Mine your conference CD's and reference files for knowledge.

By at 23 March, 2007, 2:57 pm

I am attending the ABA TechShow 2007 in Chicago and am happy to see that the attendance is even better than last year and there is a really nice mix of vendors representing a wide variety of services and products for lawyers.

During a session this morning, Jim Calloway, Practice Management Advisor for Oklahoma, and avid blogger shared one of his tips that is simple in its implementation, but extremely elegant in its usefulness. Most of us attend conferences and seminars where we receive CD-ROM’s of materials. The problem with these events is that we are never able to attend all of the sessions we want. Sometimes we actually look at the CD_ROM’s to view the materials of the sessions we couldn’t attend. However, these CD-ROM’s eventually end up in a pile or a rack and sit there accumulating dust. But this isn’t the way it has to be: you have a goldmine of information just sitting there that, if you could easily search it, would be available for your use when you need it. So how do you turn these dust collectors into knowledge?

Create a folder on your computer and call it something like Reference or Library (you can do this on your desktop or under your C drive and then copy the contents of those CD-ROM’s to that folder. If the files are in Portable Document Format (PDF), you will need to verify that there is a text layer in the files so that they can be searched. As you come across online articles that you want to save, go ahead and save them to your Reference or Library folder.

I recommend taking this a step further: you can also scan articles and columns from paper publications and place them in the Reference or Library folder (you will have to create a text layer if you save these in a PDF format using Adobe Acrobat or another Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program such as OmniPage Pro or Abby FineReader. Have you kept forms from others that you liked or papers from seminars that you've placed in folders. Scan these and run them through an OCR program; you want to make these easily searchable and ready at hand as well as the other information mentioned.

Then, when you are looking for something, simply type your query into your desktop search engine and all of these resources are available to be searched. What, you’re not using a desktop search engine? If you aren’t using a desktop search engine, look at Copernic Desktop Search , Google Desktop Search, X1 , Yahoo Search or Microsoft Windows Desktop Search. These are all free programs and can search within multiple file formats. You should carefully review what information the variuos engines may send back to their parent company which is why I recommend Copernic Desktop Search as it doesn’t do this at all. Google can send information back to the company depending on the setting which is a bit hidden. As a lawyer, I’m just a bit paranoid and don’t want to take any chances of confidential information being sent to anyone.

Now, rather than having a folder full of moldy paper from torn out articles or CD-ROM’s gathering dust, you now have a valuable and easily searchable goldmine of knowledge.

Categories : Hmmm! | Practice Management | Tips and Tricks

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