Resiliency – Even for Professors

For the first semester of legal writing, I set aside a few minutes at the beginning of each class to discuss mindfulness and multicultural awareness. In the second semester (began today), we move deeper into mindfulness with discussions about resilience. Mindfulness sets the stage for developing resilience, a key part of professional development.

This morning, I was able to model resilience when I experienced two unexpected tech setbacks during class. The first was that my PollEverywhere polls did not integrate with PowerPoint in the way that I expected. <Note: you can only have one PollEverywhere “activity” per slide; one cannot maneuver around PollEverywhere from within one slide.> It would’ve been so awesome! Alas, class time was ticking away. The lesson – think fast, acknowledge the problem, and keep going.

And of course, the Zoom breakout rooms didn’t function as they should. Do they ever? I had planned to use the new feature by which students may select the breakout room of their choice. Little did I know that students must change a selection in their account settings to enable that feature. For some students, it had already been selected by default. For others, it was not. I found the solution after class. Again, think fast, acknowledge the problem, and keep going.

No one is perfect. Especially in legal practice (and teaching), resiliency is everything!

Nifty Office Tricks: Tag Documents

On virtually every website, especially blogs, writers rely on keywords that help their readers and search engines better understand what the site offers. But tags also offer attorneys convenience.

Remember, “I know Bill wrote a memo about that fifteen years ago. Now, what was that case name? It was about . . . hey, Paralegal, call Bill and see -“

“Bill died last year,” Secretary says.

“Damn. If only there were a way to find that memo!”

There is! Keyword tags.

In Windows:

Why reinvent the wheel? These guys explain it perfectly, with two options!

In Mac:

From the pop-up window, select the Summary tab, enter the document’s keywords in the dialogue box.

Happy tagging!

Nifty Office Tricks: Find Words of A Certain Number of Characters

Two-letter words often cause more complicated sentences with reduced clarity, and they work towards passive voice. These days, we teach students that legal writing should be simple, clear, and concise. I advise students that they should look for two-letter words and consider whether they might simplify the phrase or sentence by eliminating the word.

So how do you find all the two-letter words in a document? Wildcards. This article could not possibly cover the range and complexity of Office wildcard searches, but this one is pretty easy.

(1) Cntrl + F to open the search navigation pane;

(2) Click the drop-down arrow, and select “Advanced Find;”

(3) Click More (bottom left of the Advanced Find window);

(4) Select “Use Wildcards;”

(5) In the dialogue box, type: <[a-z]{2}>

Voila, you are searching for words with only 2 letters. Happy editing!

Nifty Office Features: Snapping Windows

Ok, so this isn’t really an Office feature, but it is quite a nifty Windows feature. Mac has a similar option.

Have you ever wanted to keep one window static while working in another window? For example, writing in Word while researching in Chrome. It’s a bother to go back and forth between windows or to resize the windows, right? How about a third window? A fourth?! This is madness, Joshua!

Just choose a window, and drag it all the way to the left or to the right of the screen. You’ll notice a flash. Release the mouse, and that window will now remain static on exactly half the screen. Other open windows will appear on the opposite side of the screen so that you can select the second window to occupy the second half of the screen. Nifty. (Be sure that you’ve enabled multi-tasking in settings.)

On Mac, at the top left of a window, long click the green dot that takes a window into full screen. The long click splits the screen and places that window on one side, allowing you to choose the second window.

These folks explain it quite well.

This is especially helpful during Zoom meetings. Enjoy!