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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.

 

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

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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 niki.black@mycase.com.

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. 

logo

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

 

MAKING TIME FOR MARKETING

Taking Control: Time Management Tips for Busy Lawyers

By  | Feb.05.18 | Business DevelopmentDaily DispatchEfficiencyTime Management

taking control time 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

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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 FOR REST

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?

SELF-CARE ACTIVITIES

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.

AN ELUSIVE STATE

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.

MINDFULNESS PRACTICE (IN JUST 6 MINUTES)

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 jeenacho.com/wellbeing.) 


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 LawPay.com/podcast 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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Call Tracking and Live Chat: Two Ways to Measure ROI and Boost Leads on a Budget

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, January 25, 2018

Do you know the ROI of your current marketing efforts? Many of us think things are working just fine the way they are, but what if you could increase your leads and client contacts by 20-30% over the next year? Check out today's blog article from Attorneys at Work and find ways to improve your marketing efforts for 2018!

 

Call Tracking and Live Chat: Two Ways to Measure ROI and Boost Leads on a Budget

By  | Jan.25.18 | AdvertisingDaily DispatchDigital Marketing

call tracking and live chat

We’ve all heard that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I want to put a new spin on it: “Marketing insanity” is continuing to spend money without knowing the results — meaning you can’t prioritize how to spend your marketing dollars.

Many law firms come to us experiencing marketing insanity, usually coupled with a track record of overwhelmingly poor performance in their marketing efforts. They’re not alone. Most firms have little understanding of their marketing return on investment. According to the 2017 Clio Legal Trends Report, 92 percent of firms don’t know their cost per lead and 94 percent don’t know what it costs to acquire a new client.

Learn the True Story Behind Your Marketing Efforts

“Isn’t it good enough that we ask our clients how they heard about us?” I hear some form of that question a lot. Or lawyers will say, “I know when business is good because I talk to all the clients.” But that alone won’t give you the true story behind your marketing ROI. Without some technology tools to help pinpoint where business is coming from, or to track which marketing efforts are working well, you’re fighting blind.

  • How can you have confidence that marketing dollars are well spent?
  • How can you properly prioritize how to spend those dollars on different marketing initiatives?

Low-Hanging Fruit: Call Tracking and Live Chat

While there are lots of ways — from simple to complex — to track your marketing efforts, here are two simple and cheap systems you can use to begin measuring your ROI immediately, make better marketing decisions and get more leads.

1. Call tracking. Call tracking will do a few things that are crucial to understanding lead quality, quantity and the cost associated with landing new clients. It gives you the ability to:

  • Easily measure the number of first-time callers to your firm.
  • Record conversations for quality purposes. (If your front office is answering the phones with a bland “law offices,” I can guarantee you’re wasting money already.)
  • Automatically track which keywords visitors type in, to see what’s working in real time. (There are some limitations here, but over time your picture becomes clearer.)

My personal favorite call-tracking system is CallRail. It’s not only cost-effective but ideal for not messing up your local search engine rankings. Plans start at $30 per month and vary based on minutes used. If you’re thinking, “But I love my phone number and I don’t want to lose it,” don’t worry. Companies like CallRail allow you to port your existing phone number to their system so that it becomes a trackable number.

Also, call tracking can be used in many places beyond your website, including TV ads, radio ads, business cards and other forms of print or online advertising. You can use additional call-tracking numbers for any type of marketing campaign, then download the data and match up your call logs with new matters and cases.

Tracking calls and measuring growth over time provide great indicators of your marketing’s effectiveness. I recommend doing this religiously — monthly, quarterly and annually.

Viola! You’re now in the top 10 percent of law firms in the nation.

But what about getting more leads to your website even if you’re on a tight budget? Enter a 24/7 live chat service.

2. Live chat support. We’ve found that placing an additional touchpoint on your website can increase your leads by 20 or 30 percent. Adding a live chat feature is an easy way to do it.

Live chat has become a standard customer support feature, and most consumers expect it on websites. Adding it to your site increases the likelihood that you’ll capture contact information. A law firm chat application will act a bit differently than other business chat services — your provider isn’t going to give advice, consult or qualify a lead. But it will be there for people who want an immediate response before, during and after hours.

I asked Jon Cumberworth, CEO of Client Chat Live, to comment on what customers expect in today’s online environment. He says, “Live chat is an effective tool for law firms because those looking for most attorney’s services are in need of immediate assistance and don’t want to fill out a form and wait for a call. Legal marketing is one of the most competitive verticals, so any opportunity to increase the chance of converting a visitor into a potential client needs to be utilized.”

