What’s Right with Word? – What’s Wrong with Word?

Find Out How Other Firms Experience Word

Also: An Update on DeltaView Redlining Software



Date:  Friday, March 24, 2000     Time:  11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location:  Offices of Latham & Watkins
First Interstate Building
633 West 5th Street, 6th Floor
Conference Room 6E/F
Los Angeles



As we start the new century, Microsoft Word has surfaced as the dominant Word Processor among major U.S. law firms.  Many of our local firms have now been using Word for several years and longer.  Firms now have solutions in place for limitations Word may have presented and are taking greater advantage of the automation Word has to offer.


For this meeting, we hosted a panel discussion with representatives from several large firms.  The discussion provided these firms the opportunity to share the benefits and pitfalls they’ve experienced with using Microsoft Word. Portions of the panel discussion have been reprinted below.



Allen Feke, Manager of Technology

Leonda Spaugy, PC Trainer

Latham & Watkins


Betsy Reynolds, Manager of Word Processing

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP


Micheal D. Carroll, National Tech Training

Foley & Lardner


Sandra Yadegar, Network Manager

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom






1)   What were the driving motivations that resulted in the firm implementing Word?

FIRM A:  To meet client needs and a desire to be more compatible with potential clients.

FIRM B:  Client base generally using Word.

FIRM C:  Move to Word6.0: Primarily motivated to maintain client compatibility and the desire to move to a windows based program.  WP6 was considered, but MS was thought to be the more stable product.  Move to Word97:  Motivated by improved native numbering and client compatibility concerns.

2)   What process did/does your firm use to convert documents from WordPerfect to Word?

FIRM A:  MicroSystems DocXchange.  Also utilize their latest desktop tool and standalone conversion machines for post-rollout conversions for floor users.  Still use DocXchange on incoming documents that have unknown issues.

FIRM B:  In-house developed VBA macros.

FIRM C:  In-house macros.

3)   Has the implementation of Word resulted in the addition of personnel (help-desk staff, trainers, word processors, analysts)?  Was any such addition temporary for the conversion period or on-going?

FIRM A:  Both User Support and Word Processing were increased to handle the load.  We moved from 3 help desk people to 6 and are working on increasing the staff to 8.  Word Processing was increased during the rollout to include 4 temporary document conversion cleanup people to cleanup all form files.  Two still remain to assist with ongoing projects.  We also increased out temporary word processors to handle all the work that got routed to Word Processing due to the lack of knowledge and skills of newly trained people (secretaries and attorneys alike).  Technicians have been increased from two to five to handle all technical support issues.

FIRM B:  Yes, additional personnel in all areas were added on a temporary basis during the conversion period and on-going we have added help-desk staff and analysts.

FIRM C:  During the conversion to Word6.0, we contracted for several additional trainers and help-desk personnel.  After the conversion, we resumed our normal staffing numbers.  During the conversion to Word97, we contracted for one additional trainer/help-desk person.  Since, the conversion to Word97, we established a one-person Word Help Desk. 

4)   What are some of the advantages (including specific Word features) your firm has experienced in converting to Word?

FIRM A:  Advantages have been the integration between Outlook and Word to facilitate the effective creation of all types of documents.  This was sorely lacking in our previous configuration.  Styles are a really effective tools, if everyone is properly using the feature.  Unfortunately, most of my positive comments really relate to MacPac’s implementation or enhancement of Word features.

FIRM B:  For some, loss of reveal codes.  Better communication with our client base.  Better Table of Contents generation.  Job security.

FIRM C:  Although it would be difficult to argue that Word6.0 was a superior program to WordPerfect5.1, and the conversion to Word6.0 was an extremely difficult one, the advantage was that it was the right decision at the time; it moved us in the right technological direction.

Commonality of features, functions between Windows-based programs, automatic sense of how to work in a new program.  Generating the TOC automatically.

5)   What are some of the disadvantages or problems (including specific Word features) your firm has experienced in converting to Word?

FIRM A:  Users inability or desire to use the software properly.  Not understanding why styles are important and how they impact the positive or negative integrity of documents.  Users doing their documents completely in Normal even when templates start them out correctly.  Lots of problems with people performing “unsafe” pasting and breaking the links in  numbers and styles.  Mostly people not understanding or wanted to understand the benefits from properly using the software.  Problems with CompareRite, problems with Outlook, and generic Word, not talking right to each other or having all the right fields available.  People using track changes or not knowing that documents they have received from the outside contain track changes.

FIRM B:  Corrupt documents.  Illegal Operations.  Sending documents to outside parties using different formats/platforms.  conversion problems.  Bugs in List Number Styles.  Bugs in Heading Styles.  Lack of Correct legal Numbering Schemes.

FIRM C:  The conversion to Word6.0 was fraught with problems, partly because the program was lacking and partly because of the size and scope of the conversion.  Word6.0’s paragraph numbering feature was grossly deficient for our needs and the needs of the legal community. 

Significant foundational differences between the two programs, aside from styles, page numbering and the header/footer features at the heart of the matter was that Word is a paragraph based program and WordPerfect is a character based program; there is a loss of document formatting flexibility when you use a paragraph based program like Word (block protect, etc.)

Disastrous problems with redlining and the inability of CompareRite to quickly provide solutions for known problems.

Gyrations required to perform a merge with the PC Docs integration.

