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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

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  • Print.
 
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

 

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 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.

 

 

 Register now>

 

 

Tags:  ABA TECHSHOW 2018  Legal Technology 

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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

 

 Attached Thumbnails:

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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Is Lawyer Well-Being on Your List of Goals for 2018?

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year!

As we all reflect on the past year and plan for our New Year, let us ask ourselves how Lawyer Well-Being factors in to our plans for 2018? Well-Being in our profession has often been overlooked. But, to be an effective lawyer and leader one has to be healthy. Recent studies suggest our profession is not headed in a healthy direction. Yet, one author, in a recent publication, suggested that one significant contribution to achieving well-being is to engage more empathy in our interactions with each other, our clients, and ourselves.

I encourage you to check out the article and conduct your own empathy assessment!

A copy of the article Legal Education and Empathy Assessment: Implications for Mental Health, Well-being, and Future Performance

In case you'd rather have a summary of this lengthy article, rather than reading the full post, here are some of the key summary points:

From the authors’ literature review and synthesis, the following summary points show the many important roles and functions of empathy in lawyers:

  • Empathetic communication, which builds rapport and positive interaction between lawyer and client, enhances the lawyer-client relationship;
  • A free flow of information which more deeply describes and discloses both the legal and non-legal aspects of legal disputes and issues better assists lawyers in developing and executing legal strategies and arguments for more effective resolution of client concerns;
  • Clients of lawyers with higher empathetic communication experience an increased level of satisfaction because they benefit from their lawyers’ attentive listening, understanding of legal issues from client perspectives and explanations of the legal process, strategies, and advice using language that the client can understand;
  • Clients prefer lawyers whom they perceive as empathetic;
  • Empathy, a multidimensional concept which involves the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the client, enables the lawyer to see the landscape of the legal issue or dispute from multiple perspectives, facilitates the effective resolution of client legal issues, problems, or concerns;
  • Empathy motivates helping behavior and makes lawyers more inclined to uphold professional standards;
  • Empathy contributes positively to lawyer mental health and well-being and equips lawyers to attain greater happiness;
  • Compared with students in other professions, law students tend to have lower empathy levels and those levels remain stable.

Research Background: Health Professionals, Lawyers, and Empathy Assessment. “Medicine and other health professionals have long recognized the importance of empathy among their populations, and as such, has been the focused attention in developing a number of empathetic measurement tools.” Empathic behaviors, as indicated in the wide body of literature noted by the authors, has many positive links with the professional performance and mental well-being of law students and lawyers. While the legal profession may have recognized its importance for the well-being and capacity its students and practitioners, the measurement of empathy has not occurred in the law setting to the same extent as in the medical and health fields. The multi-disciplinary team of Australian researchers sought to fill this void.

The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE), described by the authors as “the most significant empathy scale to date”, offers a valid and reliable tool to measure empathy in medical professionals. The JSPE consists of 20 items which divide into four (4) factors: view from the patient’s perspective; understanding patient’s experiences, feelings, and cues; emotions in patient care; and thinking like the patient. Researchers have adapted and applied the scale to students of other professions such as nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy. The JSPE as adapated to these cohorts has been retitled the Jefferson Scale of Empathy – Health Provider-Student Version (JSE-HPS). The authors adapted that version to the law context by changing the phrase “health care” to “lawyer”. The phrasing of each item in the new scale for lawyers and law students – JSE-L-S – otherwise stayed the same. The intent of scale remained consistent with the widely used valid and reliable self-reported empathy scale used for health student cohorts.

Research using the JSE-HPS in the medical, dental, pharmacy, and nursing professions has shown that empathy assessment works.  Its valid and reliable results play a valuable role in those professionals’ education, training, and practice and in their well-being. Accordingly, in terms of the legal realm, the researchers argued that “it stands to reason that the same could be achieved and be highly useful”.

What the Researchers Did: Participants, Methods, and Results. Two hundred seventy-five students (nearly 92% had not cared for a person with permanent disability in their family) enrolled in an Australian law school participated in the study. The researchers adapted the four factor 20 item Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy – Health Provider – Student Version (JSE-HPS). The participants self-reported their response to twenty (20) items which comprised the four factor new empathy scale tested in the reasearch. The total score can range (from 1 to 7 for each item) from a l0w of 20 (each response as 1 – “strongly disagree”) to a high of 140 (each response as 7 – “strongly agree”). According to the test authors and researchers, “Higher scores reflect higher self-reported empathy.”

