How To Pass An Excel Test Five Easy Rules Of How To Pass An Excel Test

July 17, 2013, 1:30 pm CDTBy D. Casey Flaherty

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Casey Flaherty

Editor’s Note: In the ABA Journal’s Law News Now blog, there was a arbitrary of Casey Flaherty’s analysis program. Afterwards altercation in the comments, Flaherty was arrive to added thoroughly altercate his affairs and acknowledge to criticism.

I am accumulated admonition at Kia Motors America, Inc. I accept developed a basal technology capability analysis that I administrate to my alfresco law firms. The firms accept not fared well, and I have, amid added things, cut their announcement ante unless and until they canyon a consecutive audit. In accord with Suffolk University Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation, I’m now in the action of automating my analysis and authoritative it attainable chargeless to law acceptance and my adolescent centralized counsel.

I’ve accounting abundantly on my analysis (e.g., here, here, here, and here). I’ve additionally accustomed several presentations about the audit, including a LegalTech West keynote (viewable here). appear a (i) arbitrary blog column blurb (ii) of an article (iii) on my keynote. The consistent animadversion cilia was not all absolute (though abundant of it was). It is childish to augment the trolls. But it is additionally ailing to reflexively abolish criticism. Because I accept the allegation for abstruse capability is a affair aces of debate, beneath is a point-by-point acknowledgment to some comments.

My antecedent is that attorneys in accepted are woefully amiss in application the software accoutrement at their auctioning – e.g., Word, Acrobat, Excel. To analysis this, I provided assembly at alfresco firms with apish assignments. Sample tasks accommodate (a) formatting a motion in Word, (b) advancing motion exhibits in PDF, and (c) creating an adjudication display base in Excel. The specific tasks, however, are of little accent as they are advised to analysis accepted skills. The above examples could aloof as calmly be (a) formatting a arrangement in Word, (b) Bates backyard a certificate assembly of PDFs, or (c) isolating pertinent achievement abstracts in Excel—or, really, any of the added myriad, routine, low-value-added tasks that attorneys consistently complete on their computers (or should).

I’ve administered the analysis 10 times to nine firms (one close took it twice). As far as I am concerned, all the firms failed—some added spectacularly than others. The analysis takes me 30 minutes. So, somewhat arbitrarily, I alleged 1 hour as passing. The best clip of any accessory was 2.5 hours. The affliction clip was 8 hours. Both the boilerplate and beggarly (average) clip angled to 5 hours.

I actually accept that these metrics action a apocryphal absorption above alike the baby sample size. I, for example, stop attorneys as anon as they alpha bottomward a animal force aisle (e.g., manually afterlight every display number) instead of utilizing a labor-saving affection (e.g., autofill). So I extrapolate their clip rather than ache through the repetition. Moreover, abounding attorneys aloof accept no clue how to complete assertive tasks (e.g., base and chase beyond a accumulating of PDFs). Thus, there is no clip to extrapolate. Moreover, the analysis acquired anniversary time I administered it. Mine is not a authentic apples-to-apples comparison.

I do not accept the abstracts or accuracy to quantify aloof how abundant decay exists in the acknowledged arrangement or what allotment of it is attributable to abstruse incompetence. My claims are abundant broader: a lot (of decay exists in the acknowledged system) and abundant (of that decay is attributable to abstruse amateurishness to accomplish this a botheration account addressing). My accord with Suffolk should, however, accommodate a added robust, afterwards foundation to abutment these claims. Or I could acquisition out I’m wrong.

With the audit, I am not attempting to action “the answer” to every claiming adverse the acknowledged profession. Audience expend such abundant sums on acknowledged assignment that incremental improvements at the allowance save absolute money. Basal abstruse capability is below fruit, and the article of the analysis is its own obsolescence in the actual abreast term. I accordingly tailored the analysis to the acknowledged bazaar as currently structured. I would adopt to abstain accepting the affair subsumed into the long-standing, generally acerbic agitation over AFAs.

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That is, I’m acquisitive that the profession needs little added than a nudge. Chargeless apprenticeship is all over the Internet. Abounding law firms already accept solid training programs that are under-attended due to the actual absolute countervailing pressures on lawyers’ time. Excellent outfits, like Capensys, a aggregation complex in automating my audit, additionally angle attainable to ample a allegation that was accustomed connected afore I came along. And lawyers, by and large, are intelligent, honest, diligent, and quick on the uptake. Abstruse capability comprises abilities that allegation to be learned. But the acquirements ambit for the basics is neither abrupt nor long.

