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Happy New Year—Set some “Corporate Resolutions” (pun intended)

Posted By Angel R. Zimmerman, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your business and set goals. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look forward to 2019:

  1. Is your law firm a corporation? If not, should it be?
  2. Review your balance sheet: What goals should you set for cash on hand, line of credit, loans, and distributions/salary?
  3. Review your profit/loss statements: Pull the last 5 years of your yearly profit/loss statements – is your firm going the direction you would like and what tweaks or major changes are needed?
  4. Review staffing: Set a goal to appreciate your staff more and determine what that would look like.
  5. Are you happy?  What adjustments are needed?
    (check out the book from UMKC law professors Nancy Levit & Douglas O Linder – The Happy Lawyer or if you are the website/podcast type -https://thehappylawyerproject.com/

Have a wonderful and prosperous 2019!

Tags:  Author: Angel R. Zimmerman  corporate resolutions  Law Practice Management 

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps

Posted By Larry N. Zimmerman, Sunday, January 13, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

multiple bridges crisscrossing

The Center for Work-Life Policy published a series of intriguing reports starting in 2005 called Off-Ramps and On-Ramps. The reports examine professionals who temporarily leave careers (off-ramping) and barriers faced when trying to return (on-ramping). The lawyer-specific data indicates that 31-42 percent of women temporarily leave practice primarily to care for children, parents, or family members. As many as 15 percent still in the workforce would like to off-ramp temporarily but indicate they cannot afford to or worry an on-ramp back will not be available. By contrast, some 15 percent of men off-ramp but usually due to frustrations in the profession or to change careers altogether.

Private Sector Efforts

While men and women graduate law school and are hired on as new associates at similar rates, women start disappearing at the mid- and senior-levels in firms and industry. The OnRamp Fellowship aims to address the “leaky pipeline” of capable women lawyers by improving the on-ramps back into practice. OnRamp places returning lawyers with top law firms, legal departments, and financial services firms for six month and one-year paid positions. In addition to opening an employment door, lawyers have access to free continuing education, business training, and one-on-one coaching. (Information available at onrampfellowship.com.)

Another attempt to improve the on-ramp comes from the insurance world via ALPS. Leah Gooley, ALPS Underwriting Manager, indicates that over 30 years of claims data revealed that women lawyers have a lower propensity for malpractice claims—almost a full 20 percent better risk than male counterparts. Retaining women or easing their on-ramp back into practice would improve the ALPS bottom line and that data-driven information prompted ALPS to survey how to better serve women in law. ALPS is interested both in retention and in improving the on-ramp back into the practice. (The survey is available at available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FHP3R8C.)

Public Sector Barriers

Despite private sector interest in helping lawyers find an on-ramp back into practice, the actual mechanics of doing so under the rules of the Kansas Supreme Court are obscured. Multiple Kansas lawyers interviewed indicate that planning an orderly exit and return was difficult given the open-ended nature of Supreme Court Rule 208(g)(2). This often results in a less formal off-ramp through administrative suspension under (g)(3). A number of barriers to on-ramping were identified:

Undefined Requirements 

The Kansas Continuing Legal Education Commission has discretion in setting terms for return for lawyers inactive for less than two years. If a lawyer remains inactive for the national off-ramping average of three years, then the Supreme Court may impose its own conditions for return. The Court’s discretion is open-ended and undefined, leaving one lawyer to note, “It was very frustrating not knowing what I needed to do.”

While not written anywhere, the requirements were addressed tangentially in an unrelated disciplinary hearing by Justice Carol Beier: “When somebody, for example, wants to come back from inactive status, we have kind of a rule of thumb that if it’s been 10 years, they need to take a bar review course or if it’s shorter than that, then they certainly have to be up on CLEs.” (Remark by Justice Carol Beier during oral arguments, In the Matter of: Rosie M. Quinn, No. 119,148, Kan. Sup. Ct. Archived Oral Arguments, Oct. 25, 2018, available at https://www.youtube.com/embed/5bRE6ZeWzcE, at time marker 6:54 (link provided on http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/archive/archived-arguments-October-2018.asp).) There is, however, no data supporting bar preparation courses or making up years of CLE protect the public or effectively prepare a lawyer to on-ramp back into practice.

