Let me be straight out about this. My favorite piece of software is WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows. It is a totally amazing and powerful piece of software. There is nothing like it. It is the greatest. Having said that I want to tell you about two other pieces of software that every lawyer ought to have in her office. The first is a personal information manager (PIM) named ECCOPro 3.0, and the second is Info Select 3.0. ECCOPro 3.0
I have been using ECCOPro in various versions for a number of years. The first that you notice about ECCO is it's incredibly easy to use and powerful calendar. The calendar includes multiple custom alarms that can launch reminders, sounds, documents, or batch files on your computer. In version 3.0 ECCO provides for automatic calendar adjusting when the change of one date has an impact upon a set of related dates. That feature is particularly important for law firms. In addition, when setting related dates, ECCO will automatically calculate time periods such as 10 days, 30 days, or whatever. And automatically adjust those time periods when the original date is changed. The calendar has drag and drop capability for changing appointments while you're on the telephone. Thus if you agree to change an appointment from Monday to Friday all you have to do is pick up the Monday appointment with your mouse and move it to Friday. It's a wonderful and easy to use calendaring system. ECCO also has an extremely powerful phone book that keeps a complete history of all of your calls, expenses, letters, faxes, e-mails, etc. It has a correspondence manager that can automate faxes, e-mail, and letters, and it includes an auto-dialing feature with automatic call-logging. That means that you can, finally, take careful note of all of your phone calls and the substance of those phone calls and keep them on your computers. ECCO will of course print out calendars for your daily use and they can be in a variety of formats, including the very popular Day Runner, Day Timer, or your own particular form. ECCO supports multiple calendars and real time sharing of calendars, phone books, and notepad outlines. It also includes over 2,000 Internet cites which you can add to and launch from your ECCO phone book. And if you use a small pocket calendaring system, such as the Sharp Wizard or the Casio Boss, ECCO will allow you to directly transfer information from your desktop computer to that computer with the purchase of a special interface. In other words, this is an extremely powerful contact management and calendaring system. Indeed it is probably the best of all of the systems available. Most computer commentators have ranked it at the very top.
But ECCO has another feature that is unique to its system and wonderful beyond belief. It is called the "shooter" and is reflected by a little arrow that appears in the upper left-hand corner of your computer screen. Shooter allows you to highlight text in one of your applications, say your e-mail application, and "shoot" that highlighted information into another application. For example, if I get an e-mail message from you that we are to meet at two o'clock next Thursday, all I have to do is highlight that message, click shooter, and insert into my calendar. Shooter also allows you to take on-line information, say from WESTLAW or the World Wide Web and shoot it into your word processor. Thus, if there is a quote from a particular case that I want to include in a brief, it is very easy to highlight that quote and "shoot" it into my WordPerfect brief. If I want to just save the information I can shoot it from WESTLAW or the Internet or whatever else I have on my desktop and store it in my second favorite program, which is called Info Select. Info Select 3.0
Info Select is one of the oldest computer information managing programs around. It started off many years ago as a DOS application known as Tornado, and it has gone through many iterations leading to its most current version. It is a very simple program, easy to use and totally reliable. It is also incredibly inexpensive. Info Select is a "random information manager", which means that you open a window and put into that window any piece of information that you have in any form that you want. You might open a window and shoot some information from ECCO using the ECCO shooter. Or you might open a window to put in a name, address, and telephone number of someone that you want to keep tabs on. You might also open a window to keep notes about a brief or report that you have to write. In other words, you can open a window to store any conceivable piece of information that you want to store. Once that information is in the computer, it is very easy to search for it using a simple word search mechanism that works very, very quickly and easily. Thus, while I am very impressed with the ECCO phone book, the truth of the matter is that I use Info Select as my primary way of maintaining information about people with whom I have telephone contact. If I pull up the window that has all of my information about Charlie Jones in it, all I have to do to call his phone number is to place the cursor on his phone number and click on the icon of the telephone. It automatically dials my computer modem to make contact with Charlie. I have a telephone attached to that modem so that I can have a normal telephone conversation. I can put in information that Charlie gives me in whatever form I want. I can take notes, I can use abbreviations, I am not bound by any kind of form and I do not have to move between various categories of information in a preset form. Now there are preset forms in Info Select and you can create as many as you wish on your own. But I find that the totally random creation and access of information is the most efficient way for me to operate. Because Info Select works so beautifully with Shooter I use it as my primary receptacle for information that I have retrieved from on-line sources. If I have a quote from a case on WESTLAW that I want to save, I simply shoot it into an Info Select box. If I find information at a World Wide Web site that I want to save I shoot it into an Info Select box. If I have an idea in the middle of a project that relates to some other things that I am doing, I simply open a window in Info Select and save it. All of the information that you save in Info Select can be accessed in the way I have described above, but it can also be put into categories or books. Thus, if I click on a book that says Law School, all of the information that I have connected to the Law School book will appear on the screen and I can select from a list of boxes that information that I wish to find or I can search using words or terms. Info Select version 3.0 is not yet available in the general market place but it will be soon. You can purchase the current version of Info Select Lite for $9.95 and then upgrade to version 3.0 when it becomes available.
These products may be hard to find in Tucson, but if you call recent law graduates Cindy Marasco and David Fifer at 795-0346 they can get the product for you. Dave and Cindy are a small startup company called NetSolve specializing in Legal Computing Software and Local Area Networks. Give them a call and tell them I sent you.
Hope you had a fine summer!!!