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Ideal Note-Taking Tool for Today's Lawyer: Microsoft Office OneNote

What is Microsoft Office OneNote for Lawyers?

Microsoft(r) Office OneNote(tm) is a note-taking software program that combines the flexibility of a legal notepad with the efficiency, organization and accessibility of a computer. Attorneys can now write, organize, reuse and share their notes on any laptop, desktop or Tablet PC.

OneNote is ideal for legal practitioners -- lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, legal assistants and law students -- who are assigned to the same cases, are in the same practice group or work on matters that involve more than one practice group and share information. Anyone who takes notes and needs to refer to them or share them later will benefit from OneNote. It is particularly useful for those who:

  • Take notes on paper or on a PC
  • Do research
  • Repurpose their notes to develop more formal documents or presentations
  • Attend client meetings, depositions, MCLE, seminars-or virtually any note-taking forum
  • Need to share their notes with others 


Key Features

OneNote can be helpful to lawyers who use laptops, desktops, PDAs or Tablet PCs. Here are some of the features:

  • Multiple device support. OneNote works well on any desktop, laptop and Tablet PC.
  • Digital ink. Lawyers can handwrite their notes or draw diagrams and pictures using a pen-input device. Handwriting can then be converted to text for use in more formal documents and facilitate sharing among attorneys.
  • Flexible two-dimensional page surface. Many lawyers use symbols or personal abbreviations when taking notes. With OneNote, they can do that, draw schematics, connect lines, and even arrows, anywhere on the page -- just like on a notepad. For easy team access, they can share the notes or transfer them to another application.
  • Copying and pasting. Lawyers can move notes around in OneNote, or between OneNote and any other Office application -- and many non-Office applications. This is especially useful for multi-office law firms whose lawyers work on the same matters from distant locations. OneNote enables everyone assigned to that matter to access the file notes in a central location. Sharing client meeting notes or litigation strategies is both time efficient and cost efficient, particularly in multi-district litigation or for client matters being handled in different offices.
  • Audiovisual notebook. Lawyers can record audio notes that sync with their typed or written notes. Rather than slog through hundreds of pages of typed deposition testimony searching for a point, attorneys can record the deposition in OneNote, flag salient testimony, immediately access and then share the exact sworn testimony with whoever needs it. The deponent can also be recorded visually with a simple plug-in, documenting body language, as well as tone of voice.
  • Adding Web content. Lawyers can simply drag-and-drop pictures, diagrams, text and other information from any Web site directly into their OneNote notes. Plus, OneNote automatically includes the Web address so that the lawyer can refer to the information later, if needed.
  • OneNote side note. OneNote side note is a small version of OneNote that lawyers can launch with a single click on the Windows(r) Quick Launch toolbar. It opens a small window for writing or typing notes on the go or while working in other programs.
  • Dictionary. Lawyers using legal shorthand in OneNote can store the symbols in their customized dictionaries.


Additional Features

OneNote offers lawyers several helpful features that easily organize, find, reuse and share notes that traditional notepads don't have:

  • Note flags and note flag summary. OneNote note flags help lawyers make timely decisions about what to keep and what action to take. They can be used to mark notes that are important or require follow-up, such as expert testimony or new legal issues requiring research. Flagged notes also create a list of action items that can be viewed in the summary pane and distributed simultaneously to team members.
  • Finding and searching. Lawyers can quickly search and find notes they need without having to remember where they saved the information. This is critical for attorneys working on matters that extend over long periods of time, such as patent applications, or for new attorneys assigned to a case. Newcomers can easily hone in on what they need in a central folder rather than sift through someone else's paper notes -- a rather time intensive process.
  • Layout and design options. Note-taking does not always follow a logical sequence. In OneNote, lawyers can drag-and-drop notes to rearrange them in a way that makes sense to them and others who need to access them.
  • History navigation. Just as in a Web browser, lawyers can jump to recently-viewed note pages without sifting through legal pads or trying to recollect where the note was written.
  • Page tabs. Page tabs enable lawyers to easily flip through or rearrange pages in their current notebook.
  • Title area. When the notes become too long to fit on the screen at one time, the notes that a lawyer wants to remain visible can be placed in this area.
  • Auto saving. Notes will never be lost again because OneNote automatically saves them as they are written. This can be critical for preserving the comments of a key witness or the elements of a client interview.
  • E-mailing notes. Notes can be shared in their folders or e-mailed directly from within OneNote.
  • Publish as HTML. Lawyers can publish any of their note pages as HTML.


Systems Requirements

  • PC with Pentium 133MHz or higher processor (Pentium III recommended)
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 or Windows XP or later operating system


For Windows 2000 and Windows XP

  • 64 MB of RAM (128 MB recommended) for the operating system plus 8 MB of RAM for each application running simultaneously
  • 245 MB of available hard disk space with 115 MB on the hard disk where the operating system is installed (hard disk usage will vary depending on configuration; custom installation choices may require more or less hard disk space)



  • CD-ROM drive
  • Super VGA (800x600) or higher-resolution monitor with 256 colors
  • Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft IntelliMouse(r) or compatible pointing device
  • Tablet PC pen-input required for capturing digital ink; digital ink enables features such as numbering and bulleting handwritten notes, converting handwritten notes to text, and searching handwritten notes


Pricing and Availability

  • OneNote is available along with the Microsoft Office System.
  • The estimated retail price (ERP) for Microsoft Office OneNote is $99.95 for qualifying customers in North America.
  • Students and teachers can purchase OneNote academic edition for $49 at their school or campus bookstores or from academic resellers.
  • Customers can acquire Microsoft Office OneNote from standard Microsoft resellers, as well as through Microsoft licensing programs.


Provided by Steve Worrall. Microsoft, the Office logo, OneNote, Windows and IntelliMouse are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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