X Marks the DOC

Many lawyers believe that they can avoid upgrading to the Microsoft Office 2007 Suite and Windows Vista for a while and be unaffected by the recent Microsoft upgrades. Those lawyers would be wrong, however. Documents created with Word, PowerPoint or Excel 2007 utilize a different file format and cannot be opened in the 2003 versions of those products.

Instead of Word documents ending with the file name extension .doc, the new format is .docx. We are already getting the first reports of lawyers who are unable to open their client’s documents. If your firm has upgraded to the latest versions, you will want to take care to make certain that your clients do not have a similar frustration if you send them documents in this format.

Here are some tips:

1) If you’re not going to upgrade your software for a while, go to the Microsoft Web site at http://tinyurl.com/y5a879. There you can download and install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.

2) Even though the new file format offer some benefits, you can make your clients’ lives easier by simply using “Save as” to save any document you wish to send to them with the old file format.

3) If you are just sending a client a document to review, consider whether it is better to send it in PDF format than Word or Excel.

4) The following Web site offers free file conversion, but one would want to only use this for non-confidential documents: http://www.docx2doc.com.

My appreciation to the Oklahoma and South Carolina Bar Associations for including this information in their respective E-Newsletters. It reminded me to post it again on the blog, now that the software has actually been released.

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