To the best of my knowledge and belief, all documents handled by attorneys in the practice of law including e-mail (a form of electronic correspondence document), are associated with a particular client matter or case. So therefore since computer software and the users thereof model the activity it automates, and that model is defined by the business rules in effect at the time which in this case are defined by the area of practice of law and jurisdiction in which the searching attorney is engaged; the searching attorney should therefore be looking for the relevant client, matter, or case. Once the relevant client, matter, or case is found, the searching attorney should expect to find ALL documents of whatever type associated in a logically elegant and well-ordered way with the relevant client matter or case. In a perfect world this would always be true, but I acknowledge that sometimes our personal world is less than perfect. It is at these less than perfect times we must do rare exception processing.
Since I am communicating with a very sophisticated and highly educated audience, I hope that I can use a vulgarism that is probably the most often true axiom of life: “Stuff Happens!”. Each and every one of us individually are successful in our professional life to the extent that we are successful at making sure that stuff doesn’t happen.
So therefore, right here and now, I am offering to the world for free, but in this case in particular to attorneys, one of my best creations that can significantly reduce the extent that stuff happens in your world — my Outlook macro. What this macro will do, should you chose to implement it, is save an e-mail message to a Microsoft Windows computer file named using the subject of the e-mail message as a computer file name minus any characters that are not valid in Windows computer filenames. I can modify it to have the computer prefix/suffix the computer file name with YYYY-MM-DD if needed. This computer file will be saved to a well defined directory structure as mentioned above. An example of which is included in the illustrated step-by-step instructions.
At your discretion display the following image by right clicking it. In the popup menu that appears, click on “Open link in new window” to see the image full size. Resize the browser frame to your taste and don’t close it — keep it open. If the text is too small to read, zoom-in (Ctrl+) to make the text larger. Zoom-Out (Ctrl-) to make the text smaller. Print it (Ctrl-P) in portrait mode for a hardcopy if that is what you want.
This image of a well defined directory structure shows MyFile number (#) 24071 and all of its subfolders — all 34 of them. MyFile # 24071 is subordinate to folder “MyFiles” (shown above) along with hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of its peer MyFile # folders. Do not be concerned about the amount of hard disk space consumed by folders. They are like Styrofoam boxes — light as air. Folder “MyFiles” is subordinate to the “share” folder described above. This describes the entire well defined directory structure for all case file documents, of whatever kind, for your whole law firm.
CAVEAT: Implementing this macro is not for the faint of heart. There is a significant amount of work effort required. I will provide you with illustrated step-by-step instructions that will be the best you have ever followed. It can be done by anyone who is a competent user of Microsoft Windows File Explorer, who knows the difference between a subdirectory and a Windows File Folder, and who knows basic clipboard copy and paste editing techniques. Expect to spend one or two hours making this work. If you don’t already have a well-defined directory structure, and you should have by now, expect to spend another hour or two creating one. Once you have this working, saving an e-mail message to a MSG file will be as simple and quick as using the turn signal in your car.
First of all the macro is available (Outlook Macro) as a menu item on this website. The very detailed installation instructions with many screenshot images that a novice Windows user could successfully follow. The output from the macro is an Outlook exported MSG file saved in a ‘file folder’ (which can be easily implemented by your network administrator as a “share” on your network server) designated for a particular client or client subfile or matter. The difference and advantage here is that MS-Outlook is the default program in MS Windows to open MSG files. (Just like MS-Word opens DOC or DOCX files.) So any of your associates using MS Windows File Explorer could navigate to the appropriate folder (“share”), double click the MSG file, and it would open up in MS-Outlook as if they had access to your Outlook inbox.
Once the MSG file is opened they would be seeing the e-mail message exactly the way you were seeing it just before you saved (exported) it to the MSG file. They would be able to reply or forward the e-mail message the same as you could have or may have when your were looking at it before you saved it to the MSG file. The export process causes all files attached to the e-mail message to be embedded in the MSG file. So when you or your staff open the MSG file you or they will see the attachments as if you or your staff had opened the e-mail message from your own inbox.
You have got to love that. Talk about team work in a law firm. Everybody can see everything that everybody else can see. They can also work with it. Make changes to it. Save it. Send it. They must exercise some precautions to avoid conflicts, thus there will probably be some. But that shouldn’t be a show stopper. If you need help implementing this macro, my contact information is below. I will help you. I have GoToMeeting software so I can setup an Internet meeting so that, with your advanced knowledge and consent, I can see your computer screen and give you directions while I am helping you. It’s your move. Make it happen! (Outlook Macro)
Palmer Info Tech, LLC
Palmer Info Tech, LLC * P.O. Box 27906 * St. Louis, MO 63146