Saturday, August 14, 2010

Microsoft Word in Business at Shauna Kelly : A Very Useful Website for Assistance with Microsoft Word at Various Levels of User Competence

The graphic user interface for Microsoft Word starting with Word 2007 is a disaster of programming by people who apparently never write anything themselves.

We can't find anything via the totally non-intuitive interface which seems to be designed by fashion models who are thinking "pretty", and forgetting that a word processor is a "tool", where the most important design features should be speed and ease of use -- the fewer clicks the better -- the fewer menus the better -- the simpler the better. In our opinion, the graphic interface of Word 2007 is the worst ever.

In any case, I had a Microsoft Word problem today and via Google found the marvelous Shauna Kelly website online for "making the most of Word in your business". I agree totally with Shauna who writes about Word versions:
"Word 2007: The new kid on the block. Disorganized. Can't find anything. Glamour does not outweigh substance. Word 2007 and I were never going to be friends."

"Word 2010: The milder, slightly better-behaved younger sister of Word 2007. Still can't find anything. Just have to put up with it."
Actually, I am looking at alternative word processors. What I would actually like to have is a word processor where the screen is always the full document that I am working on, and where all the important most frequently-used commands, as once long ago in the ancient Atari Degas paint program -- to the degree possible -- are all located on one page via the right mouse click (so you can toggle quickly between document and commands), and I want the ability to organize those commands myself, rather than have them placed before me in a garbled fixed fashion by some nitwit.

In any case, today I needed to know how to keep tracked changes as changed in a document but not have those changes appear as changes in the saved version of the document. Shauna Kelly explained perfectly how to do that at How Track Changes in Microsoft Word work.

I am definitely bookmarking the Shauna Kelly site for future cases of necessary assistance with Microsoft Word and may be perusing that website a bit to find ways to use Microsoft Word's terrible graphic interface.

Fashion and All that Jazz : The Copyright Wars

Kal Raustiala, Professor of Law at UCLA, and Christopher Sprigman, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, bring us Why Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Fashion -

A Question of Borders: U.S. President Barack Obama Signs Bipartisan Border Bill

Julia Preston at the New York Times in Obama Signs Border Bill to Increase Surveillance notes that:
"President Obama signed into law a $600 million bill on Friday to pay for 1,500 new border agents, additional unmanned surveillance drones and new Border Patrol stations along the southwest border.

The measure sailed through Congress in little more than a week with broad bipartisan support...."

Housing Bubble Graphs: Historical Charts of Home Prices

Everyone talks about the housing bubble, but what is it really? To view a picture of the "bubble" see Housing Bubble Graphs: Charts of inflation-adjusted, historical home prices.

Understanding the Federal Deficit: Quantitative Easing: Printing Money Without the Presses

To understand what the federal government has done and is currently doing to deal with the financial crisis, it is useful to read Sewell Chan's August 11, 2010 New York Times news analysis at For Fed, Unpalatable Decisions May Be Ahead, in which the economic concept of quantitative easing plays a central role: printing money without the presses.

Germany Moves Forward in Financially Troubled Times as German Economy Makes Comeback, Defying the Financial Recession in Other Countries

At the New York Times, Nicholas Kulish reports on August 13, 2010 from Berlin in Defying Others, Germany Finds Economic Success that:
"Statistics released Friday buttress Germany’s view that it had the formula right all along. The government on Friday announced quarter-on-quarter economic growth of 2.2 percent, Germany’s best performance since reunification 20 years ago — and equivalent to a nearly 9 percent annual rate if growth were that robust all year."
Read the entire article.

