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PracticePointer: April 23, 2018

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 23, 2018
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018


3 Things Not to Say on The Phone with Clients


Everyone in your firm who fields phone calls is on the frontlines of client service.

To help staff members make the right first impressions, the Ruby Receptionists team suggests avoiding these phrases:


1.  “I Can’t”:     You want to help your callers get to where they need to go, and “I can’t” is a dead end. Even if you can’t do exactly what the caller asks, you can provide some kind of help. Think of what you can do and offer to do it. Here’s a quick example. Caller: “I need to reset my password for accessing the client extranet. Can you help me with that?” Instead of this…

Receptionist:  I can’t. I’ll connect you with our tech support department.

 …get rid of “I can’t” and move on to the good stuff!

Receptionist:  Let me put you in touch with our tech support department.

                       They’ll be happy to help you with that.


2.  “I Don’t Know”:     You may not have the answer to your caller’s question, but saying “I don’t know” gets you nowhere. Bypass “I don’t know” and move on to the next part: putting the caller in touch with someone who does know.

“That’s a good question. Let me find the best person to answer it for you.”

It can be difficult or even embarrassing to ask for help. Your callers will feel better about themselves if you acknowledge their question and find the best person to answer it. If there’s no one in the office who has the answer at the moment, let the caller know that you’ll find out how to help them and call them back when you can. Then follow through!


3.  “Hold, Please”:     Sure, you need to place callers on hold from time to time, but it’s best to ask permission first. Rather than “Hold, please,” go with “May I place you on hold for a moment?” Ruby Receptionist’s live remote receptionist team always asks first, and when a caller declines to be placed on hold, we don’t press the Hold key. Take a message if need be and call them back – they’ll appreciate your attentiveness and manners.


Ruby Receptionist is a Member Benefit of the KBA. To learn more visit and click on the Ruby Receptionist logo.

This article was written by Ruby Receptionist staff writer, Phoebe Osborn.

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Practice Pointer: April 17, 2018

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 16, 2018

Building Trust to Generate Referrals

According to a poll administered by the American Bar Association, 46 percent of consumers will ask a friend, family member or colleague for a referral when looking for a lawyer. Similarly, 65 percent report that reputation, ratings, and reviews have a significant influence on their hiring decisions. So, a good reputation among existing clients is critical to attracting more clients.

But how do you get there?

The secret to turning clients into loyal fans – the kind who consistently refer business your way over and over again – is to create meaningful relationships with them. Here are some practical tips to help you build trust with clients, generate loyalty and, form the kind of relationships that drive word-of-mouth referrals.

Inventory Your Infrastructure of Trust

Take a few moments to consider the fundamentals of your practice and make a list. What do you absolutely need to run your practice and serve your clients at a basic level? Think about the things you do or use every single day and ask: “Could I cut this out and still deliver the service my clients expect?” If it can’t be eliminated, add it to your list. For example, reliable internet, phone service, and email are probably must-haves on your list, as is doing a client intake process and so forth. Once you have your list, ask yourself:

  •      What items on this list can be made easier?
  •      Which can be automated?
  •      What are my pain points surrounding these list items, and how might I remedy them?

If, for example, you write a similar email to clients over and over, you can turn it into a template to save time. Also, you might set up auto-pay so that you never get a service lapse in your high-speed internet.

It’s so rare that we take the time to inventory our fundamentals, but it’s important because the items on your list all play into the trust you’re earning with your clients. Before you can build a solid relationship with clients, you first need to consistently deliver the basic service you promise. By streamlining the everyday essentials that keep your practice running, you’ll not only reduce your stress (and the stress of your team) but have the service infrastructure that your clients can rely on. You want to make it as easy as possible to do what you say you’ll do for your clients, so wherever you can, create systems to ensure consistency.

Fostering Loyalty: Touchpoints

Every client interaction is an opportunity to either deliver on the trust you’ve built and use that trust to earn loyalty, or damage that trust and move backward. What are all of your clients’ touchpoints? Even seemingly small interactions are moments in time that make an impression in your client’s mind:

  •      Your hold music;
  •      How long your phone rings before it is answered;
  •      How your phone is answered (friendly?);
  •      The way your assistant gives directions to your office;
  •      Think of touchpoints as ALL interactions between anyone your practice and a client.

Each touchpoint can affect a client’s opinion of your practice.

It’s time to make another list, one that includes all the client touchpoints you can think of. Once this list is complete, think about the impression you want your clients to have when they interact with your practice. Then, hone in on the touchpoints that impact that impression.

“Every client interaction is an opportunity to either deliver on the trust you’ve built and use that trust to earn loyalty, or to damage that trust and move backward. What are all of your clients’ touchpoints?”

Forming Real Relationships

Once you’ve built a solid infrastructure and refined your client touchpoints, take what you’ve learned in creating all of those smaller connections to create a larger “wow-worthy” experience. Don’t be afraid to see your clients as friends at this point: You want to approach your clients through a relationship-focused lens. Ask relevant and appropriate questions and find ways to connect with them on a personal level. You want your client to leave your office feeling cared about and connected in a meaningful way!

This article was written by Christina Burns, VP of Customer Success at Ruby Receptionist. This article titled “It Starts With Trust” was first published in “Happy Clients, Happy Lawyers” by AttorneyatWork and Ruby Receptions in March 2018.

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Practice Pointer: Finding the Time

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 9, 2018


Finding the Time

People who feel stress over having enough time indicate lower life satisfaction, including symptoms of anxiety, poorer eating and exercise habits, and increased insomnia. Really, this is not surprising. However, a recent study, “Buying Time Promotes Happiness,” looked into whether the “famline of modern life” can be reduced by using money to buy back some time. Among the findings:

  • People who spent money on “time” were happier than those who spent money on “things.”
  • By “paying their way out of unwelcome chores” – for example, hiring a maid service, outsourcing IT, or hiring an off-site answering service, they freed time for more enjoyable and rewarding activities.
  • The key is: “open your wallet to ditch the negative moments that steal your time and, worse, kill your passion for the things you once enjoyed!