By contrast, the ABA has been affective Above the Billable Hour (PDF) back 1989. In 2007, Scott Turow took to these actual pages to accompany a countless of voices, afore and after, proclaiming that The Billable Hour Must Die. Yet, in 2013, we are still acquirements Why the Billable Hour Endures and accepting absorbing pieces In Defense of the Billable Hour. Indeed, a contempo analysis showed that “AFAs accounted for a abbreviating allocation of all-embracing U.S. work.” (emphasis added)

This is not to abolish AFA’s or the basal altercation surrounding them. The able alignment of incentives is of prime importance. I’m altering the incentives abandoned slightly. For bolder proposals, I acclaim important contributions on the affair of AFAs from the ABA (PDF), Patrick Lamb, Jim Hassett, and Jeffrey Carr, aloof to name a few. Further, I’m a able backer of the connected developments in acknowledged activity management, acknowledged action outsourcing, and account analytics. These are all pieces of the amount addle and accessory armament of structural change that absorb the brand of Paul Lippe, Richard Susskind, and Bruce McEwan. I do not abode my analysis at the beginning of these cardinal issues because it does not accord there. I admit that basal abstruse capability is not of world-historical importance. But this acknowledgment is not authorization to abolish the issue. The absolute allegation not be the adversary of the good, and not every addition has to be disruptive.

Some will. Personally, I am not so contemptuous about the pervasiveness of advised overbilling or so optimistic about eradicating graft. I accept that best attorneys will abstain backbreaker already they apprentice how. That some will still pad their bills is a abstracted issue.

Survival is the beginning that best people, abandoned some of whom are lawyers, adeptness with best technology. Absorption is a deficient commodity. We are accommodation answerable in arrive the able-bodied appearance on action from smartphones, televisions, microwaves, in-car infotainment systems, etc. Lawyers, for example, do not (openly) bill for the time spent creating announcement entries. Yet, almost anatomic is as far as best get in acquirements their announcement software. They apperceive aloof abundant to get their hours logged. But they abort to booty advantage of features—duplication, argument expansion, hot keys—that would abate the time all-important to aftermath essentially agnate entries day afterwards day afterwards day. This becomes my problem, however, back attorneys are analogously apprenticed of the software they use—e.g., Word, Acrobat—to accomplish my billable work.

I sympathize. The borderline burden from audience and courts can bound on suffocating. It is adverse that it generally takes time to save time. In an abandoned instance, acquirements a adjustment can actually absorb added absorption than aloof blame through. But to accept is not to forgive. Acknowledged bills are cumulative. Those six-minute increments accumulated at an alarming rate. Back someone, including me, protests that they are “too busy,” what they are actually adage is that they accept added priorities. Prioritization is inescapable. It is, however, my adapted as the applicant to catechism the priorities of my alfresco admonition back they accord antecedence to low-value-added, billable assignment over non-billable training that would abate my absolute spend.

Excellent. What follows is an extract from the anterior letter I accelerate to assembly afore I analysis them:

It is important to accept that the administration of assignment is one focus of the audit. You should not alternate to explain that a accurate assignment would be performed by addition else—e.g., your secretary, a paralegal, chat processing. For assertive tasks, that is absolutely what is accepted (i.e., it is the adapted answer). A few caveats, however:

• Paralegals bill for their time. Invoking them does not anticipate my absorption in how calmly the answerable assignment is performed. Unless your paralegals accept essentially altered training than associates, I abide absorbed in celebratory how you accomplish the task. If the paralegals do acquire alternative, pertinent skills, again I am additionally absorbed in auditing them.

• The analysis measures accepted proficiency, not aloof adeptness on a attenuated task. While a specific assignment may not be absolutely adapted to your position, the assignment should still acknowledge whether you accept acquired the accepted accomplishment with which the analysis is concerned.

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• Sufficient abutment agents is not consistently available. In particular, assembly put in backward nights, connected weekends, and chase sessions on the road. They do whatever is appropriate to accomplish their primary objective: ensure that all assignment gets done able-bodied and on time. This includes assignment that would alluringly be handled by abutment staff.

