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Time Management: The Pomodoro Technique

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, July 17, 2018

By Danielle Hall, Kansas Bar Association 

If you find yourself struggling with time management issues, such as failing to stay on task, ineffective scheduling, or procrastination, you may want to consider implementing a time management technique. One such technique is the Pomodoro method. This time management method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer which was used by Cirillo as a university student. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.)

The idea behind the technique is simple: you set a timer for 25 minutes and work on only one thing for the duration of that time. When the timer rings, you reward yourself with a short break. This technique forces you to focus on that one task for a set period, while taking breaks to avoid mental fatigue. For instance, rather than working on a brief until it is "done,” you work on it until your 25 minutes is up. Then, you get up and stretch (or whatever else you like do to on a break) for 5 minutes.  Once your break is over, you go back to working on the brief for another 25 minutes, and so on, until you complete 4 pomodoros (25-minute segments). After completing 4 pomodoros, you take a longer 20-30 break.

The goal should be to work towards task completion to meet your daily goals.  As a result, you first will need to create a prioritized task list to determine what your work day will include. Using the task list and implementing the Pomodoro Technique should help you to avoid interruptions and distractions while improving your concentration. The more you can concentrate, the more work you should be able to complete. The key, however, is to not fall victim to checking your email, looking at social media, or chitchatting during the pomodoro.

If you want to try implementing this simple time management technique, here is quick recap:

  • Pick a task.
  • Set a time to 25 minutes.
  • Focus on that task for the entire 25 minutes. 
  • When the 25 minutes is up, take a short 3-5 min break.
  • After 4 pomodoros, take a longer 20-30 min break. 

A kitchen timer will definitely do the trick, but if you are looking for something more hi-tech to use, there are plenty of Pomodoro Technique apps out there for both Apple and Android devices. There are also Chrome apps available to use with your Chrome web browser, some of which allow you to block websites during use.

To read more about the Pomodoro Technique visit https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique.

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TECH TIP: Tips for Creating Secure Passwords

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 10, 2018

By Danielle M. Hall, Kansas Bar Association

Passwords are a critical part of account safety.  They can sometimes be a pain to remember, however, they are the first step in ensuring the security and confidentiality of the data that is stored on the device or in the account associated with the password. Despite their importance, if you were to do a quick Google search of the most commonly used password, you will see that "123456” comes in at number 1, and "password” comes in at a close 2nd.  Also topping the list are passwords such as "admin” and "abc123”. I would add for lawyers, I often see the use of some combination of a bar number, birth date, and last name. When presenting CLEs, I often refer to these passwords as being on the password list of shame. So, I ask, is your password on the list? If so, you may want to keep reading.

While the Rules of Professional Conduct do not outright articulate standards for passwords, the care a lawyer should use when creating passwords can be implied through KRPC 1.1 (Competence) and KRPC 1.6 (Confidentiality). 

Comment 8 of KRPC 1.1 states:

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology…

KRPC 1.6(c) states:

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.

When read together, it becomes clear that a lawyer has a duty to maintain adequate computer security. So, if your password falls on my list of shame, you may want to reconsider its use.

To create more secure passwords, try the following suggestions:

  • Mix it up. use a combination of letters, numbers, special characters, and some capital letters.
  • Make it personal. Use password phrases or a random combination of words that mean something to you, but don’t include things like birthdates, bar numbers, or that favorite quote that you have as a banner on your Facebook page.
  • Don’t use short passwords. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack.
  • Don’t reuse passwords. I know it is tempting, but if your password is cracked on one account, you don’t want to give easy access to your other accounts.
  • Don’t write your passwords down. You may chuckle about this, but I still see some lawyers using the post-it notes on the computer monitor.
  • Don’t share your passwords. This is a no brainer.
  • Change your passwords regularly. The more sensitive the information is, the more often you should change the password.
  • And if all else fails, you could always leave it up to the professionals and use a password manager.

