. It’s also a ton of time and decision making power to waste going through emails one-by-one. Instead, use a service like Unroll.me to do a one-time cleanup.

The next thing you want to do is filter out useful but time-insensitive notification emails. These include Google Groups notifications, email newsletters you actually read, Google Alerts, and the like.

To do this in gmail, you set up a filter. This lets you keep getting the emails, but keeps them out of your inbox. You can also filter emails in Yahoo and Outlook.

12. Spend less time responding

Autoresponders can tell people you’re away from email automatically.

You can also set up canned responses. Gmail has a labs that lets you write ahead of time and then quickly insert several canned emails. You can do this in Outlook as well.

You can also set these kinds of rules up, and more, in a practice management software solution with a client portal.

Conclusion

Saving time is just one of the benefits of staying abreast of technological trends. To get more tips, insights, and computer tricks for lawyers, check out the Capterra Legal Software Blog. If you’ve got favorite time-savers, let me know in the comments below.

Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a former Capterra analyst.

Comments

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Great tutorial for lawyers to work fast on PC & Android Smartphone . Good work Cathy

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