Live chat is simple to use and you pay only for leads that are good. (In most cases, these are leads you’re already forgoing by not having a live chat service.) Most chat services will charge a flat rate per lead gathered, ranging from $25 to $40, with no monthly minimums or commitment required.

My best advice for any law firm is to try both call tracking and chat and begin tracking their effectiveness. You will increase your leads — and you’ll join the top 10 percent of law firms that actually understand their ROI.

 
 
 
 

Mike Ramsey is President of Nifty Ventures and founder of Nifty Marketing and Nifty Law. The Nifty Law team brings legal marketing rocket science — digital marketing, website design, SEO and content marketing — to firms nationwide. He is the author of "Winning at Local Search" and a partner at LocalU, which provides conferences in the realm of local search marketing. A guest speaker at marketing events such as Avvo Lawyernomics, Mozcon and Pubcon, Mike has been featured on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and SEOmoz. Follow him on Twitter @mikeramsey.

Tags:  Legal Marketing  ROI  The Business of Law 

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Shoot for a Realistic Work-Life Balance in 2018

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, January 22, 2018

Shoot for a Realistic Work-Life Balance in 2018

By  | Jan.19.18 | BalanceDaily DispatchThe Friday FiveWell-being

work-life balance

Now that you’ve survived — maybe even enjoyed — the rounds of law firm holiday parties, the slate is wiped clean for 2018. No doubt, resolutions and good intentions bubbled up with the start of the new year. You may have noted them in your head or purchased a new motivational calendar with quarterly pages for tracking your goals.

The predictable outcome? You won’t make it through the first quarter with your goals intact. As work piles up, most likely you will work through the dark evenings with a reward of fast food at your desk and a drink when you finally get home. And with the new year, you face the increased risk of becoming a statistic for substance abuse. For example:

  • Lawyers are two to four times as addicted as those in other professions.
  • Lawyers are four times as depressed as the general population.
  • During the first 10 years of practice, lawyers have the highest rate of addiction.

There’s Nothing Like a Civilized “Hunger Games”

Of course, this could be the year you break the predictable cycle of broken promises to yourself (and your spouse, your family, your doctor) and insert more balance into your life: eat better, get more exercise, spend more time with family and friends. You know the drill.

Unfortunately, as they climb the rungs to partnership or work to build a viable practice of their own, few lawyers really believe they have a choice in the matter. Finding balance is especially difficult in a law firm of any significant size, where each day is essentially an “interview.” You’re under a microscope as others scrutinize your billable hours, client originations and ability to respond immediately to any demand. You are at the 24/7 disposal of new partners, new clients and new peers who will like you or not, respect you or not, and assess over a six- to nine-year period whether you have “the right stuff.” Nothing like a civilized “Hunger Games,” right?

Tangible, Realistic Ways to Begin a Shift Toward Balance in Your Life

On the bright side, many law firms are shifting away from unhealthy work models, hoping talented lawyers can avoid burnout — and that they’ll stick around. Eventually, this culture shift should reduce defections and lead to more lawyers having long and robust careers.

Until then, however, here are five concrete things you can do to take control of your work-life balance:

1. Disconnect from technology whenever possible. Set up a message on your voicemail and email systems stating you are unavailable and provide contacts for those needing help. Leave an additional number to reach you in a real emergency (it typically is not one). Most senior partners and clients expect 24/7 instant availability, so this won’t be easy. But, it can be accomplished with some creativity. Doctors learned this decades ago by assigning “on call” weekends or weeknights. Maybe your practice group can do the same.

2. Learn to say no. Set realistic work boundaries that permit you to do quality work and maintain high energy. In my experience, a senior partner has more respect for young lawyers who are honest about their workload and do not wish to compromise quality.

3. Take all vacation and comp days. Make them real vacations, not “staycations,” especially if you have finished a major project or trial, or have been traveling excessively for work. Take off for two weeks — not one. You need at least three or four days to feel your body relax and then you’ll have a full week to decompress. And try not to plan too many trips that are exhausting in and of themselves.

