Hopefully after last week’s post you took an opportunity to test drive Casemaker4. This week we take a deep dive into the upgraded platform.
The home page design is a little different, but still retains the elements you are probably familiar with. The changes to the home page, however, allow for quicker searching and browsing. Tabs to the navigation bar have been added where you can easily access to items such the Case Digest and Citecheck. The libraries menu can also be found in the navigation bar. You can easily access the various libraries offered, such as state materials, federal materials tribal courts and our archive from this location. The navigation bar is always present no matter where you are in Casemaker4. At any time, you can browse to another page quickly.
Casemaker 4 now has currency directly on the libraries pages. In addition, if you ever need to know just how broad Casemaker’s currency is, you can now access that information by clicking any of the view currency links that have been added to the bread crumb as well as the libraries menu. Speaking of breadcrumb, based on customer feedback, Casemaker realized users wanted a way to more easily access the information in their browsing path. Now with an enhanced breadcrumb feature, you can easily click to any point in your path and go back to it without starting over. You will see this along the top of the browsing area as you navigate the system.
The Search Bar has been improved as well. You can still perform searches from the homepage by putting in your search criteria and then choosing the jurisdiction and compilation you wish to search. Search tips, advanced search, and recent searches, however, can all be accessed with just a click. The search bar also now offers a type-ahead feature. You can begin to type a citation, party name or keyword and Casemaker will offer suggestions based on what you are typing. The search bar is always with you and it knows where you are in the content. For example, if you are in a state’s admin code, and perform a search, Casemaker will automatically search within the admin code for your query without having to select it from the Jurisdictions and Compilations menu.
The search results page gives you access to even more information. The Citing References graph is now visible directly from the search page so you can more easily how a case has been cited over time. More options to narrow your search have also been added. You can even choose to include or remove unpublished opinions. As always you can narrow by Jurisdiction, Court, Date and with a keyword.
In the settings section of the My Account menu, to the left of the navigation bar, you can configure Casemaker 4 to your own preferences. For instance, you can set the max results that are shown per result page, set the court level sorting, show the notes you have created as well as totally disregard unpublished cases when you perform searches.
In Casemaker 4, you can now open multiple documents in different tabs. Next, to the title of a document, you will see an icon with an arrow, click on this to open this document in a new tab. Casemaker has also made parallel citations much easier to find. They are now color-coded to particular reporters and can be seen at the top of the case as well as throughout the document.
The notes section has been upgraded as well. From the notes section of the My Accounts page, you can now access all your notes in one place. The notes can be set to be displayed on the documents where they were created or hidden if you prefer. You can see the documents you have added notes to, as well as the note that you added, and edit those notes, all from the notes page.
Lastly, Casemaker 4 now offers a brand-new feature to its users, The Alert System. Our Alert System allows users to set up an email alert for a search query, or document. A search alert will send a notification when a new document meets the criteria of that query. The tracking alert will notify you when a document is updated or cited. This feature comes in handy if you would like to monitor any statutes and wish to see if they are modified, updated or used in any other cases. Similar to Case Digest, you can view your alerts in your email, or have it set in your alerts section on Casemaker4. You can set up these alerts from the navigation bar, as well as from the search results or document pages.
Still uncertain? Web-based training is available! You can click the webinar link in the upper right of the Casemaker4 system. Training videos are available at the Video link as well.
Did you know that with your KBA membership you get access to the legal research tool Casemaker through the KBA website? Also, did you know Casemaker has upgraded its platform to Casemaker4? If you are still using the old version of Casemaker, now is the time to become familiar with the upgraded version. To start using Casemaker4:
1.First, go the Kansas Bar Association website at ksbar.org. To begin using Casemaker, click the Casemaker link in the menu items.
2.Click Login Now.
3.Enter your username and password, then click Sign In.
4.Click, Click here to log into Casemaker.
5.On the Casemaker homepage, in the left-hand corner you will see, the option to Click here to try the new Casemaker 4. Click the option and you will be taken to the new platform for a test drive.
