Ben M. Schorr has written yet another guidebook for Microsoft products - The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Outlook 2007. I was especially interested in this book because I found Outlook 2003 to be frustrating at times. I liked the new interface of Outlook 2007 with its ‘ribbon’ at the top of the screen, but I knew I wasn’t using the program as effectively as I could be – and I suspect most lawyers aren’t, either.
The book is written in a breezy style, interspersed with humor, anecdotes (who knew that SPAM email messages were named after a Monty Python skit?) and tips that can be implemented right away.
Schorr’s book is written specifically for lawyers, with their concerns in mind. The book begins with a ‘tour’ of the program – the new menu and toolbars. Screenshots give a visual picture of what he is talking about, but if I have one complaint about this book, it is that the screenshots are small, making it difficult at times to see exactly what he is talking about. To get over the hurdle, you may need to look at your Outlook program while you are reading some parts of the book (which isn't so bad, because it is only by implementing the tips hands-on that you'll really be able to use them).
The book goes through all of the Outlook features, from Mail, to Tasks to Calendar to Contacts and more. As a new user of Outlook’s Calendar feature (I am a relatively recent convert from paper calendars to the electronic version – especially now that I am using my Blackberry and can synch between Outlook and the Blackberry calendar), I was particularly interested in this portion of the book. And Calendar is vastly underutilized by most attorneys I work with.
Not only does the book go through some tips and tools for using the most well-known aspects of Outlook, such as Mail/Messages, Contacts and Calendar, but it shows lawyers how they can effectively use Tasks and even Journal (which I did not know even existed before I read the book) to increase productivity and effectiveness.
Schorr also gives tips on archiving files and folders, using Outlook with other Office programs such as mail merge, or exporting items to Excel. He includes an entire section on keyboard shortcuts (excellent for speed and productivity) and a separate one for troubleshooting.
Many of the Outlook 2007 features discussed in the book are especially helpful for solos who have not been able to bring themselves to invest in a practice management system but need a good way to keep track of notes and the time spent working on a particular file or project. But this book is not just for solos - for large firms or small, using Microsoft Exhange Server or not, Schorr's tips are sure to get you using Outlook in a whole new way - from planning meetings to scheduling tasks and customizing views.
For example, did you know that you can automatically add to your safe senders list those you send email to? You can even delay delivery of emails if there is a particular date on which you would like the message sent, but don’t want to have to remember or don’t think you’ll be at your desk to send the email (works great for birthday wishes). You can also block email in certain foreign languages by using the international tab in junk options. And did you know that you can use natural language to calculate dates in Outlook (i.e. setting a reminder for “90 days from today”?)
If you're using Outlook in your practice, you need this book.