In addition to these tips for your practice, consider assessing how you’re spending your time in and out of the office. Over a week or two, write down your activities – everything you do. Be honest: Procrastination or lack of sleep, for example, may signal that something’s amiss. Track your attitude about your activities, too:  dread, excitement, boredom?

“Buying Time” tells us to examine our lives so we can find “negative moments” to trade for more positive ones. What’s setting your teeth on edge? What can you delegate? And, perhaps most importantly, with whom should you spend more of your time?

Making time for relationships means you are much more likely to be healthy and happy at work and play.

Finding the Time is taken from “Get Happy” retrieved from “Happy Clients, Happy Lawyers” produced by Attorney at Work and Ruby Receptionists, March 2018.

For more details about the “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” study, read the Harvard Business Review article, “Want to Be Happier? Spend Some Money on Avoiding Household Chores.”

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Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, April 2, 2018



ABA TECHSHOW 2018: From First to Last Ripple

By Sean Doherty | Mar.15.18 | Case ManagementDaily DispatchLegal TechnologyProduct Beat



The opening ripple of ABA TECHSHOW 2018 a few weeks ago began at the conference’s second annual Startup Pitch Competition, where 14 legal technology startups competed. Voluble, a social media data analyst provider won, but not for sentiment analysis. The company creates trial exhibits from consumer posts discussing products, manufacturers and purchasing decisions. The exhibits aim to show secondary meaning, deceptive advertising, anti-competitive behavior, the likelihood of confusion and dilution, and more.

It would have been nice to see a runner-up to Voluble because there were plenty of candidates. Take Digitory Legal, which uses historical law firm billing data and industry trends to help firms manage the cost of matters. Or Qualmet, a web and mobile platform that allows corporate legal departments and outside counsel to measure and benchmark performance to drive business value. Or pick a champion from the finalists listed here.

Regardless of who wins or loses these pitch contests, they’re becoming standard fare at conferences and a benefit to startups and the legal tech community. The pitch format exposes new technology to the community in a concise, convenient forum and gives startups a mechanism to test, and perhaps validate, their problem identification and resolution. Once approved by the community, startups may find new champions, customers and venture capital investment, and maybe celebrate future anniversaries at TECHSHOW.


Themis Solutions’ Clio and Rocket Matter, web-based practice management software, are 10 years old and Worldox is celebrating 30 years of business. I covered Clio’s new integrations for Microsoft Outlook in “Overcoming Fear and Loathing of New Technology at ABA TECHSHOW 2018.” The Vancouver-based company is poised for significant calendar updates later this year. Perhaps at the Clio Cloud Conference Oct. 4-5 in New Orleans? In the meantime, Clio will be adding 20 new integration partners to its platform, which now sports version 4 of its application programming interface (API) and a total of 90 app integrations. You will find all the new integrations in the Clio App Directory.

I found some new Clio partners at TECHSHOW, including BirdEye and startups Gideon and Lawyaw. BirdEye automatically sends review requests to clients after users close a Clio matter. Gideon offers a messaging and client intake platform to qualify leads and convert them to clients. And Lawyaw automates document creation from more than 5,000 state, county and local court forms. (Gideon and Lawyaw competed in the Startup Pitch Competition.)

Rocket Matter introduced a workflow management platform for law firms, called Rocket Project Management. It automates matter management by creating transitions between different phases of a case, such as client intake, litigation, settlement, and file closure. Each phase or status can support tasks, custom data, calendars and date functions to comply with deadlines. When matters change status, predefined data substantiate the matter. The new platform works with Rocket Matter’s Communicator, an internal messaging tool, to alert lawyers of case status changes on their mobile devices. Rocket Matter also released integration updates for LexCharge payment processing and LawToolBox‘s rules-based deadline calculations. Look for Rocket Matter to integrate with Google G Suite later this year.

Worldox, a New Jersey-based document management system (DMS) provider, will celebrate a pearl anniversary at its user conference May 20 in New Orleans. There, it will announce the Beta version of its next-generation DMS, which will engage server-based email with predictive filing and build on Microsoft Azure, integrating with tools like Microsoft Flow and PowerBI. Besides the platform tools, the Microsoft cloud will allow Worldox to scale over 1,000 users. On a physical front, Worldox continues to expand its DMS market in North Africa, South America, the Middle East, Canada and Australia.


Launch Pad

Empower Legal launched its Litigation Suite at TECHSHOW. The suite consists of streaming video tutorials that help litigation attorneys and their clients prepare for mediation, depositions and trials. Alan Fanger, an award-winning trial attorney and radio legal analyst, casts professional actors in the videos produced by Reflection Films and published on the Vimeo platform. The characters, testimony and events are fictional, but the lessons are real. For example, the mediation video conveys the essential elements of any mediation, including advice toward settlement: listen effectively, acknowledge litigation risks, accept the reality of settlement, be courteous to opponents, and establish a bottom line number to settle. Empower Legal makes Google Android and Apple iOS apps to view the videos. The Newton, Massachusetts-based company has two more videos in production: expert witnesses and investigations.

Lawmatics is a CRM and marketing automation tool designed for solo practitioners and small to midsize law firms. The startup company, founded by Matt Spiegel, the founder of MyCase, said Lawmatics is like Salesforce and HubSpot for the legal profession. The marketing tool is built on AWS and includes custom forms, an email agent and built-in e-signature functions. Spiegel demonstrated Lawmatics’ automation from lead intake to client conversion while showing me an accurate and dynamic picture of pipeline activity. But many lawyers will find the area between leads and retained clients outside their bailiwick. Spiegel agreed and said education would be a big part of customer engagement and the onboarding process. If Lawmatics is anything like MyCase, it’s one to watch. Investors are on board, and Spiegel is looking at growth mode.

Lynx Workflow’s FactBox, a web-based fact management and timeline software provider, came to TECHSHOW for the first time hoping to go beyond word-of-mouth advertising and social network marketing. The San Francisco company tackles inefficiencies in workflows for trial and other court proceedings, which can be decentralized, inconsistent and expensive. FactBox, like an Evernote for litigators, makes chronologies and timelines of key facts and links them to source documents. Explore sample case notes here.