This part will not discuss the details of the principal component analyses performed by the researchers. The resulting analysis, according to the authors, “yielded a four-factor solution”. The name of each factor, i.e. “big idea”, of the new JSE-L-S empathy assessment, and each factor’s top item, appears below:

  • Factor 1 – “understanding the client’s perspective”, 5 items, top item – “Lawyers should try to think like their clients in order to render better legal advice”;
  • Factor 2 – “responding to clients’ experiences and emotions”, 7 items, top item – “Attentiveness of clients’ personal experiences does not influence legal outcomes” (a reverse scored item, i.e. higher response should be closer to 7, “strongly agree”);
  • Factor 3 – “responding to clients’ cues and behaviors”, 4 items, top item – “Understanding body language is as important as verbal communication in lawyer-client relationships”;
  • Factor 4 – “standing in clients’ shoes”, 2 items, top item – “It is difficult for a lawyer to view things from clients’ perspectives” (reverse scored)

Tags:  Wellness 

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End of the Year Reflection: Why I Love Being a Lawyer

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, December 21, 2017

 

End of the Year Reflection:  Why I Love Being a Lawyer

As we close out this year and welcome in a new one, I wanted to offer something that might remind us all of why we love being a lawyer. This work is stressful, frustrating at times, and often depletes our energy. But, there is also great benefit and value in being a lawyer. At this time when we reflect on what we've accomplished this year and look toward the next twelve months, let's reflect on why we love what we do.

I've included "5 reasons why I love being a lawyer" from Daliah Saper to help us in our reflection:

"Amid the stress of practicing law, we often forget how much of an impact we have on the individuals and businesses who hire us to provide legal counsel. Being a lawyer is rewarding! For my last article in 2017, I figured I’d reflect on why I love being a lawyer. Here are my top five reasons, in no particular order. What are yours?

  1. Exposure to different industries. Even though I focus my practice on three or four areas of law, my clients come from a wide range of industries. This week, I helped an e-commerce store, an apparel company, a surrogacy company, a musician, a distributor of colored contact lenses, and an author. Few other professions give you the opportunity to learn about so many different kinds of businesses and allow you to actually advise those businesses.

  2. Events. When you represent a wide range of clients, you often get to attend interesting events or take interesting trips. Clients have invited me to movie premieres, fashion shows, art exhibits and galas. One year I was invited to attend the Arabian Horses Breeders Cup in Las Vegas, where the guest list included foreign dignitaries and Arab sheikhs!

  3. Teaching and Mentoring. I credit two important mentors for helping me start Saper Law. Now, I welcome the opportunity to mentor newer attorneys whenever I have the chance. It feels great to be a resource.

  4. Closing deals and creating new law. Most legal services have a natural start and end. I love being a part of the process of facilitating a negotiation, obtaining a settlement, or winning a case. Helping to create new law along the way is an added bonus.

  5. Great war stories. Even though the average lawyer’s life is not like anything we see in the movies, most of us have unusual stories to share over drinks or dinner. Stories can range from unusual case fact patterns to interactions with opposing counsel. See also, Nos. 1-4."

Don't forget the impact you have on others' lives. Your work is important, valuable, and worthwhile. I hope you have time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation during this holiday season. 

The next Tech Tip/Practice Pointer blog will be posted in the New Year.

Happy holidays!

Sara

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Wellness 

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Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?

By  | Dec.19.17 | Business DevelopmentDaily DispatchImagePublic RelationsSocial Media

Sometimes lawyers and law firms need to clean up online reputations sullied by lawsuits, bad press, negative reviews or poor social media choices. While there’s no magic bullet, reputation management is possible. There are two approaches you can take: Either hire a company to help you, or do it yourself. Here are the pros, cons and considerations.

Hired Hands

Reputation.com, which has been around since 2006, is the oldest of a growing number of services that advertise help with managing or cleaning up online reputations. These services purport to employ strategies to make positive information about you rise to the top of search results, but a few words of warning:

  • They can be expensive, adding up to thousands of dollars annually.
  • A few are scams — companies that will take your money and run — so be careful.
  • Critics argue that they don’t provide anything above and beyond what you can easily do yourself to protect your online identity.