4. Commit to healthy habits. Easier said than done, but here are the basics:

  • Take frequent, quick breaks: a quick walk, five minutes of deep breathing, a short meditation.
  • Every night, spend an hour doing something for yourself that you can look forward to — a good book, some Netflix, yoga.
  • Follow good nutrition habits instead of binge eating when you’re feeling starved or late at night.
  • Exercise.
  • Get some social interaction outside of work.
  • Make a sustained sleep schedule a priority. Studies confirm that we lose all stability if our sleep is compromised for any period of time.

5. Get in touch with your life’s priorities, goals and passions. Have you discarded or forgotten them? Your tombstone is not going to read that you had the highest billable hours for a decade. Here are a few tactics to use when looking to reconnect with your passions:

  • Identify your greatest joys. Feel free to go back to your childhood.
  • List five things (jobs, volunteer work, hobbies, adventures) you would like to do.
  • List five more things that you are very good at doing (even if you have never done them in public or as part of a job).
  • Complete this sentence: “My life is ideal when … ” Do it again 15 times, then reduce it to your top five.

Everything in life that results in real change begins with simple and tangible action steps, not a January flood of empty promises to yourself and new gym memberships.

 
 

Link Christin is Executive Director of the Legal Professionals Program at Caron Treatment Centers, and works extensively with impaired lawyers through the treatment and recovery process. A former lawyer and firm partner, he also educates and provides training to law firms about these issues. He is a licensed and board-certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor.

 

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Wellness 

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Money Management Tips for New Associates

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, January 18, 2018

Money Management Tips for New Associates

By  | Jan.17.18 | AssociatesChecklistDaily DispatchMoneyNew Lawyers

money management

Congratulations! You survived law school, passed the bar and got a job. By now you’re somewhat settled in. Some partners have learned your name, and you’ve received a few paychecks.

So, what will you do with the steady earnings?

Since it is far easier to start your financial life on the right foot than be forced to adjust bad habits decades later, here’s a checklist covering what to do and what to avoid as a new attorney.

Before we dive in, please note that the following items are presented for educational purposes only. Nothing here is or should be considered specific financial advice for you. As your situation is undoubtedly nuanced, you should seek the advice of financial and tax professionals before using the strategies mentioned.

Don’t Live at the Level of Your Income

Sometimes called “lifestyle creep,” this personal finance villain snares countless lawyers, and it is especially prevalent among those whose incomes have recently jumped. Newly minted associates are particularly susceptible.

Lifestyle creep might covertly enter your post-law school world as a few nicer things here and there … nothing too extravagant. The occasional nicer dinner with friends, a car that regularly starts, and a vacation to a local beach or lake. At this point, everything is fine.

With blinding speed, however, those “nicer things” can morph into German autos, Italian leather goods, a seven-figure home, and vacations to places seen by most only on the Travel Channel.

Why does this matter? In a word, freedom. Living at the level of your income and routinely spending every dollar that enters your bank account will shackle you to your job. Once you become accustomed to a certain standard of living, it’s tremendously difficult to adjust your spending and lifestyle downward. Lifestyle creep will cripple your professional and personal flexibility.

Eventually going part-time, starting your own firm, entering public service, returning to school, and in some cases, even going in-house, are all out of the question. Your lifestyle simply won’t afford any downward adjustment in income.

How do you not live at the level of your income? Aim to live like (or almost like) you did in law school during your first few years of practicing. While this might be tough to do, you’ll be glad to discover in a couple of years that your credit card debt is gone, you’ve saved some money, and you are free to explore career options.

Realistically, you’ll need to upgrade a few things once you’ve started working, and that’s OK. Just do it discerningly.

Do Understand Your Cash Flow

Young lawyers run into trouble when they’re not cognizant of how much comes in and how much goes out of their bank accounts each month. Lack of awareness leads to spending everything that comes in (and not saving), or worse, spending too much and running up credit card balances.

How do you avoid overspending?

  • Find the amount that actually enters your bank account each month. Let’s say it’s $4,000.
  • Write down the fixed expenses you know you’ll have to pay each month: rent or mortgage, car note, phone, cable/internet, utilities (use a three-month average), student loan payments, credit card minimums and so on. Let’s say this all adds up to $2,250.
  • Subtract this expense total from your monthly take-home pay. You will need to spread the remaining amount — $1,750 — over the four weeks of the month to cover variable expenses, such as gas, groceries, eating out, entertainment, savings, additional credit card payments and surprises. That means you’ll have $437.50 per week for these expenses.

Get familiar with your weekly figure. Your options for boosting it: slashing expenses, or earning more money (or both).

