Guide

The Secret Technology Tool for Attorneys Who are Tired of Typing

Save time on repetitive typing
Create keyboard shortcuts for common phrases
Works with the legal tech tools you already have
Guide

The Secret Technology Tool for Attorneys Who are Tired of Typing

If you're like most attorneys, you spend a lot of time typing – emails to clients, briefs, pleadings, law firm administrative tasks, and more emails. Throughout all this typing, we are often repeating the same phrases over a day or week. But what if there was a way to save yourself from all that repetitive typing? There is! It's not legal practice management software, and it's not even limited to legal tech. It's called TextExpander, and it is one of the most underutilized tech tools available today.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

What is TextExpander and how can it help attorneys save time typing?

TextExpander is a wildly underutilized app that allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts for commonly typed phrases or bits of text.

So instead of having to type "thank you for your email," you can just type "ty," or you could type "ptbn" instead of having to look up your trial partner's bar number every time you draft a legal document. TextExpander will automatically fill in the rest.  

Think of it as a law firm mini-database, where attorneys and paralegals can access data with just a few keystrokes. Tired of remembering every partner's direct line in your law firm?  Just type in the shortcut. 

There are tons of potential uses.  One of the best features is that it works with all of your other tech tools--no integrations required.

How to turn TextExpander into one of your best legal tech tools by creating custom keyboard shortcuts.

The value is pretty clear--less typing means more time for the things you love (or at least, the things that pay the bills). But how do you set up these shortcuts? TextExpander makes it simple. For example, let's say you want to create a shortcut for your frequently used email signature.  Each shortcut is called a "snippet."

  1. Download and open TextExpander. 
  2. Choose a "group" (between friends, we can just call this a folder). Within that folder, press "+" to add a new snippet. 
  3. In the large content box, type in the phrase or text you want to create a shortcut for.
  4. Then in the label field, give your shortcut a name.  It could be "Attorney Formal Email Signature."
  5. Finally, choose your abbreviation. In this case, we'll use "zsig."  Make sure the abbreviation is not likely to be a sequence of letters that are part of other words.  My favorite tricks are to take out all the vowels, start everything with "z," or start with a type of punctuation. 

That's it! Now, every time you type "zsig" in an email (or anywhere else on your computer, including almost any current tech tools you already use), your signature will automatically populate.

How lawyers and law firms can use TextExpander to automate their work

Colorful computer keyboard
Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash

After creating your first few snippets, you will be addicted to finding new ways to use this tool.  Here are some examples of how TextExpander can be used in an attorney or legal professional's workflow:

Create shortcuts for your law firm email signature.  

Having a uniform signature between all the attorneys and legal professionals at your law firm will look great to your clients.  It also helps for law firm marketing and public image.

Type common legal terms quickly and easily. 

I, for one, am extremely grateful to never have to fully type out the term "plaintiff-in-counterclaim" again.  "Executrix" is another legal term that slows my typing speed.      

Generate boilerplate or frequently used clauses with a few keystrokes. 

Did we mention you can add whole paragraphs with a single snippet? If you are feeling fancy, you can use this in conjunction with Documate (if you haven't created optional clauses in your Documate templates yet).

Create templates for repetitive emails to clients or other lawyers.

Many lawyers often have to provide the same type of information to people over and over again.  Whether this is part of the client intake process, litigation status updates, settlement negotiations, or internal task management, these are perfect opportunities for using TextExpander as a template tool.

Standardize your firm's branding across documents

Insert logos, names, and contact information in the correct font and format.

Type meeting notes faster with common phrases and questions already set up as snippets.

You can also use this to start agenda templates for client meetings, court hearings, trials, depositions, partner meetings, and mediation notes.    

Create quick abbreviations for common legal symbols.

You know the ones: the paragraph and section symbols that are often difficult to find but are in every legal document we file.  Yes, there is already a way to create keyboard shortcuts for symbols on both PCs and Macs, but in my experience, creating a snippet on Text Expander is quicker and easier.

How to maximize your benefit from TextExpander

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Port your snippets to your phone, tablet, or laptop, so that you can truly work anywhere

Not that we suggest doing this.  Please get some rest.    

Share group snippets with your practice department

You can add team access for your legal practice so that every member of the team has access to commonly used phrases, clauses, and other snippets.  This is great for uniform email templates, meeting agendas, etc.

Explore TextExpander's advanced functions to see how powerful this tech tool can be

While TextExpander is easy to use, it also has complex features that make it highly valuable tech for attorneys.  You can read about the features here, but they include:

  • Built-in snippet groups
  • HTML and plain text functions
  • Date and number formatting
  • Date calculations
  • Nesting snippets
  • Fill-in-the-blank snippets

The possibilities are endless.  Get creative!

I have used TextExpander in my law practice, at Documate, and even for my personal life, and I am not sure how I ever lived without it.  Learn more at https://textexpander.com.

Try pairing TextExpander with Documate to boost your productivity! Click here to access your free trial of Documate, and schedule a demo to hit the ground running.

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