Vol. 84, No. 4, April 2011
Formatting Legal Documents With Microsoft Office Word 2010: Tips and Tricks for Working With Pleadings, Contracts, Mailings, and Other Complex Documents
By Jan Berinstein (Jan Berinstein, 2010). 584 pgs. $41.95. Order, www.lulu.com or www.amazon.com.
Reviewed by John S. Swimmer
Jan Berinstein’s Formatting Legal Documents With Microsoft Office Word 2010 is designed as a “how-to” guide rather than a reference guide. This book offers practical advice on Word 2010 for lawyers, paralegals, and legal secretaries for their use when preparing pleadings, contracts, mailings, and forms. This book continues where the 2007 version left off with helpful instructions on how to customize Word, and it eases the transition to Word 2010.
I found the book well written, the instructions easy to understand, and the index very user friendly. My favorite feature is the side-by-side table that helps one quickly grasp differences between the Word 2007 “Office button” and the new “Backstage View button.”
Because I prepare my own pleadings, I often struggle with many of the issues addressed in the book. For example, every time I prepare a brief, I have to look up how to delete the first page. I followed the author’s instructions while working on a brief recently and completed the task in a few short steps.
Although the book provides some California-specific information, it is written so that it easily applies to all jurisdictions. The chapters devoted to paragraph numbering, pleading paper, cross-references, and tables of contents and authorities will be indispensable for legal professionals, as will the excellent explanation of how to use Word 2010 features to cope with metadata. This book offer tips, tricks, and resources that will complement the practice of any law office or legal professional.
I believe that the book will help you make yourself more productive and efficient with Word. I think most attorneys would find this book a worthwhile investment.
Law & Reorder: Legal Industry Solutions for Restructure, Retention, Promotion and Work/Life Balance
By Deborah Epstein Henry (Chicago, IL: ABA, 2010). 357 pgs. $29.95. Order, www.ababooks.org.
Reviewed by Kari Niesen-LaScala
Whether you are seeking a better work-life balance or looking to come back to the legal field after an extended leave, this book, written by a Yale law school graduate and mother of three, may help you in your journey.
In part I, entitled “Structural Solutions for Legal Employers,” the author begins her discussion of her main theme: creating an atmosphere in which there is work-life balance will benefit both firms (employers) and their attorneys. Some reasons include the following: the high attrition associated with burnout is costly for firms when they have to hire replacement attorneys; high billable rates and hours make fees unpredictable for clients, which may cause them to look elsewhere for representation, especially considering evolving technology and current economic conditions; if lawyers have more time to be engaged in their communities, they may help generate more business for their firms; and a good working environment helps firms attract talented lawyers.
The author argues that employers should take steps to ensure that employees who are seeking work-life balance are not stigmatized by assumptions that they are less ambitious or talented and to allow qualified employees to continue on a partnership track (even if that track is longer for them than for other employees). The author repeatedly notes that work-life balance issues should be considered relevant to all employees, not just to mothers, to help alleviate any negativity associated with them.
The book lays out many ways in which employers can create work-life balance while still keeping an eye on the employer’s bottom line: allowing attorneys to work reduced hours, work from home, or job share or hiring temporary attorneys.
Part II, entitled “Advice for Lawyers and Law Students,” gives tips on such things as when to announce a pregnancy, how to prepare for maternity leave, and how to prepare when coming back to work, including setting up effective childcare arrangements. The book provides detailed tips to lawyers who have decided to work reduced hours as to what they should do to make sure they remain key players at work, as well as offering time-management ideas and advice for lawyers who have been laid off or who are trying to reenter the workforce after an extended leave.
The author is clearly passionate and knowledgeable on this subject and tries to dispel the notion that some of her suggestions are too idealistic. A notes section provides additional relevant reading, and the “Cheat Sheet” will help women lawyers evaluate potential employers. Overall, the book is an interesting read for lawyers craving more balance in their work and home lives.
Never Lose Again: Become a Top Negotiator by Asking the Right Questions
By Steven Babitsky & James J. Mangraviti Jr. (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press 2011). 307 pgs. $25.99. Order, www.usmacmillan.com.
Reviewed by Dianne Post
I wanted to review this book because I am in the middle of a ridiculous case that could have been settled years ago if not for the incomprehensible positions taken by the other parties. I thought reading the book might help. It was a quick and enjoyable read (it took me one evening, three and one-half hours). I have read all the Getting to Yes books, taken continuing legal education courses on negotiation, and learned about the differences among and success rates of assertive, aggressive, and accommodating negotiators. This book was a handy, quick review of all the tips I previously learned.
Never Lose Again uses the well-known technique of parceling out information in numbered chunks – 10 parts here, 50 questions there – the kind of easy-on-the-memory system we can deal with. Each chapter is structured the same – first, the question you should ask and how you should ask it; next, why you should ask it; then, some examples of how it works; and finally, a summary and suggestions for how to counter the technique when it is directed toward you. I did come up with many more counter responses than are in the book, but that is to be expected.
