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Meet this year's finalists for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction (podcast)

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, July 7, 2017

 

Meet this year's finalists for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction (podcast)

Harper Lee Prize logo
 
 

In this special mega-episode of the Modern Law Library, the ABA Journal's Lee Rawles speaks with all three finalists for this year's Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction about their novels, careers—and the first time they remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird

Jodi Picoult, author of Small Great Things, shares how research for this novel changed her views on race and racism.

Graham Moore, author of The Last Days of Night, discusses how he approaches writing historical fiction about real people like Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla.

And James Grippando, author of Gone Again, talks about how he’s been able to balance his work as a mystery writer with actively practicing law.

To listen to the full podcast, cut and past this link into your browser:

 

http://www.abajournal.com/books/article/podcast_episode_61/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

 

Tags:  ABA  Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction 

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CosmoLex Now Includes Credit Card Payments At No Extra Subscription Cost!

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, June 29, 2017

 

Hi friends,

Follow this link, or cut and paste it into your browser, to read the full article about this exciting new processing feature by CosmoLex!

http://www.lawsitesblog.com/2017/06/cosmolex-now-includes-credit-card-payments-no-extra-subscription-cost.html

And, remember, CosmoLex is an affinity partner of the KBA providing member benefits to you!

Enjoy the article and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Best,

Sara 

 

Tags:  Credit Card Payments  law practice management software 

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The Benefits of Mindfulness in Our Profession

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, June 26, 2017

 

The Benefits of Mindfulness in Our Profession

 

BY  ON  ·in Law Practice Today

 

mindfulness

Do you have a pre-conceived notion that mindfulness involves a hippie way of life, like tuning out the world and living in a temple at the top of a mountain? Do you think it’s a fad with no supporting evidence of its benefits? Or, like many people, do you think mindfulness can only be found in shavasana?

Although I hope to inspire you to practice mindfulness (as the benefits far outweigh the investment), I know many of you may take a quick glance at this article and simply continue on with your busy, stressful and demanding day.

Before moving on though, I encourage you to take a moment to see if you can relate to any of the following statements: Do you find yourself wasting precious time thinking about the past or worrying about the future? Are you often multitasking, but unable to focus? Is stress or anxiety keeping you from performing at your optimal level? Are you constantly on overdrive? Do you feel depleted by the end of the day but unable to sleep?

That was me the first five years of my career as a lawyer, and in all honesty, I loved it. I lived for the adrenaline rush; I wanted to help as many clients as possible; I wanted to move up the corporate ladder to partnership as quickly as my mind and body would allow; I absolutely did not want to slow down—I was Wonder Woman. My mind was constantly going 180 miles per hour with no end in sight, but I thought this was the life of a lawyer and that I had to accept it. It was not until year six, when I realized that a career in law would not be sustainable at this pace, that I found a way to stay focused, calm, and controlled: I discovered “mindfulness.”

Yes, it may still be viewed by some as a bunch of people seeking spiritual growth, but the undeniable benefits of mindfulness have led to its adoption by businesses such as Google, Facebook, Target and many others. Today’s professionals are busier than ever. With increased client demands and workloads, technology at our fingertips, industry pressures, and distractions abounding, lawyers must be capable of focusing on the task at hand to better serve their clients and themselves.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness. This buzz word is found everywhere but what does it actually mean? Well, it can have many different meanings and can be practiced in many different ways. This is probably why, as lawyers, we find it so difficult to grasp, practice and implement. When I tell friends and colleagues about it, they often ask questions like: Show me how. Where do I start? It sounds complicated. I can’t. And, my favourite: I have no time.

Mindfulness, simply stated, is a full awareness of precisely what is happening in the present moment. It involves stilling the internal chatter of the mind and concentrating on what’s happening in the moment, without dwelling, judging or trying to change anything. In other words, no over-thinking (which can be extremely difficult for lawyers but a nice change)—or the opposite, banishing all thoughts.

Mindfulness to me means “self-awareness.” Being aware of your thought patterns, your breath, your body, your surroundings, etc.—what is happening at this very moment in time. Self-awareness can truly be as simple as focusing on your breathing (slow down your breath) while you are standing in line to file a motion versus worrying about the motion you must argue, panicking that you may not have enough time, followed by the negative self-talk. Which of these scenarios would actually be beneficial to you?

The Benefits to the Body, Mind, and Work Performance

Research has shown that when we stay focused on the past or the future it can cause unnecessary stress, which activates our sympathetic nervous system, the driving force behind the body’s fight-or-flight response (aka the adrenaline rush). Working continuously in high gear can have serious negative effects on our mind and body. Physical symptoms of stress include low energy; headaches; upset stomach and nausea; aches, pains, and tense muscles; and insomnia, to name a few. Serious mental health risks include depression, anxiety, and burn-out.