Over time, earning more money has a far greater impact. But you can’t realistically renegotiate your pay six months into your first year. So instead, look to cut expenses.

Look first at reducing your fixed expenses. Renegotiating a cable bill, changing utility providers and rebidding your car insurance can often yield savings without disrupting your lifestyle. From there, look at cutting back on your variable expenses — the restaurants, groceries, shopping and entertainment, and so on.

Regardless of what you choose to adjust, awareness of your cash flow will drive better decisions.

Do Tackle Your Debt

Get organized and confront credit card and student loan debts head-on and you’ll find them less daunting.

For credit cards, visit each card’s website to find your current balance, interest rate and required minimum monthly payment. Enter this info into an Excel or Google spreadsheet to get organized. Focus your efforts and dollars to pay off one card at a time. Choose either the “snowball” method (lowest balance first) or the “avalanche” method (highest interest rate first) and stick with your choice to pay off your debts. Here’s a more in-depth discussion of credit card paydown strategies.

With federal student loans you have two main paths:

  • Pay off the debt as quickly as possible (this often involves refinancing).
  • Or, use an income-contingent plan, pay as little as possible, and maximize the amount of loan forgiveness you can receive.

Analyzing these choices is too complicated and nuanced to responsibly discuss here. Take a look at the Student Loan Planner’s blog for several in-depth student loan discussions.

Don’t Ignore Free Money

If your employer matches your retirement plan contributions up to some level, then contribute up to that level. That’s free money.

Seriously, increase your contributions today to take full advantage of any matching dollars. You’ll be amazed how fast this increases your savings. To gauge the impact of increasing your retirement plan contributions, use ADP’s paycheck calculator.

Do Beware of Your Biggest Expense: Taxes

That’s right. A variety of taxes devour a material portion of your gross (pretax) income. Understanding how much you pay, and why, will serve you well for the rest of your professional career and beyond.

Start by preparing and filing your own taxes for a few years. This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds and will provide you with a good basic tax education.

Bonus Tip: Look Ahead, Leverage Recruiters

Yes, calls from recruiters can be disruptive and tend to come at the worst times — like when you’re waiting for a partner, an opposing counsel, or a client to call.

However, when you do need a recruiter, you’ll want to have the relationship already established. While this may be more relevant for Biglaw attorneys considering lateral moves, a good recruiter can help you benchmark your salary based on your experience and the geography in which you’re practicing — even if you’re at a smaller firm.

Also, many jobs are never posted publicly. Recruiters network constantly and are often better informed than your colleagues about which firms are hiring. And if you’re considering a move to a business-oriented, nontraditional legal role, a recruiter can do wonders to package and present your skillset in a way that lands interviews for you.

 
 

Ryan McPherson is the founder of Intelligent Worth. He helps solo practitioners and partners in smaller firms align their personal and business finances to generate wealth and avoid missteps. Ryan is a Certified Financial Planner and an IRS Enrolled Agent. He is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the XY Planning Network. Follow him on Twitter @RyanDMcPherson.

Tags:  finance  financial planning  law practice management  money management  new lawyers 

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5 Cybersecurity Steps You Should Already Be Taking

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, January 16, 2018

5 cybersecurity steps you should already be taking

 
cybersecurity
If you have not noticed yet, the ABA Journal is undertaking a yearlong cybersecurity series

Our intent is to explore this complex and tangled issue piece-by-piece to make sense of the current thinking around data protection, legal ethics and regulation.

Admittedly, these articles are often a bird’s eye view of an issue that affects every person and business a little bit differently. Additionally, targets (that’s you) experience online threats differently based on who they are and what data they have. This makes it hard to promote one-size-fits-all recommendations.

To overcome some of the amorphousness that surrounds this topic, we wanted to provide a more concrete checkup that anyone, attorneys to zookeepers, could benefit from.

This checklist comes with the usual disclaimer that you should engage in a threat assessment of your own situation to know what is the best way to protect your data. Further, these are not foolproof recommendations. Nevertheless, if you are not doing the things below, you are likely less safe for it.

    1. Have you been pwned? It is pretty safe to say we have all been hacked or compromised at this point. Between the breaches of Equifax, LinkedIn and Yahoo, information from billions of accounts have spilled out into the world. But were you one of them? While it is impossible to be 100 percent certain, there is one way to see if your account information has fallen prey to a hack. By going to haveibeenpwned.com, you can type in your email addresses or usernames to see if they come up in the sites database of publicly known hacks. If a hack has occurred but it has not been verified or made public, then the site will not have that information. However, it is a good first step to know if your passwords have been compromised. 

