With 700 lawyers practicing around the world, Nixon Peabody LLP is committed to employing technological innovation. The law firm implemented Microsoft Office 2010 in the work environment of its Global Shared Services Center, Finance Team, and key executives. It turned to Microsystems, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to configure the DocXtools solution for Microsoft Word 2010 to facilitate preparing documents to exacting legal standards, maintaining document stability, and generating comparisons. The firm uses Microsoft Excel 2010 and PowerPoint 2010 to create powerful reports and presentations for litigation, marketing, and business development. By deploying Office 2010, Nixon Peabody is streamlining costs and generating effective collateral that adheres to the firm’s corporate standards.
Nixon Peabody LLP is a “Global 100” law firm with 700 lawyers and a growing international footprint. The firm has lawyers in major practice areas in 17 cities from Los Angeles to Shanghai. “We’re all over the world and so are our clients,” says Mike Green, Chief Information Officer at Nixon Peabody.
Microsoft Office applications are central to the firm’s business processes. “Serving a client is often a matter of communicating legal opinion and other data by using documents, spreadsheets, and presentations,” says Green. Most of the firm’s employees have been using Microsoft Office 2003 on their portable and desktop computers for five years.
In 2009, the firm opened the Global Shared Services Center (GSSC), based in Rochester, New York, to serve its lawyers in one place with service teams that use the best technology. The GSSC includes the firm’s Information Processing Center (IPC), which produces legal documents that meet the strict filing requirements for hundreds of jurisdictions worldwide. IPC experts are aggressive users of Microsoft Word because they must format legal documents to align with strict version-control and document comparison standards. “When it comes to Word, we push the limits of its capabilities,” adds Green.
||When we looked at Office 2010, we saw that we could streamline our processes and leverage native features, all out of the box.
Chief Information Officer, Nixon Peabody
A finished legal document can be as long as 500 pages and is the result of highly collaborative iterations between lawyers, clients, and co-counsel. A document that passes between various parties over an extended period of time usually goes through many conversions, which complicates page numbering and formatting. IPC experts are obliged to remediate each document to ensure stability, compliance, and adherence to style conventions.
Like most law firms, Nixon Peabody has relied on third-party solutions to bridge gaps in the native capabilities of Word. For example, the IPC has employed addin tools to generate document comparisons, fix corrupted files, create tables of authorities, update tables of contents, and apply numbering schemes. In addition to using third-party software to address legalspecific demands, IPC experts spent a lot of time completing seemingly simple tasks in Word documents, such as formatting the table of contents.
The firm wanted to avoid time-consuming remediation of common problems, keep its legal documents in native Word format, and reduce its dependence on vendor solutions. “Our desktops were becoming so complex because of all the integrated applications that it impacted our workers’ efficiency,” says Green.
Additionally, Nixon Peabody lawyers and staff rely heavily on other Microsoft Office applications to analyze business data, prepare presentations, and package marketing materials. For example, analysts used Microsoft Office Excel 2003 spreadsheet software in combination with Microsoft Office Access 2003 database software to retrieve large quantities of data and prepare financial reports. To grow its largest clients, the firm wanted to deliver actionable data to client decision makers in real time.
The firm’s Media Services Team prepared presentations in the Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 presentation graphics program for lawyers to use in the courtroom, and for firm executives to communicate business strategy. When creating presentations, Nixon Peabody designers had to employ third-party software to create graphics before inserting them into slides. Plus, they had to send video clips for presentations in separate files, which was a confusing addition for a legal team already dealing with stacks of case files. The firm needed presentation tools to help it litigate effectively and to promote its global business with a unified brand and compelling marketing materials.
“The challenges we face in managing documents, data, and brand are industry wide,” says Green. Solution
In 2009, Nixon Peabody decided to participate in the Microsoft Office 2010 Rapid Deployment Program. The firm believed that the improved capabilities of Office 2010 would be a significant step toward centralizing services through the GSSC, reducing technology and training overhead, and offering best-in-class services to the firm’s clients. “When we looked at Office 2010, we saw that we could streamline our processes and leverage native features, all out of the box,” says Green. The firm also believed that by using Office 2010, it could eliminate several third-party add-ins.
