After going through my fourth PC in five years, I decided to make the jump to Mac, and although it was more expensive, I have so far found it to be a very worthwhile decision. I’m not going to address the perennial PC-versus-Mac debate here, though; rather, I’m going to highlight a new tool I discovered that is already saving me boatloads of time. It’s called Clip Menu, and it is fantastic.
The basic principle behind Clip Menu is that only having one thing on one’s clipboard at a time is pretty limiting—especially when there are text snippets that we regularly use and don’t want to type over and over. To remedy this problem, Clip Menu provides a simple user interface that allows one to create snippets of text that are simply named and can be placed in custom categories.
(Although Clip Menu is currently only available for Mac OS, Windows users can find alternatives to Clip Menu here, with the most popular alternative to Clip Menu seeming to be Ditto.)
What Are Snippets?
One frequent type of snippet that lawyers regularly use is an address. Since we are generally corresponding only with a limited number of clients, opposing counsel, and courts at a time, there is typically a rather small number of addresses we are using again and again. So you can create a snippet in the Addresses category for each of those addresses, then simply select that address snippet from Clip Menu’s drop-down menu, located conveniently in the top status bar.
But Clip Menu isn’t just for addresses and phrases. I just created an entire form letter for filing papers with the court. Here it is:
Dear Court Administrator,
Please find enclosed for filing in the above-entitled matter the following documents: XXXXXXXX.
((I have also enclosed a check in the amount of $XXX to cover the filing fee for these documents.))
Please let me know if you need anything further from me.
Thank you for your assistance. I hope you are well.
Now when I need to throw together a cover letter, I can do it in seconds, filling in the Xs with the requisite information, and either keeping or deleting the parenthetical sentence. (I use double-parentheses as a personal notation in drafts.)
Using Separate or Compound Snippets
I’m still trying to decide if I want to just put in the court addresses near my office as “Addresses” and put together the form letters as “Short Letters” (which is how I have classified my snippets so far), or if I want to create separate form letters for court and only have to choose one snippet for each letter. It probably doesn’t matter that much and depends on how one prefers to organize his or her own snippets, which are added and arranged in Preferences–>Snippet.
I am also trying to decide whether I write enough longer and similar letters at this point where I will want to put together various paragraphs that I can snap together modularly, based on what is called for in a letter. If your practice is very narrow, you could probably name snippets for 5 to 10 different paragraphs (e.g., “Debt Collection Paragraph 3”) and simply insert them from Clip Menu in the order needed for any given letter you need to send out. That provides flexibility and saves time.
Why You Need Clip Menu
I understand that many of us simply open up previously-written letters and edit them appropriately when we need to send out something similar to letters we have already written before. And that’s probably fine most of the time.
But consider the time you could save by pre-composing paragraphs and simply snapping together your letters like Legos. Or perhaps you draft many similar contracts and want to be able to easily draft them modularly. Clip Menu makes it easy have sentences and paragraphs at your fingertips to quickly pop into place. And if you proofread them when they went in, you won’t need to worry about typos when you are simply pasting them later. (I’m not advocating foregoing proofreading altogether, or never personally drafting anything.)
Clip Menu is easy to use and handy for just about anyone, but if you run a volume practice with many of the same documents being produced at fixed fees, or you have a lot of busywork that needs to go out the door, Clip Menu may significantly impact your practice and improve your workflow.