Notes from the Expo Hall

AbacusNext redesigned the user interface (UI) to its CRM software ResultsCRM (formerly Results Software), which is now fully cloud-enabled and optimized to run on Abacus Private Cloud. The new UI provides a consistent user experience across desktop, web and mobile applications and supports drag-and-drop tiles and data modules for customization. came to TECHSHOW with its recent launch of, a new application in its .one suite of case management tools for law firms. tackles the problem of files stored in multiple systems and locations using a search tool that simultaneously searches on-premises servers and cloud storage and supports approximately 120 different file formats.

DocsCorp‘s document comparison software, called compareDocs, has undergone a significant upgrade that includes two new comparison workflows: Compare Selected Text and Compare from Clipboard. The new Compare Selected Text and Compare from Clipboard functionalities give users the ability to compare specific sections or snippets of text vis-a-vis comparing an entire document with a modified version. The new workflows save time and allow users to stay focused on a particular task, such as changes to a single paragraph, a clause, or contents of a table.

Before TECHSHOW, Judicata’s Clerk, a web-based California legal research tool that has ingested thousands of pages of legal text and millions of case data points, was recently upgraded to correct citation errors based on the California Style Manual or The Bluebook. Besides remedying citations, Clerk assesses the strength of arguments, drafting (quotations and attribution accuracy of quoted text), and context, considering cases with similar causes of action, facts and judges.

Lit Software, a maker of iOS apps for litigation (TrialPad, DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad) came to TECHSHOW with two feathers in its hat. Earlier this year the Miami-based company updated TranscriptPad to include Impeachment Reports, showing deponent name, date, and volume of deposition with page-line source designations. It also enabled users to sort reports chronologically to see issue codes in the context of surrounding testimony. And in two months, Lit Software will release a new product, called TimelinePad, for depositions and trial. With the forthcoming app, users can organize litigation events in a timeline.

If you lack an iOS product, check out ExhibitView Solutions. Although the company makes an iPad app called iTrial, its trial presentation software ExhibitView 7 is primarily designed for Windows 10 and has many new enhancements, including the ability to create high-definition synchronized depositions in its TranscriptPro tool.

Web-based practice management provider MyCase released an easy button to receive and process online payments. Instead of asking clients to log into a client portal to pay, MyCase users can email clients a unique, secure payment link copied from their latest invoice. When clients click on the link, they are taken to a secure credit card form to pay. Besides email, MyCase’s secure payment link can be sent via chat or SMS message.

Look for more good things to come from Panther Software, maker of web-based practice management software PracticePanther. The Miami-based company announced that Alpine Investors invested in PracticePanther. The software underwent a significant accounting update in 2017 and recently partnered with LawToolBox.

WordRake editing software, which makes prose clear and concise for legal documents, will soon support MacOS. Watch the Seattle-based company’s blog and check out the company’s writing tips.


60 in 60

The final ripple at TECHSHOW featured a crescendo of tips and tools from the “60 in 60” session, an annual affair highlighting the latest in apps, new technology and work hacks. This year, conference co-chair Debbie Foster, a partner at Affinity Consulting Group; Lincoln Mead, director of Information Services at Utah State Bar; Tom Mighell, vice president of Delivery Services at Contoural and also TECHSHOW co-chair; and John Simek, vice president of Sensei Enterprises, orchestrated the session and shouted out their favorite findings, which included:

Fastcase AI Sandbox, a private digital environment to analyze law firm data using artificial intelligence and data analytics tools, Fastcase resources, and other external libraries to derive new insights to drive decision-making.

DuckDuckGo, a search engine (and Chrome extension) that doesn’t track you, follow you with ads, or store your personal information. From the DuckDuckGo blog, check out “How to Live Without Google.”

ROSS Intelligence EVA. Upload a brief (drag-and-drop) to ROSS Intelligence, and EVA returns, for free, a hyperlinked list of cases cited in the brief that received negative treatments.

Other notable tips included AI tools like Voicera and that attend your phone conferences and transcribe phone calls; Anchor lets you record a podcast on your mobile device, with remote guests; and Tresorit, a cloud-based storage provider that puts encryption keys in the hands of customers.

And finally, until next TECHSHOW, cover your Apple watch to mute a call. Priceless, from Debbie Foster.


Sean Doherty is a sole practitioner advising organizations on technology controls that comply with industry standards, laws and regulations governing information technology, safeguarding privacy and preserving evidence in litigation. Sean previously worked as an analyst for 451 Research, where he directed the company's business and technology coverage of information governance, compliance, and electronic discovery. He also worked as a technology editor at ALM Media. Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @SeanD0herty.



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Tags:  ABA TECHSHOW 2018  Legal Technology 

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Five Benefits of Using Cloud Computing for Law Firms

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, March 23, 2018


Today's blog was contributed by Tim Atmar of CyberlinkASP:

Five benefits of using Cloud Computing for Law Firms

Cloud computing or Desktop as a Service (DaaS), has been growing in interest and used by law firms of all sizes, largely in part to the continued development of the Cloud and better security features. Our Legal DaaS is available in a variety of different configurations based on a firm’s needs and requirements, and each of your hosted virtual desktops can be customized to individual users.

Five benefits your Firm can gain with Legal DaaS:

1.      Cost Savings – Instead of budgeting for hardware upgrades, server patches or replacements, your firm only needs to budget for DaaS subscriptions which include all your applications (including your document management and time & billing software), your data, Microsoft office suite, Outlook exchange and a host of security and compliance features.

2.      Managed IT – With our US based support, your firm will have 24x7 access to our award-winning service team to ensure your network, applications, printers, etc. are operating at peak performance.

3.      Mobile Access – Your employees can access their virtual desktops from anywhere over the Internet. In addition, virtual desktops can be accessed from a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets.

4.      Data Saved in a Central Location – All files and data are stored in a central location rather than on multiple local workstations, and it is backed up on a regular basis, further reducing the risks of data loss from hardware failure.