Although it is highly unrealistic to live stress-free, we can “dial down a prolonged fight-or-flight impulse” by activating our parasympathetic nervous system (our relaxation response) through mindfulness/self-awareness. We are training our minds to reduce the activities in the part of the brain responsible for fight-or-flight response and activate the parts of our brain responsible for “executive functioning” so that we can respond appropriately in difficult situations.

Self-awareness has been shown to cultivate many attitudes of joy, peace, and calmness that contribute to a more satisfied life. Being aware makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, easier to be fully engaged in activities and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events as they may arise. By focusing on the present, many people who practice self-awareness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or the regrets over the past, and have deeper connections with others.

On top of greater well-being, research has shown that mindfulness/self-awareness can also help reduce psychosomatic symptoms and improve physical health in a number of ways, such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep and alleviating gastrointestinal difficulties. Further, in recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders.

But how can it really improve your performance at work? Given that self-awareness has an impact on your attention, it has been shown to improve focus – meaning you are less distracted and can complete tasks more efficiently. Mindfulness also improves listening skills, as you are present in the moment, attentive, and focussed on the conversation and the flow of information instead of thinking of your response, your to-do list, or even what you will have for dinner later. An article in the Harvard Business Review noted, “Neuroscientists have shown that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking and sense of self. While more research is needed to document these changes over time and to understand underlying mechanisms, the converging evidence has been compelling.”

Tips for Lawyers to Practice Self-Awareness

Let’s face it, lawyering is difficult. We all have days where it feels as though the ground beneath us is about to give and we’re spiraling out of control. When you feel this way, what coping mechanism do you use to feel grounded again? Practicing self-awareness allows us to pause, reflect and respond from a place of calm rather than reacting.

To start, try to set aside a few minutes each day: when you are brewing your first pot of coffee in the morning, on your commute to work, while waiting in line. It is important to remember that you will likely not spend much time in a true state of self-awareness, as the mind tends to wander, which is entirely expected given its true nature. Mindfulness is not about “controlling” the mind, it’s about being aware.

Here are a few tips that may help:

1. Breathe: The very thing that makes mindfulness so accessible is that it can be practiced anywhere. The simplest way to begin is with your breath. Sit or stand in a comfortable position and breathe naturally. No need to count inhalations or exhalations: simply relax, focus on the sensations in your throat, chest and abdominal wall as the air enters and leaves your body. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

2. Use what you enjoy: Try bringing the present “here and now” awareness to everyday activities. For example, when walking to work, notice the warmth of the sun on your face, observe the leaves, grass and smells around you (note to self: put your cellphone away for just a few minutes, the world will not end, I promise!). This can be done for any activity. When the mind starts a narrative, bring it back to the activity/pleasure of the moment. What brings you joy—hot showers in the morning, spending time with loved ones, a good meal, listening to music, working out, yoga, etc. Use the things you enjoy and practice full awareness in those moments.

3. Find your center: Start using the above self-awareness techniques in a variety of situations, especially when life becomes stressful. “Check in” throughout the day. If you notice you are, for example, stressed about an upcoming deadline, spend a few minutes in mindful breathing. Don’t try to push your anxious thoughts away, rather try observing your thoughts and acknowledge your stress and where it is stemming from. Calm your breath. After a few moments, return to the task.

5. Stay aware: You can try mindfulness in higher stakes scenarios as well—such as difficult conversations with opposing counsel, contentious mediations, in court, etc. Practice mindful breathing beforehand, and then, even in the thick of a conversation, stay aware of your breath, body and emotions. Remain in the moment rather than jumping ahead to how you’ll respond or fend off an argument. This will help you be a better listener and avoid saying something that will not help advance your client’s case.

STOP: In the midst of your day, a stressful situation, or a moment of bliss:

  1. Stop;
  2. Take a deep breath;
  3. Observe what is happening inside and around you at the moment; and then
  4. Proceed with whatever you are doing.

Eventually, your default setting will be calmer—and your body and mind will thank you.

We as professionals must start valuing and making time for self-care, wellness and taking care of our emotional, psychological, and physical health. It is imperative, not only for a long and prosperous career in law, but also to provide our clients with the best and most efficient legal services possible.

I hope you will practice a little self-awareness, one breath at a time.

About the Author

Marie T. Clemens is an attorney with Moodie Mair Walker LLP in Toronto, and is a yoga instructor. Contact her at 416.340.6808 or mclemens@moodiemair.com.

Tags:  Mindfulness 

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Law Firm Security: Fortify Your Network

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, June 19, 2017

 

Law Firm Security: Fortify Your Network

Article written and distributed by LawPay

Wi-Fi networks make it easy to connect the systems in your practice, both to each other and the outside world. However, they often make it easy for an intruder to gain access to those same systems and the data therein. You can significantly reduce this risk by making a few important changes to your network configuration.