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Tech Tip: Traveling Internationally This Summer? Some Things to Consider....

Posted By Patti Van Slyke, Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

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Law Firm Marketing 2.0: Internet Marketing for Rainmakers

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

By Stephen Fairley

Nothing has transformed the marketing of law firms in the last ten years more than the Internet. I was recently speaking at a bar association event when a gentleman asked, “Do people really look for lawyers online? I’m not sure people look for my kind of practice area on the Internet.” Although there’s no guarantee that someone Googles your exact practice area every day, there are more than 2 million Internet searches for the words “lawyer” or “attorney” every month.

Lawyers across the country are finding a steady drop in return on investment for their mass advertising efforts such as the Yellow Pages, television, and newspaper. A growing number of law firms are turning to the Internet with hopes of boosting their revenues and increasing their leads. For some this has become a reality, but most are still in the experimental stage. This article will give readers several of the best practices in becoming a rainmaker on the Internet.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the ongoing process of optimizing your website to be found on the search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are the big three) for the keywords and phrases with which you want people to find you. The goal of SEO is to drive qualified traffic to your website. It does not include pay-per-click (PPC) or paid search. There are more than 30 different components commonly used by SEO experts to help your website rank well. Below are strategies to get you started.

1. Know the keywords people use to search for your services. There are many tools you can use to find out exactly which keywords and phrases people use. I recommend you start with www.wordtracker.com and Google’s Keyword Tool, which can be found at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. In most searches, there are three parts used: geographical location, practice area, and the word “lawyer” or “attorney.” For example, someone looking for a personal injury lawyer in southern California may use “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer,” whereas someone in Chicago looking to file for bankruptcy may search for “Chicago bankruptcy attorney.” However, people are starting to use more and more words to describe what they are looking for: “I was injured in a car accident in Miami and need an attorney.” This is known as long tail search.

Key Action Points:
•    Talk to your prospects and clients and find out what words and phrases they use to look for a lawyer in your practice area.
•    Research those keywords and find out how many other people use them.
•    Make a list of 20 to 30 words and phrases to use in your website.

2. Use keywords in your domain name. When possible, use the actual words with which you want prospects to find you. For example, Kevin Von Tungeln is a board-certified estate planning specialist in the state of California. His website address is www.estateplanningspecialists.com. Many law firms are still using the traditional method of naming their website the same as their law firm name, which can make it difficult to spell, harder to find, and does not assist their SEO efforts. However, be sure to check your state’s ethical requirements before settling on a new website name; some states do not allow lawyers to use any other domain name than their law firm’s name.
Key Action Points:
•    It’s okay to have multiple domain names.
•    Register your own name first, then register domain names with your keywords in it.
•    Use 
www.godaddy.com to register multiple variations. Even if you are not going to use them now, you may want them later.

3. Create compelling copy. I strongly recommend you consider hiring a professional copywriter to write the copy on your website. Yes, I know, every lawyer out there writes for a living. However, the gulf between writing a great legal brief and creating compelling copy can be like the Grand Canyon. The number-one purpose of your website is to compel visitors to pick up the phone and call you. A great copywriter can create credible copy that will get your phone ringing.
Another purpose of your website copy is to help you rank well in the search engines. One way to do this is by using the exact same words and phrases you researched in step one in the copy of your website. Each page should focus on four to six phrases. For example, one page may focus on four phrases such as “Orange County California personal injury lawyers,” “Orange County California personal injury attorneys,” “Los Angeles California personal injury lawyers,” and “Los Angeles County California personal injury attorneys.”
Key Action Points:
•    Consider hiring a professional copywriter to write your website copy.
•    Be sure to include on each page the keywords for which you want to rank high.
•    Include a call to action on every page. Tell people what you want them to do: call you, register, sign up, etc.