5.      Cybersecurity and Compliance – Our Legal DaaS gives your firm the ultimate in security and compliance. Your data is protected by a Fortigate network with a complete team of security professionals monitoring links and intrusions. The Legal Cloud is HIPPA, SOX and SSAE16 compliant and audited annually for your firm’s protection. 

To learn more about our Legal DaaS and application hosting solutions for your firm, call Tim Atmar at CyberlinkASP at (512) 574-1594 or go to More Information

Tags:  Cloud Computing for Law Firms  CyberlinkASP  cybersecurity 

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New Edition of Law Practice Today Now Available! Click Inside to Read the MARKETING ISSUE

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, March 16, 2018






The Marketing Issue

Law Practice Today, March 2018

Editor-in-Chief: Andrea Malone
Associate Editors: Amy Drushal
Issue Editor: Nancy Gimbol

Tags:  Legal Marketing; Law Practice Today magazine 

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Start Every New Doc With the Fonts You Prefer

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, March 2, 2018



Resetting Default Heading and Body Fonts in Word

By  | Mar.02.18 | Daily DispatchProductivityTech TipsVideos

If you’re sick of Calibri and Cambria, change your default heading and body styles so you can start every new Word document with the fonts you prefer.

Put Font Frustration Behind You!

One of the most persistent frustrations legal users have with Microsoft Word is the default font settings. Fortunately, you can permanently change just two Styles (+Body and +Headings) to give your documents a more businesslike typeface.

These settings are found in the Design tab (introduced into Microsoft Word with version 2013).

Over on the far right is a drop-down called Fonts. Clicking on Fonts will give you a list of preconfigured font sets. From here, you want to choose Customize Fonts.

That’s going to take you into the Create New Theme Fonts dialog box. On the left, you’ll see Heading font and Body font. This is where you set the two Styles I told you about earlier, +Body and +Headings, which in turn control basic settings for many of the other Styles in a Word document. Just use the drop-down for each to find a font more to your liking. Then you can name your preferred font set before clicking save.

Once you reset the font style, the default text size is an easy fix, too.

Go to the Home tab and click on the small launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the font section to go to the Font dialog box. Select +Body and the size text you want, then click Set as Default in the lower left-hand corner.

Word will ask whether you want to make this the default for this document only or for all future documents based on the Normal template. Choose the latter and click OK.

Save everything you’ve done by clicking Set as Default on the Design tab (next to the Colors and Fonts buttons).

Now Every New Document You Start in Word Will Use the Fonts You Prefer

This doesn’t affect documents you receive from others or any existing documents you created. However, once you reset your default fonts, at least your days of adjusting the fonts every time you start a document are behind you.

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Microsoft Word 

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A Brief History of Black Lawyers in Kansas: The Sayers Family

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, February 27, 2018


A Brief History of Black Lawyers in Kansas: The Sayers Family

 At the conclusion of Black History Month, we want to highlight one dynamic legal family and their contributions to the Kansas bar.

 It is difficult to know many of the details in documenting the activities of black lawyers in Kansas prior to the early 20th century.

But, we do know that at that time W.L. Sayers and John Q. Sayers of Hill City, E. Clark of Lawrence, T. Bell of Leavenworth and I.F. Bradley, Sr. of Kansas City had established "enviable reputations as able and fearless trial lawyers, Clark and Bradley also served as Justices of the Peace in Lawrence and Kansas City."

The Sayers family is one of the most distinguished in the history of the Kansas bar. The family moved to Nicodemus from Nebraska in the late 1880"s and even with many obstacles in their path toward formal education the two sons, W.L. and John Q., "gained fame in legal circles. W.L. began to teach school at the age of 16 and he started to read law in the office of G.W. Jones in Hill City shortly thereafter. Before the turn of the century, he was admitted to the bar, engaged in private practice, and in 1900 was elected county attorney. He won the office again in 1912 and 1914. in addition to the practice of law, he engaged in innumerable business and civic activities."

"John Q. Sayers, seven years his brother's junior, also served as Graham county attorney and with W.L. built a wide-ranging practice. Both were highly successful in the courtroom and it was reported that in one term of the district court in Graham County 32 cases appeared before the bench. W.L. arguing for one side or the other, won every case. He did not talk much about his successes but he did mention once that John had beaten him several times."

John was also willing to comment on his brother's achievements, telling the Kansas City Star on one occasion: "The trouble is he's twice as good as ever when he comes up against me in court...You never know what he's got up his sleeve until he breaks loose with it, at the most embarrassing moment possible." W. L. Sayers was recognized by one prominent white lawyer as he described Bill: " Bill is deceptively smoothe in the courtroom ...Bill leads witnesses into his confidence with his mild manners and magnetic charm until they have told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, whether they originally intended to or not...He never forgets a case or a fact. In fact, he is a walking lawbook."

Another member of the family, W.L.'s son, Wendell, graduated from Washburn Law School, practiced law in Colorado, and has served with distinction in the Colorado attorney general's office.

The Sayers family clearly made a difference in the Kansas legal community, and they continue to do so. The Kansas Bar expresses gratitude to these early lawyers for their perseverance, dedication, and commitment to building a diverse, civic-minded, and accomplished legal community in Kansas.

Reference: Material for this post was derived from "Requisite Learning and Good Moral Character: A History of the Kansas Bench and Bar" written by Robert W. Richmond of the Kansas Historical Society and published by the Kansas Bar Association in 1982.

Tags:  Black History Month; African American Legal Pionee 

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Learn More about Early African American Legal Pioneers

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, February 26, 2018


In honor of Black History Month, we've pulled out three legal pioneers to share with you. These were some of the first African American lawyers and they laid the foundation for future generations, but it was quite a struggle. When Macon Bolling Allen became the first African American licensed to practice law in the United States it was a testament to his strength of character. And, when Irvin Charles Mollison began to practice law as an African American man it became so difficult that he petitioned for a judicial position. Finally, Charles Hamilton Houston served as the Dean of Howard University School of Law and worked on civil rights in this country becoming known as "the man who killed Jim Crow."