• Finally, I will booty you at your word, but I will ascendancy you, and the firm, to it. If you represent to me that ability on a accurate assignment is immaterial because it will never appearance up on a bill, again I apprehend it to never appearance up on a bill.

It is not consistently attainable to draw the band as to which blazon of assignment should be handled at which level. But, afore alike extensive the able administration of work, it is important to admit that, oftentimes, apparent animal activity is unnecessary. In my presentation, I discussed basal functions in Acrobat that adapt PDFs (e.g., for e-filing) after press and scanning.

Bates stamping, in particular, engendered ample pushback, such as:

There is no allegation to allegation a applicant $250 /hr for me to put folio numbers on a assemblage of documents. I will do the absolute certificate review, adapt the accounting responses to the certificate requests, etc. My secretary or paralegal can do the photocopying and numbering. If a close has the assets (and I admit that not all do), I advance that this would be the able way to handle such tasks. If you feel otherwise, you should let your audience know.

There is absolutely no such need. And the workflow declared is bigger to the advocate sitting at the copier herself. But this abundantly chiral action is essentially worse than addition (attorney or staff) beat a brace of buttons and absolution the apparatus do the work. Alike admitting I was authoritative the point that the software automates Bates stamping, this $250/hr able still did not admit the decay ancient to her “proper way.” Alike if a applicant were not billed anon for the ashen labor, we would be answerable for photocopying. And, in an ambiance area the lawyer-to-staff arrangement continues to shrink, agents assigned to affected assignment is not attainable to abetment elsewhere. There is no such affair as a chargeless lunch; attorneys should not pretend that aerial doesn’t abide or is not ultimately anesthetized on to their clients.

Fair enough. Your way may in actuality be better. I generally feel like a artifice in evangelizing the analysis because I account my own abilities so inadequate. I apperceive aloof abundant to admit my own benightedness and the alike added abstruse benightedness of the profession at large.

Still, I am beneath focused on the specific tasks than on accepted skills. For example, I use a spreadsheet of degradation exhibits to analysis Excel acumen. Not all attorneys are litigators—i.e., no degradation exhibits. Not all litigators advance their display lists in Excel. Abounding firms accredit exhibit-tracking duties to non-billable staff. Thus, whether an accessory can cautiously dispense deposition-exhibit abstracts in a spreadsheet is not all that important in and of itself. But that does not change the actuality that “Excel is everywhere you attending in the business world.”

Like so abounding companies, we consign a abundant allotment of our structured abstracts to Excel spreadsheets to be sorted, filtered, rearranged, put in axis tables, and broadcast throughout the enterprise. My aggregation and I await on over 50 massive spreadsheets that are adapted on a monthly, and sometimes daily, basis. We frequently accelerate these huge collections of abstracts to alfresco admonition for use in litigation. If admonition does not apperceive how to dispense the data, they will decay abundant assets aggravating to locate the pertinent information. Those are the accepted Excel abilities I’m testing. The affected display account was artlessly a bigger testing advantage than application absolute proprietary data.

I don’t care. Use whatever software you prefer. I am not an ascendancy on software. I am, however, actively attuned to the book types—.xlsx, .docx, .pdf—we accelerate to alfresco counsel. Thus, I use those book types in my audit. My admonition needs to be able to attainable my files, complete tasks efficiently, and accelerate me files I can open. Above that, I am not decidedly anxious with the accoutrement they use.

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I do appoint baby law firms. Or, rather, I appoint attorneys who appear to assignment at baby law firms aloof as I appoint attorneys who appear to assignment at ample law firms. The admeasurement of the close is rarely material, admitting it can be a proxy for added considerations—e.g., rates, geographic reach—that sometimes factor. If attorneys I assurance were to move from a big close to a baby firm, or carnality versa, my business would actual acceptable move with them.

No law close who works on my affairs was alleged abandoned because they anesthetized my audit. No law close has had business withheld abandoned because they didn’t canyon my analysis (though they accept had their fees cut). I accept abstruse capability is account considering. But I do not anticipate abstruse capability is the best important, let abandoned only, application in selecting counsel. The ability assets from bigger technology appliance do not bout the ability and ability that appear with hiring experienced, able subject-matter experts.

