Making holiday gifts is a family tradition that started when I was small and my parents did not have excess funds. As I grew up, making things by hand became a way for me to gift my love. Unfortunately, I am a bit of a workaholic which doesn’t leave a lot of time for crafting. Often, I will see something that I know a family member will love and that I can make. I then fool myself into thinking that somehow I will find the time and then I buy all the materials. During my detour from law school, I am knocking some of these projects off my to-do list.

The latest project to be completed required the use of a miter saw. Normally, I would break out the little miter box and knock it out with a few swipes of a saw; for this project, I was making duplicates so I decided to drag out the fancy electric compound miter saw. Once the saw was set up, I pulled the blade release knob with no results. I pulled it again with more force and the blade housing stayed stubbornly stationary. In frustration, I grabbed the handle and jiggled forcefully. Although the blade wouldn’t raise, it did move down. About this time, realization struck and I recalled the safety features of the saw. I then pushed the handle down while gently tugging the release knob. Voila, the blade housing popped up ready for action.

So, am I writing this to show everyone that I am hopeless in the workshop? Well, no. Actually, I have built several pieces of furniture over the years and have loads of experience with power tools. However, I had only used this particular miter saw several years ago when we remodeled our bathroom. The moral of the story is that just as I had forgotten how to use the miter saw, we can forget how to use features in Word, Excel, or a legal research program if we don’t use them on a regular basis. As an example, I assisted two attorneys with tasks that I considered quite simple this week: making the tool ribbon visible in Outlook and resetting the home page in an internet browser. Both of these were simple tasks for me but were something that the attorney rarely needed to perform. I know from experience that these “simple” tasks can be daunting if you don’t know the terminology–like ribbon–needed to do a search of the help section.

As a future attorney, I hope to remember this lesson as I deal with clients. What may be a simple legal issue for me may seem insurmountable to a client. It was also a reminder to take advantage of any training available for the tools of the trade that we use daily, particularly if a new version has been released in order to learn new features that will increase efficiency.