We don't learn much about these early pioneers and leaders of our profession, so in honor of Black History Month, and because these stories are important to our larger story, I am sharing them with you. I do not have any African American Women here. Unfortunately, it was much later when women were able to immerse themselves in the professional world, particularly women of color. But, during Women's History Month next month, you will learn more about some of the amazing legal minds of our female pioneers. So, stay tuned!


The First African American man to both be licensed to practice law and hold a judicial position in the United States:  Macon Bolling Allen

Macon Bolling Allen (born Allen Macon Bolling;[1] August 4, 1816 – June 11, 1894) is believed to be both the first African American licensed to practice law and to hold a judicial position in the United States. Allen passed the bar exam in Maine in 1844 and became a Massachusetts Justice of the Peace in 1848. He moved to South Carolina after the American Civil War to practice law and was elected as a probate court judge in 1874. Following the Reconstruction Era, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an attorney for the Land and Improvement Association.


The First African American man appointed to a position in the federal judiciary:  Irvin Charles Mollison

Irvin Charles Mollison was born on December 24, 1898, in VicksburgMississippi. He received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1920 from the University of Chicago. He received a Juris Doctorate in 1923 from the University of Chicago Law School. He then worked in private practice in ChicagoIllinois, from 1923 to 1945.[1] Mollison was the first African American appointed to a position in the federal judiciary whose position was posthumously converted into an Article III judgeship. Judge Mollison also was the first African American to serve on the United States Customs Court. He was appointed by President Truman, and confirmed by the United States Senate without a single dissenting vote.


Graduate of Harvard Law School; Dean of Howard University School of Law; and Instrumental in Dismantling Jim Crow Laws:  Charles Hamilton Houston

Charles Hamilton Houston (September 3, 1895 – April 22, 1950) was a prominent African-American lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School, and NAACP first special counsel, or Litigation Director. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, Houston played a significant role in dismantling Jim Crow laws, especially attacking segregation in schools and racial housing covenants. He earned the title "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow".

Houston is also well known for having trained and mentored a generation of black attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, future director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund and appointed as Supreme Court Justice.[3] He recruited young lawyers to work on the NAACP's litigation campaigns, building connections between Howard's and Harvard's university law schools.

Tags:  Black History Month; African American Legal Pionee 

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Four Ways Law Practice Management Software Helps Prevent Legal Malpractice Claims

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Four Ways Law Practice Management Software Helps Prevent Legal Malpractice Claims

By  | Feb.09.18 | Law Practice ManagementLegal TechnologyProduct SpotlightSecuritySmall Law Firm

Legal Malpractice Claims

Since 2009, the number of legal malpractice suits has escalated along with the costs to defend them, according to annual surveys by Ames & Gogh, an insurance broker. They say:

  • Insurers have paid claims of $50 million or more in 2016.
  • Malpractice claims are most commonly triggered by conflicts of interest and cybersecurity issues.
  • Business transactions result in the most claims, which tend to center around improper preparation, filing and/or document transmission.

If you want to do everything possible to ensure you’re never among the firms accused of malpractice, take advantage of law practice management software, advises Nerino Petro, technology co-editor for the ABA “GP|Solo Magazine” and CEO of a legal consulting firm.

“Properly implemented, law practice management can help reduce malpractice exposure by significantly reducing opportunities for human error, and that’s huge,” he says.

Some of the many ways a law practice management system can help protect you from a malpractice claim include:

1. Catching Conflicts of Interest

Top law practice management software brings the highest level of diligence to conflict checking by searching your entire database, including notes, files, text documents, images that have undergone optical character recognition scanning, and emails. It then can run a report of results.

This is a vast improvement over typical conflict-checking methods, says Petro.

“These can range from a lawyer poking his head out of his office and yelling, ‘Anyone ever represent Joe Goglioni?’ to circulating a list of names throughout the firm to running names through a time-and-billing system,” he explains. “If there’s no response or nothing shows up, they assume they’ve done a conflict check. It’s no wonder malpractice claims for conflict checks are increasing.”

2. Keeping Track of Deadlines

“If you have never woken up in the middle of the night, panicking that you might have blown a statute of limitations date, you’re in the wrong field,” declares Nerino, “because that should be something that keeps you up at night.”

Law practice management software can help you ensure you never miss a deadline (and sleep much easier) by:

  • Automatically calculating court deadlines to eliminate human error — like overlooking holidays, weekends, and rule changes — that can happen too easily when deadlines are calculated manually.
  • Automatically update you if rule sets have changed. The most trusted practice management systems employ attorney editors who continuously monitor rule sets across the entire U.S. judicial system. If a rule changes, you will be automatically notified so every deadline in your case can be updated to reflect it.
  • Alert you of tasks to complete to meet the court deadline. If the court deadline shifts, your task deadlines will, too.

3. Providing Thorough Documentation

Practice management software acts as a repository for all of your matter information. It details every action you take and when you take them to move your matters forward.

This came in handy for Cynthia Sharp, Esq., when she owned a law firm (she is now an attorney coach). She recalls when a client’s daughter accused her of not “doing anything” with her mother’s case for two years. Because of her law practice management system, Sharp was able to counter this assertion with 200 time-stamped actions she had taken to move the matter forward.

“I would have never been as convincing if I didn’t have the technology that helped us track precisely what we did on behalf of her mother,” says Sharp.

In addition to meticulously documenting actions taken on a matter, the best law practice management tools document communication through secure client portals. A built-in client portal allows you to securely exchange documents and messages with clients while recording and time stamping the actions taken regarding the communication.

“If a client insists that they never got a response to an issue, you’ll be able to pull up the communication and point to the date your response was sent, if they opened it, and how they replied,” notes Petro.

4. Mitigating Cybersecurity Issues

Malpractice insurers have seen an uptick in malpractice claims related to hackers. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey
Report reveals that most law firms with fewer than 10 attorneys don’t take any action to encrypt their emails or files. This makes small law firms an appealing target, says Petro, because the information they’re responsible for — whether that’s details of a merger or simply social security numbers — is valuable. That’s why he believes a cybersecurity needs to be a top, if not the number one, priority for law firms.

