Hands On With the LegalBoard — The Keyboard Just for Lawyers

Last week, I told you about the LegalBoard, a keyboard designed just for lawyers. It is the brainchild of Brian Potts, a partner at Perkins Coie in Madison, Wis.

On Friday, I received a review unit and over the weekend I had the chance to play around with this new keyboard. Here are more details. You may also want to see this video of unboxing and trying the LegalBoard.

As a keyboard, it is pretty nice. It is a full-sized, wired membrane keyboard with good feel in the keys and solid legs to prop it up. It feels like a sturdy unit that will stand up to regular use.

But of course, the raison d’etre for this keyboard is its legal-specific keys. Potts’ design incorporates common lawyerly functions into the keyboard, using the F1 through F12 function keys and the number pad. The keyboard shifts from lawyer mode to standard mode, so the number pad and function keys can function normally whenever the user wants.

Before I got the actual keyboard, I was a bit unclear on exactly what those functions were. Now I can be specific.

The function keys – the F1 through F12 keys at the top of the keyboard – insert these common words and abbreviations:
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  • F1 = see.
  • F2 = e.g.
  • F3 = U.S.
  • F4 = F.3d.
  • F5 = F.2d.
  • F6 = F. Supp.
  • F7 = U.S.C.
  • F8 = C.F.R.
  • F9 = plaintiff.
  • F10 = defendant
  • F11 = appellant.
  • F12 = respondent.

Four of the number keys also insert words:

  • + = supreme court.
  • ENT = court of appeals.
  • 0 = court.
  • . = id.

If you press shift while pressing any of these word keys, the word is capitalized. So if I press F11, I get appellant, but if I press shift+F11, I get Appellant.

Three number keys insert symbols:

  • 7 = §.
  • 8 = ¶.
  • 9 = ©.

The remaining number keys perform functions:
2017-01-09 08.25.25

  • – = insert bullets.
  • / = turn small caps on and off.
  • * = start or close the find window.
  • 4 = add a footnote or return to the text from a footnote.
  • 6 = add a comment or return to the text from a comment.
  • 5 = turn Track Changes on and off.
  • 1 = change line spacing to single.
  • 2 = change line spacing to 1.5.
  • 3 = change line spacing to double.
  • NUM = turn the keyboard’s legal functions on and off.

Three additional keys situated between the alpha and numeric keys allow you to format text as italics, underlined or bold.

Many of the keyboard’s functions also work in other Microsoft Office products, including Outlook and PowerPoint.

The keyboard is comfortable to use and I can see its appeal for anyone who regularly writes legal memoranda and briefs.

The LegalBoard costs $65. You can buy it at legalkeyboards.com.

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  • gpvanguard

    The idea of hardwired “Macros” is appealing for those of us who either don’t have the inclination, or computer skills to set them up. However, what I would really like is for the word processing companies to create “Apps” geared to specific practice subject areas. We could just download these simple addon prepackaged “Macros” for a small $$ amount for each one requested and add them to Word, Word Perfect (still light years ahead of Word and which already has function keys for many of the functions noted above, e.g. “control + w”), or whatever program one is using.

    • Bob Ambrogi

      Great idea!

    • catorenasci

      Very good idea.

      I’d also like to see this sort of keyboard available as a buckling spring “clicky” keyboard – I’ve had a PC on my desk since the mid-1980s and have never found anything better as a touch typist than the old IBM Model M keyboard. Fortunately, it’s still available (www.unicomp.com), but it would be great to have it with these keys pre-programmed.

      • bigzac

        most mechanical keyboards now have programmable keys for macros, i have the patriot viper and ALL of its keys can be programmed with a macro, check into gaming keyboards, its not too hard to set up the macros either

    • Brujo_Feo

      But gpvanguard, that option is already available, and unlike macros limited to a specific app, it’s platform-wide…it’s called ActiveWords (www.activewords.com). When I hit “pcd” + F8 (the universal trigger key) I get “Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant,” and it doesn’t matter WHAT program I’m in; “jcf” + F8 pops open a browser window and takes me to the California Judicial Council’s Forms download page, just like “dca2” + F8 takes me to the Second District Court of Appeal’s site.

      I have ActiveWords for all common diacriticals, and even shortcuts to words employing them. Tired of typing “Gonz [ALT + 0225] lez”? I just type “gonz,” and hit the spacebar (a settable option on a case-by-case basis, rather than F8), and up pops González. Or Rodríguez. Or résumé. You get the idea.

      I have THOUSANDS of ActiveWords. I try to make them all intuitive, but of course I can’t memorize them all. So every time I make a new one, I hit “aw” + F8, and a WordPerfect window opens to my ActiveWords master list, where I enter the key code, and a description of what it does.

      And I can write fairly complex macros as well. Or import ones that fellow AW users have written.

      I can’t imagine trying to run a computer without AW.

  • Mark

    Seems geared toward Federal court only. Be nice if we could get a California-specific keyboard with California citations.

  • John Plugger Mellencamp

    Some of the problems identified with a normal keyboard seem pretty easy to work around. For example, rather than insert the code for “section” every time, just write “SEC.” or another unique abbreviation and then do a search and replace when you’re done with the document.

    • Bob Ambrogi

      Certainly there are a variety of workarounds. The keyboard is not a necessity, by any means, but rather a convenience.

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