Secure Administrator Access

Start by setting a strong password for administrative access to your wireless router. Many networks are breached because the default password was never changed. You will need to log in to your router’s configuration website to reset this password and update the other security options discussed in this tip. For most wireless routers, you access this website by entering “192.168.1.1” or “192.168.0.1” into your browser address bar. (Make sure you are connected to your network first, either via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi.)

With administrator access locked down, you should now secure access to the network itself. Most wireless routers today support a primary Wi-Fi network, one or more guest networks, and wired, local network (LAN) ports to connect directly to the router. We recommend that you keep your office devices and staff on the primary Wi-Fi (your “private” Wi-Fi network) or LAN, and use a guest network for any clients or visitors who need internet access.

Enforce Wi-Fi Authentication

Access to all of your Wi-Fi networks needs to be password-protected. For small businesses, the predominant standard is referred to as WPA2-PSK or WPA2-Personal, or just WPA2 (WPA2-Enterprise can provide more flexible authentication options for larger practices with many users, but requires additional configuration, which may require IT services). With WPA2-PSK, a shared password is used to access the network. Use your password manager to generate a different, strong password for both your private and guest Wi-Fi networks.

From your browser, you will need to find the wireless settings section of your router’s configuration. For each wireless network, you should:

● Set a network name, or SSID. This is what users will see when they choose from available wireless networks. Clearly differentiate your private and guest network names.

● Choose “WPA2-PSK” for the network authentication method and “AES” for the encryption method. Depending on your router, these may be grouped together or split into two separate options, and they may use different labels like “WPA2-Personal” or “WPA2”. Do not use “WEP”, “WPA” (without the “2”), or “TKIP” (without “AES” included), as these options are less secure and may be easily circumvented.

● Enter the password you generated for the network, also known as the pre-shared key.

Limit Guest Access

Your guest network is there to keep your clients and visitors separate from your private network — and out-of-reach of your confidential information. If you’re not careful, however, you may inadvertently allow your guests much greater access. When configuring your guest network, you may see an option to allow guests to access your LAN, local network, or intranet. Make sure you do not allow LAN access so that your guests cannot reach office systems that are wired directly to the router.

Physical Security

Keep in mind that wireless routers can typically be reset to their factory configuration with the push of a button or a straightened paperclip. Once reset, the default password is the only defense between an attacker and your network. If possible, keep your wireless router in a locked enclosure or cabinet with the reset mechanism inaccessible.

After completing these steps, you will have locked down access to your network configuration and created a secure way to connect your staff and clients to the network resources they need.

LawPay is proud to be trusted by more than 40,000 law firms, recommended by 46 state bars, and the only payment solution offered through the ABA Advantage program. LawPay was developed specifically to separate earned and unearned payments, giving attorneys peace of mind that their credit card transactions are always handled correctly. To learn more, call 888-403-4876 or visit our website at https://lawpay.com.

 

 

Tags:  Legal Technology 

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Legal Services Corporation to Brief Congress on New Justice Gap in America Report

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, June 16, 2017

 

Legal Services Corporation to Brief Congress on New Justice Gap in America Report

On Wednesday, June 14, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) will issue a new report, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans.

The report is a study of the "justice gap" in the U.S.—the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet them. Last year, 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help at all

To read the full press release related to the study, cut and paste this link into your browser:

http://www.lsc.gov/media-center/press-releases/2017/legal-services-corporation-brief-congress-new-justice-gap-america

 

Tags:  Justice Gap  Legal Aid  Legal Services  LSC 

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The Promise and Peril Chatbots Pose for the Legal Industry

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, June 15, 2017

 

The Promise and Peril Chatbots Pose for the Legal Industry

The link below will take you to an interesting new article written by Tom Martin and published in the June issue of Law Practice Today. If you are not familiar with the term "chatbots", like I wasn't before reading the article, he is referring to "Alexa" and the Echo Dot, and other "personal assistants." The article offers an interesting perspective on how this technology should be a part of the legal industry. It is worth the read. It may be a bit on the edge, but I thought it was worth sharing!

To read the article, just cut and paste the link into your browser:

http://www.lawpracticetoday.org/article/promise-peril-chatbots-pose-legal-industry/

 

Tags:  Legal Technology 

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ABA Retirement Funds: An Opportunity to Learn More About Retirement Funds

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Members,

The ABA Retirement Funds Program is hosting a free webinar on June 29th at NOON CST: UNDERSTANDING CASH BALANCE PLANS.

If possible, please plan to attend and learn more about the ABA Retirement Funds Program.  

