Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Tables of Authorities in Word

Okay, by now we all are aware that Microsoft Word can help manage the table of authorities in your brief. Yet, how many lawyers actually use this function let alone understand how it works? How many legal assistants understand it? How many times have you tried to use this function only to give up and go back to doing it by hand and hoping it all worked out well?

I understand. I don't think it is a well-documented feature. Yet, once you know how to use it, you will not go back to doing it by hand. 

So, let’s dig into an image intensive look at how to actually let Word create the table of authorities for you. This will be a lengthy post, but I think seeing screen shots of what to do will make it easier to figure out what to do.

First, write your brief. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, try to mark your authorities as you write. It will make your life more complicated. I typically mark my cases for inclusion in the table of authorities when the text of the brief is finished and I’m cleaning up all of my citations. I might make some minor edits, add a paragraph here or there after I do this, but I’m not adjusting the order of citations.

Once you brief is finished, start at the top of your brief and find the first citation. Highlight the entire citation. Go to the References tab on the ribbon and click on “Mark citation”.

 This will bring up a new window. The first citation in your brief will of course be a full or long citation, and it might even have a pinpoint to the page number in the reporter. In the “Selected Text” box will be the citation you had highlighted. Edit the text in this box to be what you want to show up on the table of authorities. For example, I would remove the pinpoint citation in this example.

On this screen, you will also need to ensure that you have the correct category selected for this citation. Since this is a case, I have selected Cases. Ignore the other areas of this window for now and choose the “Mark” button.

After you click “Mark”, you will be taken back to your document. 

If you weren’t showing paragraphs marks (you didn’t have the pilcrow selected on the Home tab) you may be surprised to see a completely different looking document. It will look something like the below. Of note, the highlighted information is the information added, but don’t worry, it won’t show up when you print. Unless you know what you’re doing, DO NOT EDIT THE ADDED INFORMATION. Editing it will affect how your table of authorities is built.

Repeat this process for every new citation you come across. Of course, eventually, you will come across a short citation or an id. citation. In that case, you will highlight the short citation and choose mark citation as before.

This time, when the window pops up, simply click the case name in the short citation list that the citation you are adding points to.

 So, in my example, I’ve highlight an Id. in my document, but it points to the Marbury case, so I choose Marbury from the short citation list. If the short citation is not a case but a statute, make sure you look in the correct category. Once highlighted, choose Mark.

Once all of your citations are marked as set out above, go to the point in your brief where you want to insert a table of authorities. Put the cursor on that spot. Then, go to the References Tab on the ribbon and choose “Insert Table of Authorities”.

 This will pull up a new window. You can modify how your table will look in this window. 

For now, we’re just going to insert the table. So, make sure you have “All” selected under categories. If you only wanted to insert some of the categories, you could do that here. Note, it will only insert categories that actually have items in them. So, if you have no Rules, it won’t display an empty Rules area. Next, choose “OK”.

And, as you can see, you now have a wonderful looking Table of Authorities. 

Now, let’s say you have added other pages or moved some items around. No problem. Prior to finalizing your brief for printing and saving, turn off the option to show formatting (again, the pilcrow on the home page). Next, right click on your table of authorities and choose “update field”.

 In my example, I added a whole new page. As you can see, this automatically updates all of the page numbers.

It is important that you not be showing formatting marks when you do this. I’ve found that the length of the information added by mark items for the table can do weird things to the page numbering IF you have it showing when updating fields. So, if your page numbers seem off, that may be why.

That’s it. It really isn’t that hard. And the time and headache it can save with manually checking the page numbers and updating it when you make little edits more than make up for the time it takes to actually follow this process.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Feeling a Lack of Ambition? Hang Out with Some Legal Tech Folks

With the ending of the holiday season and all of the spectacle and business that comes with it, I was feeling somewhat exhausted and burnt out. My ambition for taking on new projects and learning new stuff was low. Fortunately, that all changed last week.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Legal Services Corporation's Technology Innovation Grant annual conference in San Antonio. The conference brought together advocates and legal tech types from across the county to talk about how to better use legal technology to help not only legal attorneys but their clients and the thousands of people across the country who can't afford an attorney and that a legal aid program is unable to assist.

Hanging out with that crowd, picking their brain, and listening to their ideas was just what the doctor ordered. The amount of enthusiasm, creative thinking, and energy was infectious. Ordinarily, I find conferences and social events to be draining. While I was physically exhausted after 2 1/2 intensive days or tech, I left San Antonio with more mental energy than I've felt in several months.

So, if you're feeling a lack of ambition, find a group of legal techies and hang out with them. Ask them what new project or thing has them excited. I don't think it is possible to come away not feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tips From Legal Office Guru on Tables of Authority

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas and Happy New Years and all of that. I know I enjoyed a couple weeks away from the office and mostly disconnected. However, now it's time to get back, and I'm looking froward to a new year of blogging.

To get the new year started, I wanted to point out a great post over at Legal Office Guru that discusses common errors in creating tables of authority in Microsoft Word. I'll admit that I've learned the hard way why this article hits the nail on the head.

I hope to have a post up this week doing a walk-through on how to do it right.