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Law Practice Management Tips

Microsoft Word Quick Tip—Use AutoCorrect to Insert TextOpen in a New Window

You might have noticed that Microsoft Word has an AutoCorrect function. If turned on, you might even get slightly annoyed with some of the built-in auto corrections. For instance, if you have ever intentionally typed “(c)” and Word changed it to the copyright symbol, chances are you have questioned why you should keep the AutoCorrect function on—I know I have. Lately, however, I have started using the AutoCorrect function within Word in a completely different way.  Since making this change, AutoCorrect has become a pretty amazing tool to use while I am drafting documents in Word.

What have I been doing? I have been using AutoCorrect to replace shorthand words, characters, and/or acronyms as I type with complete words or short phrases that I commonly use. For example, when I type “/dmh" this gets replaced automatically with my full name.  Another example I have set up is this: if I type “/KRPC” it autocorrects to Kansas Rules of Professional Responsibility. You may have noticed that I strategically placed a forward slash in the acronym that I am using to replace text with.  I did that, because there are times where I may want to keep the use of the acronym available to me within my documents.  You need to keep this in mind when creating your shortcuts. Also, once you have added a shortcut to your AutoCorrect library, it will work within PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel and OneNote, since the library is shared across Microsoft Office.

If you want to try using the AutoCorrect feature more actively in your drafting, here is how you set up your shortcut entries:

PC Instructions

  • Click the File tab.
  • Click Options.
  • Click Proofing.
  • Click AutoCorrect Options, and then Click the AutoCorrect tab.
  • Select Replace text as you type check box, if it is not already selected.
  • Under Replace, type your shortcut character, word, or acronym.
  • Under With, type the word you want the shortcut replaced with.
  • Click OK.
Click image to enlarge

Mac Instructions

  • Click Word at top left of the menu bar.
  • Click Preferences
  • Click AutoCorrect under "Authoring and Proofing Tools"
  • Select Replace text as you type check box, if it is not already selected.
  • Under Replace, type your shortcut character, word, or acronym.
  • Under With, type the word you want the shortcut replaced with.
  • Press Return.
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

 

Casemaker Tip - Finding Your Search TermsOpen in a New Window

You’ve done your search with your keyword or keywords and you have pulled up your first result to read the case. Now, where in the world are your search terms even mentioned?

You can find them using the Search Terms arrows in the gray toolbar. Located just above the title when you are reading the case is a gray toolbar. Here you see options to return to results, arrows to move around your list of results documents, as well as the phrase Search Terms with arrows on either side.

Clicking on either arrow will take you to the next search term above or below where you are in the case you are viewing.

 

 

Scam Alert: Office Supply ScamsOpen in a New Window

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission released a video to educate businesses about office supply scams.

In an office supply scam, a scammer sends office supplies to a business hoping they pay the invoice without anyone noticing that no one ordered the supplies. Sometimes the scammer doesn’t send anything at all but an invoice in hopes it will be paid. Small businesses are often the target of this scam.

To learn how to avoid office supply scams, watch the FTC video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/xMPnvLYpeZo.

 

Searching for Cases with Citation in CasemakerOpen in a New Window

The most frequently used function of Casemaker for most users is searching by citation. From the home page, you can simply type in your citation. You do not have to worry about being too picky; if you use the wrong spacing, punctuation, or capitalization, Casemaker will automatically correct that for you.

You do, however, need to make sure you are using only the reporter citation and the proper abbreviation. Casemaker goes by Blue Book citation guidelines, if you have any questions regarding abbreviations. For example, with Kearns v. Ford Motor Co., 567 F.3d 1120 (9th Cir. 2009), all you would put in the search bar is 567 F.3d 1120. Be sure you select the correct jurisdiction, however—you will not be able to pull up a New Hampshire Superior Court case when searching in U.S. Court of Appeals!

Sometimes a particular citation brings up more than one result—and there is a very good reason for this. The other case share a page with the case you were searching for. For example, your case may end on page 104 and another case begins on the same page of the reporter. This means, even if you are typing in a pin cite, you will still be able to locate the case you are looking for.

 

Microsoft Word Quick Tip – WatermarksOpen in a New Window

Click image to view PDF

 

Did you know that you can add a watermark to your word documents in just a few simple steps?  Microsoft Word has a few built-in watermarks that you may find useful in your practice. For instance, you will find watermarks to label a document as a draft version or confidential.  Additionally, you can create your own custom watermarks for your documents.  Here’s how you insert a watermark:

  1. Click the Design tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Watermark.
  3. Click your selected watermark.

As you can see this is super easy.  Here is how you create your own custom watermark:

  1. Click the Design tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Watermark.
  3. Click Custom Watermark.
  4. You can choose to insert a Picture watermark or Text watermark.
  5. For a picture watermark, select Picture.
    • Click Select Picture.
    • Select your picture of choice and then click Insert.
    • Click Apply.
    • Click Close.
  6. For a text watermark, select Text.
    • Type your text in the Text box.
    • Set your Font, Size, and Color.
    • Click Apply.
    • Click Close.

If you discover that your watermark is only appearing the on the first page, then I suggest you check your Header settings under the Insert Tab.  If you are using a combination of headers on pages and a watermark, you will need to apply the watermark differently than above.  For instructions on how to do this or trouble shoot watermark issues click here for additional information.

 

Budgeting, Saving, and Investing AppsOpen in a New Window

Questionable financial decisions by lawyers in their practices continue to pop up as a regular theme in ethics cases. While the misuse of client money is the violation that leads to discipline, a deeper dive into most of the cases indicates that financial problems for a firm often began as financial problems in the lawyer’s personal life. Learning how to budget, save and invest wisely in our personal lives is a skill set that very often translates directly into our professional lives.

Additionally, almost every lawyer has an experience with a client, a colleague or a close friend where conversation on budgeting can be crucial. For example, I observed expungement hearings in 2018, and the petitioner in every hearing had sought relief from the filing fees for financial hardship. Amazingly, not one single petitioner knew their income or expenses on a monthly basis. The lawyers who had helped them with the expungement pleadings had apparently overlooked the budget component of the petitions they had helped to prepare.

The widespread presence of smart phones has put powerful budgeting, savings and investing tools close at hand, and younger users especially are drawn to tools that can turn everyday acts into opportunities to adapt habits, save money and invest for the future. The following apps are just a few of the options available.

Albert

“Albert analyzes all of your financial accounts and builds a unique plan based on your income, spending habits, and goals.” After downloading the app and connecting your financial accounts, the app assists in establishing a budget, savings and investing goals. As the app observes income and spending habits, the artificial intelligence back-end starts to recommend areas to save and can even scrape extra funds into an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing account. The app also provides spending alerts to warn when money is getting tight or flag expenses that are higher than normal. Users note significantly improved odds of maintaining a budget using the app and often credit the app to unexpected growth in their savings account. The app is free, but an optional monthly subscription to a financial help line service (Albert Genius) for $4-6 per month supports the product.

