2017 saw the renaming of the event from the Word Excellence Day to the Document Excellence Day.
Event write up by Julie McCarthy, committee
I have been attending this event now for around 5 years and have to say this has got to be one of the best ones yet!! It was so well organised and ran exactly to the timings on the agenda. We started the day with refreshments and our first opportunity to network with other attendees. At 9.30 am the sessions started with Clare Waller leading the day. She gave an excellent introduction to the day with some interesting facts and figures, particularly how many total years’ experience the UKDEG team had been working in Law – too many to mention!
Throughout the day Clare has a clever method to ensure the speakers didn’t overrun with 5 minute warning, 2 minute warning and End Now signs!!
The first speaker was Marianne Armitage, from Watson Farley Williams and a UKDEG committee member. Marianne gave us a thought-provoking insight into problems faced by law firms with regards to formatting problems with documents, particularly when collaborating on legal agreements using Microsoft Word. She also confirmed why the UK Document Excellence Group originally formed to face these issues by showcasing their solution of a Standard Styles Naming Convention and more effective style structure.
Next on was Sarah Chipping (Clyde & Co and ILTA) who gave an interesting presentation on ILTA in the UK - another great organisation for law firms to use to share experiences, gain useful knowledge and attend workshops and user groups.
Just before the coffee break, Levente Nagy from Microsoft gave us a fascinating insight into what’s new in Office 2016 and blew everyone’s mind when he demoed the new 3D images and animation in PowerPoint!
After a well-earned coffee break – back to the next speakers. Annette Brown (Milbank) and Jayne Smith (Bluebird Services) gave us a humorous and informative presentation on Agile working which certainly does seem to be the way forward.
To finish the morning sessions, Ryan Soosayraj (Workshare), otherwise known as Mr Meerkat, presented us with an insight into The Unknown Unknown – or the information we pass over every time we use email, maps, social media. When Ryan started, I was reminded myself to close down all social media. But when Mr Meerkat related a story about Mama Meerkat, I realised simply pulling the plug will not remove the information I have already provided unknowingly. Parts of this was really spooky as Ryan displayed how using a search engine in Google, searching on Facebook or Instagram opens you up to a whole host of risk and information. Although there were undertones of seriousness, Ryan's presentation was delivered with great humour and ease of style. He finished off his presentation with what previous attendees of the Document Excellence Day have come to expect from Ryan - and that’s his humorous animals!
A great lunch presented by BT and then back to it…During the lunch break I managed to chat to several attendees who were all enjoying the day so far and expressed how much they look forward to attending this event.
The Afternoon session kicked off with an interactive panel discussion about how Document Automation is changing the way we work and what impact this will have on a law firm in the future. Congratulations to BLP for acknowledging that technology plays a huge part in pitching/maintaining clients. The discussion was useful in reminding us that automation/robots will not be replacing lawyers.
Mark Garnish of Tikit then gave a very comprehensive presentation into Office 365 and what it means to your firm. I didn’t realise how many different licences of Office 365 could be bought!
After another break with the best scones I have tasted in a long while! We then had a very interesting presentation from Iwona Dudek (CMS) - smart quotes, curly quotes, straight quotes. It's the devil in the detail. An eye-opener. Cannot wait until I am the one to solve this problem when it turns up and be the star of the stage like Iwona was in her presentation.
Last but not least Paul Walker of iManage gave a great, informative talk around best practices in Document Control. A copy of the slides would be most useful for this one.
The day finished off with drinks and canapes at the Bread Street Kitchen where we got to discuss the day’s events and swap stories whilst eating good food and drinking! Perfect and thanks to Microsystems, Tikit and Workshare for providing this! Everyone enjoyed themselves – here’s just a couple of things people said to me.
Karen Wilkinson (Addleshaw Goddard)
"Another fantastic event with some interesting and varied topics, overall a great opportunity to network and link-up with like-minded people."
Yvette de Hoop (Forsters)
"I can relate to Sarah Chipping's story about how she contacted the ILTA forum and sought advice as to the issue of whether to roll back or not to roll back. I have sought feedback myself on ILTA albeit on simpler queries but having garnered knowledge and recommendation from the members, it has provided me with not only answers but confidence to then advise my colleagues and managers to make informed choices.
And Clare Waller – on fine and friendly form as always –instantly makes everyone feel welcome and sets the atmosphere to relaxed yet structured. Even as Madam Timekeeper, her handling of the speakers kept the day on course. Also important, Clare also knows when to end the day! Cheers Clare"
Julie McCarthy is a Product Specialist in Business & Document Productivity at BigHand, building interactive templates in the legal sector. She previously worked for Advanced/Tikit and specialised in template design and training. She has over 20 years’ experience working in a variety of sectors ranging from legal, wealth management and media. Julie is passionate about creating an interactive and enjoyable environment that supports learning.
Committee member since December 2016
Event write up by Clare Waller, committee member and event chair
As each year goes by and the event grows, the Document Excellence Day takes just that little bit more effort to organise. On the up side, every year we learn how to do things better and I hope that shows.
Directly after the event there’s a period of mop up. There are lots of thank you emails to speakers, sponsors and all those who have helped to make the day a success. Feedback is read and collated and a report produced for the Committee Members. Slides and information are uploaded to the website.
And then – we start all over again! Planning for next year’s event has already begun. So, where do we start. First the venue and then the date – that’s the easy bit.