Although the book’s focus is more business- and consumer-oriented than legal, one could extrapolate and use the same procedures in legal negotiations, and in fact the authors have done so. But the book is geared toward making everyone better negotiators, including when arguing with the phone company, the cable television company, or a department store. Some of the techniques seemed a bit manipulative and disingenuous, and so I would pass by those. I have to confess that although I use many negotiation techniques in my law practice, I am more lax in my private life. I usually say okay and continue on my way, or I present my Bar credentials and hope the other person capitulates.
The bottom line is the old saw we learned in law school – preparation, preparation, preparation. We know that how we say things is as important as what we say. The book reminds us how to get to where we want to be without rancorous litigation and is a good review for those who have the skills and a good primer for those who don’t. As to whether the book helps me with my case, check the appeals courts in a few years and we’ll both know.
Laws, Outlaws and Terrorists: Lessons from the War on Terrorism
By Gabriella Blum & Phillip B. Heymann (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010). 247 pgs. $21.95. Order, mitpress.mit.edu.
Reviewed by Daniel J. Rieck
Laws, Outlaws and Terrorists takes on the difficult task of reviewing the federal government’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent “war on terror.” Although the U.S. government had been dealing with terrorism long before 2001, this book looks almost exclusively at the Bush-era response to the issue. The authors make great efforts to look at the legal ramifications of the war on terror from an apolitical point of view, although they clearly are detractors of President Bush’s decisions.
The book is divided into three sections. The first looks at the role of the law in the war on terror. The authors examine the history of the government’s responses to national emergencies, including U.S. Supreme Court review of presidential decisions. They also examine how current decisions are shaping the battlefield, especially given the U.S. military’s current emphasis on counterinsurgency warfare. The authors examine complex questions about the roles of the government and the law in theoretical ways but within the context of actual events.
The second section of the book looks at how complicated theoretical decisions can affect those actually fighting the war on terror. The authors examine the concepts of targeted killing, coercive interrogation, and external detentions and make clear and concise arguments against each, considering all options before coming to their own conclusions. These conclusions should surprise no one, but the thoughtful manner of each examination shows that the authors have looked at each issue with open minds.
The final section of the book looks at the issues of negotiating with terrorists and efforts to reduce moral support for them. Again, each chapter looks at these issues with the hindsight of history but with an eye on the future. The authors look at every possible point of view before coming to a conclusion.
Laws, Outlaws, and Terrorists is an in-depth examination of governmental decision-making and how those decisions will shape the laws and attitudes of the world for decades to come. The authors reject the claim that winning the war on terror requires using any means necessary, arguing instead that maintaining reasoned judgment and the rule of law should be the government’s most important goal. They make this argument in a thoughtful manner but without getting lost in the abstract, not an easy balance to maintain. This is a well-balanced, thoughtful book and a must read for anyone interested in modern warfare.
Ladders: Safety and Litigation
By Jon R. Abele & Cindy A. LaRue (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2010). 229 pgs. $39. Order, www.lawyersandjudges.com.
Reviewed by Peter M. Farb
Ladders: Safety and Litigation is not a page turner that will keep you up at night, but that obviously was not the authors’ intent. The book is written in a uniformly dry manner that perhaps fits the subject. After all, how do you spice up a tome on a simple piece of equipment that has been in use for thousands of years?
So what will the book do for you? It will give you some insight into all aspects of safety considerations and civil litigation involving ladders. The first third of the book covers safety, in chapters devoted to such topics as descriptions of the various types of ladders and their uses; the different materials used to make ladders; selection criteria for ladders for a given purpose; a rather basic introduction to human-factors analysis and ergonomics of ladder accidents; and so on.
The remaining two-thirds of the book contains a general discussion of almost every aspect of ladder litigation. Because the book examines statutes and cases from several jurisdictions, it includes much material that is of little direct use to Wisconsin lawyers. The litigation portion of the book takes the reader through standard negligence law; products liability law, including design claims and manufacturing defects; contributory negligence; retention of experts; and other basic legal topics.
The appendices are perhaps the most useful portion of the book. Appendices A through D identify ladder nomenclature and list characteristics of ladders, their users, and the environments in which ladders are used. Along with appendix G, these sections function as checklists that attorneys can use to make sure they have covered all the necessary bases. Appendices E and F set forth the OSHA rules and the relevant federal regulations, respectively. A reference section lists approximately 50 sources of additional information, such as publications and websites for the American Ladder Institute, the American National Standard Institute (ANSI), and similar organizations.
I was disappointed by one glaring omission from the book. Although the authors cite and discuss numerous decisions, there is no table of authorities. Thus, if your interest is piqued by a particular decision, you best write down the cite or dog-ear the page. Otherwise you will have to skim the entire book to find the citation. Except for this deficiency, the book provides an excellent resource for busy trial lawyers.