Acorns

Acorns is, “The only micro-investing account that allows you to invest spare change.” Once the app is connected to a credit card, any payment you make may be automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar. The round-up portion is then scraped into an investment portfolio with five different risk ratings ranging from conservative to aggressive (though all investment portfolios are considered fairly conservative by experts). Acorn also pairs with certain partners like Lyft, Hilton, Expedia, or Airbnb which boost your investment by discounting their service and applying the discount to the round-up amount. The basic service is $1 per month making its fees quite low compared to other investment options.

Clarity Money

Clarity bills itself as your financial champion, both to help you see where your money is coming and going (basic budgeting), and to find areas you could cut or scale back. The initial marquee feature of Clarity was a focus on recognizing recurring expenses and streamlining the process to cancel unwanted subscriptions. For example, it could observe your monthly payment to Audible and make canceling a one-click experience if you decide your use does not justify the expense. It has subsequently evolved into a more general budget and micro-savings platform. There is no fee for the basic service and reviews indicate Clarity has a higher-than-average support response for users.

Spendee

Spendee is a comprehensive budgeting and personal accounting application. Paying the annual premium subscription price of $22.99 per year provides shared access with other users so everyone can be on the same page. Additionally, special budgets can be set up for one-off events like weddings, a vacation, car purchase, etc. Automatic linking with a bank is an option but, unlike many other apps, so is manual entry if you are the more hands-on, paranoid type.

Honey

Honey is a free browser extension that pays attention to your online shopping. As you browse Amazon or Nike and fill your cart, Honey works in the background to find every available promotional code it can apply. If there are multiple promotional codes, it applies the one that provides the biggest savings. Some vendors like Marriott, BestBuy, and Expedia have Honey-specific discounts as well. The extension is free to install and requires no subscription.

Warnings and Caveats

  1. Neither I nor the KBA are recommending specific apps or services. Those listed above represent some of the most-reviewed and best known, but this is simply one offering among a host of similar products. If micro-savings appeals to you, study up on a variety of options before simply choosing one like Albert.
  2. This is your money so be cautious. Do your due diligence on any service or app you decide to connect to your accounts and monitor it regularly. Prepare ahead so you know how to respond if you want to terminate a service or if you have reason to believe an account has been compromised.
  3. As with any free service (and many paid services), you are often the product. Your habits and behaviors are often compiled, analyzed, and sold to buyers trying to figure out how to reach out to you and people like you. Understand the terms of service before you agree.

Originally published in the April 2019 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association.

 

Book Review—The Carrot PrincipleOpen in a New Window

The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick is a focused look at how to manage and retain employees in your office. The authors build the case that employees are not traditionally loyal—citing a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) study which said 3 out of 4 employees are looking for a new job and go on to explain how to retain workers through regular recognition of their hard work and effort. The book goes on to say that for recognition to be effective in retaining employees, it must be frequent, specific, and timely. Additionally, the recognition should give value to the worker, have an impact on their work, and be personal to them. Law firm owners often forget they are running a business with the same employee retention and profitability goals as “regular” businesses. We become busy with clients and deadlines and make up excuses as to why we will wait to give praise for an employee’s good deed. Or, some managers withhold giving recognition because the worker is “simply doing their job”. This attitude doesn’t work in today’s management climate. Workers have other options for employment, often other jobs with your competitors. It is important that we start recognizing the efforts of people working for us so our businesses can continue to thrive. The Carrot Principle teaches the reader how to integrate recognition with our daily routine in order to retain the talent we’ve worked so hard to train!

 

Casemaker Tip - Using HistoryOpen in a New Window

 

The History Link in the upper right will provide you with a complete history of all the searches you’ve created and documents you’ve viewed since logging into the Casemaker system. Each item in the History comes complete with a date and time stamp, as well as a client label, if you performed the search while logged in to a client.

So if you spent Friday evening searching for a particular statute and forgot to save it to a folder, you don’t need to worry! Just click your history to find it again without the hassle. The date and time stamps will help you be able to navigate which of these descriptions is the right one.

With permission from Khristina Williams, Casemaker Support and Marketing Manager

 

Paperless Offices Work!Open in a New Window

I am an attorney at Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm. Our firm has been paperless since before I joined in 2013. We also recently moved our systems and storage to the cloud. These two uses of technology are imperative to our firm’s function and efficiency. All case notes, legal research, correspondence, filings, notices, etc. are stored electronically. This means any attorney can immediately access all information related to a case whether in office or working remotely.

 

I’ve found our paperless system to be extremely useful and impressive to our clients. When clients call and have a “quick question” about a case we finished several years ago, we can almost always answer their question while on the phone with the client. This efficiency cuts down on necessary follow-up phone calls and emails. It also allows us to knock out seemingly large projects fairly simply. Most importantly, creating the physical set-up and habit of scanning and sending every detail of a case ensures we are compliant with one of the most prevalent lawyer disciplinary issues: communication.  

How do you do this?

  • The first step is to buy a really, really good scanner.
  • The second step is to develop the habit of scanning anything entering or leaving the office. Immigration law is still a bit archaic in that we are required to file paper-based petitions and applications with immigration (for the most part), so we have to develop paper files to be sent to immigration. We scan those in the day of filing and send a copy to the client. The government also corresponds with us via paper, so notices from the government are also scanned in and emailed to the client the day we receive them.
  • The third step—and hardest—is following your own rules to stay paperless—actually follow through and make sure your employees do as well.

 

KBA LPM Lending Library – Book SpotlightOpen in a New Window

Grit, The Secret to Advancement: Stories of Successful Women Lawyers

This is not only a book but also a program and toolkit from the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. 

Toolkit information can be found at:  https://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/women/

Book is available for check out at the KBA and available for purchase at: https://www.americanbar.org/products/inv/book/288356743/  

ABA Commission on Women in the Profession started several years ago and began research on what makes women lawyers successful. Grit and growth mindset were two traits that have been shown to impact the success of women lawyers. The Commission has now expanded its research from large law firms to encompass other legal environments including solo practice, small and medium law firms, corporations, government, and nonprofits. This a book of over 45 women sharing their inspiring stories of grit from many varied legal environments.

 

Microsoft Word Quick Tip – Uncheck Ignore Words in UPPERCASEOpen in a New Window

Click image to enlarge.

Have you ever noticed that the default setting in Microsoft Word is to ignore words in uppercase? As a result, the correct spelling functionality will ignore anything in uppercase such as headings and titles. There is a way, however, to change this setting. Here is how you do it:

  • Under the File tab, click Options.
  • Click Proofing.
  • Under “When correcting spelling in Microsoft Office programs,” uncheck Ignore words in UPPERCASE.
  • Click OK to save.

Once you have saved this change in your settings, anything you type in all uppercase will now get spell checked!