Reinstatement Application

Returning from inactive status requires completion of an Application for Reinstatement or Return to Active Status form. Unfortunately, the form is available nowhere on the Supreme Court’s website. Lawyers wanting to know what to expect must request it from the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

Despite Rule 208(g)(2) being clear that an inactive lawyer is still a lawyer, the inquiries on the application read like an initial application for fitness to practice. A lawyer must provide information about divorce and probate cases in which she has participated and detail certain financial situations including revoked credit cards, bankruptcies, and past due student loans. Those inquiries are not part of annual registration for active lawyers so their relevance to protecting the public and profession are unclear. While active lawyers’ personal finances are private, inactive lawyers must waive privacy in financial matters and consent to open-ended financial investigations by the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator.

Interestingly, anecdotal stories from some lawyers interviewed indicated the application may not always be required. Some who had returned to active status had never heard of the application nor did they provide the sensitive, personal information it requires.

Alternative Models

The overwhelming majority (93 percent) of lawyers who take the off-ramp from practice plan to return. The on-ramp back into practice is easier to find in some states than others. In several of our neighboring states, for example, requirements are spelled out in rule or statute, forms for status change are available online, and CLE requirements to return are capped at one to two compliance periods required as make-up. States with clear and manageable requirements to reactivate appear to view off-ramping as a normal part of modern practice, and procedures simplify the return of legal talent to the profession.

On-ramping in Kansas is more complicated. Whether a lawyer can on-ramp is discretionary and not tied to documented requirements. In application, the requirements to return can be daunting. As a reactivated Kansas lawyer recalled, “It didn’t feel like they wanted me to return to the law,” and she wondered, “Is it even going to be feasible for me to come back?”

Original Journal article

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Tags:  Author: Larry N. Zimmerman 

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Three Basics of Law Firm Economics

Posted By Susan A. Berson, Monday, January 7, 2019

1.  Review income statements on a monthly basis. It is necessary to see where the firm’s money is coming in and going. Software bookkeeping options allow users to create a specific report for a specific purpose. Detecting when expenses in a particular category are getting out of hand minimizes drain on yearly profits.

2.  Set spending on realized revenue, not what “might be”. As you develop more clients, re-visit staffing needs and office space.

3.  Monitor account receivables, credit lines and rates. A client account that is thirty-plus days overdue in payment means lost earnings, and breeds a credit line dependency.

Tags:  Author: Susan A. Berson  economics  finance  Law Practice Management 

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Microsoft Quick Tip: Quick Zoom to Save Eye Strain

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, December 18, 2018

When it comes to using Microsoft Word, everyone has their own personal preference regarding the window size. Some people like to work with the window zoomed in to 150-200% to better see the font type, while others may like to work at 75-100% to eliminate the need to scroll left and right to view the entire document. If I had to guess, however, I would bet most may find themselves in situations, where depending on what you are working on, you may have the need to zoom in and out to better see things. Of course, you can always adjust your zoom percentage in the View tab of the Microsoft Ribbon. Here’s how:

  • Click the View
  • Click
  • Select your preferred percentage.
  • Click OK.

These four steps may not seem like a lot, but if you find yourself switching in and out of different zoom preferences while working on the same document it can get burdensome after a while. If that is the case, know there is an easier way to quickly adjust your zoom preference. Say hello to the Zoom Slider!

A zoom-in on the MS Word Zoom Slider
Zoom slider. Click for see full context of where is slider location

You can find the Zoom Slider in the right-hand corner of your Word document.  All you do is slide to the percentage zoom setting that you want or click - or + to zoom in gradual increments. This tool eliminates the need to switch tabs and go through extra steps to change your preferences.

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  MS Word  Tech Tip  zoom slider 

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Quick Office Tip—Disaster Planning

Posted By Angel R. Zimmerman, Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Take a quick trip through the office and take a video of each office and cubical—open drawers and doors. This will help spark your memory of things that need to be replaced if disaster strikes. Set a reminder to do this annually. 

Tags:  Author: Angel R. Zimmerman  disaster planning 

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Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Posted By Larry N. Zimmerman, Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

man in white dress shirt and red tie with Santa hat holding present smiling

The holidays are upon us and the number of shopping days left is dwindling. There are no earth-shattering technological innovations this year as gadgets are in ment stage. Old ideas are being tweaked to improve and features. While quality is increasing, prices are decreasing—often into stocking-stuffer range. It is an especially good time to be a road warrior as gadgets to make the office away from home base more workable are more accessible than ever.

JBL Flip4 Speaker ($99) – The Flip4 delivers room filling sound via a Bluetooth connection from a device barely larger than a pop can. The rechargeable battery onboard lasts for up to 12 hours of playtime and the speaker is even waterproof (IPX7 rated). The selling point for lawyers is the Flip4’s usefulness as a conference phone on the go. The Bluetooth connection to a cellphone is rock solid and its microphone sensitivity and clarity rival big-name conference phones clocking in at five times the price. The Flip4 is now a regular part of our travel kit.

Duet Display ($20) – Working with a single laptop screen on the road instead of a dual or triple monitor at the office can slow you down. Duet Display solves that problem by turning an iPad into a second monitor for your PC or Mac. The software was developed by former Apple engineers, and it shows in the simplicity of setup. A comparable product for Android tablets exists – iDisplay – but it is much buggier and nonexistent support. (There may be issues with Duet Display on Mac OS depending on version; read FAQs and releases before dropping a credit card.)  Available at duetdisplay.com.

ActiveWords ($30/year) – ActiveWords is a powerful “macro” tool for Windows that allows you to trigger certain programs or actions by simply typing a word. For example, if you regularly send an email report to a partner, you can type “partner” and your email client would fire up with a message composed to her email address. If you want to insert a boilerplate section in an agreement or import an Excel table to a document, you can set a trigger word to initiate those actions. ActiveWords understands lawyers may work on multiple PCs, so it is cloud-based and allows access to the triggers you set from any PC. Available at activewords.com.

3 in 1 Display Adapter (About $40) – This little dongle converts the display output of my Surface into either HDMI, VGA, or DVI so I am ready for any connection a venue’s projector might throw at me. Virtually all such adapters available are basic, no-name products from China and lifespan can be suspect. That said, Microsoft-branded cables—HDMI in particular—are not terrifically reliable either. Maybe pack a spare?  Available from a variety of sellers on Amazon.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD ($90-500) – A portable hard drive is incredibly handy and the solid state drives (SSD) are many times faster than and more durable than prior generations with spinning platters. The drives are available in sizes up to 2 TB and incorporate drive level encryption for genuine security. If a portable drive is still too bulky for your needs, SanDisk also makes 400 GB microSD cards in multiple speeds. Just be aware how incredibly easy it is to lose a microSD card (smaller than a dime).

Omnicharge Omni 20 Battery Bank ($200) – The Omni 20 is a monster of a battery bank capable of outputting 60W to charge even laptops via two USB-C connections. An OLED screen displays detailed battery level and remaining time to charge as well as access to other features like depletion control which prevents discharge at rates that would damage the unit’s cells. The Omni 20 can be restored to full charge in just three hours and even serve as a USB hub. The compact device is available on Amazon.

TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones ($55) – Noise cancelling, over ear headphones are a lifesaver on planes and the TaoTronics are as cheap as you can go for a set that actually works. Battery life approaches 30 hours for listening only but the headphones also incorporate a mic for hands-free phone use. An airplane-compatible power cord is also included. Available on Amazon.

Clio (+ Lexicata) – Clio has long been one of the most popular, robust, and reliable law practice management platforms for solo and small firms (and it’s a member benefit of the Kansas Bar Association). Clio offers a full range of features from matter management to billing to document creation. In late 2018, Clio purchased Lexicata, a market-leader in client experience management. Lexicata provides client intake software, contact management, and automations that Clio will begin incorporating in 2019, securing its place as the market leader for affordable cloud-based case management.

Personalized Lawyer Gifts at Etsy – Etsy is a one-stop-shop for personalized gifts – either vintage or handmade. My personal favorite is a mug proclaiming, “I am a lawyer but I can’t fix stupid.” Etsy is a marketplace so you are buying from a variety of sellers. Unfortunately, that means shipping can add up fast but that has been the only downside in the years I have used them.

Original article

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Tags:  8710  Author: Larry N. Zimmerman  Holiday  Journal  November/December 2018  tech gifts  tech toys 

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Firm Finances: Three Tips for Just Starting Out and Hanging Your Own Shingle

Posted By Susan A. Berson, Tuesday, December 4, 2018
  1. Keep overhead low. For every dollar you earn, if you can reduce your overhead by one dollar, thereʼs your salary.
  2. Distinguish between a want and a need. Malpractice insurance coverage and a back-up server should be categorized as needs. Likewise, a disaster plan binder and electronic folder that detail who does what, when, how and where in emergencies.
  3. An organized recordkeeping system is a must. Calendar small business tax deadlines. Compliance with tax obligations is a requirement for attorneys to maintain “good standing.”

    Examples to consider for software include:
  •  QuickBooks,
  • Acclivity,
  • Peachtree,
  • Microsoft Office or Excel spreadsheet(s)

Tags:  Author: Susan A. Berson  Law Practice Management  software  tech tip 

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Staff Meetings—DO THEM!

Posted By Angel R. Zimmerman, Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Here are some quick tips to implement at your office staff meetings:

  1. HAVE THEM AT A REGULAR TIME.
    In our office staff meetings are called BUZZ meetings—Business Updates at Zimmerman & Zimmerman, P.A. We hold our office-wide staff meeting on Mondays mid-afternoon.
  2. LIMIT THE TIME.
    For our office they can only be 1/2 hour. These meetings run everyone through the typical scheduling and projects.
  3. DON'T DO ALL THE TALKING.
    Schedule 3 to 4 other people to bring information to the meeting. (i.e. one person goes through calendar, another goal setting, another shares a positive thought, another does a training segment.)

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Tags:  Author: Angel R. Zimmerman  Law Practice Management  staff meetings  tips and tricks 

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ABA Releases Ethics Advisory Opinion on Cybersecurity

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The American Bar Association recently released ABA Opinion 483 on a Lawyers’ Obligations After an Electronic Data Breach or Cyberattack. The opinion points out that a lawyer has a duty to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of a matter and to explain matters to the extent reasonably necessary to permit a client to make an informed decision about the representation. See, KRPC 1.4.

As a result, under these provisions, a lawyer has a duty to communicate with current clients about an occurrence of a data breach. Lawyers should also be aware of their duties to past clients, and their duties of competence and confidentiality when it comes to the use of technology and cybersecurity.

To read the opinion, visit https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/professional_responsibility/aba_formal_op_483.pdf.

Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  cybersecurity 

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How to Enlarge and Print Only a Portion of a PDF with Adobe Reader

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Have you ever sat and wondered if you can enlarge and print only a portion of a PDF with only Adobe Reader? Well, I have the answer for you. Yes, you can!  Here’s how:

  • Open the PDF in Adobe Reader
  • Select the Snap Shot Tool
  • Drag a rectangle around the area you want to enlarge and/or print
  • Click File, and select Print
  • Choose your Print Option. Send the document to your printer or you can select the Print to PDF option to create a new digital document.
  • Make sure that the Selected Graphic option is selected in the Print Range area of the Print dialog box.
  • To enlarge the selected text or graphic, you can select the Fit to page option or you can select Custom Scale and increase the percentage to a specific amount you like.
  • Click Print

It is that easy!

Note: If you have Adobe Acrobat you can follow the same steps.