Registration is free and easy! To register, just follow the link below. You do need to register for the webinar in order to attend.

http://www.programcommunications.com/library/Webinars/2017_0617/

What Members Will Learn?

  • Insights into the retirement savings landscape
  • The basics of retirement income and where it comes from – social security, individual savings and employer sponsored programs
  • Plan type savings and accumulation comparisons
  • What is a cash balance plan and what providers are needed

Tags:  ABA  Retirement 

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At Least Half of the Lawyers in These Nine States and Jurisdictions Aren't Working as Lawyers

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, June 13, 2017

 

Check out this new article by Debra Weiss in the ABA e-news journal released this week revealing that "[a]t least half of the lawyers in these nine states and jurisdictions aren't working as lawyers."

"Leichter included Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., in his analysis. The states and jurisdictions where at least 50 percent of lawyers who aren’t working in attorney jobs are: Puerto Rico (68.9 percent); Alaska (56.7 percent); Tennessee (53.6 percent); Alabama (51.5 percent); Missouri (50.8 percent); Louisiana (50.5 percent); Maryland (50.3 percent); Massachusetts (50.1 percent); and Minnesota (50 percent)."

To read the full article, click this link:

www.abajournal.com/news/article/at_least_half_of_the_lawyers_in_these_nine_states_and_jurisdictions_arent_w

Tags:  ABA  changing economy 

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Do You Know What's New with Casemaker?

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, June 13, 2017

 

Do You Know What ‘s New with Casemaker? The Legal Researching Bundle Available to You

 

 

Casemaker, and all of the researching tools included with it, make an excellent research bundle. In May, I presented at KBA’s Solo & Small Firm Conference in Lawrence on, what else, Casemaker! And, I learned through this presentation that some of our members are not all that familiar with some of the “extras” that come along with Casemaker as a part of their membership to the KBA. So, I want to take this opportunity to fully inform you of all that is included with this excellent benefit to your bar membership.

 

*Casemaker:  Research Tool

Casemaker is one of the leading low-cost legal research services available. With intuitive search capabilities, you are able to conduct your legal research quickly and, with your bar membership, at a cost you can afford. The Google-like search bar is conveniently located at the top of every page, inviting you to conduct your search using either simple or complex search language. Once the results are delivered, Casemaker offers intuitive ‘search-within-a-search-capability’ to further narrow the results.

 

Casemaker is filled with organizational features that make it more than just a research library with a fast search engine. With Casemaker you can create individual folders to store your research, and they can be renamed, reorganized, or deleted with just a few clicks. And, with its notes feature, Casemaker makes it possible to write, post, and save notes directly to the documents being viewed.

 

Casemaker carries annual archived versions of state statutes for all states and the U.S. Code. Attorneys with an issue arising in the past are able to quickly and easily check the text of the law in effect at the time the issue arose.

 

 

*CaseCheck+:  Sheppardizing Feature

In addition to the standard Casemaker subscription, the Kansas Bar has also added CaseCheck+ which is a sheppardizing like feature. Previously available only by subscription, CaseCheck+ allows members to quickly determine if a case is still good law through a negative citator system that rivals Shepards® and KeyCite®.

 

 

*Casemaker Digest:  Summaries of Appellate Decisions

The newest addition to the standard Casemaker subscription with your KBA membership is Casemaker Digest. The Digest is a summary of appellate decisions you can receive based on criteria you set. Once you log on, you set the criteria based on date decided, date added, jurisdiction, court, and judge. The Digest case summaries will be sent to you either daily or weekly, depending on which you select and only within the criteria you select.

 

 

*CiteCheck:  Citation Report—Still Good Law?

Another great feature of the Casemaker bar membership bundle is CiteCheck allowing members to enhance their research. With CiteCheck, you can upload a document or brief to see whether your case citations continue to be good law. In most situations, reports are generated between 30-90 seconds after the initial document is uploaded.

 

 

*Casemaker Libra:  Online Searchable Library (available Summer 2017)

Casemaker Libra is an online searchable library of treatises, practice guides, coursebooks, deskbooks, and continuing legal education materials linked to the Casemaker database. Books can be purchased individually or the entire library can be downloaded. Typical links into the Casemaker system include case law, statutes, acts and administrative codes. Books can be browsed individually or searched similarly or by practice area or library.

 

 

Legal Research Center:  Expert, On-Demand Assistance

Another feature of Casemaker available to members for an additional price (not included in the KBA membership bundle) is the Legal Research Center (LRC). Casemaker has partnered with LRC to offer members expert on-demand memoranda, brief writing, and discovery support and analysis services at a reasonable price. All contact information is located on the Casemaker platform and KBA members are offered a 10% discount on LRC services.