Bad Economic Policy and the Destruction of the American Economy Since the Days of President Nixon

Paul B. Farrell at Market Watch in his article Reagan insider: GOP destroyed economy reports on Four Deformations of the Apocalypse, a recent July 31, 2010 NY Times op-ed by David Stockman, a director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, where Stockman claims that Republican policies starting with former President Nixon bankrupted America and the Republican Party, who have abandoned sound, traditional values for bad economic policy. As Stockman writes:
"But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.
This approach has not simply made a mockery of traditional party ideals. It has also led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy. More specifically, the new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one."
The four deformations are summarized by Farrell as:

Stage 1. Nixon irresponsible, dumps gold, U.S starts spending binge
Stage 2. Crushing debts from domestic excesses, war mongering
Stage 3. Wall Street's deadly 'vast, unproductive expansion'
Stage 4. New American Revolution class-warfare coming soon
as he concludes:
"As the apocalypse draws near, Stockman sees a class-rebellion, a new revolution, a war against greed and the wealthy. Soon. The trigger will be the growing gap between economic classes: No wonder "that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1% of Americans -- paid mainly from the Wall Street casino -- received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90% -- mainly dependent on Main Street's shrinking economy -- got only 12%. This growing wealth gap is not the market's fault. It's the decaying fruit of bad economic policy."

Misleading? Study Suggests U.S. Law Firms Lag Behind Merged UK Law Firm Conglomerates, perhaps? Ignoring Formal Law Firm Alliances and Cooperations

Via David Hechler at Corporate Counsel in Who's Afraid of U.S. Litigation? (Almost Everyone), Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Journal WSJ Law Blog points to a telephone survey study of 1000 corporate in-house lawyers by Acritas (a UK based firm !) to be released in a week which suggests that Internationally, U.S. Law Firms are Lagging Behind law firms in other countries, primarily those in the United Kingdom (UK), in terms of in-house lawyer preference. Obviously, in-house lawyer preference is an important criteria.
But let us look at the issue from a larger, less subjective perspective.

We were skeptical of the alleged results because of possible UK research bias and because a more detailed view of international law firms and attendant statistics does not necessarily support the conclusions of the study.

We previously posted about The Global Top 100 Law Firms for the year 2008 : Profits per Partner : Most Lawyers : Most Revenue, and has updated figures now for 2009 at The Global 100 2009, ranking the world's highest grossing law firms (where my former law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison (Paul Weiss), an international firm headquartered in New York City, ranked 6th in the world in profits per partner
-- in a Top 10 list consisting of 5 law firms headquartered in New York City, one in Los Angeles, three in London (UK) and one in Chicago.)

Where the UK law firms stand out is in the number of lawyers outside the country of their headquarters -- see the Leaderboard, so that the number of lawyers outside the country is a potentially misleading statistic that reflects economies of scale achieved by formally merging law firms in the same or different countries, especially in the European Union (EU). See e.g. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a law firm conglomerate of three previous firms, Freshfields in London, Bruckhaus in Hamburg and Deringer in Cologne (Köln), or Clifford Chance, a law firm conglomerate similarly formed by law firm mergers of UK and German law firms.

One has to be careful not to view the EU or other "mergers" of law firms as providing some added quality element for legal services that normal transatlantic or legal alliances or cooperations among law firms do not have.

For example, as far as Europe is concerned, it is interesting to note that the Chambers Europe Awards 2010 did not select any of the big formally merged conglomerate law firms but rather chose Gleiss Lutz, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany (with worldwide offices) as German Law Firm of the Year, and that the International Tax Review Awards 2010 selected Gleiss Lutz as European Tax Team of the Year.

Gleiss Lutz has a formal alliance with Herbert Smith LLP in England and Stibbe in Benelux (headquartered in Amsterdam), and cooperates with three firms in the USA, of which Paul Weiss is one. The other two are Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, all three headquartered in New York City and all ranking in the top global 10 list of law firms by profits per partner.

A truly accurate study of "international" law firms can thus not merely look at formally merged conglomerate law firms but must also consider formal law firm alliances and cooperations, which go to the heart of the provision of the high quality legal services that clients require.

In any case, we shall have to await the publication of the study to see what the actual methodology was, including the kinds of questions that were asked by phone, not to mention the SIZE of the companies to whom the enquiries were addressed. We remain very skeptical about the thus far pre-released results. Subjective phone surveys are one thing, whereas the actual earnings figures are another.

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