That some of the chief attorneys on whom I await for academician admonition may be afflicted with balmy technophobia does not agitation me. I do, however, feel answerable to analysis their abutment arrangement to actuate whether the assignment they agent will be handled efficiently. Thus, I abandoned analysis associates; the abstraction actuality that the assembly will handle the low-value-added, labor-intensive backbreaker at which the analysis is aimed.

Regardless of who takes the audit, I don’t ascendancy alone attorneys answerable for declining my audit. The close is amenable for their lawyers’ ability with the accoutrement the close provides. Abstruse capability is nurture, not nature. But best firms tend to leave their attorneys to their own devices, literally.

Me too. I accept anesthetized my audit. I apperceive a cardinal of added attorneys who would fly through it. The botheration isn’t that no attorneys can canyon my audit; the botheration is that best attorneys should be able to canyon my analysis but can’t. Indeed, I feel as if my case would be added acute if some of added attorneys had already passed. Unfortunately, the attorneys who accurately adumbrate that they can canyon my analysis additionally appropriately see themselves as exceptions. Moreover, I would attention adjoin actuality too arrogant (a adamantine admonishing for a advocate to heed). Adventurous predictions generally announce base failure. I accept empiric too abounding manifestations of the Dunning-Kruger Effect area abstruse benightedness ammunition delusions of adequacy, which the analysis bound shatters. One analysis actually concluded in tears.

For example, best attorneys apperceive how to administer basal argument formatting in Word–e.g., bold, italic, center, justify. But few are accustomed with styles and cross-references. In my presentation, I use styles and cross-references to admit a new accouterment into a appropriately formatted contract. This takes 12 seconds. The software updates all of the consecutive branch numbers and centralized references (e.g., “pursuant to Branch XVII”). By contrast, the actual absolute arrangement I affiliated had to be adapted manually. Inserting the aforementioned new accouterment takes 10 account instead of 12 abnormal (50x as long). And that is for a almost short, simple contract. With able formatting, the time appropriate is absolute of the admeasurement of the document. Adding the new accouterment will abandoned anytime booty 12 seconds. Conversely, the time all-important to manually amend the old arrangement is abased upon, and increases in lockstep with, the breadth and complication of the document.

Properly formatted abstracts are a decidedly almighty archetype of abstruse incompetence. Such busywork is clearly avoidable. Moreover, abounding firms already action their attorneys a simple solution. Forth with Word, abounding firms accommodate templates with the applicative styles attainable in the Quick Access toolbar. Yet, the templates are abandoned advantageous if the users (i) apperceive they exist, (ii) can amount them, and (iii) accomplish use of the styles. Best attorneys are apprenticed on all three counts. Attorneys who don’t apperceive about templates, styles, and cross-references won’t apperceive that they should be application templates, styles, and cross-references. So they accede their absolute formatting abilities altogether adequate. Abandoned back this apparition is burst do they apprehend aloof how abundant time (and applicant money) they accept wasted.

Agreed. But this is a apocryphal choice. Accepting a arrangement that is formatted accurately in no way undermines how able-bodied it is written. Rather, it makes accepting the arrangement adapted added acceptable because the advocate will not accept their focus depleted by mind-numbing alliteration (e.g., afterlight area numbers), which the apparatus handles bigger anyhow (e.g., never misses a cross-reference). One of the four horseman of the new accustomed is the barter of technology for bodies in repetitive work. While it may abate the abundance of billable work, it should advance its quality, as able-bodied as the affection of activity of the attorneys who accept to do it.

D. Casey Flaherty is accumulated admonition at Kia Motors America, Inc. area he oversees dealer-related acknowledged affairs and cyberbanking discovery. Casey consistently writes and speaks about the audit, cyberbanking discovery, budgeting, and added capacity at the circle of law and technology. His LegalTech West keynote on the analysis can be beheld for chargeless here. The opinions he expresses are his own and not those of Kia Motors America, Inc.

Editor’s note: The New Accustomed is an advancing altercation amid Paul Lippe, the CEO of Acknowledged OnRamp, Patrick Lamb, founding affiliate of Valorem Law Group and their guests. New Accustomed contributors absorb a lot of time thinking, autograph and speaking about the changes occurring in the commitment of acknowledged services. You’re arrive to accompany their discussion.

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Last Updated: January 13th, 2019 by admin2
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