 

E-Filing: Adding a Physical Signature Page to a Proposed OrderOpen in a New Window

E-filing is great.  It allows us to file documents anytime, anywhere.  What it's not great for is filing proposed orders with physical signatures.  That is because proposed orders must be filed in a word processing format, while scanned, physical signature pages aren't compatible with that type of a file.  But why do we need to worry about this issue?  We generally use our electronic signatures (i.e., "/s/ Richard Whitman"), after all.  

Nevertheless, there are still a few instances where filing a proposed order with a physical signature is helpful: 

-        When you are dealing with pro se parties, and you don't want them to later claim that they didn't sign off on an order; 

-        When you're incorporating settlement agreements into a proposed order, as in a friendly settlement with a minor plaintiff; or

-        When the judge physically signs a proposed order, such as a docket call.

Adding a physical signature page to a proposed order isn't difficult, but it does take a few steps.  The following directions will allow you to add a physical signature page in Microsoft Word.

1.     Scan the signature page (or other pages) that you would like to incorporate into the proposed order.

2.     A) Save it as an image file (e.g., .jpg). 

B) Alternatively, you can use Windows’ “snipping tool,” to take a screenshot of the document and save it as an image file.  (Press the widows key + “s,” and search for “snipping tool.”)

3.     Go to your proposed order. 

4.     Find the location in your document where you'd like to incorporate the signature page. 

5.     Select the “insert” tab at the top of the screen.

6.     Select “pictures.”  Find the location of the signature page on your computer or server.  Select the picture, then select "insert."

Now you have the signature in the document, but it may not be centered, may be too small, or may have fouled up some text in the document. There are a variety of ways you can remedy those problems, but the following additional steps should fix them:

7.     Move the image in front of the text by:

A) Selecting the picture;

B) Selecting “format” at the top of the screen;

C) Selecting “wrap text”; and

D) Then selecting “In front of text”;

8.     Center the image by dragging the image around the page; and

9.     Resize the image to your liking by dragging on the corners of the image.

By playing with those settings, you can obtain a centered, properly sized, physical signature page within your document.  And, you'll be able to submit your proposed order with the physical signature, as desired.

 

Quick Tip: Great Resources for Cleaning Up Your Legal WritingOpen in a New Window

Are you looking for resources to improve your legal writing?  Here are two resources that may be helpful:

 

Case Management Software — Where to Begin?Open in a New Window

By , Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator

Interested in case management software, but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of products out there. There are, however, resources available that can help you narrow down your choices.

For instance, the American Bar Association has a comparison chart available on its website. This chart is created by the association’s Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC), and it is available to both members and non-members. It lists many of the case management software options available and does some of the homework for you by comparing the features offered and price, for instance, as well as offering other useful information. This comparison chart can be found here.

In addition to the LTRC’s comparison chart, the KBA also has a variety of partnerships with different software companies. So be sure to check out the KBA membership benefits page, as you may be able to get a discount on certain products through your membership.

Lastly, make sure you take a good look at the product. Ask if there is a trial period or if you can have access to a dummy account so you can test the program and its features. Also, make sure you are asking the right questions specific to your needs and doing your due diligence when it comes to security concerns.

Stayed tuned to this blog for more information about what questions to ask and what issues to consider when choosing software.

 

Review the Courts — and Judges and Lawyers OnlineOpen in a New Window

Zoom in on survey question and Dissatisfied circled in red pencil

Online Reviews: The Courts

When I wrote about user reviews of courts and judges available on Yelp back in 2016, there were barely a handful of courts with reviews on the site. Since publication of that article, Google reviews have provided stiff competition for Yelp. Any time someone searches for a business or government office on Google, their Google reviews are prominently displayed in a call-out box to the right of search results. Realizing that this simplified obtaining and leaving reviews, I turned to Google reviews to see how our courts in Kansas rate with users.

The Dataset

I searched for every district court in the state together with the Supreme Court, the court of appeals, and the judicial branch generically at the end of November 2018 and created a spreadsheet of the data. Within those searches were 172 total reviews left about 55 of our courts—and 31 of those courts received at least one review in 2018. Instead of just a few outlier courts with a Yelp review page, we now have some data from just over 50 percent of our district courts with most of the reviews left in the past two years.

This is still a modest dataset, and it is important to note that 24 of the courts reviewed have just one review. I anticipated that a user taking the time to leave a review would most likely be an upset customer. That does not appear to be the case. While seven of these reviewers left a 1-star review, 11 left a 5-star review. Johnson county is at the other end of the spectrum with 28 reviews. While it is the largest county by population in Kansas, it is not the largest court by case filings. That would be Sedgwick county and it only pulled 13 reviews. Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Shawnee round out the top five most reviewed courts with 14, 11 and 8 respectively.

Unhelpful Reviews

The subject of a court review is often not narrowly focused on judicial branch performance. For example, several of the Leavenworth reviews were related to racist remarks of a county commissioner whose story was blowing up nationally around the time I compiled results. Politics played a role in one of the Supreme Court’s 1-star reviews, which was also left with a comment, “Liberal idiots!” Multi-use county courthouses received several reviews about how county offices processed tags and titles and many reviews contain no content at all. Other reviews aim for humor: a 1-star in Sherman just says, “It’s a courthouse,” and the Supreme Court’s other 1-star review laments, “I didn’t win.” None of those are helpful.

illustration with gears and text saying Feedback

Critiques and Compliments

Not all of the reviews should be tossed aside, however. The most common complaint across the counties is particularly interesting. A 1-star review very often relates to inaccessibility of court staff by phone. Phones are not answered. Messages are not returned. Staff cannot provide relevant information when a call is answered. The Supreme Court is attempting to address those types of complaints through the eCourt initiative which aims to centralize data, publish more information online and explore options for a call-in help center.

The most common compliments accompanying positive reviews related to helpful, friendly and polite staff. One reviewer shared that court staff went out of their way to assist her and her family. One reviewer in Harper county wanted the internet to know that Debbie, in particular, was friendly and helpful. Words like professional, polite, courteous and helpful were repeated across positive reviews and seem to display what the public’s expectation is from interactions with court staff. A court with an isolated comment about staff not rising to these expectations may be able to chalk it up to a bad day or outcome for the reviewer, but if negative reviews about staff interactions with the public are consistent, it should prompt some managerial introspection.

There are very few reviews that relate to judges themselves. Two negative reviews addressed concerns with courtroom demeanor. One judge allegedly rolled her eyes and suggested she could make matters worse for the reviewer who appears to have been challenging a ticket. The other review gave a 1-star to the judge for refusing to read evidence. Two other reviews dealt more generally with how rushed the court proceedings were, denying the reviewer opportunity to ask questions or understand what was going on in the proceeding, and one was quite upset with a 60-day sentence for public urination. That is as specific as judge reviews get in the data. Reviewers leaving positive comments seem less likely to leave details beyond saying their cases worked out. n

Free Advice

Google reviews are not perfect. They can be gamed and are often unfair with reviewers cherry-picking or making up narratives for personal aims. I am not a fan, and that is not just because I have a lousy 3-star average rating myself. Regardless, the reviews are a comment card, and it is worth reading them regularly. We read all of ours as a firm and explore the complaints (and compliments) to see where we can improve. Reviews offer a chance for courts and the judicial branch to do the same and it does not cost a dime.

Original Journal Article

 

How to be Notified via Email About New Blog PostsOpen in a New Window

Note: Most KBA blogs don't require you to be logged in to view a post—except any paid groups (i.e. Sections). But to subscribe or unsubscribe, you must be logged into your KBA account.

To be notified by email about a new KBA blog post (e.g.: this "blog," Law Practice Management Tips), from any blog, click the red "Subscribe" button at the top of the page.

Once you're subscribed to this blog or any other blog, you'll be notified via email about any new posts as they are posted. This applies to Appellate Court Digests, The Journal, The Advocate, Law Wise, or any Section you are a member of and their blog you choose to follow.

 

To Unsubscribe from Any Blogs

Note: You still must be logged in to unsubscribe.

Go to your "Blog Subscriptions" and click the red "X" next to the blog and you're unsubscribed.

To get to your "Blog Subscriptions", there are two ways:

  • Option 1: From any blog, whether you subscribe to it or not, the top of the page will say "Manage Subscriptions" — click that link
  • Option 2: Once you log in...
  1. a. Click your profile picture at the top and it will open a drop-down menu.
    b. Click Account + Settings.
  2. At the left, click "Information & Settings"
  3. On the right at the top, click "Blog Subscriptions".

    From there, you can unsubscribe from any blog you are subscribed to.

 

Malware: Not the Same as a VirusOpen in a New Window

Installing “anti-virus” software is obviously a must these days. Most people are familiar with the big names out there: McAffee, Kaspersky, AVG, Symantec, etc. And those tools are great for detecting and preventing your computer from traditional forms of malicious programs that use a computer to replicate and spread.

However, “malware,” is not synonymous with “viruses.” Malware can include all kinds of programs that aren’t necessarily meant to spread beyond your system, and can include “spyware” (i.e.: a program that tracks what you’re doing), “ransomware” (i.e. a program that renders your files unreadable and literally holds them ransom), “adware” (i.e., a program that forces you to view unwanted ads), and “cryptomining” malware that hijack your computer to “mine” cryptocurrency like bitcoin (i.e.: run the verification calculations to make money with bitcoin).

The first defense against malware is to avoid clicking on strange links, visiting strange sites or downloading strange files. However, anti-malware software is necessary, as well. There are free versions available that provide decent additional protection, such as “Malware Bytes.” Many of those types of software offer paid, premium versions that run scans automatically on a daily basis for a reasonable fee, and even have additional products that can provide some mitigation against firm-halting events such as a ransomware attack.

 

Happy New Year—Set some “Corporate Resolutions” (pun intended)Open in a New Window

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!

 

Off-Ramps and On-RampsOpen in a New Window

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

 

Three Basics of Law Firm EconomicsOpen in a New Window

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.

 

Microsoft Quick Tip: Quick Zoom to Save Eye StrainOpen in a New Window

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.

 

Quick Office Tip—Disaster PlanningOpen in a New Window

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. 

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2018Open in a New Window

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

 

Firm Finances: Three Tips for Just Starting Out and Hanging Your Own ShingleOpen in a New Window

  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)

 

Staff Meetings—DO THEM!Open in a New Window

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.)

 

ABA Releases Ethics Advisory Opinion on CybersecurityOpen in a New Window

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.

 

How to Enlarge and Print Only a Portion of a PDF with Adobe ReaderOpen in a New Window

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.

 

Cybersecurity Awareness MonthOpen in a New Window

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:

 

Looking for More Tech Tips? Attend the ABA TECHSHOW 2019®!!!!Open in a New Window

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.

 

Lawyer Content on YouTubeOpen in a New Window

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.

 

Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips: Lending Library Book ReviewOpen in a New Window

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.

 

To Scan or Not to Scan a Document, Part 3: MetadataOpen in a New Window

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.

 

 

To Scan or Not Scan a Document, Part 2Open in a New Window

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

Last week, I discussed the importance of converting a document to PDF rather than printing and scanning. To recap, when you scan a document, you are creating an image-only PDF rather than a “true” PDF. The downside, you lose a lot of key functions in the PDF when you scan the document. If you missed last week’s Tech Tip, I encourage you to go back and look. You can always find the Tech Tips archive on the KBA website at https://www.ksbar.org/blogpost/1106646/LPM-Tech-Tips.

In last week’s tip, I provided instructions on how to convert a Microsoft Word document to a PDF. This week, I want to provide you with instructions for another commonly used document in the legal practice, Microsoft Excel.

There are a couple of ways to convert an Excel file to PDF. You will see that your options are similar to that in Microsoft Word.

Option 1: Save As a PDF

  • Click the File
  • Click Save As.
  • Select your file location.
  • In the File Name box, enter a name for the file, if you haven't already.
  • In the Save as type list, click PDF.
  • Click Options to set the page range and what to publish (such as the entire workbook or just active sheets).
  • Click Save.

Option 2: Print to PDF

  • Click the File tab and select Print.
  • In the Printer options, select Print to PDF.
  • Click Print.
  • A pop-up box will appear, select your file location and enter a name for the file, if you haven’t already.
  • In the Save as type list, click PDF.
  • Click Options to set the page range and what to publish (such as the entire workbook or just active sheets).
  • Click Save.

Now you know how to convert both a Microsoft Word document and a Microsoft Excel document to PDF. So, no more printing and scanning. If you prefer using WordPerfect for your word processing software, you can find instructions here that will walk you through converting a WordPerfect document to a PDF. 

Stay tuned, in the coming months we will begin to explore the functions in Adobe, so you can see why creating a “true” PDF is worth it.

 

To Scan or Not to Scan a DocumentOpen in a New Window

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

On multiple occasions I have seen lawyers print a document, walk over to the scanner and scan the document to create a PDF. Sure, this is relatively easy to do; however, when you scan the document in this manner, what you are actually doing is creating an image of that document rather than creating a true digital document.

There are clear downsides to an image-only PDF. For instance, you lose search capabilities, because the image-only PDF contains just the photographed images of pages without the underlying text layer. Additionally, their text usually cannot be modified or marked up for the purposes of editing. The only way to correct these issues is through using an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) application. Unfortunately, if you only have Adobe Reader, you won’t be able to perform this function. You must have Adobe Acrobat or some other tool to OCR text from a scanned document. The other issue with OCR is that, depending on the quality of the image, or the recognizability of the writing, it may not be 100% accurate.