4. Add fresh content regularly. Perhaps the top strategy used by high-ranking lawyers today is to add new, relevant content to their websites on a consistent basis. This is one of the major reasons for the explosion in blogs in recent years. A blog is a type of website that is regularly updated, and the entries are often displayed in reverse-chronological order with the newest entry at the top. Although some law firms are selecting blogs instead of websites, I believe there is a place for each in online legal marketing. If, for economic reasons, you are forced to select between one or the other, I recommend starting out with a blog. Why? Because they are very low cost (or free) as compared to websites and, if done properly, will help you rank faster than a traditional website.

Anyone can start a blog at no cost using sites such as www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com. At a minimum, we recommend updating your blog weekly. For any serious traffic, you need to be updating three to five times per week. Lawyers who want to be at the top of the search engines update their blog three to five times per day. Google loves fresh content. The more relevant content your blog gives Google, the more it will love your blog by ranking it higher.
Key Action Points:
•    Search engines love fresh content.
•    The more fresh, relevant content you post on your website or blog, the higher you will rank on the search engines.
•    Blogs are a great place to get started, but in order to be effective they must be updated frequently.
•    Update your blog at least three to five times per week.

5. Use video to keep visitors’ attention. Now here’s a truly depressing statistic: On average, 85 percent of your website’s visitors will stay for less than 30 seconds and will never return. Seriously? Yes. If you don’t believe me, check for yourself. Look at your website’s statistics log and see how many unique visitors you have and how long they stay on average. (Virtually every website has at least a basic statistics package; just ask your website tech or hosting company how to access it. If you are not already using Google Analytics, have your tech install it. It’s much better than most. And it’s free.)

The bottom line is that you literally have less than 30 seconds to impress your website visitors. I believe all of us would agree that the longer visitors stay on your website, the more likely they are to connect with you.

One of the best ways to increase the length of time a visitor stays is by using videos. Anecdotally, our clients have seen a four- to fivefold increase in length of stay after implementing videos on their websites. These videos should be one to three minutes long and focus on educating prospects and website visitors about who you are, who you help, and why you are different. These videos do not need to be professionally produced, but you may want to have someone add a short introduction including your website and phone number. Once you have your video ready, upload it to your website—and to www.youtube.com for additional exposure. Visitors are more concerned with content than production quality. If allowed in your jurisdiction, use video testimonials from your clients as well.
Key Action Points:
•    The longer someone stays on your website, the greater likelihood they will connect with you.
•    Use videos to quickly capture their attention.
•    Your videos should educate prospects about who you are, who you help, and why you are different.

6. Develop educational tools and promote them on your website. Education-based marketing is one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of lawyers. There is a great amount of basic information you know about your practice area that prospects want and need to know. Think about some of the questions your clients have about child custody and divorce or how to avoid getting sued by employees or ways to protect their intellectual property. Identify their frequently asked questions or biggest challenges and put together a short report (three to six pages long), a PowerPoint presentation, or even an audio CD, and offer a free copy to website visitors who give you their contact information. (Remember, if you cannot get visitors to call you directly, the second-best alternative is to persuade them to give you their contact information with permission to contact them.) Give your education material a creative title such as “7 Questions You Must Ask before You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer,” or “The 10 Deadly Mistakes People Make with Their Estate Plan,” or even “5 Strategies Inventors Can Use to Protect and Monetize Their Inventions.”

This kind of free educational information is a great tool you can use to start building relationships with many people who need your help but aren’t ready to walk in your door. It is not enough simply to offer people a free consultation. Almost every lawyer does that. Take it one step further and give them some great information that will help them think through the issues and challenges they are facing. Once you have created these educational tools, find every way you can to give them away to as many people as possible.
Key Action Points:
•    Use an educational report, white paper, or audio CD to inform prospects, clients, and referral sources.
•    Every prospect has questions and challenges. Identify them and give them some information that indicates you can resolve their challenges and answer their questions.