Then, our first port of call is the feedback forms that we receive (thanks to everyone who completed one). We look at all the comments, what worked (and what didn’t), which sessions people liked. In particular we like the ideas for sessions for next year – always a good starting point. As I said on the day, we do read all comments and listen to any suggestions, although it’s not always possible to act on all of them but they do give us a great starting point.
From there we sketch out sessions and pitch the ideas to the full committee. These are discussed, expanded and then adopted (or discarded). We contact possible speakers and get a firm commitment from them. From there we can get the draft agenda together. Nearer the time we put firm timings around the agenda.
The most time-consuming thing is normally chasing speakers for information and we end up bombarding them with questions. That’s something we’ve learnt this year and are putting a full list of questions that we need to ask them in one document – that way we only need to chase them for the answers and not send them hundreds of individual emails with separate questions.
Managing the attendee list is quite a task with people thinking they’ve registered when they haven’t. Again, we’ve learnt this year and have a plan in place to deal with this. It will mean a little more work but should ensure that the list is properly up to date. We’ll send a “warning” email to all members that you’re going to receive the invite. Some firm’s block EventBrite invites so we’ll be asking you to check your spam or to let us know if you don’t receive it. EventBrite tells us the status of the invite (opened, ordered, etc) so we’ll follow up on those who haven’t ordered just to make sure. If this year’s event is anything to go by we’ll be oversubscribed again so please make sure you get your order in early.
Somehow or other everything normally falls into place. We always have to remind ourselves that we are all volunteers and, while we want the event to be fully professional, informative and even slick, none of us are Events Organisers.
I’ve been involved in organising the event for the last few years and have chaired the last two. It’s always brilliant to hear the amazing feedback we get. While we occasionally get constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement (which we welcome), the overall reaction is one of positivity. My two favourite questions on the feedback survey are:
- Would you attend this event in the future and:
- Would you recommend this event to a colleague?
The answer to these is always overwhelming YES!
I love the fact that people feel they take away something new from the day; I love the fact that people feel it was well organised and professional; I love the fact that the vendor community have given us such support and adopted the no selling rule happily but most of all I love the fact that people say they really enjoyed it. That’s satisfaction enough!
Roll on next year!
Event write up by Teresa Vincent, regular attendee
This year’s Document Excellence Day was as great as ever. I came away with some useful tips and lots of food for thought. I imagine most of the attendees like me are trying to find meaningful ways of including a 3D Hubble space telescope in our future PowerPoint presentations!
Standard Style Naming Convention
The holy grail in document production and support. We enjoyed a great discussion on how ideal life would be with Standard Style Naming. Imagine, all our long, complicated, documents could be edited regardless of a particular firm’s house style and still retain our own brand identity.
There was an interesting personal journey provided on becoming an ILTA member and the benefits that have been gained from ILTA’s vast network both of knowledge and people. Next London ILTA is on November 16 in case you missed the email.
Microsoft Word and Office
We were ‘wowed’ by some of the features in newer versions of Office365 – both in the translation tools and the 3D graphics that can now be inserted. There were probably some work-related new features too, but after seeing the 3D Hubble space telescope in minute detail via a PowerPoint presentation, I forgot about the rest.
We enjoyed hearing how a London law firm has already issued all its lawyers with the capability for agile working, this includes new laptops, smartphones and soft phones. It’s brilliant to think that this is actually happening right now. It was interesting to hear how this may change the way people work but in a very positive way. It was especially exciting to hear that in the not too distant future, possibly PAs and Documentation staff may also be able to work in this new agile manner. Definitely could help with to have a great work/life balance if done correctly.
As ever we had an amazing presentation on security awareness and how pervasive information gathering has become in our daily lives (both personal and work). At times, scary and definitely makes you consider how much information is “out there” about you. What has this to do with Meerkats? Well, you’ll have to attend next year’s Document Excellence Day to find out – but you won’t be disappointed.
Is Automation Changing our Roles and Business?
After listening to the panel discussion – oh yes, in ways I wasn’t aware of. This was an excellent panel from both a law firm and a law firm provider on how they are implementing automation in their business to facilitate client requirements and needs. Will a law firm work differently in 10 years time? After listening to this discussion I think so and probably way before 10 years.
Well, to quote the singer Pink, “who knew?” – maybe I’m just not keeping up with the times but I thought Office365 was ‘just another’ version of Office. How wrong was I? There are a myriad of versions depending on your requirements. It was such an eye-opener to hear them explained and how important it will be to choose the right version to support your agile working (when it happens). Just make sure you get the one that includes the 3D images.
Legal Housestyle in a Global Environment
This session was excellent especially for anyone who works with/supports documents. We were treated to a summary of the 3 most likely “gotchas” when working in non-UK/US environments. The one I found best was “Why do some Tables of Contents not work once they come back from some destinations” – well now I know to check the TOC field code for commas or semi-colons! Easy when you know how and this presenter definitely knew how!
Best Practices in Document Control
You have to feel sorry for whoever gets the last slot of the day, but this was definitely a last but by no means least session. We were given some excellent tips on ensuring document control and security. Yes there are tools out there to facilitate this but it’s still a learning process for everyone involved to ensure that the tool is used correctly to make full use of the security and integrity that can be provided to our documents.
The day was excellent, well planned and covered a wide range of topics that must have provided something for everyone who attended. The facilities and personnel who staffed it were brilliant, everything ran smoothly, food was amazing, whoever made the afternoon scones deserves a medal – they were delicious. I’m already saving the date for next year. If you want to be there, join DEG, it’s free (www.docexcellence.com). Massive thanks to everyone involved in arranging it and sponsoring it, it really did deserve the word “Excellence” in its name.
Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP