I am sure we have all been there before, you receive (or maybe you’re the one sending) the dreaded “when are you available for a meeting” email. I am sure you have tried/seen everything from the when are you available to the when are you NOT available. The result, however, tends to be the same—multiple emails over multiple days.
Sending or receiving this type of email isn’t necessarily the worst thing in world when you are dealing with just one or two other people. When there are several people involved, however, this type of email can become chaotic and difficult to track. One thing also becomes clear when your dealing with multiple people—and it doesn’t matter whether it is colleagues, clients or other professionals—we are all busy.
Over the last few months, the number of meetings you attend, including Zoom meetings, has probably increased. So, if you find yourself scheduling meetings, and it’s starting to feel like you are trying to herd cats and dogs, then I suggest you look at using a scheduling app.
Online scheduling apps, such as Doodle, Calendly, and Microsoft’s Findtime, can help you eliminate the back and forth, and many can integrate with your calendar, email, and other 3rd party apps like Zoom and GoToMeeting. Most are simple to use and involve sending an invite to the meeting attendees which includes available meeting dates and times they can pick from. The attendee can (and should) choose multiple potential meeting dates and times based upon their availability. Once everyone has marked their availability, you can easily see the best date and time to schedule your meeting. No more back and forth emailing!
The International Bar Association (IBA) has embarked on a global project aimed at addressing the mental wellbeing of legal professionals as COVID-19 exacerbates tensions in professional and personal lives. The key initial phase of the project consists of two global surveys – one for individual lawyers, the other for law firms and other legal institutions, including bar associations, law societies and in-house legal departments. The surveys are anonymous and take approximately ten minutes to complete.
The data gathered from the completed surveys will provide insight into:
the pressing mental health concerns of legal professionals;
the support they can expect to receive from their workplaces;
how the wellbeing of lawyers and other stakeholders in the legal profession are affected by their work and working environments;
identifying problems that each might have faced in getting the help they needed; and
what law firms, bars and law societies should be doing to support those in distress.
The IBA Individual Lawyer Wellbeing Survey can be accessed here.
The IBA Institutional Wellbeing Survey is available here.
Data gathered from the surveys will be discussed in detail by the IBA’s Wellbeing Taskforce in a showcase session at the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference in November. The survey results will also be discussed on future KBA blog posts.
In the wake of COVID-19 and working from home, instances of phishing emails have been on the rise for the last several months. This new environment has essentially created the perfect storm—employees working from home, the need to stay updated on information, and IT is no longer just down the hall. As a result, phishing scams are capitalizing on the pandemic.
To protect yourself from falling victim to these scams, you must remain diligent in your cybersecurity. Having best practices in place—such as limiting the number of public-facing emails accounts, encouraging staff to forward all suspicious emails, and educating yourself and on staff how to spot phishing emails—can help.
In a previous post, Tips for Detecting a Phishing Email, I discussed ways to spot a phishing email. This includes looking for inconsistencies in the email, including inconsistencies in links, identifying demands for urgent action, and watching out for offers that seem to good to be true. If you missed this post, or just need a refresher, you should take a look.
For additional information on recent phishing scams and how to spot them, I also recommend reading:
The Internet is an increasingly important resource for many aspects of our daily lives, such as work, education, healthcare, and even recreation. The Internet is also how potential clients find lawyers. In fact, according a 2014 survey conducted by FindLaw.com, using the internet has become the most popular way to find and research a lawyer. Knowing this, have you thought about whether your website is accessible to those who may have visual, auditory or mobile impairment? If not, improving the accessibility of your firm’s website for individuals who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or those who must navigate by voice can be done in multiple ways. Here are just a few examples:
• Create alt tags for all images, videos and audio files. Alt tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content they might not otherwise be able to view. Make sure your alt text is meaningful. It should describe the image in a concise phrase or sentence. If you have multiple similar images on page, for instance, be sure to describe them in a way that makes them distinguishable.
• Choose your colors carefully. Make sure the colors you select on your site contrast well to ensure that everyone can distinguish between various elements on the page. Contrast Checker is a free online tool you can use to check you color selection. Additionally, don’t use color as the only means of conveying information. The most common place to think about this? Hyperlinks. Simply making a hyperlink a different color may not distinguish the hyperlink from the other text. Consider underlining your hyperlinks, in addition to applying color.
• Create clear headers to structure your content and identify the site's language in the header code. Clear headers also help screen readers interpret your pages. Additionally, making it clear what language the site should be read in helps users who utilize text readers. Screen readers can identify those codes and function accordingly.
• Create a consistent and organized layout. Menus, links and call to action buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly defined from one another and are easy to navigate.
• Make sure your site is keyboard friendly. To improve accessibility be sure your website works without the use of a mouse. The most common way of navigating with the use of a keyboard is by the Tab key. There for, your goal should be to ensure that all web content and navigation can be accessed using Tab.
• Create text transcripts for video and audio content. Text transcripts help hearing-impaired users understand content that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
• Offer alternatives and suggestions when users encounter input errors. If a user with a disability is encountering input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently, your site should offer recommendations as to how visitors can better navigate to the content they need.
For additional information on how to make your website more accessible, look to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines focus on making websites perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
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.