7. Submit your articles online. Submitting short educational articles on the Internet is one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to increase your visibility and the traffic to your website. There are literally thousands of directories on the Internet that will republish your article on their websites at no cost. Simply Google “article directories” for a list.
Key Action Points:
•    Keep your articles short—between 400 and 700 words. Remember, people don’t read online, they scan. Use plenty of bullet points, clearly differentiate sections, and keep your paragraphs short.
•    Write for a specific audience. Keep in mind your ideal clients, and write the article for them—not for other lawyers. Tell a case study. Use an example. Make it practical, interesting, and personal, as if you were speaking directly to the reader. Never use legal jargon unless you explain it.
•    Grab their attention with the title. Make sure your title is less than ten words, has a number in it when possible, and tells them how to solve a problem. The title must grab the reader’s attention from the start. For example: “5 Mistakes,” “7 Pitfalls,” “3 Steps,” etc.
•    Tell, don’t sell. Focus your article on informing and educating your reader about a specific topic. Don’t focus on “selling” your services. The goal is to get readers to visit your website.
•    Don’t be generic. Give your opinion or state your perspective. People are looking for answers, not just questions.
•    Determine if your article is a good fit for the site. Some sites target business professionals, others target individual consumers. Some have sections for each group. If they give you the choice, make sure you select the category that is most appropriate for your article and that best represents your target market.
•    Only submit to websites that allow you to include your contact information with a live link back to your website. If they are not willing to give you a live link back to your website, go somewhere else.
•    Give people a reason to contact you. Offer them a special report at your website or something else that will give them an incentive to contact you.
•    Create a Google Alert at 
www.google.com/alerts to help you track where your articles are posted to and when they come out (set either your name or the title of your article as the Alert).
•    Manage your expectations. Writing and submitting articles to various websites will rarely result in a new client. There are three major reasons why you should use this technique: (1) It will increase your visibility on the Internet. The search engines love free information (which is what your article is). (2) It will increase the number of visitors to your website through the direct links at the bottom of each article and by increasing the position of your website on the search engines. (3) It will increase your credibility. When an important prospect searches for your name on the Internet and comes up blank, that doesn’t look good. Having several websites with your articles posted on them immediately increases your credibility to prospects investigating which lawyer they want to hire.

8. Take action fast. One of the hallmarks of a top rainmaker is the ability to take action fast. It’s easy to put things off. It’s easier still to stay a cynic. The real challenge is acting on what you have learned. Here’s my challenge to you: Write down three to five specific strategies you will start implementing in the next 30 days. Give yourself realistic time frames and find someone to hold you accountable. Then go out and take action.

Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company that specializes in helping small and solo law firms generate more referrals and increase their revenue.

You may connect with him at 888/588-5891 
or 
www.therainmakerinstitute.com 
or via e-mail at 
stephen@therainmakerinstitute.com 
He invites you to follow him on twitter.com/stephenfairley or facebook.com/fairley.

Copyright 2009

 

 

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Tech Tip Video: How to Use the Signature Function in Outlook for Email Signatures and Templates

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 1, 2018
This short video shows you how to create different signatures in Outlook. PLF Practice Management Advisor Sheila Blackford leads you through the simple process of how to create and customize your signature and also how to insert an electronic business card, a picture or logo, and a hyperlink to your social media accounts.  

Originally posted on the Oregon State Bar website on May 15, 2018, by Sheila Blackford.

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Tech Tip Video: How to Create a Pleading Template in Word

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Video: How to Create a Pleading Template in Word


May 22, 2018 
by Jennifer Meisberger

This video shows you how to create your own pleading template from scratch and describes the benefits of creating your own versus using a standardized template. Former PLF Practice Management Advisor Jennifer Meisberger walks you through each step of the process, including creating the title, caption, body, line numbering, footer, and then saving the template.  

Taken from the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund blog.