 

 

 

Legal Forms:  Online Database of State-Specific Legal Documents

Casemaker also offers KBA members a discounted rate for Legal Forms. Legal Forms are not part of your KBA membership Casemaker bundle, but they can be accessed through the Casemaker platform and are available to KBA members at a 10% discounted rate. Legal Forms is an online database of state-specific legal documents and forms.

 

 

vLex:  International Primary & Secondary Legal Materials

vLex is a new product partner of Casemaker recently made available to Casemaker users. vLex provides international primary and secondary legal materials. Casemaker users may search the vLex Global Platform and receive a translated preview of their search results for free. To gain unlimited access to full text versions and downloads, a 24-hour Daily Passport may be purchased for $129, or members can select the “contact vLex button” and a representative will contact them to customize an annual subscription to their needs at a 10% discount.

 

 

CosmoLex:  Practice Management Software

CosmoLex is another partner of Casemaker providing a solution for the attorney’s time management, billing, accounting, and other practice management needs/systems. Because CosmoLex is a partner of Casemaker, any Casemaker user, or KBA member, receives a discount for this product. CosmoLex is also a member benefit provider through the KBA. If you are interested in CosomoLex, contact them through the member benefit page on the KBA website and be sure to tell them you are both a Casemaker user and a KBA member to guarantee you receive all available discounts.

 

 

*= Products included in the Casemaker bundle provided through your KBA Membership. All other products are available to you for an additional fee.

 

Have questions about any of the Casemaker products?

 

Contact the Casemaker Helpdesk:

            helpdesk@lawriter.net

            (877)659-0801

 

Contact Sara Rust-Martin, Law Practice Management Attorney at the KBA

            srustmartin@ksbar.org

            (785)234-5696


 

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Tags:  Casemaker  Legal Research 

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Practice Pointer: Thoughts on Succession Planning

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, June 5, 2017

 

 

 Thoughts on Succession Planning[1]

 

How is your firm planning to deal with its future?

 

For many firms, coming to terms with aging and retirement, and identifying transition candidates, can be a difficult process. But, this is essential for all firms, small and large, because the failure to plan and develop a timeline for transitioning can have major repercussions including losing clients, losing talented associates or potential leadership, instability within the firm, among others.

 

Because most firms do not have a succession plan in place, here are a few tips and considerations:

 

1.      A succession strategy and plan should be incorporated into every strategic plan and partnership, operating or shareholder agreement. It is never too early to start thinking about succession planning.

2.      If any sole-owner firm, or when any partner in a multi-owner firm, is age 50 or older, it is important that the firm get started on developing a succession plan.

3.      Remember, the succession plan and transition will take time. Solo practitioners will have a significant challenge because there is no obvious person to whom the practice will transition. Thus, the practitioner may need to hire and groom an associate who could buy the firm or become a partner and eventually buy the partner’s interest.

4.      A succession plan should start no less than five years from the retirement or exit date of the owner/partner. For some, less time is sufficient. Think through your circumstances, talk with your partners, develop a plan that works for you and your situation, and then take action.

5.      “Write down the plan and timeline because what is written down, what is measured, what is calendared, is what gets done. Effective management of the succession planning process takes discipline and accountability. Once it is written down it is in the form of a “project plan” with due dates, start dates, tasks and action items, required resources and names of those responsible for different tasks and action items. Unless attorneys approach their retirement like a case or project and develop a succession/transition/exit plan with calendared timelines, the project will likely experience fits and starts, timeline drift and the needed momentum may not materialize”.[2]



[1] Olmstead, J. Are You Prepared for Your Exit? Your ABA Newsletter. Apr. 2017.

[2] Id.

Tags:  Law Practice Management  retirement  succession planning 

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Will Automation Replace Lawyers? Not if We Improve Our Services

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, May 31, 2017

 

 

Will Automation Replace Lawyers? Not if We Improve Our Client Services

 

Depending on how and where you get your news, you may have recently heard a lot of discussion about robots and machines taking over the jobs that humans are trained to do.  A new study from the research firm PwC estimates that nearly 40% of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation in the next 15 years. In the midst of this reality, what can lawyers do to stay relevant? Stay focused on providing excellent client service.

To arrive at the estimates, PwC evaluated the jobs based on how routinized, such as filling out paperwork, the jobs tended to be, along with the likelihood that the job could be replaced by technology. While the practice of law does have many routinized components, there is also much that cannot be replaced by technology. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are certainly going to win the race against humans when it comes to problem-solving and data management, but when it comes to the ability to relate to others and to feel emotions – humans will come in first place every time! And, it turns out all of these abilities are essential in the legal world and that’s why client service is so meaningful. Here are three ways to improve client service:

Focus on the Person, Not the Problem

I remember sitting in law school and hearing a peer say “I don’t want to deal with all of that. If I did, I would have been a social worker.” No one is asking you to be a social worker. By focusing on the person and her or his emotions, it doesn’t mean you must personally take on all of the emotions of your client; instead, it is asking you to never lose sight of the emotions of your client. Sometimes we, as lawyers, forget what it feels like to go through the legal process for the first time. Many of the clients are frightened and anxious. By acknowledging this fear and anxiety, and by helping to calm the client’s inevitable fears and concerns during the legal process, you are connecting with him or her in a way that AI cannot.