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Tags:  Acrobat Reader  Adobe  Adobe Reader  Author: Danielle M. Hall  Danielle M. Hall  PDF  Tech Tip  Weekly10232018 

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Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, October 16, 2018

By , Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator

Considering October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I thought this would be a good time to provide some resources to help others with developing and implementing a cybersecurity plan. With new data breaches popping up on a constant basis, it is important for lawyers to understand that they are not immune from cybersecurity issues. In fact, law firms are especially vulnerable to data breaches because of the sensitive data they handle.

Because data security is more important than ever, lawyers should take the time to develop and implement a cybersecurity plan. Below you will find resources that can help. The first resource on the list, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, is the “go to” resource for developing a plan. Additional resources include information from The Kansas Small Business Development Center and the American Bar Association. The Kansas SBDC resources include a cybersecurity assessment you can take to identify your areas of strengths and weakness in your current cybersecurity policies and procedures.

Today, the new mantra in cybersecurity is not if an organization will be breached, but when will it be breached. Now is the time to start recognizing that cybersecurity just isn’t an IT problem anymore, and everyone in your organization plays a role in keeping your client data protected.

Cybersecurity Resources:

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  cybersecurity  Cybersecurity Awareness Month  Danielle M. Hall  Tech Tip  Weekly10162018 

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Looking for More Tech Tips? Attend the ABA TECHSHOW 2019®!!!!

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

By Danielle M. Hall, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator

ABA TECHSHOW 2019

Bringing Lawyers & Technology Together

Do you enjoy reading the Tech Tips Blog? Are you interested in seeing more technology tips? Then here's a tip for you!

Mark your calendars now for the ABA TECHSHOW 2019® conference and expo which will be held February 27th–March 2nd in Chicago, Illinois. Presented by the ABA Law Practice Division, this 3½ day conference is filled with practical tips on integrating technology into your practice to enhance client services and gain efficiency. 

When you are not attending CLE sessions, visit vendor hall where the latest in legal technology products are featured.

Look for more information coming soon on special conference pricing through the KBA.

Tags:  ABA TECHSHOW  ABA TECHSHOW 2019  Danielle M. Hall  Techshow 

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Lawyer Content on YouTube

Posted By Larry N. Zimmerman, Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By , partner at Zimmerman & Zimmerman P.A.

YouTube is a big deal. It has become the second largest search engine on the internet serving up over 300 hours of videos per minute­ more than all of Netflix and Facebook combined. The site reaches into at least 88 countries and translates into 76 languages representing some 95% of the world’s population. User demographics indicate 80% of adults between age 18 and 49 watch and 60% prefer it to television. I was at a national legal conference recently where the average age of attendee was notably higher than 50 and YouTube has made its mark with that audience as well. Most of the presentations, comments, and discussions featured YouTube content.

Because there are over 1.3 trillion videos hosted by YouTube, finding content of interest can be challenging. The algorithms YouTube uses to figure out what users might be interested in viewing are not terrifically reliable and the trending playlist is mostly viral pop culture hits or paying advertisers. Leveraging the value of YouTube involves finding good channels (content creators), subscribing, and setting notices to catch new episodes. Some suggestions for lawyers:

Real Crime Networks

LadyJustice2188—This trial channel includes a library of 4,400 video feeds from criminal trials and proceedings throughout the U.S. Every stage in criminal procedure is shown from arraignment to sentencing and the proceedings shown are often from newsworthy cases. The video feeds are not heavily edited and include no commentary or explanation. The channel adds new content several times a week though multiple uploads may be from the same case broken into more manageable segments.

The Law & Crime Network—This channel is a more polished news program focused on “the day’s biggest trials and legal controversies.” Regular episodes drop at 9:00 a.m. EST, Monday through Friday with supplemental trial feeds as well. Like LadyJustice2188, the Network includes actual criminal proceedings but provides in-depth commentary as well. Recent high-profile cases covered include Travis Reinking, the Waffle House gunman, and Cristhian Rivera, the accused murderer of Iowa college student, Molly Tibbetts.