 

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Are You Using Video Communication? You Should Be!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Video communication is an inexpensive yet powerful tool that can help establish and maintain client relationships. The vastly improved quality, ease of use and low cost has propelled this technology to the forefront of many small businesses, including law firms.

Video calls and communication includes scheduled conference calls, but also routine calls – can now take place on the telephone.

Social scientists have been telling us for years that face-to-face communication where both sound and visual queues are used is the most beneficial form of communication – better than phone calls and far better than email or written correspondence. Video calls allow us to gauge the other person’s response to our message and spoken word. We can see facial expressions, gestures, head movements, body positioning, and shifting. We can see whether other participants are participating or distracted. We look for visual cues such as head nods and eye contact to see if our message is getting through, being rejected or being ignored.

Video technology is not complicated. Over 80 percent of American adults now own a smartphone equipped with a video camera. Many already use the video camera to communicate with friends and family, so why not their lawyer? Most laptop computers have built-in cameras, and HD-quality video cameras for office use cost between $50 and $100 and are easy to install.

There are also some easy to use products on the market for video calls and conferencing:

  • Microsoft Office 365 for Business Professionals includes Skype for Business that can call clients and others from Outlook with just one click;
  • Zoom.us is my favorite. There is a free edition that allows the user to meet for an unlimited number of minutes with one other person (such as a lawyer/client). If the user wants to meet with a group, then there is a 40 minutes time limit and a limit of 100 users. But, there are also other inexpensive versions of the product – the business version is only $20 per month and the user can place unlimited video calls with up to 50 participants.
  • Go2Meeting and Cisco Spark are also popular in this market segment.

Introduce each client to your video communication efforts during the initial consultation. Let them know the benefits and that they can easily communicate with you using their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Consider adding a brief provision to your representation agreement, highlighting the understanding with each client to try to use this technology rather than the telephone or in-person meetings. Make a note in each client’s contact information which tools they have to communicate via video.

It may seem a bit strange at first not to pick up the telephone, but soon your clients will be thanking you, and you’ll be thankful you read this tip!

Thanks to the author of this article, Reid Trautz. Reid is the Director of the Practice and Professionalism Center of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a blogger on the issues of business process improvement, technology, legal ethics, and effective practice management. Reid is co-author of the ABA’s “The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success:  Essential Tips to Power Your Practice” and a past ABA TECHSHOW chair.

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Tags:  law practice management software  Outlook  software  video  video calls  video conferencing 

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The demand for lawyers who understand privacy is high -- and will only get higher in the years ahead.

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 14, 2018
Updated: Monday, May 14, 2018


Privacy (via Getty Images)

I speak often at law schools, and law students ask me for career advice. One common question I get: what’s a “hot” area of law — in other words, a practice area where I might be able to get a job?

It’s an understandable question, given the challenges that some law students and graduates face in their job searches, but I often end up dodging. I ask the questioner: what areas of law are you interested in, and what subjects are you good at? If you are interested in and excited about a specific practice area, you’re more likely to have a successful career as a lawyer — more likely than someone who picks a practice just because it’s “hot.”

But if you put a gun to my head and forced me to give a direct answer, then I guess I’d paraphrase that guy from The Graduate: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Privacy. There’s a great future in privacy law. Think about it. Will you think about it?”

My view of privacy law’s bright future has only increased from attending this year’s Global Privacy Summit, hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) in Washington, D.C. The Summit draws roughly 3,500 attendees each year, and its opening session, held this morning in the cavernous main hall of the Washington Convention Center, was packed — a standing-room-only crowd, to hear the keynotes of Monica Lewinsky, who needs no introduction, and Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (affiliate link).

After Lewinsky’s and Ronson’s engaging presentations, IAPP’s president and CEO, J. Trevor Hughes, took the stage to offer welcoming remarks. He announced that IAPP, the world’s largest association of privacy professionals, now boasts more than 38,000 members in 107 countries around the world, with 120 cities having local their own local IAPP chapters. (About 3,500 members attend the Privacy Summit each year.)