If you have been using Casemaker, you may be a bit hesitant to start using Casemaker4. Changing to a new system can be a bit overwhelming, but the improvements in Casemaker4 make it worth it. Before Casemaker makes the permanent switch to Casemaker4, taking advantage of becoming familiar with the research tool will be help you in the long run, as Casemaker plans to phase out the older version. With the newest version of Casemaker, the homepage has been updated, the search function has been improved, and an alert system has been added. Casemaker also given users the ability to customize the interface to more suit their individual needs. So, go ahead and give Casemaker4 a try. Next week on the blog, we will take a look at the differences between Casemaker and Casemaker 4.
SWOT analysis is a simple framework that can be used to assess your office’s current position before deciding on any new strategy and is often used by major companies to develop strategic planning. This framework, however, can also be used to guide the decision making in your law office or legal department. SWOT analysis is essentially designed to facilitate a fact-based and data-driven look at a business or organization and works best when an atmosphere for open and honest self-analysis is fostered.
SWOT stands for:
The SWOT process can guide individual thinking, as well as group discussion. It can be used during a formal planning process or even for individual business-related decisions.
The first step to the SWOT process is thinking about (and discussing) each topic to identify and conduct analysis of all ideas. Your strengths and weakness should be centered around internal matters, while your opportunities and threats are more than likely external. Ideally, you will utilize a specific amount of time brainstorming each topic. For instance, if you are discussing as group, take 30-60 minutes brainstorming in each area. Once you have examined and discussed all four areas of SWOT, discussion should continue placing focus on increasing your strengths and opportunities, while decreasing your weaknesses and threats. You can use the ideas that come out of the discussion to guide your decision- making and planning.
With many offices starting to go back to in-person work environments after working remotely due to COVID-19, now is a good time to perform SWOT analysis on how the remote environment worked for your office. From there, you can use the information to create and implement a plan should the office have to return to a remote environment in the future.
Last week, on June 9, 2020, the American Bar Association issued Formal Opinion 492 discussing a lawyer’s obligations to prospective clients. The opinion clarifies the duty of confidentiality owed to a prospective client and discusses Model Rule 1.18 to provide guidance on what constitutes a conflict of interest based upon the information received from the prospective client. Specifically the opinion addresses, “the types of information that could give rise to such disqualifying conflicts, what the prospective client should be asked to demonstrate in support of a claim that the lawyer has a conflict of interest in a subsequent matter, what precautions the lawyer and the lawyer’s firm might take to avoid receiving disqualifying information during an initial consultation with a prospective client, and how to minimize the consequences of receiving such information.”
Do you ever find yourself wondering why your computer is running slower than normal? It just might be because you have too many web browser tabs open at once. I have been guilty of this a time or two, simply out of convenience. I have even seen those who have 20-50 tabs open at once. When you do this, however, your computer’s memory is being used to keep those tabs open, thus being the culprit in why your computer is running at a snail’s pace.
If you find that you typically have multiple browser tabs open and you use Chrome as your browser, adding the OneTab extension may be for you. Once you have installed the OneTab Chrome extension, by clicking the OneTab Icon, it will convert all your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once. OneTab purports to save up to 95 percent of your computer memory, and at the very least, reduces your tab clutter.
Blue light is a harmful type of light that is most often seen in digital screens. When you regularly use devices such as smartphones and computers, this blue light can potentially cause both immediate and long-term damage to your eyes. Additionally, research shows that blue light can affect sleep patterns. The blue light that’s emitted from those screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule.
Luckily, Windows 10 has a feature that can filter the amount of blue light coming from your screen and make your display use warmer colors at night to help you sleep better and reduce eyestrain. This feature can be found in your settings menu. If you find yourself working after hours or in low light conditions, you can turn this feature on by:
Go to Settings > System > Display. Set the “Night light” feature here to “On” to enable it, or “Off” to disable it. If you don’t see the Night light option, you may have to check for Windows updates.
The initial impression of the yellow hue might be weird at first, however, your eyes will ease into the change. Once you get used to the hue, you should experience a significant difference in your eye strain.
I think by now, most of our readers know that I am a fan of keyboard shortcuts. My reason? If used correctly, they can increase one’s efficiency and productivity. In the past, we have covered shortcuts that can be useful when working in Microsoft Word. This time around, we are going to cover a few helpful shortcuts for Windows 10.
I have found these shortcuts to be extremely useful while I have been working remotely and without my normal equipment, such as a second screen. The shortcuts listed below, however, are designed to save you the hassle of using a mouse, so you just might find that you want to use them all the time.