Instead of scanning a document into an image-only PDF, I highly recommend creating “true” or digitally created PDFs by using software such as Microsoft Word or Excel. For instance, if you have created a document in Word, converting it to a true PDF is just as easy as creating an image-only PDF, without even having to walk to the scanner.

Here are the steps for converting a Word document:

  • Click File, then click Save As.
  • In the File Name box, enter a name for the file, if you haven’t already.
  • In the Save as type dropdown list, click PDF.
  • Click Save.

You can also create a PDF in Word by using the print to pdf option, following these steps:

  • Click File, then click Print.
  • Under the Printer option, select Microsoft Print to PDF.
  • Click Print.

Stayed tuned to next week’s Tech Tip for instructions on how to convert other documents, including Excel Files.

 

Microsoft Outlook Spell CheckOpen in a New Window

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

Microsoft Outlook has a "spell check" feature that can be helpful in preventing those pesky misspelled emails we all have sent when trying to reply quickly to a matter. The great thing about this feature is that it doesn’t just highlight the misspelled words in the email while drafting. In addition to highlighting the misspelled word, it also causes a pop-up window to appear after you have clicked send. This pop-up window allows you one last opportunity to fix the error by offering suggestions to correct the mistake.

For some reason, this feature comes turned off by default in Outlook. As a result, if you want to take advantage of it, you will have to turn it on. To turn on the Spell Check feature:

  • Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  • Click Mail.
  • Click to turn on Always check Spelling before sending.
Screen grab of settings to turn on check spelling always before sending

 

Avvo Legal Services SunsetOpen in a New Window

By , partner at Zimmerman & Zimmerman P.A.

In the midst of mounting pressure from state bar associations over ethics concerns, Avvo announced the end of its fixed-fee legal services offering, Avvo Legal Services, in July. Avvo Legal Services charged potential clients $39.95 to speak with a lawyer participating in the program. Avvo facilitated the connection through its website depositing the $39.95 in the lawyer’s account and then debited $10 from the lawyer’s account for a “marketing fee.” Similar fixed-fee offerings for document review, business formation, and family law services were also in development or deployment. Avvo clearly hoped that the transaction structure and label on its fee would make clear that the arrangement was not fee-splitting but multiple states were unconvinced.


Avvo Opposition

In June, 2017, three New Jersey Supreme Court committees issued a Joint Opinion stating that the legal service program operated by Avvo “is an impermissible lawyer referral service, in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct 7.2(c) and 7.3(d), and comprises improper fee sharing with a nonlawyer in violation of Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4(a).”  (ACPE Opinion 732, CAA Opinion 44, and UPL Opinion 54)  The New Jersey Supreme Court opted not to review the issue in June, 2018.

Shortly after New Jersey’s opinion, the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics released its own opinion (Opinion 1132, 8/8/17) that payment of the “marketing fee” to Avvo Legal Services was an improper payment for a recommendation. New York examined the Avvo rating system, guarantees, and refund policy for dissatisfied clients deciding that such steps clearly conveyed to the public a recommendation of a lawyer.

New York also noted in passing that other issues might also be created by the Avvo arrangement including confidentiality problems arising when evaluating issuance of a refund and the ability of a lawyer to offer competent legal services under the restrictions imposed by the service but ultimately noted that a decision on those issues was unnecessary given the larger context of the service being improper as a whole. Most interestingly, New York noted that Avvo might be meeting a legitimate public need unmet by traditional marketing but argued, “…it is not this Committee’s job to decide policy issues regarding access to justice, affordability of legal fees, or lawyer quality. Our job is to interpret the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.”

Potential Opening for Avvo

In their rulings, New Jersey and New York had joined several other states including South Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in finding the service improper under the Rules. The news was not all bad for Avvo, however. The North Carolina State Bar opined in Proposed 2018 Formal Ethics Opinion 1 (April 19, 2018) that participation in Avvo and similar services could be permissible under certain circumstances. (That draft was apparently sent back for further study.) More significantly, The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, the body overseeing attorney discipline, issued a 124-page report recommending loosening of professional conduct rules to allow lawyers to engage for-profit referral services like Avvo.

The report argues, “Prohibiting lawyers from participating in or sharing fees with for-profit services that refer clients to or match clients with participating lawyers is not a viable approach because the prohibition would perpetuate the lack of access to the legal marketplace.” The Illinois Disciplinary Administrator, Jerome Larkin, solicited public comment on the report, which he wrote, through August 31, 2018. Chief Legal Officer for Avvo Legal Services, Josh King, has made a similar argument saying, “…When the Rules get rigidly applied like this, it has two really bad effects. One is really good lawyers pull back. And the second impact it has is it makes it harder for consumers to get access to legal services.”

Acquisition by Internet Brands

Ultimately, the decision to sunset the Avvo Legal Services product may be more business-driven than reactionary to state bar pressures. Avvo was acquired by Internet Brands back in January, 2018. That folded Avvo into a company with existing properties like Lawyers.com, Nolo, and Martindale-Hubbell. Initially, analysts predicted the acquisition would be a positive step for legal consumers.

Following the acquisition, Avvo’s founder and CEO, noted, “Medical is way ahead in this area – in how hospitals interact and maintain relationships with consumers in new ways. ‘There’s a brand that I trust associated with this medical need, and I go to that website, I interact with a nurse on call 24/7, and if I need more they can set that up.’ This is an example where the consumer bypasses the search environment because they have a relationship. The medical profession is working hard to keep that relationship going. Legal isn’t doing any of that. But that’s another reason this deal is attractive: tapping in to the innovation [Internet Brands] has had in other verticals. Being able to get on the phone and talk to people who’ve solved these issues in, say, medical, is super attractive.”

Months later, most of the Avvo leadership including its former CEO, CFO, CPO, CTO, and chief legal officer had made plans to leave and Avvo Legal Services was given a sunset date. The apparent need Avvo filled has not evaporated, however, and the ABA and several states such as Illinois may be looking for ways to enable and govern such services in a way that provides safety for both participating lawyers and prospective clients.

 

The KBA Lending LibraryOpen in a New Window

Did you know that as a KBA member you have access to the KBA Lending Library?

The Lending Library is a free service to members offering a comprehensive selection of books on topics relating to practice management, technology, lawyer well-being, and career development.  The books are available for a short-term loan and can be mailed to you upon request.

To see what titles are available in the library and to view check-out policies visit https://www.ksbar.org/page/lomap_library

 

How to Combine Track Changes from Multiple AuthorsOpen in a New Window

By Danielle M. Hall, KBA LPM Committee Member,
Office of the Disciplinary Administrator, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator 

Have you ever sent a Microsoft Word document to multiple colleagues in your office to edit, only to find it a cumbersome process to then go through and make the suggested changes from each person in the original document? Instead of going through each document one by one and making the suggested changes in the original document, try merging the tracked changes into one document to save time.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. Click Review > Compare > Combine.
  2. A pop-up window will appear letting you choose the Original Document and the Revised Document.
  3. Under Original Document, click the down arrow and choose the document you sent for review.
  4. Under Revised Document, choose the document you want to merge.
  5. In the Label unmarked changes with box, type the name of the person who made the suggested changes.
  6. Click the More
  7. Under Show changes in, select New document.
  8. Click OK.