“Make no mistake,” Hughes said. “The privacy profession has arrived.”

What’s driving the boom in privacy law and the ranks of privacy professionals? Certainly major social and technological changes are behind it, but there’s also a more specific catalyst: the GDPR, the European Union’s sweeping regulation of data privacy, which takes effect on May 25. Among its many requirements, the GDPR mandates that every organization have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) — who is often a privacy lawyer.

Thanks to GDPR, the membership of IAPP in Europe has exploded. Last year the organization had 4,000 members in Europe, according to Hughes, and now it has more than 10,000 — which led IAPP to establish a physical presence in Europe, with an office in Brussels and a half-dozen or so employees on the ground.

Another sign that privacy law is now “a thing”: at its most recent Midyear Meeting, the American Bar Association (ABA) approved a resolution on the IAPP’s Privacy Law Specialist accreditation, for a five-year term.

“With this vote, lawyers who wish to distinguish themselves from the crowd and demonstrate to potential employers or clients that they have taken extra steps to develop privacy law credentials have an opportunity to do so,” said IAPP Research Director Rita Heimes. In the states that recognize the ABA’s accreditation of law specialty certification programs, which is roughly half the states, lawyers who have been accredited as privacy-law specialists by IAPP will be able to hold themselves out as such.

Despite the tremendous rise in the number of privacy professionals, more will be required. According to Hughes, there are positions for an estimated 75,000 chief privacy officers (CPOs) — roughly double the current worldwide membership of IAPP. Because of this shortfall, a highly qualified CPO candidate is the so-called “purple squirrel” to recruiters, Hughes said.

“To meet the needs of the market today, we have to build, create, and train the next generation of privacy specialists,” Trevor Hughes told the Global Privacy Summit attendees. “Our work matters — and your work matters.”

Original post can be found HERE.


David Lat is editor at large and founding editor of Above the Law, as well as the author of Supreme Ambitions: A Novel. He previously worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. You can connect with David on Twitter (@DavidLat)LinkedIn, and Facebook, and you can reach him by email at dlat@abovethelaw.com.

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Ant Text Makes Your Email Work Smarter

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 7, 2018
Updated: Monday, May 7, 2018

Originally published by Sean Doherty | Mar.30.18 | Daily DispatchLegal TechnologyProductivityTech Tips

Most states have rules of professional conduct for lawyers to inform clients of the status of their cases and to promptly reply to their reasonable requests for information. An efficient and timely way to comply with these ethics rules on client communication is via email (encrypted as necessary, of course), which supplies lawyers and clients with a communications record.

Templates to Save Time Responding to Email

To save time and labor in writing emails, develop automated responses for when you are on vacation or otherwise unavailable. You can also create quick replies to send from your smartphone, such as “I’ll read this later and get back to you” and “Let’s set up a meeting to discuss this — please send me your availability over the next few days.” To save even more time, consider composing templates or boilerplates that can easily be inserted into new emails and email messages you respond to. That’s the premise and promise of Ant Text, an add-in for Outlook and Outlook Web Access (OWA) running on Exchange Server 2013 and above, which includes Office 365.

Ant Text makes it easy to write and reuse form emails and meeting invitations using your own designs, logos, text and attached files. After you design the email templates, you can share them with the rest of your firm to ensure consistent communications with clients and potential clients. Ant Text provides the sharing function.

How Ant Text Works

Ant Text can be downloaded and installed manually by administrators, but Office 365 users can enable it without IT support.

  • For the add-in, click the Store icon on the Outlook Ribbon, search for “Ant Text,” and install it.
  • For OWA, click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window, choose “Manage add-ins,” search for “Ant Text” and install it.

Yes, you can do both; however, the Outlook desktop version is more advanced than the OWA version. Ant Text promises the desktop and online versions will have feature parity later this year. Until then, I focus on Outlook for the desktop.

