Using Excel to Keep Track of Your Time

A friend of mine swears that Microsoft Excel does everything that an attorney needs to properly bill his clients. I am a big fan of Excel, however, I am not sure that it is the perfect solution. Further, I am sure that it is not the right solution for many attorneys.

However, I am a big believer in people making better use of the technology they already own before they spend money buying new technology. I have found very few attorneys who even open Excel, let alone use any of its powerful capabilities.

Esquire|Mac has a great post explaining how he uses Excel to keep track of his time. I urge you to check out his post for two reasons. First, he has a template available in the post that allows you to be up and running using Excel to keep track of your time. Simply download the template and store it with your other Excel templates.

Second, in his post explains the process he went through to write the formula that he uses in the template that he created. Reading through the post gives you an idea of just some of the things that you can do with Excel. Admittedly, if you have not worked with Excel before, most of what he has to say will sound like gibberish. However, it is a good place to start. If you follow along with what he describes, you can start to get an idea of how to put together a formula in Excel.

Also, please note that, although the template was prepared on a Mac, it still works fine on your Windows machine.

Using Checkmarks in Excel

Carol’s Corner Office Blog recently had a great trip on how to add checkmarks to an Excel spreadsheet. Carol explains:

I receive lots of e-mail from subscribers asking me if they can put checkmarks into the cells in their MS Excel spreadsheets. The short answer is yes!

There are several ways to place checkmarks in the cells of your MS Excel spreadsheets. Follow the steps below to learn how:

Note – Depending upon your version of MS Excel and Windows, you may not have some of the fonts below.

  1. Type a lower case a and change the font to Marlette or Webdings.
  2. Type an upper case P and change the font to Wingdings2.
  3. Hold down the ALT key and type 251.
  4. Click on Insert | Insert Symbol and scroll down and click on the checkmark. Click on Insert | Close | Enter.
  5. Hold down the ALT key and type 0252 and change the font to Wingdings.

I know that this is probably not something you need to do often, however, if you need a checkmark, you now know several ways to accomplish this. Check out Carol’s complete post. It contains 6 different ways for you to add checkmarks to your spreadsheet.

Excel Tips

Nerino Petro has identified a great article revealing some hidden gems in Microsoft Excel 2007. I believe that Excel is one of the most under used programs in a law office. There are so many things that you can do in Excel must easier than you can do in any other manner.

I use it daily to keep track of my expense report. I also use it quite frequently to calcuate amounts due for preparing a judgment or a affidavit for collection proceedings. The program is quite powerful.

I owe a tip of the hat to my wife, because without her, I would likely have never understood the true power of Excel. Like many attorneys, I am not a math person. Because of this, I simply avoided Excel. Once I saw how it easy it was to calcuate postjudgment amounts due, however, I was hooked.

If you are looking for some great tips on using Excel, I urge you to check out this article. If you are not using Excel, I encourage you to try it out. On my Files page, I have several Excel templates that I talked about when I did a presentation on Excel for the Chicago Bar Association. These template predate my new computer. Thus they are in Excel 2003 format.