Word will then open a new document that combines the original document and the copy you merged.  The screen will be divided into three sections:

  • the combined document,
  • the original document, and
  • the revised document.

You can hide the original and revised document screens by clicking Compare Show Source Documents > Hide Source Documents, or by clicking the x’s in the upper right-hand corner of each section.

You can merge more revised copies by saving the document that contains the combined changes and merging an additional copy into that document just like you did before. You would repeat this process until all revised copies have been merged.

 

How to Password Protect a PDF in Adobe AcrobatOpen in a New Window

By Danielle M. Hall, Kansas Bar Association

If you ever need to send a password protected PDF via email, here's how do it in Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Open the PDF and choose Tools.
  2. From the Tools menu select Protection > Encrypt > Encrypt with Password.
  3. If you receive a prompt asking, "are sure you want to change the security on the document,” click Yes.
  4. Select Require a Password to Open the Document.
  5. Insert a password in the corresponding field.
  6. Select an Acrobat version from the Compatibility drop-down menu. Choose a version equal to or lower than the recipients’ version of Acrobat or Reader.
  7. Select an Encryption Option.
  8. Click OK.

Note: Password protecting a PDF may increase the size of the document. 

 

The Chicago Bar Association Law Practice Management & Technology Division How to Video Library Goes PublicOpen in a New Window

By Danielle M. Hall, Kansas Bar Association

It was recently announced at the National Association of Bar Executives Annual Meeting, which was held last week in Chicago, Illinois, that the Chicago Bar Association is no longer restricting access to their How to Video Library. The video library is produced by the CBA’s Law Practice Management & Technology (LPMT) Division. The CBA LPMT Division regularly sponsors training and demonstrations of hardware and software geared to legal professionals. Archives of these programs are available in the video library. The library can be accessed at https://lpmt.chicagobar.org/how-to-video-library/. You can learn everything from managing your Google or Microsoft Outlook calendar to formatting documents. You will find videos on career issues, firm management, and even social media and marketing. This is a great resource and I encourage KBA members to go the CBA LPMT website and watch some videos. I must also say thank you to the Chicago Bar Association for providing access to such a great resource!

 

Microsoft Word Quick Tip: Keyboard Shortcuts for § and ¶Open in a New Window

By Danielle M. Hall, Kansas Bar Association 

Most of us use Microsoft Word frequently in our day-to-day work, however, if I had to bet, I would say that most of us are probably not taking advantage of keyboard shortcuts to work more efficiently when creating documents.

If you have ever created a document which included the § and ¶ symbols, you know that it can be cumbersome to insert these special characters in Word. Typically, you would need to:

  1. Click the Insert tab
  2. Click Symbol
  3. Click More Symbols
  4. Select the Special Characters tab
  5. Choose the special character you want to insert, and finally select Insert

Constantly taking your hands off the keyboard in this manner to point and click with your mouse can add up to a lot of wasted time. So, what if I told you that there are shortcuts to all this clicking with a mouse?

First, if you are using a PC you will want to make sure you have the number lock enabled on your keyboard, and that you are using the numeric keyboard on the right. The shortcut on a PC for § is Alt+21, and for ¶ is Alt+20. For Mac users, your shortcut for § is Option+6, and for ¶ is Option+7. It is that simple!

PC Mac
§ Alt+21 Option+6
Alt+20 Option+7

 

Tips for Detecting a Phishing EmailOpen in a New Window

By Danielle M. Hall, Kansas Bar Association 

When presenting CLE on data breaches, I often explain when talking about phishing that we’re not talking about the kind you do on a Saturday afternoon at the lake. Instead, we are talking about a cyber-attack that uses email as a weapon.

The goal of a phishing email is often to trick the recipient into clicking malicious links, downloading infected attachments, or sending sensitive information. For instance, when an employee clicks on a link or an attachment in a phishing email, malicious software can be installed on the computer. This could lead to malware spreading to other devices, captured passwords, stolen files, or even those files being held for ransom. Instead of trying to break directly into servers, criminals are using, and betting on, social engineering to gain access to your information. We read and open email communication all the time. As a result, human psychology is a prime target for criminals to gain access to our accounts, to our computers, and to our data.

According to the 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon, almost of half of all malware is installed via email, and falling victim to a phishing email can have major consequences such as significant downtime, loss of access to data, and even the need to replace computer equipment. To avoid these situations, one must educate themselves on what email phishing is and how to recognize it. Below you will find 5 tips for recognizing a phishing email.

  1. Inconsistencies in Email Addresses and Domain Names. Always check the email address of the sender to see if there are any inconsistencies. For instance, the email may imply it is coming from a company such as Apple, however, you might see that that the email address is coming from a Gmail account. Another scenario is where the username in the email address uses the company name, but it is misspelled. Finally, make sure to look at the domain name to see if it matches up to the username. An example would be AppleAdmin@fastweb.com. Cleary, this would not be from Apple.
  2. Inconsistencies in Links. If you receive an email asking you to click on a link, a good method to employ is hovering over the link to see where it will take you. The key to this technique is to not click on the link while doing it. If you hover over a link that is supposed to take you to a Google Doc, but instead the link says it will take to gamemachines.altavista.org/wp-includes/wp-access.php, this is a clear sign of a phishing email. Recently, I have seen emails that appear to be a Microsoft SharePoint email, but were actually phishing emails. When you hover over the link, the word SharePoint is in the link, however, it is followed by words that don’t match up. Even though SharePoint’s name was in the link, what followed was an indicator that it was a phishing email. So, make sure to pay close attention to the link when hovering.
  3. Demands Urgent Action and/or Seeks Personal Information. "Update your information or your account will shut down in 24 hours.”  This is a good example of a social engineering technique used by criminals to prompt email recipients to provide personal information. These emails can often create a sense of urgency and should be warnings signs to you that the email is probably fake. Using common sense in these situations will go a long way. If you are unsure about a request made, the best thing to do is pick up the phone and call to verify the email before providing any information.
  4. Includes an Impersonal Message. Phishing emails will often use greetings such as "Dear Account Holder/User,” "Dear Sir or Madam,” or may not even have a greeting at all. This could be a sign the email is a phishing attempt. 
  5. Includes Poor Spelling and Bad Grammar. Major companies take the time to ensure their communications contain proper spelling and grammar. Most won’t message their customers without a few rounds of editing. So, if you spot something misspelled or the email is filled with grammatical errors, you can be confident the email is more than likely a fake.
  6. Includes Too Good to Be True Offers. If you receive an email that offers some sort of incentive to click on a link or download an attachment, and the offer seems too good to be true, that email is probably a scam. The likelihood that it is a phishing email goes up if it comes from an unrecognized sender or the recipient did not initiate the contact. 