Once Ant Text is enabled, select an email in your inbox and start up the add-in from the Ribbon. The Ant Text window opens on the right side of Outlook, allowing you to create a reply to the selected email by choosing a template.

Pull down the Settings menu items and click Ant Text. The Ant Text window changes, allowing you to create folders and forms. I first created a folder for new client inquiries. The folder appeared in an “Ant Texts” folder containing a default template. Don’t remove the default template. For folders to work in Ant Text, they must include at least one template. Then I created draft messages as models to reuse and dragged them into the folder structures under the Ant Text folder.

Templates for Retainer Letters, Inquiries, Meeting Requests and Much More

For my practice, I created templates to respond to new client inquiries for each state, outlining my areas of practice in the jurisdictions. I attached a sample retainer letter and New York statements of client rights and responsibilities to my model reply for the Empire State. I also included my law firm logo and v-card in the message and as an attachment.

When the Ant Text window is open, reply to a selected message by clicking on the template, which is inserted into the reply to the sender.

I also replied to messages by setting up meetings, using Ant Text to set up reusable meeting requests. Although I can use Outlook Templates for form emails and default meeting requests, Ant Text templates make it easy to create forms with standard text and vibrant graphics using copy-and-paste functions and reuse that work on demand and within the context of messages and invitations.

Windows Desktop Client Works with Word and Excel Files

Besides the Ant Text Outlook and OWA add-in, the Danish technology provider also supplies a Windows client that installs to the desktop in one click. The client software allowed me to create and edit Microsoft Word files (.doc, .docx, .docm) files to insert text and graphics into new email messages and save them to a file structure made known to Ant Text in a configuration setting. The documents are stored on a local or network drive, which can be used to share the files with other lawyers and staff who also install the client code.

Click on a new message, select the Ant Text tab from the ribbon, and use the pull-down messages to choose files to insert into an email. Ant Text supports MS-Word files, HTML documents, and text files.

Ant Text’s Ant XL feature supports merging fields from Excel spreadsheets into templates in Outlook. Ant XL made it easy for me to compose a newsletter via email and simultaneously send it to a list of clients. Ant XL also supports merged fields and Out-of-Office templates in Outlook and OWA.

You can try Ant Text free for 14 days. The Standard subscription (10 Ant Text templates) is $14.95 per month, which amounts to $1.50 per template per month. The Business license allows the use of unlimited templates and Ant XL for $18.95 per month.

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

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Tags:  Legal Technology  Productivity  Tech Tip 

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TECH TIP: Are You Using Video Communication? You Should Be!

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 30, 2018
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018

Video communication is an inexpensive yet powerful tool that can help establish and maintain client relationships. The vastly improved quality, ease of use and low cost has propelled this technology to the forefront of many small businesses, including law firms.

Video calls, conference calls, and also routine calls can all now take place on the telephone.

Social scientists have been telling us for years that face-to-face communication where both sound and visual queues are used is the most beneficial form of communication – better than phone calls and far better than email or written correspondence. Video calls allow us to gauge the other person’s response to our message and spoken word. We can see facial expressions, gestures, head movements, body positioning, and shifting. We can see whether other participants are participating or distracted. We look for visual cues such as head nods and eye contact to see if our message is getting through, being rejected or being ignored.

Video technology is not complicated. Over 80 percent of American adults now own a smartphone equipped with a video camera. Many already use the video camera to communicate with friends and family, so why not their lawyer? Most laptop computers have built-in cameras, and HD-quality video cameras for office use cost between $50 and $100 and are easy to install.

There are also some easy-to-use products on the market for video calls and conferencing:

  • Microsoft Office 365 for Business Professionals includes Skype for Business that can call clients and others from Outlook with just one click;
  • Zoom.us is my favorite. There is a free edition that allows the user to meet for an unlimited number of minutes with one other person (such as a lawyer/client). If the user wants to meet with a group, then there is a 40-minute time limit and a limit of 100 users. But there are also other inexpensive versions of the product; the business version is only $20 per month and the user can place unlimited video calls with up to 50 participants.
  • Go2Meeting and Cisco Spark are also popular in this market segment.

