Wouldn’t You Rather Have a Notebook?

The Bencher—May/June 2016

By Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire

We all have become dependent on the computer in our everyday lives. We use it for calendaring, mail, document drafting, and research. Of course, Microsoft Office has been the gold standard of the practice. Our staple tools are Outlook for e-mail and calendar and Word for document creation and review. For those of us needing spreadsheets, we turn to Excel and, of course, PowerPoint is the tool everyone uses for presentations. What we have been missing is a good practical practice management application to keep track of things. Back in the day, we used to refer to these as Personal Information Managers. The iPhone or smart phone has provided us with a number of apps but they either do not integrate well with Office or do not have a desktop version.

There is a desktop and smart phone app that has been available for some time but, for some reason, it has gone unnoticed. It is Microsoft OneNote. I began reviewing it a few months ago and have decided to make it my mission for 2016 to build it into the best app for practice management. Let’s take a brief look at it.

First, at this stage let’s assume we will be using OneNote for administrative matters, unrelated to substantive client matters. I say this so we can avoid the issue of whether it can be integrated into your firm’s secure encrypted document management and email system. There will be a separate column on this issue in a couple of months. For the time being, our focus will be on the various administrative, business development, American Inns of Court and similar matters we all have to manage. Information relating to these issues can be left to the cloud and the easiest way to work with OneNote is to use Microsoft’s Cloud OneDrive. It is password protected and seems as secure as any of the consumer clouds, such a Dropbox. Microsoft’s documentation provides comfort on security.

The interface for OneNote is in the format of a notebook. You can have as many notebooks as you wish to create. For example, you could have a notebook for Inn-related projects and a separate notebook for CLE programs in which you present as a member of the faculty. I have decided to have one notebook with various sections.

In my notebook, I have a number of different sections which look like tabs in a paper notebook. Within each tab I can create as many types of pages as I would like. I can have a page for storing emails, a page for clippings from various websites, a page for minutes of meetings, and so on. I can attach documents from a file whether they are JPEG’s, movies or audio files.

Since OneNote is a Microsoft product, it integrates perfectly with the other Microsoft products. I can move emails from Outlook to my one note notebook very easily; and I can print word documents directly to OneNote or copy and paste them as well.

Since my notebook is being stored in the cloud, I can access it from any computer, tablet or smart phone. The graphic interface is the same and the information is available in the same friendly format. I can also share my entire notebook or sections or pages with others. It is simple, it is easy and it is elegant.

If you have further interest, take a look at OneNote. Simple tutorials are available on YouTube. Take a look at it. Its simplicity will make you smile.

Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire is a partner in the firm of Morris James in Wilmington, Delaware. He is a Master in the Richard K. Herrmann Technology AIC.

© 2016 Richard K. Herrmann, Esq. This article was originally published in the May/June 2016 issue of The Bencher, a bi-monthly publication of the American Inns of Court. This article, in full or in part, may not be copied, reprinted, distributed, or stored electronically in any form without the express written consent of the American Inns of Court.