    2. Consider a password manager. If your email address came up on haveibeenpwned, your palms are probably sweaty and fear has overtaken you. This is normal, but not necessary. Let us channel that nervous energy towards getting serious about passwords. Even the grinning readers who did not see their email on the website should follow along. A password manager will help you store your bevy of passwords, which should all be as unique as a snowflake. No longer will you need gimmicks to remember which password had an exclamation point or the capital “T” in it. The manager will handle that for you. While not hocking particular software, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has some handy questions to vet a company promising you security: 

    • Is the company clear about the limitations of its product? Do not trust companies that promise the world or use buzzwords like “military grade.” That is gibberish and should be discounted.

    • Does the company share its threat model in case of a compromise? Mature companies who trust in their product will be transparent about the attacks they are prepared for and how they are prepared. Look for this documentation.

    • Does the company say it cannot or will not access your data? You might have to read the terms of service, but companies that cannot access your data by design are better. “Will not” leaves the backdoor ajar.

    • What do users say? Like everything else, you can find online reviews of password managers. Do people still trust the tool? Has the company made unfortunate headlines recently? These are all things to consider in your decision.

    When you are thinking about which manager to use, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy foundthat the password managers that come default in many browsers are being used by ad trackers to scoop up your data. 

    Digital Dangers logo.

    ABA Journal series: Cybersecurity and the law

    3. Treat yourself to better passwords. It is 2018, and a password under seven characters that combines your dog’s name and your birth year are not sufficient. Nor is it cool that you have a dozen passwords that are permutations of each other. While a password manager (see above) will help keep your online life in order, you still need quality passwords to make the software worthwhile. The National Institute of Standards and Technology updated their password guidelines last year, and they recommend that you create a strong password, or longer passphrase where possible, that avoids the maddening nature of passwords with upper-case, special symbols and numbers. Think of a line from a book or song that is not that popular and easy for you to remember. This is especially important to master passwords to things like that new password manager you got after reading this article. Also, unless you are breached, NIST no longer recommends making periodic changes to your password. If it is not broke, do not fix it. Last, NIST recommends avoiding password hints or knowledge-based authentication, which brings us to… 

    4. Two-factor authentication! I hope that when you saw that header, you smugly thought to yourself, “I already do that.” If so, you’ve graduated to step five. However, if you do not know what two-factor authentication is, keep reading. Two-factor authentication is a two-step process to signing into an account. Instead of merely typing your password and logging in, two-factor will send you an email or text message with a unique passcode to enter before you can access your account. The hope here is that if your password is compromised, you have a second line of defense. All major companies have two-factor now, so take advantage of it. (For a list of sites with two-factor authentication check out twofactorauth.org.) 

    5. Encrypt your devices. While the word “encrypt” can sometimes make people feel uneasy, it has become a painless, low cost way to protect your information. Doing so can make you feel slightly more secure if you lose or misplace your device. Android, Apple and Microsoft now all have turnkey encryption for their devices. For Android Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S8 and later phones, they come encrypted. For iPhone users, it is as easy as turning on your passcode, which Apple says 89 percent of its customers already do. Windows, as well, makes it easy to turn on BitLocker, their encryption service. With this step, do not forget to also encrypt external storage devices you use for documents or pirated MP3s from college.

With all of this being said, stay vigilant. As a digital consumer, you are constantly playing defense against an ever-evolving offense. While these tips work for today, they may not in the future. To keep abreast of changing threats and best practices, keep track of the Journal’s ongoing series and other trustworthy news sources.

Tags:  cybersecurity  Legal Technology 

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Students at Top Law Schools Ask for More Mental Health Support

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, January 8, 2018

Students at top law schools ask for more mental health support

 

mental health

 

Today’s law students may be more open about discussing their mental health issues than previous generations, but law schools still draw many Type A individuals, frequently on a never-ending quest for perfection. 

“I think that people are beginning to realize that by eating right, getting enough sleep and doing things that make them happy, that will make them do better in school. But when you’re in a place like law school, and you see someone going to the law library for four hours, you ask yourself, ‘Should I be studying more?’ And then you give up going to the gym or having dinner with friends to study more,” says Alix Simnock, a Duke University School of Law third-year student, who is president of the school’s bar association.