Introduce each client to your video communication efforts during the initial consultation. Let them know the benefits and that they can easily communicate with you using their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Consider adding a brief provision to your representation agreement, highlighting the understanding with each client to try to use this technology rather than the telephone or in-person meetings. Make a note in each client’s contact information which tools they have to communicate via video.

It may seem a bit strange at first not to pick up the telephone, but soon your clients will be thanking you, and you’ll be thankful you read this tip!

Many thanks for this article to the author, Reid Trautz. Reid is the Director of the Practice and Professionalism Center of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a blogger on the issues of business process improvement, technology, legal ethics, and effective practice management. Reid is co-author of the ABA’s “The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success:  Essential Tips to Power Your Practice” and a past ABA TECHSHOW chair. 

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PracticePointer: April 23, 2018

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

 

3 Things Not to Say on The Phone with Clients

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

                       They’ll be happy to help you with that.

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Ruby Receptionist is a Member Benefit of the KBA. To learn more visit https://www.ksbar.org/page/benefits and click on the Ruby Receptionist logo.

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

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Practice Pointer: April 17, 2018

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 16, 2018

Building Trust to Generate Referrals

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

But how do you get there?

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

Inventory Your Infrastructure of Trust

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

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

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

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

Fostering Loyalty: Touchpoints

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

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

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

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

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

Forming Real Relationships

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

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

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Practice Pointer: Finding the Time

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 9, 2018

 

Finding the Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TECHSHOW TAKEAWAYS

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

TECHSHOW TAKEAWAYS

ABA TECHSHOW 2018: From First to Last Ripple

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

 

techshow

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

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

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

Anniversaries

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

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

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

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

 

Launch Pad

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

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

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

 

Notes from the Expo Hall

AbacusNext redesigned the user interface (UI) to its CRM software ResultsCRM (formerly Results Software), which is now fully cloud-enabled and optimized to run on Abacus Private Cloud. The new UI provides a consistent user experience across desktop, web and mobile applications and supports drag-and-drop tiles and data modules for customization.

Case.one came to TECHSHOW with its recent launch of File.one, a new application in its .one suite of case management tools for law firms. File.one tackles the problem of files stored in multiple systems and locations using a search tool that simultaneously searches on-premises servers and cloud storage and supports approximately 120 different file formats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

60 in 60

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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Tags:  ABA TECHSHOW 2018  Legal Technology 

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Five Benefits of Using Cloud Computing for Law Firms

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

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

Five benefits of using Cloud Computing for Law Firms

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

Five benefits your Firm can gain with Legal DaaS:

  1. Cost Savings– Instead of budgeting for hardware upgrades, server patches or replacements, your firm only needs to budget for DaaS subscriptions which include all your applications (including your document management and time & billing software), your data, Microsoft office suite, Outlook exchange and a host of security and compliance features.
  2.  Managed IT– With our US based support, your firm will have 24x7 access to our award-winning service team to ensure your network, applications, printers, etc. are operating at peak performance.
  3.  Mobile Access– Your employees can access their virtual desktops from anywhere over the Internet. In addition, virtual desktops can be accessed from a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  4. Data Saved in a Central Location– All files and data are stored in a central location rather than on multiple local workstations, and it is backed up on a regular basis, further reducing the risks of data loss from hardware failure.
  5. Cybersecurity and Compliance– Our Legal DaaS gives your firm the ultimate in security and compliance. Your data is protected by a Fortigate network with a complete team of security professionals monitoring links and intrusions. The Legal Cloud is HIPPA, SOX and SSAE16 compliant and audited annually for your firm’s protection.

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

Tags:  Cloud Computing for Law Firms  CyberlinkASP  cybersecurity 

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