Give Each Client the Attention S/He Deserves

For many clients who walk in to attorney offices, they are thrust into a zone of chaos. The attorney is shuffling papers, checking email, answering the phone, shooting off a quick text, oh yes – all while billing the client in front of her for this meeting. When you are on the clock with a client, make that client feel like she or he is the only client who matters. This means avoiding all other distractions. Avoiding other distractions not only helps the client to feel acknowledged and appreciated but it also helps the attorney to more fully focus on the client’s matter.

Listen to Your Clients

Listening to someone give you a compliment is often an easy thing to do. Listening to someone offer you criticism can be a difficult task. But, both are necessary to grow and expand ourselves and our law practices. Whether it is concerning your demeanor or your legal writing, you should always welcome both positive and critical feedback. All feedback is an opportunity for us to learn, adapt, and improve. And, it is our clients who offer us the most important feedback of all.

 

Tags:  artificial intelligence  automation  client services 

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Navigating a Ransomware Attack

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, May 22, 2017

 

NAVIGATING A RANSOMWARE ATTACK

 

Last week, the ransomware infection “WannaCry” invaded hospitals, universities, and many other institutions and organizations here in the United States and abroad. Ransomware is a unique form of malware. Once it invades a network, it can prevent users from opening their files because the files have been encrypted. The files are held hostage, and the users must pay a fee to be provided the decryption key. 

There is a good chance that ransomware could affect you at some point during your career. So, if you find yourself in the middle of this difficult situation, take a deep breath and know that there are steps you can take to minimize the damage. Here are some questions to ask to help you through this process:

1. Where did the ransomware start?

Which user opened the infected email or file? The person who brought the problem to your attention may not be the person who opened the infection. You may need to examine the properties of one of the infected files to determine the file owner. Ask questions of your staff and partners. 

Ask users to retrace their steps. Did they:

Open any new documents?
Click on any attachments or links in an email?
Visit any websites they don’t normally visit?

2. How far has the ransomware spread?
Once a user has opened the infection, usually through an email or attached file, then that person’s computer is infected. But, the ransomware can spread beyond that machine throughout the network and the first step is to determine how many machines are affected and then isolate those machines and disconnect them from the network to prevent the further spread. Most ransomware strains will make changes to encrypted file names:  ex. .Dharma or .CrySis. Looking for these extensions can help you determine how far the infection has spread.

3. How can I determine the type of ransomware with which I’ve been infected?
Determining the type of ransomware with which you’ve been infected is a key step because it may help you decide whether to pay for the decryption key. Not all ransomware attacks are effective and they all do not encrypt the data. Other ransomware types are able to be decrypted without paying for a key and still others are notorious for not delivering effective decryption keys. These examples offer illustrations of why you would not want to pay the ransom. But, there are other more sophisticated ransomware tools that will make your decision more difficult. 

It is always important to fully understand what you are working with before deciding what to do. As of Wednesday, May 15, only $55,000 in bitcoins were paid for the massive ransomware attack, “WannaCry.” While this is a lot of amount of money, it is not as significant given the number of “Wannacry” ransomware infections across the globe. But, this amount is expected to grow, although no one knows by how much.

WannaCry is different from other ransomware attacks, like the ransomware attack “Locky” which required user interaction in the form of opening a link, “WannaCry” spread automatically if the user had not installed the latest Microsoft update. And, once it was inside a network it spread like wildfire. 

For those of you who have not updated your computers, Microsoft offers guidance for protecting your computer here:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msrc/2017/05/12/customer-guidance-for-wannacrypt-attacks/


The information provided by the ransomware, in the URL and in the ransom screen, can     give us some insight as to the type that has infected your computer. If you can’t gather the type of ransomware from the URL or ransom screen, then try the .exe file name. Remember, ransomware comes in the form of an .exe file. Try typing that .exe file name into your browser to see what types come up for you. If nothing comes up, try google. Search for the ransom screen message, the .exe file name that has been applied to all of your files, and even for some of the random things that are happening to your office computers. There are probably others out there who have similar experiences and might be able to offer you some advice.