Here are my recommended shortcuts:
Window logo key + E – This will bring up file explorer. I find this useful in that I don’t have to leave my file explorer window open, in addition to whatever else I may be using at the time. I can just use the shortcut to access and open what I need.
Alt + Tab – This will allow you to toggle through all your active windows, cutting out the need to reach over and grab your mouse.
Windows logo key + D – This will minimize an open window on the desktop.
Windows logo key + Shift + M – This will restore minimized windows on the desktop.
Shift +Ctrl + T – This will reopen a browser tab that was previously closed. I think we have all been in this situation before where you have multiple browser tabs open and you close one too soon. Just use this shortcut, and you can immediately bring the tab back open.
If you are interested in learning more Windows 10 shortcuts, visit Microsoft’s shortcuts page for more.
It is officially National Lawyer Well-Being Week, so now is a great time to focus on breaking that bad habit of always being glued to your cell phone. Statistics tell us that the typical cell phone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day, and half of all phone pickups happen within 3 minutes of a previous one. We also know that the overuse of cell phones can affect our sleep patterns, decrease our levels of productivity and focus, and negatively impact our relationships.
As legal professionals, we are not likely to get away from needing a cell phone, but we can strive for balance and keep cell phone usage in proper alignment with our lives. In honor of National Lawyer Well-Being Week, I challenge each of you to make a concerted effort to put those phones down.
Here is a list of tools you can use to help reduce cell phone usage:
Turn off your push notifications – Turning off your notifications can help illuminate the instant distraction.
Use an app to help reduce screen time – Apps like Moment and ScreenTime can help you set limits on your phone and implement short exercises to manage your usage.
Don’t charge your phone near your bed – Many of the negative effect of cell phone overuse can be avoided if you keep your cell phone out of your bedroom. Also, watching that YouTube video at midnight isn’t as appealing if you have to get out of bed to get your phone.
Put a hairband around your phone – The hairband trick brings greater mindfulness to each use of your phone. You can still easily make phone calls if necessary, but the hairband makes other uses of the phone more difficult because you have to make an effort to move the hairband to use the device. This naturally makes you more aware of what you are doing in the moment.
While I encourage everyone to focus on putting the phone down this week, I hope this is something we will find rewarding at the week’s end and push us to reduce our reliance on our cell phones. One way to continue to work on breaking the habit is by tracking your cell phone usage for 30 days. It is interesting to see how much time one spends on the phone during the day and what that time is spent doing. After the 30 day period is over, use the information to put a plan in place to adjust your habits. For more information on charting your cell phone usage and how to break a cell phone addiction, I recommend using, The Phone Addiction Workbook by Hilda Burke. You can also find self-assessment tools at the virtual-addiction.com
Next week marks National Lawyer Well-Being Week. To align with Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Lawyer Well-Being Week will occur May 4-8, 2020. Participating organizations include the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Division and its Attorney Well-Being Committee, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program’s (CoLAP) Well-Being Committee.
Locally, organizations such as the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program, the Kansas Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, and the Kansas Bar Association will also participate. The aim of Well-Being Week is to raise awareness and encourage action across the profession to improve well-being for lawyers and their support teams. Many organizations have plans to host free CLE programs and online events. Be sure to stay tuned for more information!
Whether or not you are working from home, I think it is safe to say we are all using video conferencing more now than ever before. With that in mind, here are few quick tips to look and sound your best on your next video conference.
It’s all about the lighting—Just like a professional photo shoot, lighting and angle make a difference on a video conference. If possible, avoid fluorescent lights and overhead lights. These lighting sources can cause unwanted shadows. Place your primary source of light behind your camera for the best lighting to make sure the light is hitting your face and not your back. If possible, try facing a source of natural light, like a window. Lastly, here is a pro tip: placing a piece of white paper on a desk in front of you can reflect existing light onto your face, helping to fill in some of the shadows. For angle, try placing your camera at eye level. You might have to place something under your device or camera to get the best angle.
Choose a Neutral Background—We have all heard the phrase "Less is more." The same applies for your background in a video conference. The focus, after all, should be on you and not your family photos hanging in the background.
Dress the Part—First off, please don’t end up like the set of lawyers recently making headlines in Broward County, Florida. One attorney appeared before the court shirtless, and another attorney appeared still in bed and under the covers. When it comes to clothes, avoid patterns, stripes, or plaids. Solid, bold colors work best.