However, such services can be a good choice if you have plenty of money, are strapped for time or have a complicated problem that can’t be buried by other means.

Do It Yourself

With time and a bit of work, it’s possible to safeguard your online reputation on your own. Here are six tips to help if you choose to go this direction.

1. Begin monitoring. Set up a Google alert on your name, or if you have a complicated issue such as a lawsuit, consider a service such as Zignal, Klout or Brandwatch that will provide social media as well as general web monitoring.

2. Google yourself. When you get a handle on online content about yourself, you can start to change it. A typical order of appearance for top search engine results is:

  • LinkedIn profile
  • Company or law firm web bio
  • Facebook profile
  • Twitter profile
  • Images of you from around the web
  • Articles about you or by you

Start with the first four items on this list. The good news is that they are completely within your power to edit.

It’s especially important to keep your firm web bio/profile up to date. Google rewards pages that are recently refreshed over stagnant ones. Every time you write an article or complete a major project, make sure your bio is updated and you’ll help your page to stay high in rankings. This pushes pages with unflattering information lower in your search results.

3. Protect what you can. Pay attention to social media privacy settings, and lock down as much as you can. Then go through your personal networks and eliminate language or photos you don’t like; this ensures that inappropriate content falling outside the privacy shield won’t be visible.

4. Address negative reviews. While there are competing opinions as to whether you should claim your Avvo listing, for example, unless you do, you do not have control over content published there. However, one thing you should never do on Avvo (or any other site) is respond in anger to a negative review. Not only will this look bad to potential clients, it may get you reprimanded by your state bar. A measured response is a more appropriate choice and will often actually make you look better and more professional in your online profile.

5. Combat negative or fake news. The rise of fake news complicates communications today, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when addressing it. While you might be able to approach a professional journalist to ask for a retraction (though only if it’s categorically wrong, and if other options, like pitching an update, are off the table), approaching a blogger intent on digging for dirt will make your situation worse. Nefarious bloggers have been known to publish and sometimes alter correspondence with their targets, so your only option in such a scenario is to try to bury them in a flood of other press.

6. Get proactive. While you can’t control everything that is written about you, you can control what you write, create or produce. Content in credentialed publications appears high in search engine results. Ensuring you have a stream of this content (bylined articles, features on pro bono work, podcast appearances, etc.) will be one of the most powerful gifts you can give your online self.

Whether you have something as serious as a malpractice suit or as simple as photos from a party you’d rather forget, know that clients are searching for you on the web. Even attorneys without reputation issues need to regularly attend to their digital identity. Monitoring your online reputation and keeping it clean are integral parts of building and sustaining your practice, and should be ongoing priorities.

Helen Bertelli is a marketer and entrepreneur, having helped to build two PR startups as well as founding the marketing department for a national law firm and her own digital publishing company. She is now Vice President with Infinite Global, an international communications and public relations firm serving the legal industry. Follow her on Twitter @HelenBertelli3.
social media marketing

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Tags:  law practice management  social media 

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Security Planner: Improve Your Online Safety With Tools for Your Needs

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, December 14, 2017

 

Security Planner:  Improve Your Online Safety With Tools for Your Needs

Do you ever worry about your online safety and security? There is a great new tool available to help you assess your online security and it will make recommendations for you to improve. Answer a few simple questions to get personalized online safety recommendations. It is confidential -- no personal information is stored and none of your online accounts will be accessed. 

I tried it and it provided great ideas for improving my online security. Give it a try!

To access the tool, copy and paste the link below in your browser or visit securityplanner.org

https://securityplanner.org/#/

 

 

Tags:  Legal Technology  Online Security 

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Need a Mindful Moment? A New App Could Help Your Emotional Well-Being

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, December 14, 2017
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REGISTER for ABA TECHSHOW 2018: Discount Code Now Available!

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bringing Lawyers & Technology Together

ABA TECHSHOW has over 30 years of experience bringing lawyers and technology together.

Legal work today is dependent on technology to manage day to day activities, to practice more competently, and to service clients more effectively. ABA TECHSHOW teaches you how technology can work for you. Through the expansive EXPO Hall, CLEs, presentations, and workshops, you will be able to get your questions answered and learn from the top legal professionals and tech innovators, all under one roof. Regardless of your expertise level, there’s something for you at ABA TECHSHOW. As a member of the Kansas Bar Association, we want you to know that you can register for ABA TECHSHOW 2018 at a special reduced rate.