Simnock is one of 16 student leaders at 13 law schools to sign a recent pledge (PDF) addressed to law school communities that is focused on both improving mental health and promoting wellness on law school campuses.

The letter noted a stereotype that law school must be “grueling and overwhelming” to prepare students for the practice.

“The toll on students’ mental health has become an accepted characteristic of law school life rather than properly recognized as an impediment to our success. Indeed, our laws and judicial decisions display a history of overlooking mental and emotional distress and continue to downplay mental illness as too enigmatic, unimportant or easily faked to have a role in the law,” reads the letter.

Also, it suggested that character and fitness inquiries regarding a student’s mental health history could encourage self-treatment with substance abuse.

“We say to our affected peers: you are not alone. We say to all our friends and colleagues: we can do better. Poor student or practitioner health is not a necessary byproduct of a rigorous legal education and needs to be treated as the scourge of the profession that it is. Students left behind are not failures of personal strength. They are testaments to our collective failure to uplift one another and raise the standards of our trade,” the letter stated.

See also: Disability rights movement’s legislative impact sprang from on-campus activism

Concern about the character and fitness portion of bar admissions can prevent students from discussing mental health problems with law school administrators, says David Jaffe, the associate dean of student affairs at American University Washington College of Law. Jaffe also chairs the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs’ law school assistance committee.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice advised Louisiana and Vermont that it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act when bar associations performing character and fitness evaluations ask about bar applicants’ mental health and require detailed medical information.

In response, Louisiana changed its question, Jaffe says. He adds that several other states, but not all, “saw the handwriting on the wall,” and either changed or eliminated mental health questions on bar admissions’ character and fitness sections.

Jaffe would like to see the National Conference of Bar Examiners release aggregate data showing how many bar licenses are delayed each year over character and fitness issues, and why, so that law school administrators can be more precise when advising students.

“The students sometimes ask: ‘If I get help, will I need to report that to the bar, and will I be denied admission,’” Jaffe says. He adds that some states ask a compound question about candidates’ mental health, focused on diagnosis, treatment and whether the condition could create issues if not treated.

“Students will say: ‘I’m taking my medication for ADHD: How do I know if it will create issues if I don’t take it?’” he says.

Law schools could also get more data on mental health so they can better identify areas where reform is most needed, according to Nick DeFiesta and Alexandria Gilbert, co-presidents of the Stanford Law Association.

“Tracking changes in mental health as students progress through law school, as well as evaluating similar metrics and career satisfaction of law school alumni, would go a long way toward quantifying the problem and help administrators assess where focus is most needed,” the two wrote in a statement to the ABA Journal.

Also, they’d like to see law schools include mental health, wellness and professional fulfillment with their core institutional values, and have student programming that is reflective of that.

“It is critical that we talk about these issues openly and honestly. We can’t just pay lip service to ‘mental health.’ We need to acknowledge the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse — and specifically name those things. When first-year law students arrive to campus, they should know that it’s OK to struggle, that resources are available for them, and that they are not alone,” the two wrote.

An online forum for student leaders at tier-14 law schools led to the mental health pledge, says Clara Chalk, president of the Texas Law Student Bar Association at the University of Texas School of Law. It was released at the beginning of December, shortly before the reading period that precedes final examinations.

Chalk says that at UT Law, the school has a “mental health week” around exam time. It includes massage chairs and social events. She’d like to see more counselors on campus, in safe spaces that could be easily reached from the law school, and student workshops focusing on behaviors that can be warning signs when students need help.

Also, she stresses that self-care is different for everyone.

“Sometimes it can be playing with a puppy, or watching a chick flick. Sometimes it can mean letting yourself be angry at something, and acknowledging that you don’t want to go into a social situation, you want to stay home,” Chalk says. “It’s also being more forgiving and honest with yourself.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:  Mental Health  Wellness 

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REGISTER for ABA TECHSHOW 2018: Discount Code Now Available!

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, January 8, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

TECHSHOW is back.

 

Bringing legal professionals and technology together.

 

TECHSHOW is back and it's better than ever. Register now for the premier learning and networking event for legal professionals. Join us to get the latest education and strategies covering what's new in legal technology and how you can better serve your clients.

TECHSHOW 2018 | CONFERENCE & EXPO
MARCH 7-10, 2018 | CHICAGO

 

 

Register Now and SAVE! Kansas Bar Association attorneys use discount code EP1815 to save!