The easiest way to make sure your law firm is up to speed with the latest and best cybersecurity is by taking advantage of law practice management software, which provides industry-leading security that would be too costly for small law firms to obtain on their own. This includes:

  • The same cybersecurity as the world’s leading financial organizations, including SOC 2 compliance and certification.
  • Encryption for emails and data while in transit and storage.
  • Daily data back up on multiple servers, in discrete locations, with 24/7 physical security and cybersecurity protection.

“Law practice management tools can help you efficiently meet your obligations under the rules of professional conduct,” says Petro. “From keeping your client’s information confidential to providing detailed documentation of activities, time and billing, and communication, you’ll have the data you need to mitigate the situations that cause lawsuits. It’s no wonder many insurers provide discounts to firms that have a law practice management subscription.”

Find out how easy it is to rest easier knowing that your firm is doing everything possible to avoid the human error behind malpractice claims. Take advantage of a two-week free trial of Firm Central that includes all of the features discussed in this article. (We know lawyers get busy, so if you forget to notify us in a couple of weeks that you’re not interested — don’t worry. You won’t automatically be rolled into a subscription.)

And, if at the end of the two weeks you’re wondering how you lived without it, you’ll be relieved to know that subscriptions are affordable — about the same as a basic cell phone or cable bill.


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Tags:  law practice management  law practice management software  malpractice 

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The Legal Lowdown on Document Management Software

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, February 16, 2018



Here's the legal lowdown on document management software

Niki Black

Nicole Black


Choosing the right technology tools for your law firm can be a confusing endeavor. After all, there are so many different types of software products available and so many choices to make when it comes to features, pricing and security. Sifting through the maze of information can be a time-consuming process that can quickly become overwhelming. 

That’s why my goal with this new monthly legal technology column is to get lawyers up to speed on their legal software options. In each column, I’ll focus on a specific type of software—such as billing or contract analysis software—and explain the choices available, including features built into software suites and stand-alone platforms devoted to handling a particular law firm function.

Most of the software tools discussed will be those aimed at small and midsize firms, since large firms have very different, more complex needs. I’ll also focus primarily on cloud-based tools since even the most traditional software providers are transitioning many of their products to the cloud. Generic consumer-focused tools will not be discussed since legal-specific software is designed with lawyers’ needs in mind, both in terms of functionality and security, whereas consumer-focused software is not.

In this column, I’ll cover the document management software options for solo, small and midsize law firms. Because the practice of law is document-intensive, firms of all sizes have document management needs. Some rely on the foldering systems built into their word processing software, but most firms require a more robust system. That’s where document management software comes in.

Document management software is designed to provide a built-in organizational system for your documents. Documents can be associated with case files or matters, and access can be limited to certain firm users. Some more robust systems include document versioning and audit trails that track user access to documents. Document collaboration and sharing features are also built into some platforms and allow secure external sharing with clients, co-counsel, experts and more. Another feature included in some software products is the conversion of scanned documents into optical character recognition format, which creates searchable, indexed PDFs.

Your firm’s document management needs will depend in large part on the size of your law firm and the practice areas handled by your firm. Some practice areas are much more document-intensive and thus require more robust document management tools.

For solo and small-firm lawyers with practices that aren’t document-intensive—such as family lawyers, trust and estate lawyers, and criminal law attorneys—a stand-alone document management system is likely unnecessary. Instead, the document management features built into most law practice management systems such as Rocket Matter, Clio or MyCase (note that I am the legal technology evangelist with MyCase) will often be sufficient and more cost-effective than using both law practice management software and document management software.

The document management features built into law practice management software typically include the ability to store and associate documents with client matters, basic document versioning, and the ability to share documents using secure online portals. Some even allow document collaboration using secure communication portals, a functionality that is all the more important in the wake of ABA Formal Opinion 477, wherein the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility concluded that particularly sensitive client information should no longer be shared using unencrypted email.

Of course, some small and midsize law firms have more complex document management requirements. Three leading stand-alone systems for such firms to consider are iManage, Worldox and Netdocs. Worldox and iManage have been around for years as premise-based solutions, and both recently rolled out cloud-based options. Netdocs, on the other hand, has always been a cloud-based solution. This means Netdocs was designed to work in, and take advantage of, cloud functionality from the very start, whereas Worldox and iManage’s cloud versions are based on functionality and features found in their premise-based software.

All three platforms provide advanced document management features. In addition, they also include robust document versioning, audit trails and OCR conversion from scans that permit document indexing and search features. Each also includes email management tools, knowledge management capabilities, and other features specific to larger firms, including key integrations with Office 365, e-discovery platforms, and more.

Finally, because all the document management systems discussed above—both the stand-alone and built-in options—are cloud-based, mobile document access is available no matter which software solution you choose. When your firm’s documents are securely stored in the cloud, you can easily and securely access those documents from any location via the mobile app of your chosen software program using any internet-enabled device.

With today’s document management software, gone are the days of scrambling to locate documents. Instead, you’ll be able to quickly and easily access, share and collaborate on your firm’s documents no matter where you are. Another bonus is that with cloud-based document management software, you’ll be well on your way to digitizing your firm’s documents, allowing your firm to easily transition to e-filing when it’s required in your jurisdiction.

So if you aren’t already using document management software in your law firm, what better time than now to make the move?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist and the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, legal practice management software for solo and small-firm lawyers. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers, and she co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier.She also co-authored Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson West treatise. She writes regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law and Legal IT Pros, has authored hundreds of articles and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile and cloud computing, and internet-based technology. She can be contacted at

Tags:  ABA Journal  Law Practice Management  Legal Technology 

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New Edition of Law Practice Today Now Available! Click Inside to Read the Women in Law Issue

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, February 15, 2018


Good news to share! The newest edition of Law Practice Today is now available. Click below to read the full issue. 