This discount only applies to registrants that qualify for the Standard registration and will save you $150. You can register online and include this unique discount code: EP1815 at checkout to receive the discount.

Celebrate over 30 years of legal technology and innovation. Network with legal technology experts from around the globe, March 7-10, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Don’t forget to visit www.techshow.com for registration and current information on ABA TECHSHOW 2018, the best place for bringing lawyers and technology together.

Don't forget to register! And, use the special discount code EP1815 so you can attend this amazing conference while saving money!

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Tags:  ABA  ABA TECHSHOW 2018  conference  Techshow 

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A Pre-Year-End Checklist for Solos and Small Firms

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Original article written by Megan Zavieh | Dec.05.17 

On Balance Legal Ethics

As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to run through your practice’s systems to see which ones may be ethics risks in their current state. This will help you prepare for an end-of-year audit of your biggest risks — and plan how to fix them in the new year.

The purpose of evaluating risks before the end-of-year crunch and New Year’s resolution time is to narrow your focus, so you can set priorities and zero in on bigger projects ahead. It seems we spend a lot of time in self-reflection at the tail end of the year. How great would it be to head into the new year with a clearer idea of where to focus?

Think of this “pre” year-end checklist as like a syllabus for your year-end coursework.

List Key Areas of Your Business

To begin this process, list the key components of your practice.  For most of us, this will include at least the following:

  • Advertising
  • Client intake
  • Maintenance of client files
  • Calendaring of key dates
  • Closing/destroying client files
  • Trust accounting
  • Operating account bookkeeping
  • CLE
  • Insurance
  • Billing
  • Time tracking
  • Client communication

You may also have:

  • Employees
  • Office space/sharing
  • Contractors
  • Virtual assistance (receptionists, assistants, paralegals)

Each practice will differ, but these are some common components of a solo and small firm practice.

What Keeps You Up at Night? Write It Down

With your list in hand, separate the components of your practice into those that keep you up at night and those that do not. Use a yellow pad or simple spreadsheet with three columns labeled “Concern,” “Worry” and “Not Worry,” respectively. Or download the worksheet here.

Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night worrying about a CLE deadline? Put that in the “Worry” column. Know that you have a kick-ass paralegal who keeps excellent track of all client deadlines? Put calendaring in the “Not Worry” column.

The items that keep you up at night will be the first-tier items to tackle when you begin your year-end audit. These may not actually be your biggest areas of risk, but if they raise your stress level, they need to be fixed straight away.

Evaluate Your Systems and Processes Honestly

Beyond the late-night heartburn, are there systems and processes where you really do not have it all together? Be honest with yourself — you know how to spot them.

  • Perhaps you operate with spotty client files, yet always manage to find what you need. If you look closely at your systems, you might realize there is not one single complete client file in either electronic or paper form. Put maintenance of client files on your tier-two list for your year-end audit.
  • Or maybe you know your malpractice insurance is not adequately protecting you. Are you overpaying because you never shopped around? Are you under- or over-insured? If you updated your practice areas, did you tell your carrier that you expanded into a new area of law? Or, do you just copy last year’s renewal application and send in a check each year?

Any part of your practice where you know you need to do better — even if it doesn’t bother you on an emotional level — needs to be identified as something to improve this year-end.

Remind Yourself Why

It is easy to get swept up in holiday festivities and enjoy a slower time of year for law practice. But remind yourself why it is worth investing time and energy in improving your systems.

Being investigated by the state bar over an ethics complaint is a major stress and serious time drain. Plus, consequences of a bar complaint can range from private admonishment all the way to disbarment.

You might think that ensuring your calendar is syncing to your phone or practice management software is helpful, but not critical, for ethics compliance. In truth, simple systems that help you keep on top of deadlines and return client calls might save you from a major headache with the state bar.

It is well worth the time and effort to shore up weaknesses in your systems.

Begin Looking for Resources

Once you identify your practice’s main pain points, take the next couple of weeks before the year’s end to gather resources for making improvements. Read legal blogs, take a crack at Googling your issues, and begin talking to colleagues. Get a handle on where you can turn when you actually sit down at the start of the new year to make some serious improvements.