Consider Using Earbuds—When it comes to audio, consider using earbuds with a microphone, if possible. This will capture your voice with much better quality than the microphone built into your phone or computer.
I think it is fair to say that the use of video conferencing has exploded across the country and the globe due to COVID-19 restrictions. Everyone from professionals to our grandparents are currently using videoconferencing to communicate. While vendors like Zoom and GoToMeeting are popular choices, some of us have been using Microsoft Teams as an alternative, especially with the lingering questions surrounding security issues with the use of some videoconferencing services.
If you are not familiar with the product, Microsoft Teams is available within Office 365 business and enterprise plans; it is often described as a collaborative space that lets users easily share files, chat, assign tasks, hold online meetings and share notes. Its videoconferencing features comprise just one aspect of the service. With the use of videoconferencing on the rise, however, Microsoft has decided to accelerate the rollout of some much-needed features to help users conduct meetings.
Last week, Microsoft published an article discussing recent and future updates being rolled out for its online meetings. They describe these updates as ones that are intended to “decrease pain points, increase human connection, and make work a bit more fun.” Some of these updates include:
End Meeting. Last week, Microsoft released the ability for meeting organizers to end a meeting for all participants. To end an in-progress meeting, go to your meeting controls and select More options > End meeting. You'll be asked to confirm. When you do, the meeting will end for everyone right away. Sometime later this month, you should also be able to download a participant report, found in the participation list, that includes join and leave times for all participants.
Raise Hand. Microsoft plans to roll out this feature sometime this month. This feature will let anyone in the meeting send a visual sign that they have something to say. This decreases the risk of meeting participants talking over one another.
Increase in the number of participants appearing on screen. Recently, Microsoft announced that it would be increasing the number of participants who can be viewed on screen from 4 to 9. While this isn’t the 49 you can see on Zoom or the 25 you can see in G-Suites Hangouts or Cisco WebEx, this is a much-needed improvement.
Custom Backgrounds. Microsoft announced it is working towards including the ability to upload custom images that can be used as backgrounds. Currently, their background feature allows you to blur the environment behind you which is helpful when working from home rather than your office. To blur your background, first, start your video from a meeting and then simply click on the Ellipsis icon (…) from the meeting options and choose Blur My Background. To un-blur your video, choose the Ellipsis icon again and select Don’t Blur Background.
Real-time noise suppression. This feature should be released later this year, and will help minimize distracting background noises allowing the participants to hear what is being said. I think at this point we’ve all been in a remote meeting when a participant is loudly typing on their keyboard, or someone’s dog is barking in the background, so this feature ,I am sure, will be welcomed by users.
All-in-all, it appears that Microsoft is responding to the increased need for a solid videoconferencing platform, and they are working towards rolling out new features more quickly than expected. If you are using Office 365, Teams may be a great option for collaboration, not just for videoconferencing, since it uses and integrates many of the current Office 365 applications.
Working from home has quickly become a recommendation to limit potential exposure to COVID-19. For some, working from home will come naturally, but for others this is a completely new experience. You may also find despite being a few weeks into this new normal, you are still in an adjustment period and are working towards figuring out how to be the most productive in your workday. Know that It is natural to find social distancing frustrating and un-motivating. You might even find yourself struggling with your mood throughout your day. To help, we have listed a few tips to help with balancing your own well-being and working from home.
Try and stick to a routine—Keeping some sense of a routine is going to be really important. To help, set clearly defined work hours. If you traditionally have team meetings Monday’s at 9.a.m., try sticking to those normal routines (but virtually, of course). In addition to setting well defined work hours, it is recommended that you try waking up at a regular time each day, showering, and getting dressed. This can all add to your routine and schedule of a working day. Lastly, aim to stick to scheduled times for your meals as well, as if you were in your place of work. Rather than snacking throughout the day, aim to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between when you feel hungry.
Keep a degree of separation between your workspace and living space—As much as possible, try and keep a degree of separation between your workspace and your living space. Setting up a dedicated workspace at home is crucial to your productivity and focus, even if it’s just a space at the kitchen table or a small desk in a corner of your living room. Additionally, if you are working at your kitchen table, consider having lunch in your living room. Clear away your workspace at the end of the day, so there is a sense of the workday ending. This will be key to the next tip.
