CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published 11/10/97
WordPerfect finds its legal niche

It's tough to create a sustainable competitive advantage in the software industry for any significant length of time these days. Competition is fierce, imitation is easy and ingenuity abounds in this new information age.

WordPerfect is among a handful of outstanding software applications that has experienced a long run of success, actually becoming an institution in the software world. There was a time when the term "word processing" actually seemed synonymous with WordPerfect and I never thought any application could out pace this powerful program. But alas, Goliath flexed its global marketing muscle and wouldn't rest until Word became the victor.

Whether Microsoft Word is actually a better word processor than Corel WordPerfect always sparks a lively discussion among loyal users of both products. Diehard WordPerfectionists are as fanatical a bunch as hardcore Mac users...they're militant about their "Reveal codes" and would rather fight than switch.

But in truth Word has overtaken WordPerfect as the word processing application of choice for a clear majority of business users. In most offices, WordPerfect is now the exception, rather than the rule, but for a few specific markets most prominent of which is the legal field. Law offices continue to rely on WordPerfect as their staple because this application has the muscle to efficiently handle the complexities of legal documents such as Table of Contents, Points & Authorities and Indices.

Realizing that its long-term run as the word processing leader is waning, Corel has quite wisely recognized these faithful "niche" markets and developed vertical applications that are industry specific. WordPerfect Legal Edition 7 is the first "legal" version of WordPerfect that comes bundled with features that are unique to the law industry, making it the "all in one" choice for attorneys.

The integration of HotDocs 4.1 into WordPerfect Legal Edition is a powerful enhancement to this program and must be appreciated by anyone who labors over repetitive, routine documents. This application allows users to easily create template, or boilerplate, documents then prompts the user for answers to the variable questions. Unique documents are then generated according to the user's responses.

HotDocs comes with a wide array of pre-formatted templates including forms for state and federal courts, civil litigation, family law, real estate, state planning, probate, bankruptcy and corporate formation. Users can easily build their own templates.

Corel Amicus Attorney 1.7 is a database organizer that includes a calendar, case manager, time entry program and telephone manager that all work in concert with both HotDocs and WordPerfect for effective file management and record keeping. Amicus Attorney runs in the background, tracking all user actions, to streamline many administrative tasks.

Full Authority 5.5 is also integrated with WordPerfect Legal Edition. This is a "smart" table of authorities generator that sorts legal cites by cases, statutes, books, and law review articles. It also corrects punctuation and abbreviation errors in citations. Additional enhancements for the legal profession include Lexicon from Black's Law Dictionary, NexLaw 7, and CompareRite 5.5.

In addition to the Legal Addition, WordPerfect offers a Medical Edition that comes with Steadman's Electronic Medical Dictionary and a spell checker with over 343,000 medical and pharmaceutical terms. The WordPerfect Construction Edition includes Corel Visual CADD, 400 house plans and 7,000 CAD symbols.

WordPerfect Legal Edition 7 is 16-bit version that will run on either Windows 3.x or 95 platform. The 32-bit version for Windows 95 is under development. It's pretty clear that Corel has found the solution to creating a sustainable advantage in this competitive field: Find a niche and fill the void.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.
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