Problems encountered when a highly demanding and time-sensitive industry, such as our own, undergoes a conversion of this magnitude, including correcting template errors, working with hardware issues, and the resulting emotional drain on all personnel as everyone struggles to overcome these problems and regain control over their dramatically changed environment.

6)   How has your firm dealt with any such disadvantages or problems?

FIRM A:  We are continuing to provide refresher classes, but need to get attorneys motivate to attend the classes.  With regards to CompareRite issues, we have installed Microsystems new toolbar which preps the documents to compare no matter what.

FIRM B:  Added additional personnel, developed in-house macros/templates/work arounds.  DocXtools for corrupt documents.

FIRM C:  In time, you learn what the ideal memory size should be, and the programmer fixes the template problems and so on.  For the Word 6.0 numbering limitations, firm developed its own custom numbering toolbar that allowed users to build commonly-used schemes.

Mandatory conversion training for legal secretaries and on-going training classes.  Mandatory assessments programs for legal secretaries.

7)   What were the primary challenges at the time your firm converted to MS Word?

FIRM A:  Converting all the documents in a timely manner; getting users to be positively motivated to make the change; what would be included in the core load; deciding some of the defaults settings; moving people from no DMS to a mini-DMS saving program.

FIRM B:  Getting people to attend, participate & comprehend the training during conversion.  People who were overwhelmed by the added options, features and capabilities of Word.  Re-training non-windows users to the new operating system in addition to a new Word Processor.  Promoting and convincing staff to work with a different approach to Word Processing and not to worry there were no reveal codes.

FIRM C:  The volume and diversity of users to train as well as the timing of training them to avoid desk imbalances where the secretary was trained, but the attorneys were not. 

Getting attorneys to training.  Conversion to DMS at the same time.  Staying current on problems/issues and communicating these problems/workarounds.

8)   What do you consider your on-going challenges in managing MS Word?

FIRM A:  Getting everyone trained to use the software properly.  Teaching the users not only the how but the why to help them understand how to use the software to effectively get their done.

FIRM B:  Corrupt documents.  Complexity of the product.  Continuing problems with compatibility with Docs Open.  WP seems to be a more legal firm friendly product.

FIRM C:  Some lingering issues with integration of Docs with Word, but overall we have a relatively stable and working environment..  Our challenge is to communicate and train incoming employees on how to work in our environment (using our templates, toolbar, and emphasis on styles rather than direct formatting).

9)   Does the firm have a standard procedure for dealing with documents being received from the outside that are in WordPerfect format (e.g. keep document in native program, or, convert document, or, convert doc to Word and convert back to WP)?

FIRM A:  We didn’t install any conversion filters on regular users.  They cannot file open anything but Word 97 and above.  All other documents must be sent to Word Processing for conversion and/or cleanup.  Users do have an option to quick view the document and print from quickview so they can at least read the document and/or review the document.  However, if they need to work with the document they must forward it to Word Processing.  We do not promote roundtripping documents.  We suggest and have been really successful in prompting users to send files to clients who don’t need to edit the files, as .pdf files.  If we do have to convert them to Word Perfect we give all the warning messages and encourage the attorney not have a reconvert when the document returns.  If they will be sharing continuously with a Word Perfect user, we recommend they let Word Processing make all the revisions and maintain the document in Word Perfect.

FIRM B:  Yes, all documents are converted to Word if editing is required.  One party is designated as the online editor, all other parties either make hard copy mark ups or create personal copies of documents.

A copy of WordPerfect is kept in the Document processing dept for anyone needing the file to stay in its native application for minimal edits.

FIRM C:  No.  Outside documents are converted upon request only.

10) Is staff expected to be proficient in both Word and WordPerfect?

FIRM A:  Only Word Processing and we are using Word Perfect less and less.

FIRM B:  No, Word only

FIRM C:  No, Word only

11) At the time of conversion, how much time did/does the firm allocate for training?






5 days (NT, Outlook, MDMS, Word, MacPac

5 days

5 days


3 days

2 days

3 or 12 hour classes


2 hrs NT/Outlook/Word Basic (required); 2 hrs Word Intermediate (required); 2 hrs Word Advanced (optional)

1 ½- 2 days

3, 6 or 12 hour classes


3 days

1 – 2 days

3 or 12 hour optional classes



12) Tell us about any on-going training programs your firm may have.

FIRM A:  We have continuing refresher classes that are two hour modules that cover specific topic in Word, Outlook, MacPac, document formatting, style and numbering schemes, etc.  We have also taught Excel (beg & interm.), PowerPoint (beg. & interm.) and Access (all-day class)

FIRM B:  Team of ten trainers to conduct any technical training (e.g. new hires, modular, Just in time, one on one).

FIRM C:  PC training schedules are published monthly containing a wide variety of Word classes, as well as classes on the majority of programs we use.

13) Does your firm maintain any sort of Word skills-assessment program, or require on-going training hours, for Secretaries?

FIRM A:  We just hired a new trainer, who we anticipate will continue classes, do a skills assessment program and motivate attorneys to get more training.  If we find a secretary that has obviously not gotten the training or understood it, or uses Word very poorly, the secretarial support manager is informed and they make it mandatory for the secretary to attend training.

FIRM B:  O.P.A.C. (Office Proficiency & Certification) and Skill check Assessment software.  On-going training is not required, but recommended.

FIRM C:  Yes, we implemented mandatory skills assessment programs for both Word6.0 and Word97 programs for our legal secretaries as well as the Help Desk and DSC personnel..