Laying this groundwork will make that precious year-end time more productive and valuable. Make 2018 the year your practice runs more smoothly and is more ethically compliant than ever before.


Megan Zavieh is the creator and author of "The Playbook: The California Bar Discipline System Practice Guide." In her law firm, Zavieh Law, she focuses her practice exclusively on attorney ethics, providing full and limited scope representation to attorneys facing disciplinary action, and providing guidance to practicing attorneys on questions of legal ethics. Megan is admitted to practice in California, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, as well as in multiple federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. In "On Balance," Megan writes about the issues confronting lawyers in the new world of practicing law. She blogs on ethics at California State Bar Defense and tweets @ZaviehLaw.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

Tags:  Checklists  Ethics  Law Practice Management 

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Best Ways to Upgrade Your Technology in 2018

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, December 1, 2017

Original article by  | Dec.01.17

upgrade tech

What’s on your tech to-do list for next year? Maybe you’ve resolved to get more organized, go paperless once and for all, or move all of your practice systems to the cloud. Could be you’re dreaming of a new website — or a better laptop and new headphones would make you happy. What’s worthy of your technology investment next year?

We asked the practice management technology pros to recommend one good way for lawyers to upgrade their tech in 2018. Here’s wise advice from Heidi Alexander, Sheila Blackford, Joyce Brafford, Jared Correia, Tom Lambotte, Sharon Nelson and John Simek, and Lee Rosen.

(Tip: Consider Nehal Madhani’s advice on using “process mapping” to identify which areas of your legal workflow are ripe for automation — and where to invest in technology.)

HEIDI ALEXANDER: TAKING CARE OF YOU, FIRST

Quality client service is essential for a successful law practice. Indeed, elevating the needs of your clients will lead to more consistent collections, return clients and referrals. However, while there is no doubt that focusing on client service has its time and place, the only way you can provide real value and efficacy to clients is by putting yourself first.

Something accurate underlies that annoying recitation to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. The reality is that practice is stressful and if you ignore your own needs, you will burn out. If you are so busy that you can’t stop to take a breath, it’s time to take a step back from your practice and focus on you.

What does this have to do with upgrading your legal tech? Well, legal tech solutions are no longer a scarcity; you can find a product to suit any one of your practice needs. Most importantly, though, implementing a legal tech solution requires thoughtful research, vetting, planning, training and more — not to mention budgetary considerations. If you don’t have the mental bandwidth or proper mindset to adequately implement legal tech, it will lead to frustration, increased costs and ultimately failure.

So, before you dive headlong into system upgrades, work on first taking care of you. Schedule time for yourself every day, try exercising regularly, and learn about mindfulness. Test out mediation using an app such as Headspace or Calm, or just take a moment to breathe. (Try setting a timer or use Apple Watch’s Breathe app.) 

If you can make these activities a habit, you’ll reduce stress and approach your practice with a clear head, thus enabling you to effectively implement whatever tech your practice needs in 2018.


Heidi S. Alexander (@heidialexander) is Deputy Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she also leads the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP). She is the author of “Evernote as a Law Practice Tool” and serves on the ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board. In 2017, Heidi was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism. 

SHARON NELSON AND JOHN SIMEK: CONSIDER THE CLIENT PORTAL

If you don’t already have one, consider implementing a client portal. Client portals will help you solve all sorts of problems. Clients can access documents pertaining to their matters. They’ll know the status of their matter whenever they want to check on it. Clients will be able to “follow the money” and know how much the matter is costing, how much may be left in the retainer and even pay their invoice online if needed. Client communications is much improved as well. Client portals can allow document collaboration and even facilitate secure, encrypted communications.

The good news is that many case management platforms provide client portals as part of the offering. Having a client portal integrate with your practice management is an excellent way to improve the client experience (clients adore client portals) and make your practice much more efficient, profitable and attractive to prospective clients.

Sharon D. Nelson (@SharonNelsonEsq) and John W. Simek (@SenseiEnt) are the President and Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, legal technology and information security firm based in Fairfax, Va. They have written several books, including “The Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guides” and “Encryption Made Simple for Lawyers.” Sharon blogs at Ride the Lightning and together they co-host of the Digital Detectives podcast.