4. Can I get my files back? 
Your files are encrypted and unless you have the decryption key you are not going to be able to access them. As discussed earlier, there are flawed ransomware infections used that computer experts have been able to decrypt without a key. However, most of the time it will take a decryption key. The best options available to you is to have a back-up file system either on disc, off-site, the cloud, wherever you choose to keep your files. But, best practice suggests that you have 2 back-up locations for your files and data so you are able to keep working should your on-site data be attacked. Another question to consider here if you do not have a back-up for your files is:  do I pay the ransom? It really depends on your particular situation. The authorities will discourage you from paying the ransom because you will be making yourself a target for future attacks. But, if your data is irreplaceable then you may have no choice. You will need to consider all of the options and consequences.

5. How do I make sure my computers are safe again?
I suggest wiping the hard drive and restoring it to the factory settings. You would then add your data from your back-up. If you don’t have a back-up then you will need to use the process below so that you can keep the data on the computer.  

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode. Before you do anything, you need to disconnect your PC from the internet, and don't use it until you're ready to clean your PC. 
Step 2: Delete temporary files. 
Step 3: Download malware scanners. 
Step 4: Run a scan with Malwarebytes.

6. How to keep your data safe in the future:

Run all system updates on your Windows machine immediately.
Update your virus protection software. 
Run a backup to ensure you have a protected copy of your files.
Avoid web pages that aren’t regularly updated, or that you don’t already trust. 
Don’t click links to documents or web pages from someone if you are not expecting them.
Don’t open files in Facebook Messenger, or other apps where videos automatically play unless you were expecting them. 
If you have questions about a file, call the sender before you open it.

The chances are that we will all have to deal with ransomware at some point. I hope this information helps you think through the situation and come to a helpful resolution. 

If you would like more information about malware, ransomware, or computer security, please contact Sara Rust-Martin, KBA Law Practice Management Attorney, at 785-234-5696, or by email at srustmartin@ksbar.org.

The contents of this blog are informational only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. 

Tags:  computer security  cybersecurity  Malware  Ransomware 

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Law Practice Management Blog Feed

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy Friday! I hope you have enjoyed the law practice management blog posts that have been coming your way over the past few months. In an effort to increase the depth and scope of the content of the blogs, I am adding this feed to the blog. By doing so it will bring in Law Practice Management Attorneys' postings from across the country. I hope you will find their information valuable in managing your practice!

Tags:  Law Practice Management  PMA 

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Enhancing Computer Security

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, May 15, 2017

 

Enhancing Computer Security

Did you hear about the ransomware attack this morning? It seems as though cybersecurity is a growing concern for all of us.

Hackers and identity thieves are constantly looking for personal information to steal – and yours and your clients could be next. But there are protections you can put in place to safeguard your information, such as keeping your software up-to-date, only providing your personal information on secure, encrypted websites, and protecting your passwords.

Select Security Software that Updates Automatically

Hackers and identity thieves are continuously developing and evolving in the ways they can attack your computer and mobile devices, making your security software essential at every step. While most security software products have the capability to update automatically, they must be set to do so; make sure your security software is set to update automatically on all of your devices. In addition to your security software, set your operating system and web browser to update automatically so they are better able to support the updates to your security software, making it more difficult for a bad guy to sneak in malware or spyware on your computer.

When searching for security software to purchase, only purchase from a reputable company. You never want to purchase security software from a company you’ve never before heard of saying they’ve scanned your computer and found viruses, and, as a result, offering a “deal” because these are usually either worthless or, worse, imposter scamming programs aimed at installing the very programs they purport to prevent: malware.

Provide Personal Information Over Secure, Encrypted Websites

Your mind may immediately go to shopping and banking sites when told to protect your personal information online. But, there are many other sites where we share our information online and using informed, safe practices across the board can be the difference between hackers and thieves tracking your information and not. First, stick to sites that use encryption. Using encryption protects your information as it travels from your computer to the host site’s server. You will want to inspect each site before entering personal information. You will know the website is secure and encrypted if the beginning of the web address is https (the “s” is for "secure").

Next, you will want to inspect each page you visit on the website. Some sites only encrypt the first page, or the sign-on page, of the website. This means that the rest of your visit to the site could be vulnerable. Be sure that every page you visit has the “https” website address.

Protect Your Passwords

The best advice for protecting your password is to create strong passwords and keep them in a safe location. But, it is, of course, more complicated than just these simple principles, so here are a few additional guidelines:

·         When creating a password, it is important to remember that the longer the password, the harder it is for the hackers and thieves to break through. As for an ideal length, twelve is the magic number with ten characters being the minimum recommended.

·         When creating a password, don’t use predictable information like your birthdate, name, or other information that would be easy for a hacker or thief to easily break through. Instead, mix letters, numbers, and special characters.

·         For many of us, it is easy to use the same password for multiple accounts. But, this is not recommended. If that password is stolen from your computer, or from an app where you have it stored, or even from a company with which you do business, then that thief or hacker now has access to all of your accounts.