While this list gives you some examples of what to look for, remember cyber criminals are always coming up with new methods of attack. The best thing to do is take time to review emails carefully, use common sense, and if anything looks off, don’t click. Ultimately, taking a second to the review the email before you click will save you both time and potentially money in the long run.

 

Time Management: The Pomodoro TechniqueOpen in a New Window

By Danielle Hall, Kansas Bar Association 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

TECH TIP: Tips for Creating Secure PasswordsOpen in a New Window

By Danielle M. Hall, Kansas Bar Association

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

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

Comment 8 of KRPC 1.1 states:

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

KRPC 1.6(c) states:

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

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

To create more secure passwords, try the following suggestions:

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

 

Tech Tip: Traveling Internationally This Summer? Some Things to Consider....Open in a New Window

Click Here

 

 

Law Firm Marketing 2.0: Internet Marketing for RainmakersOpen in a New Window

By Stephen Fairley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2009

 

 

 

Tech Tip Video: How to Use the Signature Function in Outlook for Email Signatures and TemplatesOpen in a New Window

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

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

 

Tech Tip Video: How to Create a Pleading Template in WordOpen in a New Window

Video: How to Create a Pleading Template in Word


May 22, 2018 
by Jennifer Meisberger

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

Taken from the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund blog.

 

 

Are You Using Video Communication? You Should Be!Open in a New Window

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Privacy (via Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original post can be found HERE.


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

 

Ant Text Makes Your Email Work SmarterOpen in a New Window

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

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

Templates to Save Time Responding to Email

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

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

How Ant Text Works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Windows Desktop Client Works with Word and Excel Files

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

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

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

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

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

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

 

TECH TIP: Are You Using Video Communication? You Should Be!Open in a New Window

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PracticePointer: April 23, 2018Open in a New Window

 

3 Things Not to Say on The Phone with Clients

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

                       They’ll be happy to help you with that.

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Practice Pointer: April 17, 2018Open in a New Window

Building Trust to Generate Referrals

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

But how do you get there?

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

Inventory Your Infrastructure of Trust

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

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

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

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

Fostering Loyalty: Touchpoints

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

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

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

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

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

Forming Real Relationships

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

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

 

Practice Pointer: Finding the TimeOpen in a New Window

 

Finding the Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

TECHSHOW TAKEAWAYSOpen in a New Window

TECHSHOW TAKEAWAYS

ABA TECHSHOW 2018: From First to Last Ripple

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

 

techshow

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

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

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

Anniversaries

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

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

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

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

 

Launch Pad

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

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

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

 

Notes from the Expo Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

60 in 60

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

Five Benefits of Using Cloud Computing for Law FirmsOpen in a New Window

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

Five benefits of using Cloud Computing for Law Firms

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

Five benefits your Firm can gain with Legal DaaS:

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

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

 

New Edition of Law Practice Today Now Available! Click Inside to Read the MARKETING ISSUEOpen in a New Window

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The Marketing Issue

Law Practice Today, March 2018

Editor-in-Chief: Andrea Malone
Associate Editors: Amy Drushal
Issue Editor: Nancy Gimbol

 

Start Every New Doc With the Fonts You PreferOpen in a New Window

MICROSOFT WORD QUICK TIPS

Resetting Default Heading and Body Fonts in Word

By  | Mar.02.18 | Daily DispatchProductivityTech TipsVideos

If you’re sick of Calibri and Cambria, change your default heading and body styles so you can start every new Word document with the fonts you prefer.

Put Font Frustration Behind You!

One of the most persistent frustrations legal users have with Microsoft Word is the default font settings. Fortunately, you can permanently change just two Styles (+Body and +Headings) to give your documents a more businesslike typeface.

These settings are found in the Design tab (introduced into Microsoft Word with version 2013).

Over on the far right is a drop-down called Fonts. Clicking on Fonts will give you a list of preconfigured font sets. From here, you want to choose Customize Fonts.

That’s going to take you into the Create New Theme Fonts dialog box. On the left, you’ll see Heading font and Body font. This is where you set the two Styles I told you about earlier, +Body and +Headings, which in turn control basic settings for many of the other Styles in a Word document. Just use the drop-down for each to find a font more to your liking. Then you can name your preferred font set before clicking save.

Once you reset the font style, the default text size is an easy fix, too.

Go to the Home tab and click on the small launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the font section to go to the Font dialog box. Select +Body and the size text you want, then click Set as Default in the lower left-hand corner.

Word will ask whether you want to make this the default for this document only or for all future documents based on the Normal template. Choose the latter and click OK.

Save everything you’ve done by clicking Set as Default on the Design tab (next to the Colors and Fonts buttons).

Now Every New Document You Start in Word Will Use the Fonts You Prefer

This doesn’t affect documents you receive from others or any existing documents you created. However, once you reset your default fonts, at least your days of adjusting the fonts every time you start a document are behind you.

 

A Brief History of Black Lawyers in Kansas: The Sayers FamilyOpen in a New Window

A Brief History of Black Lawyers in Kansas: The Sayers Family

 At the conclusion of Black History Month, we want to highlight one dynamic legal family and their contributions to the Kansas bar.

 It is difficult to know many of the details in documenting the activities of black lawyers in Kansas prior to the early 20th century.

But, we do know that at that time W.L. Sayers and John Q. Sayers of Hill City, E. Clark of Lawrence, T. Bell of Leavenworth and I.F. Bradley, Sr. of Kansas City had established "enviable reputations as able and fearless trial lawyers, Clark and Bradley also served as Justices of the Peace in Lawrence and Kansas City."

The Sayers family is one of the most distinguished in the history of the Kansas bar. The family moved to Nicodemus from Nebraska in the late 1880"s and even with many obstacles in their path toward formal education the two sons, W.L. and John Q., "gained fame in legal circles. W.L. began to teach school at the age of 16 and he started to read law in the office of G.W. Jones in Hill City shortly thereafter. Before the turn of the century, he was admitted to the bar, engaged in private practice, and in 1900 was elected county attorney. He won the office again in 1912 and 1914. in addition to the practice of law, he engaged in innumerable business and civic activities."

"John Q. Sayers, seven years his brother's junior, also served as Graham county attorney and with W.L. built a wide-ranging practice. Both were highly successful in the courtroom and it was reported that in one term of the district court in Graham County 32 cases appeared before the bench. W.L. arguing for one side or the other, won every case. He did not talk much about his successes but he did mention once that John had beaten him several times."

