A series of articles emphasizing practical
knowledge you can't find in practice guides
and interviews with experts who share
their techniques for effective and efficient
case management


How To Do It: Articles, Interviews &
Practice Tips

Articles emphasizing practical knowledge you can't find in practice guides

People Who Made A Difference
Profiles of people who changed workers’ compensation law.

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Letters to the Editors

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• Warren Schneider
• Marjory Harris





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How To Store It, How to Find It

The Data Dilemma: You are preparing for the deposition of an AME and you
remember a terrific examination you did in a similar case around five years ago.
But you can't remember the client's name. You ask your secretary if she remembers
the short, pudgy, balding man who looked like George in Seinfeld. She can't
remember Whowuzzit’s name, either. Maybe if you call the defense attorney? But he
is retired and you don’t know how to reach him. Maybe if you look through old
calendars, or maybe it will come to you in your sleep, or maybe you will just have
to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch.

Sound familiar? The way to avoid this is to have a good information storage system,
which you religiously follow. But remember the "garbage in, garbage out" rule --
information retrieval is only as good as information storage. Set up a system and
stick to it. You can do this low-tech, with paper folders, but it is much more effective
if you do it on your computer.

To make sure you don’t have to start from scratch each time, save important
documents not just in the client’s file, but in a separate file, preferably a folder on
your hard drive (and don't forget to keep a backup of anything important on your
hard drive in your safe deposit box). Here is an easy-to-use system you can set up
in a few minutes.

Setting Up the System: On your hard drive, establish a folder labeled “WC Law” or something similar. Then make subfolders. To save time, download and unzip the
folder tree here

If you prefer to deal with paper, use hanging file folders in a file cabinet or file boxes.
Use the same labeling method described above. As the file boxes expand, you will
see how much more useful it is to keep the files on your computer. You need so
little space, you can eliminate stale data by tapping the Delete key, you can see
what is in the files with a search engine program (try the free one from Copernic),
and you can copy and paste data into other files with a few mouse clicks.

Finding It Fast: Use the Windows shortcuts to navigate quickly.

Here are two tips for finding your files with a mouse click or two: Use a desktop
menu and a button on the launch bar.

Step 1: To set up a toolbar to hold all your legal shortcuts, create a folder to store
the shortcuts: right click on empty space in the taskbar area at the bottom of the
screen. Select “Toolbars,” then “New Toolbar.” Click on “C-Drive,” then on the button at bottom left, “Make New Folder.” Name the new folder “Law Practice tb” or
whatever you like. Click “OK.” You will see the new folder on the taskbar.

Step 2: Drag it to the desktop (Windows key + M will reveal the desktop, if you
cannot already see it) and position it. Make a shortcut to the launch bar by sending
the folder to the desktop, then drag and drop it on the launch bar.

Step 3: Drag and drop your shortcuts onto the new toolbar or into the folder. You can
download this icon and save it to your hard drive. Then you can add it to the
shortcut for the new folder by right clicking on the shortcut, selecting “Properties,”
then clicking on “Change Icon.” Browse for the icon, then click “OK” twice. Browse
for the icon, then click “OK” twice.

Don’t forget to add a link to getMedLegal.com.
(Right-click on icon to download:)

You can eliminate this step by using a utility like Free Launch Bar or
True Launch Bar
to create a flyout menu with all the legal shortcuts.

Follow the KISS Rule – Keep It Short and Simple
Descriptions need to be short but specific enough to find it fast. Returning to the
depo you are preparing for. Since you can no longer remember the client’s name,
maybe not even the doctor’s name, when saving material to the new folder tree,
make sure the labels don’t require mental gymnastics. “Causation Questions Back
DDD” is more informative than “Depo of Dr. Fixit” or “Depo on Whozit’s Back” or
“Back Apportionment.”

Make a Habit of It

Do a little each day, and do it when it is fresh in your mind.

For the Power Users: Make a research intranet, a spreadsheet
for links, and a Legal Checklist database

Your own intranet: You do not need to have FrontPage, Publisher or a similar web
design program. You can use your word processor to make web pages. If you
want to call up all the relevant law on a topic – the Labor Code section, applicable
regulations, sample forms and letters, links to cases, images and text from the
Internet, and the like, an intranet is the easiest way to do it.

Step 1: To do this in Word, on the File menu, click on “New,” then select “Web page.”
Label this page “Index” and save it as an HTM file in a directory you set up
(e.g., “WC Intranet”).

Step 2: Now make a new page, label it “Temporary Disability” and
save it to the same folder as an HTM file. On this page insert a hyperlink (Ctrl + K)
to the Index page, and on the Index page, put a hyperlink to the Temporary
Disability page.

Step 3: Put a shortcut on the desktop from the Index page, and then drag
it to the launch bar so it is always handy. When you click on the shortcut or the
launch bar icon, the Index page opens as a web page and you have your links to
the pages of your intranet.

If you want something less plain Jane, you can insert tables to organize the links or
information, borders, colored fonts, etc. Once you have a good design, save it as a
template and use it each time you add a page.

Create a database to store odds and ends of information:
Here is a record from my Legal Checklist database:

This is easier to do than it looks.

Step 1: Just set up a table in a database program such as Access and add fields:

Step 2: Add buttons to link to other databases, to search your own, and linked fields to
call up cases or documents. Create a form to display the data.

Create an Excel Spreadsheet to Hold Hyperlinks: The key to getting around quickly
and finding your resources is the hyperlink. It is easy to collect lots of links, but
without an organizing device, they are not that useful. Google is great, but not likely
to find the DWC page that holds all the MPNs, or the WCAB page where the
decisions are posted. For this you need a spreadsheet, although you could use a
Word document, and a link to the launch bar or desktop so you can quickly call up
the list. The Ctrl + K shortcut works throughout the MS Office Suite to call up the
“Insert hyperlink” command.

Links can be to web pages, documents, or any file on your computer or on the
Internet or office Intranet. The advantage of using Excel is that you can have a
worksheet for each major topic, and keep all these sheets in a workbook labeled
“Links.” By labeling the tabs, you can quickly see where to go. Suggested
worksheets and tabs: “WC,” “Medical,” “Social Security.” You might want to break
down the subjects further.

And don’t forget to back up! All the effort you put into your practice and into setting
up your information retrieval system can be gone in a flash. An off-site backup
storage facility such as a safe deposit box or online data storage service is crucial
to protecting your assets. Set up an automatic backup system so you can quickly be
up and running if disaster strikes.

Computer Corner:
How to Store It, How to Find It
With downloadable folder tree
and Icons

By Marjory Harris

In this new series, we explore organizational techniques, software and hardware that will
help you clear the mess from your desk, be
more productive, and cut office overhead.
We start with ways to store and find research resources.

> Computer Corner
> People Who Made a Difference
> The Doctor's Office
> The Vocational Expert Witness
> DIB and SSI Issues
> Get Short or Long Term Disability