Managing Data Sets With Google Forms

Carolyn Elefant is one of the greatest resources (and advocates) for solo lawyers. Her book, Solo By Choice, is a Holy Grail for obtaining helpful hints for starting your own law practice. And I must not forget to mention her site, MyShingle, which is equally beneficial. In another act of genius, Carolyn posted about using Google Forms to manage data sets.

Google Forms

I love using Google Forms for a variety of purposes, but I’d never thought about managing data this way. I regularly have to sort through medical expenses, collections payments, and lists of property. I love spreadsheets, but I hate the design work. Carolyn’s idea helps take some of the pain out of creating spreadsheets.

Additional hints

There are a couple notes I’d like to add to Carolyn’s idea. First, you can find Forms under the New button in Google Drive.

Google Forms from Drive

And you will need a Google account to create or save a form. I also suggest that if you’re using Google Forms to manage law firm data, you’d also better be using a Google Apps for Work account. (If you need a discount code, let me know.)

Second, Forms aren’t just for creating a neatly organized spreadsheet. You can visually display some data by clicking on Form > Show summary of responses.

visual form data

Data gets displayed in a variety of ways depending on the way information get entered.

visual-form-data-2

You’ll generally see graphs for number sets, while text input displays itself as a scrollable list. I suggest playing around with your entry data to see whether you can quantify the end result. In Carolyn’s bar ethics example, the summary would likely show  the data in a scrollable list — varying text output.

Other ways to display information

Carolyn’s helpful hint gives us an easy way to display information. What other ways can you think of using Google Forms in your law practice?

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.