·         When storing your passwords, keep them in a secure place out of plain sight. Be very cautious about sharing them with anyone and never share passwords over the phone, in texts, or by email.     Legitimate companies will not send you messages asking for a password. If you receive such a message, it is probably a scam.

In addition to your computer software, encrypted websites, and password protection, you will also want to back-up important files onto a removable disc or an external hard drive, and store it in a safe place. The cloud is also an option for backing up files and can be accessed remotely. By backing up your files, you are ensuring that if your computer is compromised you will still have access to your client files. While no system can be completely secure, the guidelines and tips above will provide you with a more secure overall computer system. Scammers, hackers, and identity thieves are on the prowl and it is up to us as lawyers to secure not only our personal information but also that of our clients.

For more information about cybersecurity software or secure cyber practices, contact Sara Rust-Martin, KBA Law Practice Management Attorney, 785.234.5696 or email at srustmartin@ksbar.org.

Tags:  computer security  cybersecurity 

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3 Tips For Competing – And Succeeding – In The 21st Century Legal Marketplace

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, May 8, 2017

 

Over the past few weeks and months, I've posted information and articles about mobile and cloud computing. But, those articles haven't answered all of the questions. Mobile and cloud computing have dramatically affected the business world, altering the ways that we communicate and share information. The legal industry has certainly not been immune from this rapid change. The provision of legal services has necessarily been shaped by the shifting expectations of legal clients, requiring law firms to change with the times in order to compete.

But what should a law firm do to meet the needs of 21st century legal clients? Where should a firm’s efforts be focused? Which steps will be most impactful, while still being cost-effective?

These aren’t always easy questions to answer. Fortunately, Nora Riva Berman and Patrick Palace covered many of these issues and more at this year’s ABA Techshow in March during one of my favorite presentations. During their talk, “Resetting Your Law Firm For a Changing Economy and Marketplace,” they discussed steps that lawyers can take to strategically compete in today’s competitive legal landscape.

Below you’ll find the visual notes from that session along with 3 favorite tips and links that provide further information (click to view larger image):

Think like an entrepreneur

The presenters stressed the importance of thinking like an entrepreneur. They explained that solo and small firm lawyers may not realize it, but that they are, in fact, entrepreneurs. And, just like entrepreneurs, 21st century lawyers need to make sure that their law firms are lean, efficient, and effective businesses. The best way to do this is to increase productivity and reduce redundancies and ineffective processes.

According to the presenters, eliminating waste is the first step toward greater efficiency. To eliminate waste, use the DOWNTIME formula and take steps to avoid:

  • Defects and mistakes
  • Over-production
  • Waiting
  • Non-utilized talent
  • Transportation/excess motion
  • Inventory/piles of files
  • Motion
  • Extra procession (doing more than valued)

For more tips on running a law firm like a 21st century lawyer/entrepreneur, make sure to watch a recording of this webinar, “Building a 21st Century Law Practice.”

Increase  efficiency by streamlining your law firm’s processes

So now that you know that efficiency is key, how do you go about increasing your law firm’s productivity? According to the presenters, there are a number of key steps you can take. For starters, streamline your law firm’s paper intake process by moving toward a paperless law practice. By digitizing your firm’s documents, you’re taking the first step toward creating a mobile, responsive 21st century law firm.

Another way to increase efficiency is to implement project management systems. Project management tools help to streamline your law firm’s workflow and increase productivity. One way to implement project management principles into your firm is to ensure that at the beginning of each new case, the same procedures are followed from start to finish. According to the speakers, there should be procedures in place for each new case that relate to: 1) initiation, 2) planning, 3) execution, 4) control, and 5) closure.

To learn more about increasing productivity by streamlining your law firm’s processes, watch the recording of this webinar, “Running an Efficient Law Firm.”

Save Time and Money with Cloud Computing and Client Portals

One final time-saving recommendation offered by the presenters is to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing and client portals. The presenters explained that one of the easiest ways to increase efficiency is by using cloud computing tools, such as law practice management software. When your law practice’s data is stored in the cloud in law practice management software, you have 24/7 access to all of your law firm’s data, anytime, anywhere. And the built-in productivity tools, including tasks and to-dos, workflows, time-tracking tools, and billing and invoicing, make it easy for you to stay on top of your busy law practice and get things done quickly and efficiently.

What’s more, as the presenters explained, cloud computing provides benefits not only to you, but your clients as well. By taking advantage of the client communications features often found in law practice management software, you’re able to provide a higher level of client service. When you use client portals in your firm, all client communication is streamlined and occurs in an encrypted, secure online environment.

To learn more about how client portals can improve your law firm’s communications and create satisfied legal clients, check out this infographic, “The Benefits of Client Portals.”

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  changing economy  client portals 

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