The Women in Law Issue

Law Practice Today, February 2018

Editor-in-Chief: Andrea Malone
Associate Editors: Amy Drushal
Issue Editor: Leonika Charging

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Law Practice Today magazine  Women in Law 

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Taking Control: Time Management Tips for Busy Lawyers

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, February 12, 2018



Taking Control: Time Management Tips for Busy Lawyers

By  | Feb.05.18 | Business DevelopmentDaily DispatchEfficiencyTime Management

You have at least three phone numbers (home, office, and cell), at least two email addresses (work and personal), and at least two social media accounts (Facebook and LinkedIn). You can be texted, tweeted, emailed, snail-mailed and even faxed. If people want to reach you, they expect to do so almost immediately. It’s no wonder you feel pulled in too many directions and think your scarce time is being wasted.

Add to that the evolution of our professional landscape — the fact that being an expert in your respective field requires a more complex understanding of facts and trends than ever before. To earn and keep your clients’ business, you have to impress them with information they didn’t already know (or could Google).

Then there’s business development, an endeavor once sufficiently addressed with a listing in the phone book, an ad in the paper, and a membership with the Rotary club. Now, it requires constant networking, social media posts, charity involvement, PR, conference attendance, competitive intelligence, and persistent “pinging.”

Ways to Make More Time for Business Development

A healthy practice is already a full-time job. The key is to be as efficient as possible so that you have time left for business development (or whatever else you’ve been neglecting). Here are six steps you can take to increase your efficiency.

1. Start your day with a task list, and use it to guide your activities. This is not as easy as it sounds. All too often we find ourselves starting our day with an idea of how it will go and what we’ll get done, only to find that we get sidetracked, distracted, held-up, and rain-checked by various other people and projects. If this happens, be disciplined in getting your day back on track. Keep a white-board or some other large, visible list in your office that you can use to remind yourself of your priorities for the day. The harder it is to miss, the better.

2. Establish set times for email responses, and stick to them. If you always start every day with email, you’re immediately entering a reactive work mode. Your email inbox is like a to-do list assigned by 100 people, none of whose immediate concern is whether or not you bring in new clients. And email is typically the gateway to an entire day spent in that reactive mode. Of course, you’ll tend to your clients’ needs, but it’s very easy to fall into the trap of serving others’ needs all day long, without ever getting around to yours.

Before you open your inbox in the morning, start your day with a proactive business development project. Maybe it’s reviewing a list of prospects you’ve recently collected, or inviting a colleague out to lunch to see if he or she could provide any potential for referrals. Start your day doing something proactive that serves your goals, because chances are that you won’t find time for it once the day gets started.

3. Stop multitasking. There is a widespread misconception that multitasking is doing two or more tasks simultaneously. But this is inaccurate; multitasking actually involves switching back and forth between different tasks (often with mediocre results). This task-switching consists of two stages. The first is goal-shifting: deciding to focus on another task rather than the one on which you’re currently working. The second is rule activation: recalibrating your mind away from the “rules” of the first task and toward the “rules” of the second task. This recalibration can squander as much as 40 percent of your productive time — hardly worth it. Instead, make a conscious effort to “uni-task,” (i.e., work on only one task at a time). Block out time in your calendar and close your office door to ensure there are minimal interruptions during your designated uni-tasking time.

4. Clear off the mess on your desk, so you can think straight. Rather than leave papers cluttered on your desk, apply the “touch it once” principle. For each item, ask yourself if you have time, right now, to touch this item just once? After opening and reading it, can you deal with it quickly? Then decide whether it needs to be filed, responded to, or delegated. Whichever of these three actions is required, do it immediately. If you don’t have time now to “touch it once” and get it off your desk, then leave it until you’re able to focus on it.

5. Use a timer to limit the number of minutes you spend on any given task.Perfection is often the death of production. Whether drafting an email to a client or updating your bio, there are diminishing rates of return on projects that take up too much of your time and attention. Estimate at the outset how much time you will need to devote to a project in order to get your final product to a solid B+ grade level. If it takes hours longer to make it an A+, it’s probably not worth the effort for a result that is only marginally better.

6. Delegate more of your work to someone else, even if they don’t always do it the “right way.” The only way to survive the frenzy of a busy day is to prioritize — to cut low-yield activities out of our lives so that there’s enough room for the ones that produce the best results. Most of the successful rainmakers I know are obsessed with leverage. They are constantly looking for ways to minimize the time spent on client service so they can focus more on client acquisition. Why? Because it’s far easier to find a service partner than a rainmaker.

Prioritize, own your schedule, then delegate. You might find that you have more time for business development than you thought.


David Ackert is the President of Ackert Inc. and a mentor to high-achieving professionals in the legal, corporate, finance and accounting sectors. David has advised hundreds of lawyers, CEOs and professional-services executives on overcoming business development and marketing challenges. He has developed and implemented business development programs for countless firms, from AmLaw 100s to local boutiques. Follow him on LinkedInor Twitter @DavidAckert.

Tags:  Law practice management  The Business of Law  Time management 

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The Art of Resting: How to Fit Relaxation into a Busy Schedule

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Art of Resting: How to fit relaxation into a busy schedule

woman smiling

Jeena Cho. Photo courtesy of The JC Law Group.

In 2011, I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. In hindsight, this result was foreseeable: My boyfriend and I decided to start a bankruptcy practice in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis. We were both working around the clock. I never thought about sustainability, creating a law practice where there is time not only to work but to renew, restore and rejuvenate.

When we got married, the honeymoon was the only vacation we’d had in over three years. I recall sitting on the porch of a beautiful house in Kauai with nothing to do and full of anxiety. I had no idea how to rest.

Returning to wholeness meant adding consistent and intentional habits to pay attention to my own well-being. I learned to guard myself from unintended consequences of lawyering, such as burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. I was able to tap into my natural sense of curiosity and creativity, which led to surprising insights and different ways of seeing challenging client issues.

I returned to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose for why I practice law. Rest wasn’t an adversary to my law practice, but rather essential and complementary.

Focusing on making small, incremental changes over a sustained period of time is the key to creating any new habit. This includes learning how to rest. As Alex Soojung-Kim Pang wrote in his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, “Rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running. Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.”