Content Creators

Shouse Law Group—Not every lawyer is content as a content viewer, some want to get in on the action as content creators. The lawyers at Shouse have modeled a particularly effective and professional way to create a YouTube channel. The firm uploads 1-2 videos a week that are usually just 2-5 minutes long. The videos address very specific topics in a broadly informative way (staying within ethical guidelines). Examples include explanations of recovery options when hit by a an uninsured driver, whether a California medical marijuana card can be used in other states and what are likely outcomes of a minor caught in possession of alcohol case.

YouTuber Law—Wading into content creation can present some interesting legal issues. Tech lawyer, Lior Lessor, has expertise in representing technology companies and brands including YouTube content creators. His small (340 videos) channel covers subjects such as challenges to negative reviews or the rights of site hosts like YouTube’s rights to censor controversial speech. Lessor releases a video per week; most are quick takes of 10-15 minutes, but he does not hesitate from going long when a complex topic is presented.

Law School and Life

Learn Law Better—Every lawyer knows a law student. Every law student could use a bit of help sometimes navigating their way. Beau Baez is an accomplished educator with Best Teacher of the Year awards from two different law schools. His channel presents polished, pedagogically thoughtful videos of 5-10 minutes each on issues for which law students (and lawyers) might need a refresher. Legal topics can include res ipsa loquitur or Erie v. Tompkins. Survival strategies for school and life are covered in videos about overcoming procrastination or how to effectively cram for a deadline. Information that is no longer relevant to lawyers is still useful for the law students we mentor.

Live Laugh Law—This is another law student channel by a young black woman in her second year of law school at Howard. She is infectious with her joy at working toward her ticket. She shares her setbacks and worries as well. The law school experience may be a distant memory for most of us but Live Laugh Law brings back some of the good memories of challenges met and defeated while underscoring the importance of mentoring and supporting those coming up behind us.

Tips and Tricks

ABA Law Practice Division—The ABA has a tiny channel of just 89 videos that is infrequently updated – about once per month. Broadly speaking, there are two categories of video on the site. Brief clips of 1-2 minutes provide quick explanations of topics like spear-phishing or ransomware. Longer videos of 30-60 minutes give detailed information about document assembly, legal services pricing, or artificial intelligence, for example.

Chicago Bar Association’s How To…Video Library—This is not a YouTube channel but worth a look. The Chicago Bar recently opened up its members-only tutorial videos to the general public. There are a host of gems by lawyers with technology expertise. Videos teach removing metadata, protecting documents from editing, and permanently redacting documents. One of the latest videos gives sound advice on how to start as a YouTube content provider. The full list of videos is at lpmt.chicagobar.org/how-to-video-library – not YouTube.

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Tags:  Author: Larry N. Zimmerman  Larry N. Zimmerman  tech tip  YouTube 

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Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips: Lending Library Book Review

Posted By Angel R. Zimmerman, Tuesday, October 2, 2018

By Angel R. Zimmerman, Zimmerman & Zimmerman, P.A.

Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips by Theda C Snyder has great marking tips. While it markets to women, men could also gain insight on marketing with the other gender in mind.

This book takes you through the brainstorming stage, supplies the why and reasoning behind different strategies and also lays out over 150 helpful tips.

Snyder encourages the use of the RAM principle: R – reject; A – accept; M – modify. This is a principle that should be incorporated into much more than just marketing. She discusses how you nurture a relationship and how to make the pitch and keep the relationship.

For this and other helpful tips – check it out at the KBA lending library.

Tags:  Angel R. Zimmerman  book review  Lending Library  marketing 

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To Scan or Not to Scan a Document, Part 3: Metadata

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

By Danielle M. Hall, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator

After the last two posts, I have received some commentary, as well as some questions asking how metadata affects using a “true” PDF vs. an image-only PDF. First, let me say 1) I am excited to know there is enough readership to spark commentary and questions; and 2) these questions and concerns are valid depending on the purpose of the document, whether you will be sending the document to someone else, the reason you are sending it, and who the person you are sending it to may be.

