As many of you may know, one of the most important legal technology events of the year, LegalTech, is currently taking place in New York. Sponsored by some of the biggest names in the ever-growing field, LegalTech showcases everything that is cutting edge in law and technology.
Among this year’s numerous presenters and exhibitions is a company that many law offices have, well, mostly written off – Corel. You remember Corel, right? WordPerfect? You know, that other word processing program?
When I was in law school – in a decidedly less complex time – there were two legal research “systems” a student had to choose from in order to perform legal research tasks – LexisNexis and Westlaw. Similarly, there were two word processing options one had to complete legal writing projects – WordPerfect and Microsoft Word. In those days, the system was neat, simple and, as you can see, quite symmetrical.
As the years progressed, however, Word came to dominate law office computing. Those of us who clung to WordPerfect, increasingly, were regarded as somewhat, well, “dinosauric.” To say that you used WordPerfect might be cause for a suspicious glance from a colleague. By analogy, we became the MySpace users in an era of Facebook. For this reason, it came as a surprise (albeit, a happy one) to see Corel with a rather exciting exhibit and presentation at LegalTech.
Much has changed since the days of the venerable WordPerfect 5.1. Corel’s latest “professional” office suite, WordPerfect X5, has numerous features that may help resurrect it as a contender in the law office of the future, including:
X5 gives users more flexibility with PDFs, including importing, editing, annotating, publishing and converting PDFs without any extra software;
Collaboration and cloud computing via SharePoint or other Web services;
Enhanced file-searching capability allowing users to quickly and easily search either desktop or SharePoint server files via Corel’s brand-new Nuance PaperPort application, Google Desktop or Windows Desktop Search services;
Digital note-taking and graphics software allowing users to take clip, save and re-use either text or graphics from virtually any source;
Ability to manage and integrate email, contacts and appointments via Thunderbird. A free and open source email management application, Thunderbird is a “sister project” of Mozilla Corporation’s well-known Firefox browser;
Free online customer service, technical support and tutorials; and
Complete compatibility with Windows XP, Vista and 7 operating systems.
In addition to these features – and of particular interest to legal writers – Corel presented X5’s companion legal software, Perfect Authority. Quickly and accurately preparing tables of authorities for complex law & motion or appellate documents has long been the bane of existence of novice and expert legal writers alike. Perfect Authority purports to instantly “locate, alphabetize and cross-reference the citations in your document to create a highly accurate Table of Authorities.” It also includes the ability “to create a variety of customizations, so you can easily meet the citation formatting requirements of different districts or courts.”
Whether Corel can make a comeback in the law office remains to be seen. Word has been the chosen favorite for years now, and attorneys are slow to change – even when it may be for our own good. Nevertheless, WordPerfect X5 may be worth taking a look at – either anew or, as in this author’s case, yet again. For the sake of full disclosure, this author has always believed that Corel produced an excellent suite of word processing applications. In fact, at the height of its popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, WordPerfect was the de facto standard in word processing automation. To this day, and with unabashed pride, admit continued use of WordPerfect X4 for certain projects and, in all likelihood, will at least take advantage of X5’s 30-day free trial.
Having alternatives is a good thing. Like MySpace, WordPerfect has often been the victim, in some instances, of either bad – or no – press. With its new SharePoint and Thunderbird features, in particular, WordPerfect may, once again, be a viable alternative to Word.
In addition, one of the greatest sources in lost productivity in any law office – regardless of its size – is the inability to quickly locate documents. This is true whether the documents are stored electronically or on paper. For those that are stored electronically, WordPerfect X5 promises to close this black hole. If Corel can deliver on this promise alone, the savings in lost time avoided, will easily offset X5’s sticker price of $399.99.
Unfortunately, this price does not include Perfect Authority. Perfect Authority is sold separately at $199.99, which is one beef this author has with Corel’s launch. It would be preferable had Perfect Authority been made backwards compatible with older versions of WordPerfect. From the information provided, however, Perfect Authority requires X5 to operate.
The second drawback with WordPerfect, assuming it continues with X5, is that it is not compatible with Google Docs. Therefore, for those of you who have become accustomed to using Google Docs for your law office needs, WordPerfect may not efficiently or effectively meet your office’s needs. If this incompatibility is no longer the case, or if there is someone out there who has discovered a viable solution to this problem, you are encouraged to share your insight via comments.
On the other hand, you are entitled to an upgrade discount of $259.99, if you are the owner of a previously licensed version of any of the following products:
WordPerfect Office 11 or higher
Microsoft Office XP or higher
Microsoft Works Suite 7 or higher
This upgrade price offsets most of the cost of Perfect Authority, for those who are interested in acquiring it. Moreover, the comparable sticker price for Microsoft Office 2010, without upgrade, is $499.99, making WordPerfect X5 something of a bargain.
For those of you who continue to use WordPerfect in your office, whether a law office or otherwise, why have you continued? If you stopped using WordPerfect at some point in the past, what caused you to stop? Did you switch to Word or did you migrate to some other system such as Open Office? Do you see yourself switching back to WordPerfect in the future? And, for those of you who have never used WordPerfect, would you consider using it now?
- Office 2010 The Fastest Selling Ever (lockergnome.com)
- Wordperfect: The Meme That Will Not Die (webdogs.org)