For the initial phase of the upgrade to Office 2010, the IT Team deployed a beta version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 on the desktops of GSSC staff members, as well as to a handful of senior executives. The pilot group focused on learning the new features in Microsoft Word 2010, Microsoft Excel 2010, and Microsoft PowerPoint 2010. The IT Team also introduced Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and Excel Services to the Finance Team.
Nixon Peabody worked with Microsystems, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that provides automation and expertise to help law firms to format, compare, and troubleshoot complex legal documents. Microsystems also helped design the firm-wide rollout plan for Office 2010.
With a goal to help Nixon Peabody eliminate long-standing issues with preparing legal documents, Microsystems configured its DocXtools application to integrate with Word 2010 and Nixon Peabody’s document workflow. By using tools that Microsystems provided, the firm aligned its document comparison capabilities to the needs of its legal teams. Microsystems worked with Nixon Peabody designers to develop DocXtools functionality that includes an easy-to-maintain tab on the extensible Ribbon in Word 2010 that gives workers quick access to and an intuitive home for firmspecific tools (Figure 1).
|Figure 1 - Microsystems created an easy-to-maintain tab on the extensible |
Ribbon in Word 2010 that gives workers visibility into firm-specific tools.
Document experts and lawyers can use the improved comparison capabilities available in Word 2010 and the DocXtools application to view a report of all changes from multiple versions or to generate a single document that compiles all changes for reviewers to accept or reject. “Word now cleans up documents behind the scenes before running the comparison,” says Jennifer Vrielynck, Manager of the Information Processing Center at Nixon Peabody. “Our lawyers have been asking for this functionality for years.” Also, employees who need to render comparisons in specific ways—for example, comparing only tables—can now configure rendering profiles that can be applied easily depending on the case.
The Ribbon in Word 2010, modified with DocXtools, makes it easy to access the firm’s defined styles. The new tab also broadcasts a document’s existing numbering scheme—or whether numbering is absent—and displays available styles that can be applied to remedy any issues. “The Ribbon modifications give Nixon Peabody’s Word experts a better sense of how to approach a document,” says Sherry Kappel, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Microsystems.
For IPC experts, the enhancements in Word 2010 in combination with DocXtools represent a significant time savings. The greater granularity in tracking changes and content formatting enables workers to view specific edits in the document. For example, they no longer have to manipulate a document so that the table of contents displays the first sentence under each heading.
The Nixon Peabody Finance Team—which typically generates approximately 10,000 reports a month—uses Excel 2010 to reduce its dependence on Access 2003 database software for data extraction and sourcing. By employing PowerPivot, a free add-in that can process hundreds of millions of rows of data and allows users to combine multiple data sets, analysts can source data directly from Microsoft SQL Server data management software into Excel 2010. “We’re making the Finance Team more self sufficient,” says Paul Phillips, IT Application Architect at Nixon Peabody. “The team won’t have to know the grittier details of database management to get the job done.”
Nixon Peabody analysts have moved away from static reports and are using the enhanced features of Excel 2010 to filter and model data into dynamic reports. The Finance Team takes advantage of Sparklines, small charts in worksheet cells, to provide clear and compact visual data representations. To create interactive reports, the team uses Slicers in Excel 2010, which are visual controls that float above the spreadsheet grid and act as filters that connect to data. Plus, analysts can use SharePoint Server 2010 and Excel Services to control how they access database information and what they do with it. Says Phillips, “This is about exposing information in real time and finding actionable items that can help us improve our business and increase our revenue.”
In the courtroom, Nixon Peabody lawyers can enhance arguments with stronger presentations created with the multimedia features in PowerPoint 2010. By using improved SmartArt graphics, the latest animation features, and new video-editing functionality, the firm’s designers can develop graphics quickly and embed video clips directly within the application.
The IT Team plans to implement a firm-wide rollout of Office 2010 in a step-by-step fashion through the spring of 2011. To help its workers get up to speed, the firm will take advantage of the Microsoft Home Use Program, which provides discounted software to employees.
