Do we need a house style?
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
From the team at Bluebird
If you have worked in a law firm, you will probably be familiar with House Style. Some firms are quite rigid about their application, while some others may not know why they should follow it - or if they even have one.
So we are going to start at the beginning.
Your legal advice is valuable to your clients and you should expect that to be properly represented in your brand. This includes your written advice documents and legal contracts. Your law firm’s brand is important because it is how the outside world perceives you and your quality. The “outside world” is comprised of competitors and potential clients, and you want your firm to stand out in either case. And you want it to stand out for good reason.
Successful branding is consistent and “on message”. This might sound like marketing lingo but if your Corporate department is creating documents in Times New Roman, while Family is using Arial, it looks like two different firms. Your competitors will be using a consistent message to attract clients, and this is a first-class reason why your firm should too.
You might be thinking that this sounds hard. Well, it’s one of those things that needs delegating to an expert. A lawyer or secretary using MS Word documents as their primary work product can have a set of on-brand documents that show the company and its people in the best light. It conveys attention to detail and a one-firm cohesive message.
A firm’s House Style covers everything from font type, size and numbering to whether you use US or UK spelling, right down to straight and curly quotes. And believe me – people do notice such minutiae, just like they notice typos or inconsistent numbering and formatting.
Your House Style is embedded in your template so it’s important that your templates are correct and work properly. An expert will review your templates to make sure you are starting off on the right footing. Using old or broken templates, including “out of the box” Word template, lies at the heart of your numbering and formatting problems.
Having a House Style correctly embedded in your templates means that you are working on-brand, consistently – and efficiently. If the Word styles in your document are correct and consistent, all you need to do is select the correct style for your paragraph, and you will always get the right number. Now isn’t that the biggest bugbear for lawyers?!
This creates greater efficiency in your workflow too because your sound template makes it all very simple to use. The expert preparing your templates can also create a Style Guide, which can be stored on your firm’s Intranet or Teams site for ease of reference. The Style Guide shows you what styles should be applied where.
Training of course also comes into this scenario. This is not about teaching lawyers how to use Word, but instead how to more efficiently manage documents by knowing what to look for when a numbering or formatting issue arises. This means getting out of the office at 7pm not 11pm.
Bluebird can create this whole solution for any business that uses MS Word documents as their primary work product. Large documents or small, having a sound template is vital to your efficiency.