Microsoft Office 365 is the go-to choice for business users across industries. Indeed, it is so ubiquitous, many legislatures find themselves juggling Microsoft Word and other tools (such as an XML editor or WordPerfect) as drafting attorneys prefer the straightforward user experience. Drafting attorneys do not need to heap additional complexity onto their day-to-day tasks.
With its frequent update cycles and user-friendly environment, Microsoft Office is an ideal foundation for innovation, letting authors work intuitively in Word while having the ability to adapt the tools to suit the demands of the legislative environment. Below are four innovations that can help drafting attorneys save time, focus on the quality of their bill drafts and carry out their tasks with increased accuracy.
1. Section Amendment
Our LWB 360® Drafting tools allow staff to create amendment instructions for committee amendments, floor amendments, committee reports, and conference committee reports. To achieve this, the tools utilize a unique Amendment-in-Context approach to amendment drafting. According to this method, the drafting attorney makes edits to an exact replica of a bill which would be the desired result if the amendment to a bill is adopted.
All edits made to the exact replica of the bill are fully tracked using track changes to show the insertions and deletions. Once the edits have been made, the user can then generate an amendment document. This will auto-populate the desired amendment instructional language based on the edits made to the bill replica using track changes. Therefore, drafting attorneys can focus on making the necessary changes to a bill while relying on automation tools to do the heavy lifting.
The ability to create a ‘Section Amendment’ is the next step in the future of Amendment-in-Context drafting. Instead of editing an entire replica of a bill, drafting attorneys can now select the individual sections of a bill that they wish to amend. This produces a replica with only the selected sections present within the document. From here, drafting attorneys can follow the familiar Amendment-in-Context method of making edits with track changes in place and generating an amendment document. This particular method bears fruit when drafting amendments to large bills, such as appropriations and budget bills. Drafting attorneys can focus solely on the section(s) they wish to address and make amendments in a targeted, efficient manner.
2. Title Generation
3. Document History
4. Import from Bill
Drafting attorneys frequently need to import sections from previous bills, whether that’s existing statute sections, constitutional sections or legislative rules. Leaving the document to go and locate the required material, copy and paste it into the new bill can result not only in a loss of focus, but can introduce mistakes into the process. Particularly if the drafting attorney later needs to check on the information on that section (i.e., the section number, section history, etc.).
Now drafting attorneys can import sections from previous bills with existing metadata and formatting (for insertions and deletions) into a new document. They can do this without ever having to leave their open document, previewing the text before making the decision to proceed with the import.
Towards the future of drafting
As your legislature looks at ways to modernize its drafting tools and improve the user experience so drafting attorneys can focus on the quality of their bill drafts, consider making the most of Microsoft Word with best-in-class features that are built to meet the demands of the legislature.