The legal community has long had special requirements for documents that most word processing programs just didn’t handle well. Given the amount of time and effort that is spent drafting documents, it comes as no surprise that lawyers and legal staff have often had a love/hate relationship with their word processing programs over the years.

With the new Word 2007, that’s all starting to change.

Microsoft Word Legal Document Templates

Word 2007 includes document templates specifically for legal documents – including documents with line numbers running down the left margin. You can even choose how many lines will be on a page! These documents are formatted to match the classical style of documents, so they aren’t quite as… let’s say “pretty” as TurboLaw documents, but they’ll do in a pinch. And they are included with Word 2007, so you don’t have to do the hard work of trying to lay them out on your own – which is always handy when you are pressed for time.

Microsoft Word Legal Document Template with Line Numbers

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Word also includes some basic pleading templates, which include the traditional document heading. They are very useful for whipping up a quick document – if you intend to write and format the entire body of the document yourself.

Microsoft Word Legal Document Heading

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Of course, Word’s legal document templates are just a starting point – unlike TurboLaw documents, they don’t merge case information – and they do use a font that resembles a typewriter’s typeface, just to preserve that “classic” feeling. You can, of course, change the fonts to suit your own taste – and if you want to make sure your documents are actually read, you might consider choosing your font with care – there is a great deal of research that has been done regarding how the choice of font can impact how people read. (For more on this subject, see our article on Tips for getting your documents read.)

Not Just Templates

It doesn’t stop with just templates, either. Microsoft has a vast number of resources available for the legal profession, including an entire section of articles filled with tips and how-to guides just for legal professionals. They have articles on how to write better legal documents with Microsoft Word, how to compare documents with the legal blackline option, using documents effectively in court and a number of articles on removing metadata (the “hidden data” in your documents that we’ve talked about before).

Collaboration Made Easy

Additionally, the Internet has made collaborating on a document easier than it ever was before. The American Bar Association notes how the new features of Word 2007 can help with document collaboration (as well as keeping sensitive information private and supporting compliance efforts), and for when the other party isn’t physically nearby, on-line document sharing tools such as Microsoft Office Groove and Google Docs can help “erase” the barriers of distance.