Set boundaries—This is something that we all more than likely need to work on for our normal working situations, but right now it is even more important to keeping a balance. When you're not in the office, it's easy to slip into habits such as working late into the evening, such as responding to that email at 9 p.m. In order to maintain a healthy balance, put clear boundaries in place so that there is a distinction between the hours you need to work and the time you have to yourself.
Make a to-do list—When you are working from home you are your own motivator. A great way to start each morning is by making to-do a to-do list of everything that needs to be done. There are some great products out there, if you are interested in digital lists. For instance, ToDo and Todoist are some examples. But don’t be afraid to just use the good ol’ pen and paper for your list. If you are having a hard time focusing, try implementing a time management technique that combines list making and allotting specific times to assigned tasks. For some examples see past post on the blog for the Pomodoro Technique and the Quadrant Method.
Use video calling—To ease the feeling of isolation, try using video calling, whether it is for personal calls or work team meetings. There is something comforting to having the ability to actually seeing one another faces. Also, the use of meeting virtually can cut back on the amount of internal emails that are being sent between your and your team. Why email back and forth for 30 minutes, when you can meet for 5?
Exercise and practice self-care—Carve out time each day for exercise, meditation, or other self-care practices. Movement is going to be especially important as we are out and about less and spending more time at home.
Get out of the house—Cabin fever will become a very real fact of life if working from home continues over a long period of time. Sometimes we must force ourselves to do things, even if we don’t want to, like going outside and getting a breath of fresh air. Just remember to practice social distancing if you are going for a short walk around the block. Additionally, while you are in-doors consider spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air. Also, listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves, or rainfall. Calmsound, for instance, can be used on your computer in the background while you are working.
Set a sleep schedule—Aim to get around to eight hours of sleep a night to ensure you have enough energy to get through your day. When working from home it is tempting to work late into the evening or sleep in later during the day, however, it is best if you can get in the habit of scheduling your sleep.
You may have heard in the news about a new phenomenon called “zoom bombing”, which is essentially when someone uninvited “crashes” a zoom session by sharing offensive and possibly pornographic content. Typically, this bombing happens when your Zoom conference information is shared publicly and ends up in the hands of someone who decides to hijack your meeting. The FBI has even indicated there have been a number of reports of incidents involving hijackers invading both work and school video conferences. See the story here from PC Magazine.
In order to prevent zoom bombing from happening at your next meeting, here are a few recommended tips:
Do not share Zoom conference links publicly. This includes on your website and social media. Provide the link directly to specific people.
Manage your screen-sharing options. In Zoom, change screen sharing to ‘Host Only.’
It is recommended you also make your meetings private. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
Lastly, ensure users have up-to-date Zoom clients. In January, Zoom rolled out a security update that added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.
Here are a few additional items you can change in your Zoom settings:
Disable “Join Before Host” so people can’t cause trouble before you arrive.
Disable “File Transfer” so there’s no digital virus sharing.
Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin” so booted attendees can’t slip back in.
To change these settings login to https://zoom.us, then pick “Settings” from the menu on the left, and find those listed above. They are about 1/3 of the page down.
As we all continue to navigate the new normal of working remotely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have noticed that email has become an even more relied-upon method of communication. Part of the reason—it is quick, it is easy—and in this day and age, just about everyone has an email account. You might also have noticed, however, that during these unprecedented times, information management can quickly break down when everyone is relying on email as the primary means to communicate.
For internal communication, a solution to this problem can be relying upon other tools to leverage quick and informal communication. These tools allow for constant contact with your colleagues while working remotely. Many include the ability to use chat applications, make unscheduled calls, and conduct video chat with one another. The added benefit is that they can also help reduce the feelings of isolation and email overload.
For those firms using Office 365, Microsoft Teams is an available option. This gives you the capabilities to use individual and group chat functions and video and audio calls. For G-Suite users, you can use the G-Suite Hangout chat feature as an option. If your firm uses neither of these products, other options include using Slack or possibly your case management software. For instance, some case management software applications such as Rocket Matter include built-in chat features.
Using any of these options should help reduce the number of internal emails in your inbox, and hopefully, help you better manage the flow of information.