Save $150 off the full conference prices with early bird pricing. ABA members and LP members save even more. Offer ends January 22, 2018. January 29, 2018.

Register now

Tags:  ABA TECHSHOW 2018  Legal Technology  Techshow 

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Send Text Messages to Your Clients without Using Your Cell Phone

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, January 4, 2018

Send Text Messages to Your Clients without Using Your Cell Phone

Thank you to InPractice and Hong Dao for this great information!

hands
March 10, 2017 
by Hong Dao

 

Have you ever wanted to text an appointment reminder or a quick message to your clients without having to use your cell phone? Many clients are faster at reading and responding to their text messages than to their emails. There is an easy and free way to do this. It’s called Email-to-SMS Gateway. You just use your email program on your computer to send a short text message to your clients. No need to use a third-party service that you don’t know and trust. No need to install an application. 

What is SMS Gateway?

 An SMS gateway allows your computer to send Short Message Service (SMS), which is generally known as a “text message,” to a cell phone. However, the text message cannot be more than 160 characters and cannot include media. 
  
If you want to send a longer text message with an image, video or audio, you’d need to use the MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) gateway. MMS is a type of messaging that has no character limit and allows media files. Most cell phones support both SMS and MMS. But keep in mind that if your client's phone plan doesn't have MMS, he or she won't receive the message. 

The SMS gateway texting method requires you to know three things:
  1. Your client’s cell phone number. 
     
  2. The name of the client’s phone carrier. You can look up the carrier at this website
     
  3. The SMS gateway address that corresponds with the carrier. The gateway addresses for major U.S. phone service providers are listed below for your convenience:
U.S. Carriers
SMS Gateway (text only)
MMS Gateway (text and media)
AT&T
@txt.att.net
@mms.att.net
Boost Mobile
@sms.myboostmobile.com
@myboostmobile.com
Sprint
@messaging.sprintpcs.com
@pm.sprint.com
T-Mobile
@tmomail.net
(Include “1” before the phone number)
@tmomail.net
(Include “1” before the phone number)
U.S. Cellular
@email.uscc.net
@mms.uscc.net
Verizon
@vtext.com
@vzwpix.com
Virgin Mobile
@vmobl.com
@vmpix.com
                  

Follow these steps to send text messages from your email program:
  1. Compose a new email. 
     
  2. In the “To” field, insert the client’s 10-digit phone number followed by the appropriate @gateway address. Do not include hyphens or dashes in the phone number. 
      
    For example, if your client’s phone number is 503-123-4567 and the carrier is AT&T, this is the SMS gateway address: 5031234567@txt.att.net. 
      
    If the carrier is T-Mobile, make sure you include the number “1” before the 10-digit phone number. 
     
  3. Write your message. Keep the message to fewer than 160 characters. If you need to write a longer message or want to include media, use the MMS gateway address or regular email. 
     
  4. Hit “Send.”
Your client will receive your email in the form of a text message on his or her cell phone. If the client responds to your text, the message will be sent to your email inbox. 

There are other options to send text messages from your computer, including using Google Voice and third-party online services. But SMS gateway is simple, reliable and free. You can test it right now by sending a text from your email to your cell phone.

Tags:  Legal Technology 

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Law Practice Today new TECH EDITION just released! Read it Today!

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Law Practice

January/February 2018A New Edition of Law Practice Today is out!

 

January/February 2018:
The TECHSHOW Issue

Welcome to the TECHSHOW Issue of Law Practice!

This issue of Law Practice offers a preview of the speakers at TECHSHOW 2018. For more than 30 years, the Law Practice Division has gathered the top technology experts for this one-of-a-kind program. If you are resistant to the technological changes affecting the practice of law or just aren't sure where to start, mark your calendars now. One of the reasons lawyers are resistant to technology is they just aren’t sure where to start or how to evaluate the risk of transitioning to a new application or system. Understanding and evaluating that risk can be overwhelming.

This is what TECHSHOW offers lawyers: a one-stop location explaining what technology to use, how to use it and under what circumstances. Whether you are considering using cloud storage for the first time and need to know how to do that safely or whether you are considering using Office 365, TECHSHOW has experts to answer your questions. There are hands-on workshops, small group meetings and an EXPO. The experts at TECHSHOW have done all the research and can help you find the answers. Whether a first-time attendee or a veteran, you will benefit from TECHSHOW 2018. All you have to do is set aside the time to attend.