First, let me start by explaining what metadata is. Simply, metadata is a data describing and giving information about other data. Metadata summarizes basic information about a document such as the author, the date created, the date and time last modified, the amount of time spent editing the file, and the file size. You can think of metadata as being the file properties. This metadata can be insightful and especially useful for things like electronic organization, archiving, and discovery. Lately, metadata has gotten a bad rap. It has also become a buzz word legal professionals know they should be aware of, because they have been told, but they may not fully understand the why, the how, or even the what.

In my own quest to learn more about what metadata is and what it is not, I was perplexed by whether things like track changes and comments are part of this metadata thing. As it turns out, track changes and comments are NOT metadata at all. They are data within the piece of data, or embedded data. Confusing, right? Despite the confusion between metadata and embedded data, I think the question most of us want to know is what can be seen by someone else when I send them my document?

When converting Word and WordPerfect files to a “true” PDF format, whether by using the Print to PDF or Save As options, the document properties (AKA metadata) are stripped because you are creating a BRAND-NEW file, completely distinct from the old Word file. Metadata is not carried from the old file to the new. The brand-new PDF will have its own metadata, but it will be limited to information specifically pertaining to the PDF, such as the author who created it and the date/time it was created. So, what about those pesky track changes and comments we all worry about? If you changed the settings in your Word file so track changes and comments are not visible, they will not be included in the new PDF.  

Lastly, most word processing programs such as Microsoft Office products, Adobe Acrobat, and WordPerfect offer internal scrubbing tools to remove unwanted metadata. You can find instructions on how to do this below. However, before you go scrubbing all the metadata from your documents, keep in mind the rules on Spoliation of Evidence and your Rules of Professional Responsibility, such as KRPC 3.4. Additionally, when you remove the metadata from your documents, you can’t always get it back. So, it is suggested you make a copy of the document and scrub the copy, rather than original.

It is important to be aware of metadata and understanding what it is, but it is also important to know metadata can be extremely useful, not just harmful. Yes, it can be potentially harmful to lawyers and clients if seen by the wrong eyes. I am most certainly not saying you should just ignore it and leave it. However, having a better understanding of metadata can help you make a better and more educated decision about when and when not to scrub, and when and how to use it.

A good friend of mine explains metadata in this way, “Metadata is like Jessica Rabbit, it isn’t bad, it’s just drawn that way.” After my own quest to learn more about metadata, I tend to agree.

Removing metadata from Microsoft Word 2016

To make a copy of the document to save the original metadata since you might not be able to restore once removed:

  •   Click the File tab. 
  •   Select Save As.
  •   The Save As dialog box will appear.
  •   Select a folder location to save a copy of your document. (Browse to find and select the appropriate folder, if needed.)  
  •   In the File name field, type a name for the copy of your document. 
  •   Click Save

To remove metadata from the copy of your document:

  •  With a copy of your Word document open, click the File tab.
  •  Click Info
  •  Click Check for Issues, then select Inspect Document. The Document Inspector dialog box will appear.
  •  Remove some, or all, of the metadata listed by checking the applicable boxes.
  •  Click Inspect.
  •  Review the inspection results listed. 
  •  Click Remove All next to any metadata you want removed. Close the dialog box when finished. 
  •  Save your changes.

For complete instructions on how to remove metadata from a Microsoft Word 2016 document on a Mac, click here.

Removing metadata in WordPerfect:

WordPerfect gives the user the option to save a document without metadata. To save a file without metadata:

  •  Select File, then Save Without Metadata.
  •  A dialog box appears, where you choose to remove some, or all, of the metadata listed by checking the applicable boxes.
  •  Click Save to create a new WordPerfect document without the chosen metadata.
  •  WordPerfect then creates a new file with an _mtd extension and preserves the original WordPerfect document.

Removing metadata in Adobe Acrobat:

You can find complete instructions for removing metadata in Adobe Acrobat Pro here.

 

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