By upgrading to Office 2010, Nixon Peabody is standardizing technology overhead, reducing the need for thirdparty solutions, and streamlining centralized services for operations.
Improves Employee Productivity
By using the enhanced comparison tools in Word 2010 in combination with DocXtools from Microsystems, IPC workers save an estimated 25 percent of time in preparing each document. “We’ve resolved a lot of the typical issues that we see,” says Vrielynck. “A document that once took four hours to create now takes three hours.” The new capabilities for structuring tables of contents in Word can save 10 to 30 minutes a document. This seemingly small change gives the Help Desk and the IPC more time to work on complex matters. Moreover, new employees who are already familiar with Word don’t have to be trained on the tools and processes for using third-party applications. “With Word 2010 and DocXtools, document production is going to take a new direction. It’s going to be easier to understand, easier to apply, and easier to support and maintain,” says Vrielynck.
Document experts can generate accurate comparisons reliably, every time. “What you gain through the combination of Word 2010 and DocXtools is a complete document comparison workflow solution, done natively, with stability unparalleled by any generation of legal desktop technology,” says Kappel. “In 27 years of technology, the legal industry has never had comparison baked into its authoring tool. This is the first time.”
Enhances Client Management
By using PowerPivot and the improved analysis and visualization features in Excel 2010, the Nixon Peabody Finance Team can make better and timelier decisions about what information is actionable. It’s also a win for the IT Team because analysts don’t need technical assistance to produce a report. With the addition of SharePoint Server 2010 and Excel Services, the firm can link employees directly to the data in a flexible and highly secure manner.
||This move to Excel 2010 is absolutely essential to managing our internal clients. … Our analysts can filter and manipulate data into real-time, dynamic reports. It’s a lot easier to digest and it looks more professional.
Director of Financial Planning and Analysis, Nixon Peabody
“This move to Excel 2010 is absolutely essential to managing our internal clients,” says Wayne Leggiadro, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Nixon Peabody. “We’re seeing an explosive demand for live data. Our analysts can filter and manipulate data into real-time, dynamic reports. It’s a lot easier to digest and it looks more professional.”
Supports Compelling Presentations
Nixon Peabody reports that the ability to embed video clips in PowerPoint 2010 presentations represents a 100 percent improvement that eliminates technical difficulties that attorneys have sharing files across offices and transferring files to other computers for courtroom use. This simplified use of video saves the firm’s graphic design department significant time in supporting lawyers. As lawyers express increasing interest in exhibiting video in the courtroom and the firm increases its use of video in producing more refined marketing collateral, that cost savings is expected to grow. “We’re moving aggressively into the world of video,” says Green. “A tool like PowerPoint 2010 that allows us to integrate video content into our various presentations is very exciting to us.”
The firm believes that improved presentations will especially benefit its litigation lawyers. “Professionalism and creativity in the courtroom have a big impact on the jury,” says Green. “Anything that provides a higher impact is critical to our success.”
Reduces Third-Party Costs
Nixon Peabody expects to save at least U.S.$50,000 a year in costs that it would have spent on custom development and certificate management of vendor applications, including document processing, video, and photo editing tools. “We can jettison a number of third-party products in favor of the native capabilities in the Office 2010 suite,” says Phillips.
The new document comparison capabilities mean that the firm can dispense with paying $38,000 a year in licensing and maintenance costs for third-party products. Says Phillips, “The combination of Microsystems and the new features in Word 2010 make it an absolute perfect comparison solution.”
Nixon Peabody believes that the upgrade to Office 2010 contributes to improved productivity and less administration time for the IT Team. The firm is focused on serving its clients more efficiently. Says Green, “By moving to Office 2010, we see an opportunity to reduce costs and drive productivity, while our global workforce makes good use of the centralized services available in the GSSC.”
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010 gives your people powerful, timesaving tools to do their best work from more places. With new capabilities and insightful updates to Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook, Office 2010 offers the complete package—with familiar, intuitive tools. Now you can express ideas, solve problems, connect with people, and create amazing results—in the office, at home, or on the go.
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