This issue of Law Practice tackles the current state of artificial intelligence use in the legal community and the prospects for it to change in the near future, the burgeoning use of ransomware, tips on how best to get to the meat of e-discovery matters and much more!

Finally, we’d like to thank our guest columnists. Skip Rudsenske contributed to the Highlights column and Peter Roberts to the Finance column. And we wish Mike Downey well as he hands in his final Ethics column.

FEATURES

Practical Magic: Law's Hands-on AI Revolution
Transitioning from consumer tech to legal intelligence engineering.
By James A. Sherer and Ed Walters

Ransomware: How Many Bitcoins Are in Your Wallet?
Ransomware is an epidemic, and law firms are not immune.
By Sharon D. Nelson and John W. Simek

ABA TECHSHOW 2018: Why This Year Is Special
TECHSHOW co-chairs look forward to the new Conference location.
By Aaron Street

Office 365: What You Need to Know
With Microsoft's Office 365, even solo firms can have enterprise-level software and services.
By Ben Schorr

Managing the E-Discovery Processing Phase
Careful ESI processing can lead to significant time and cost savings.
By Courtney Ward-Reichard

Thinking Smartly About Smart Contracts
Lawyers should get a jump-start on contributing to this emerging technology.
By Dennis Kennedy

 

THANKS TO OUR ISSUE TEAM

Team Leaders: Robert J. Ambrogi and Mary E. Vandenack

 

DEPARTMENTS

Editor's Note
Learn More About Technology!
By Heidi A. Barcus

Perspectives
TECHSHOW 2018: A New Direction
By Bill Ferreira

 

FRONTLINES

Highlights
Patent Pro Bono Is Good for the Economy and Law Practices
By Skip Rudsenske

Simple Steps
Introducing New Technology to Your Law Firm
By Allison C. Shields

Ethics
Legal Ethics and Tech Entrepreneurship

By Michael Downey

News & Events
A New and Technologically Improved Year
By Zachary Bambacht

 

TECHNOLOGY

Product Watch
Lima Creates Your Own Personal Online Storage
By Daniel J. Siegel

Hot Buttons
IT Managed Service Providers--Nearly an Imperative
By Sharon D. Nelson & John W. Simek

The Digital Toolkit
The Digital Toolkit Guide to TECHSHOW 2018

By Tom Mighell

 

BUSINESS

Managing
Resolve to Become a Better Lawyer Leader in 2018
By Thomas C. Grella

Career Steps
Create Technological Buy-In as a New Lawyer
By Wendy L. Werner

Marketing
How Artificial Intelligence Helps Marketing
By Greg Siskind

Finance
Navigating the Bookkeeping of Your Firm
By Peter Roberts

Practice Management Advice
Unity of Direction
By Jim Calloway

Taking the Lead
Lessons from Super Bowl LI
By Karen MacKay

 

Best Regards,
Heidi Barcus, Editor-in-Chief

Heidi Barcus, Editor-in-Chief
hbarcus@londonamburn.com

 

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Tags:  Law Practice Magazine  Legal Technology 

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For the Judges: Great NJC Courses Coming Up and Scholarships are Available!

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Scholarships available! Try one of our web-based, faculty-led courses for free.
Click here for a complete list, and to apply for a scholarship.

 

Evidence Challenges for Administrative Law Judges

February 19 -
April 6, 2018

 

 

Are you making evidentiary rulings with confidence? This faculty-led onlinecourse will develop the skills needed to rule accurately on issues of hearsay, foundation, privileges and burden of proof, and make correct determinations concerning both expert witness and lay witness observation through real-world examples and interactive tasks.

Selected Criminal Evidence Issues

February 19 -
April 6, 2018

 

 

You are often called on to make instantaneous decisions on the admissibility of evidence from the bench. Do you have a firm grasp on all of the rules of evidence as they apply to criminal cases? This faculty-led onlinecourse provides you with the tools to make evidentiary rulings quickly and confidently in criminal cases.

Fundamentals of Evidence

March 12 -
April 27, 2018

 

 

This course is designed to provide you with a practical framework for ruling on evidence. You will be introduced to the principles of the Federal Rules of Evidence with a focus on using the rules to decide evidentiary issues. This course will benefit judges without law degrees who are looking for a better understanding of evidence as well as judges with law degrees who are looking for a refresher.

Tags:  Judicial Branch; National Judicial College 

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