JARED CORREIA: INTELLIGENT CLIENT INTAKE

It’s finally happening. The robot apocalypse is upon us — but, the robots are not what you thought they were. These are not walking, talking robots. These are intelligent machines, or software — and they’re not something you need to fear. In fact, if you embrace them, you’ll be another step ahead of your competitors. One place where law firms need to clean up their act is in terms of client intake. Lawyers generally waste time and money and lose business by using antiquated intake systems (read: the office-based telephone). But new options are coming down the pipe, including Gideon, an intelligent messaging system and data analytics tool built specifically for law firms.

Jared Correia (@JaredCorreia) is CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms. A former practicing attorney, Jared is a popular presenter and regular contributor to legal publications (including his “Managing” column for Attorney at Work). 

JOYCE BRAFFORD: EMBRACE SLACK

As an alternative channel for communication, Slack helps you be more responsive to conversations that really matter. It’s like a high-priority system for communication threads, tasks and calendars. Slack connects with many of the apps lawyers are already using, including Dropbox, Google Calendar, Box and Wunderlist. As a single platform to better communicate in the office and with clients, it’s a no-brainer. 

Joyce Brafford (@Joyce_Brafford) is Distance Learning Manager for CLE at the North Carolina Bar Association.

LEE ROSEN: FOCUS ON BEST-OF-BREED APPS AND BRING THEM TOGETHER

Stop trying to find the magic bullet. There isn’t a single app that will properly manage your client information, track your time and billing, create your documents, control your calendar, and generate comprehensive management reports.

You’re asking for something that doesn’t exist and you wouldn’t really want it if it did. Software developers can be good at a bunch of things or great at one thing. Great always beats good, and you’re never going to be satisfied with the compromised software made by vendors trying to be all things to all lawyers.

Pick the best software for solving each of your specific problems. Then tie your best-of-breed applications together so that they share information. You won’t have to enter the same data twice, plus you’ll get applications built by specialists who completely understand your issues.

Pick the best document assembly system, integrate it with the best document management system. Tie both of those apps in with your client relationship management system and connect that to your time and billing product. Bring all that data together with your task management system and connect it to your phone system and your accounting application.

Products like ZapierAutomate.io and IFTTT are the glue connecting your apps to one another. Start small and, over time, go big.

You’ll end up with the best software, minimal data entry, and solutions that keep you satisfied rather than always wishing for more.

Lee Rosen (@LeeRosen) grew his North Carolina family law practice and sold it. He travels full time while helping lawyers grow their practices. His blog at Rosen Institute is an ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame honoree. He is a recipient of the ABA James Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering.

SHEILA BLACKFORD: LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE PRODUCTION TIME

Lawyers who are tech-savvy are taking this year-end time to evaluate their business processes to identify ways to leverage their production time. Clients are choosing efficient law firms that deliver high value at the most reasonable cost. This means upgrading to technology tools that can reduce production time, such as document automation and document assembly software Pathagorus, along with speech recognition software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Tools like this will help get the work done more efficiently.

Sheila M. Blackford (@SheilaBlackford) is an attorney and Practice Management Advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund. She is the author of the ABA book “Trust Accounting in One Hour For Lawyers,” co-author of “Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers,” and a past Editor-in-Chief of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine. She writes the Just Oregon Lawyers Blog

TOM LAMBOTTE: SAFEGUARD YOUR DIGITAL CREDENTIALS

In 2018, something you need to do is find out if your digital credentials are for sale on the Dark Web. Digital credentials such as usernames and passwords connect you and your team to your critical business applications: case management software, banking, online file storage and much more. Unfortunately, criminals know this — and that’s why digital credentials are among the most valuable assets found on the Dark Web. Far too often, law firms that have had their credentials compromised and sold on the Dark Web don’t know it until they have been informed by law enforcement.

Dark Web ID, from ID Agent, will detect your compromised credentials in real-time on the Dark Web. It vigilantly searches the most secretive corners of the internet to find compromised credentials associated with your law firm and notifies you immediately when these critical assets are compromised before they are used for identity theft, data breaches or other crimes. Ask your IT provider if it offers this service.

Tom Lambotte (@LegalMacIT) is CEO of GlobalMacIT, a company specializing in providing IT support to Mac-based law firms. Tom is the author of “Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms” and “Legal Boost: Big Profits Through an IT Transformation.” 

Tags:  Legal Technology  Productivity  Tech Tip 

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