Time is one of our most valuable resources. It is so valuable that we sell it in 0.1-hour increments. Ask yourself: How many hours do you dedicate to work and others each day? Does the current rate of work feel sustainable? Is it nourishing or depleting?

Often, lawyers will object and say they can’t afford to take any time for themselves. They are too busy. As Karen Gifford and I wrote in our book, The Anxious Lawyer, “This feeling of ‘busyness’ is both a seduction and a major source of dysfunction for many lawyers. If we are very busy, we secretly believe we must be doing something important—in fact, we must be very important.”

If you reflexively reject the idea that you can and should carve out time for rest, consider what effect this belief has.

Think about rest in the context of self-care. Self-care is an activity for you, by you. No one else can eat more kale or go to the gym for you. It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. Consider activities that feel nourishing and nurturing.

Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. It’s about the attitude or the intention you bring to the activity. Are you taking proper care of yourself? Are you treating yourself kindly?


Movement. The word exercise is associated with specific activities, such as going to the gym. Broaden your definition to include any activities that involve moving the body. Find movement that feels good. Be flexible. One day, your movement practice might be an hour at the gym; the next day, it might be playing with your kids in the park.

Creativity and hobbies. Do an activity simply for the fun of it. Think back to your childhood and see whether there are activities you used to enjoy that have fallen by the wayside.

Journaling and writing. Writing is an excellent way to process held feelings, explore your inner world and tap into your creativity. One of my favorite practices is described as Morning Pages on the Julia Cameron Live/the Artist’s Way website. You simply sit down each morning with a pen and paper to write whatever comes to mind.

Mindful eating. There is no shortage of diet tips and what you should (or shouldn’t) eat. However, how you eat is as important as what you eat. Simply described, mindful eating means paying attention while you are eating. If you regularly eat mindlessly, shoving food into your mouth while doing email, only to look down and realize your plate is empty, consider making small adjustments to how you eat. Look at the food—all the colors, the flavors, the smells. Savor the experience.


There’s no off button for the brain. You can go for a massage or sit down to read for pleasure, but the mind may not immediately go into rest mode. It’s natural for the mind to race, think about a case and wonder whether you sent that email.

Trying to force the mind to stop thinking is as effective as holding down a beach ball in the ocean. It takes a lot of effort, and sooner or later it will pop back up. Rather, frame it as an invitation for the mind and body to rest. Your mind or body may have other plans, but you’re still doing your part by creating an optimal state for rest.

You can go on a weeklong vacation to Hawaii, sit on the beach and sip your favorite beverage, yet your mind may still be back at the office, working frantically. These moments can be very frustrating. Part of learning how to rest is increasing self-knowledge about how your mind works. Rather than criticize yourself for feeling anxious, invite the anxiety to sit down for tea.

Finally, if you’re struggling to overcome guilt or negative self-talk about taking time to rest, remember: You cannot serve from an empty vessel.


Here’s how to let go of stress and anxiety: Begin by finding a comfortable posture, allowing the eyes to soften and taking a moment to congratulate yourself for being here. It’s helpful to work through stress and anxiety not by thinking about the content but rather noticing where in the body you’re holding the stress or anxiety.

Do a body scan. Starting with the head, move the attention slowly—down the neck, shoulders and torso, and notice whether there is any tightening or tension. Move down the arms and hands, then into the lower body—the hips, then the legs. Feel your feet on the floor.

Take a nice, long breath. Make it the longest breath you’ve taken all day.

If you notice the mind going into thinking or worrying mode, recognize that in this moment there is nothing to do except simply be here.

With each inhalation, you’re drawing in fresh energy. With each exhalation, you’re releasing and letting go of anything you no longer need.

Close the practice by beginning to wiggle the fingers and toes and very gently moving your body in any way that feels good to you. When you feel ready, allow the eyes to open. (You can hear an audio version of this guided meditation at 

Jeena Cho consults with Am Law 200 firms, focusing on actionable change strategies for stress management, well-being, resilience training, mindfulness and meditation. She is the co-author of The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation and practices bankruptcy law with her husband at the JC Law Group in San Francisco.

This article was published in the February 2018 issue of the ABA Journal with the title "The Art of Resting: It’s critical for lawyer well-being, so here’s how to fit rest into your schedule."

Tags:  ABA Journal  Mindfulness  Self-Care  Wellness 

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Download and Watch this Podcast: Loving Life as a Lawyer - How to Maintain Joy in Your Work

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, January 29, 2018

Loving life as a lawyer: How to maintain joy in your work (podcast)

Workspace with a heart drawn in a coffee cup.
Do you dread going to work? If so, maybe it's time to look at the other ways you can flex your legal skills, Nancy Levit says. There are many types of jobs for lawyers, and sometimes what you thought you wanted to do doesn’t work out, Levit tells the ABA Journal's Stephanie Francis Ward in this episode of Asked and Answered. 

Levit shares tips on how to find the work you want to do and how to find joy in the work you’re already doing.

One way to adjust your mindset at work is to look at who you’re spending time with, she says. Are you hanging out with colleagues who have positive outlooks, or with the workplace worrywarts and complainers?

Levit advises keeping a mindset of “upward” comparisons. Comparing “downward” means focusing on the things others have that you don’t, while comparing upward makes you grateful for the things you do have. Lawyers tend to want perfection, she says, and the quest to keep up with the Joneses—or the Jones Days—can cause people to be unhappy.

This podcast was brought to you by our advertiser, LawPay. “Did you know that attorneys who accept online payments get paid 39 percent faster on average than those using traditional payment methods? With LawPay, the only payment solution offered through the ABA Advantage program, you can accept client payments online, via email, or in person—no equipment needed. Visit to sign up and get your first three months free.”

Download this podcast

In This Podcast:

<p>Nancy Levit</p>

Nancy Levit

Nancy Levit is a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and the interim associate dean for faculty. She teaches defamation and privacy, employment discrimination, gender and justice, jurisprudence and torts, and is the co-adviser to the UMKC Law Review. Levit is the author of several books, including The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law and its sequel, The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law, both co-authored by Douglas Linder.

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Wellness 

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