John was also willing to comment on his brother's achievements, telling the Kansas City Star on one occasion: "The trouble is he's twice as good as ever when he comes up against me in court...You never know what he's got up his sleeve until he breaks loose with it, at the most embarrassing moment possible." W. L. Sayers was recognized by one prominent white lawyer as he described Bill: " Bill is deceptively smoothe in the courtroom ...Bill leads witnesses into his confidence with his mild manners and magnetic charm until they have told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, whether they originally intended to or not...He never forgets a case or a fact. In fact, he is a walking lawbook."

Another member of the family, W.L.'s son, Wendell, graduated from Washburn Law School, practiced law in Colorado, and has served with distinction in the Colorado attorney general's office.

The Sayers family clearly made a difference in the Kansas legal community, and they continue to do so. The Kansas Bar expresses gratitude to these early lawyers for their perseverance, dedication, and commitment to building a diverse, civic-minded, and accomplished legal community in Kansas.

Reference: Material for this post was derived from "Requisite Learning and Good Moral Character: A History of the Kansas Bench and Bar" written by Robert W. Richmond of the Kansas Historical Society and published by the Kansas Bar Association in 1982.

 

Learn More about Early African American Legal PioneersOpen in a New Window

 

In honor of Black History Month, we've pulled out three legal pioneers to share with you. These were some of the first African American lawyers and they laid the foundation for future generations, but it was quite a struggle. When Macon Bolling Allen became the first African American licensed to practice law in the United States it was a testament to his strength of character. And, when Irvin Charles Mollison began to practice law as an African American man it became so difficult that he petitioned for a judicial position. Finally, Charles Hamilton Houston served as the Dean of Howard University School of Law and worked on civil rights in this country becoming known as "the man who killed Jim Crow."

We don't learn much about these early pioneers and leaders of our profession, so in honor of Black History Month, and because these stories are important to our larger story, I am sharing them with you. I do not have any African American Women here. Unfortunately, it was much later when women were able to immerse themselves in the professional world, particularly women of color. But, during Women's History Month next month, you will learn more about some of the amazing legal minds of our female pioneers. So, stay tuned!

 

The First African American man to both be licensed to practice law and hold a judicial position in the United States:  Macon Bolling Allen

Macon Bolling Allen (born Allen Macon Bolling;[1] August 4, 1816 – June 11, 1894) is believed to be both the first African American licensed to practice law and to hold a judicial position in the United States. Allen passed the bar exam in Maine in 1844 and became a Massachusetts Justice of the Peace in 1848. He moved to South Carolina after the American Civil War to practice law and was elected as a probate court judge in 1874. Following the Reconstruction Era, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an attorney for the Land and Improvement Association.

 

The First African American man appointed to a position in the federal judiciary:  Irvin Charles Mollison

Irvin Charles Mollison was born on December 24, 1898, in VicksburgMississippi. He received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1920 from the University of Chicago. He received a Juris Doctorate in 1923 from the University of Chicago Law School. He then worked in private practice in ChicagoIllinois, from 1923 to 1945.[1] Mollison was the first African American appointed to a position in the federal judiciary whose position was posthumously converted into an Article III judgeship. Judge Mollison also was the first African American to serve on the United States Customs Court. He was appointed by President Truman, and confirmed by the United States Senate without a single dissenting vote.

 

Graduate of Harvard Law School; Dean of Howard University School of Law; and Instrumental in Dismantling Jim Crow Laws:  Charles Hamilton Houston

Charles Hamilton Houston (September 3, 1895 – April 22, 1950) was a prominent African-American lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School, and NAACP first special counsel, or Litigation Director. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, Houston played a significant role in dismantling Jim Crow laws, especially attacking segregation in schools and racial housing covenants. He earned the title "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow".

Houston is also well known for having trained and mentored a generation of black attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, future director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund and appointed as Supreme Court Justice.[3] He recruited young lawyers to work on the NAACP's litigation campaigns, building connections between Howard's and Harvard's university law schools.

 

Four Ways Law Practice Management Software Helps Prevent Legal Malpractice ClaimsOpen in a New Window

 

Four Ways Law Practice Management Software Helps Prevent Legal Malpractice Claims

By  | Feb.09.18 | Law Practice ManagementLegal TechnologyProduct SpotlightSecuritySmall Law Firm

Legal Malpractice Claims

Since 2009, the number of legal malpractice suits has escalated along with the costs to defend them, according to annual surveys by Ames & Gogh, an insurance broker. They say:

  • Insurers have paid claims of $50 million or more in 2016.
  • Malpractice claims are most commonly triggered by conflicts of interest and cybersecurity issues.
  • Business transactions result in the most claims, which tend to center around improper preparation, filing and/or document transmission.

If you want to do everything possible to ensure you’re never among the firms accused of malpractice, take advantage of law practice management software, advises Nerino Petro, technology co-editor for the ABA “GP|Solo Magazine” and CEO of a legal consulting firm.

“Properly implemented, law practice management can help reduce malpractice exposure by significantly reducing opportunities for human error, and that’s huge,” he says.

Some of the many ways a law practice management system can help protect you from a malpractice claim include:

1. Catching Conflicts of Interest

Top law practice management software brings the highest level of diligence to conflict checking by searching your entire database, including notes, files, text documents, images that have undergone optical character recognition scanning, and emails. It then can run a report of results.

This is a vast improvement over typical conflict-checking methods, says Petro.

“These can range from a lawyer poking his head out of his office and yelling, ‘Anyone ever represent Joe Goglioni?’ to circulating a list of names throughout the firm to running names through a time-and-billing system,” he explains. “If there’s no response or nothing shows up, they assume they’ve done a conflict check. It’s no wonder malpractice claims for conflict checks are increasing.”

2. Keeping Track of Deadlines

“If you have never woken up in the middle of the night, panicking that you might have blown a statute of limitations date, you’re in the wrong field,” declares Nerino, “because that should be something that keeps you up at night.”

Law practice management software can help you ensure you never miss a deadline (and sleep much easier) by:

  • Automatically calculating court deadlines to eliminate human error — like overlooking holidays, weekends, and rule changes — that can happen too easily when deadlines are calculated manually.
  • Automatically update you if rule sets have changed. The most trusted practice management systems employ attorney editors who continuously monitor rule sets across the entire U.S. judicial system. If a rule changes, you will be automatically notified so every deadline in your case can be updated to reflect it.
  • Alert you of tasks to complete to meet the court deadline. If the court deadline shifts, your task deadlines will, too.

3. Providing Thorough Documentation

Practice management software acts as a repository for all of your matter information. It details every action you take and when you take them to move your matters forward.

This came in handy for Cynthia Sharp, Esq., when she owned a law firm (she is now an attorney coach). She recalls when a client’s daughter accused her of not “doing anything” with her mother’s case for two years. Because of her law practice management system, Sharp was able to counter this assertion with 200 time-stamped actions she had taken to move the matter forward.

“I would have never been as convincing if I didn’t have the technology that helped us track precisely what we did on behalf of her mother,” says Sharp.

In addition to meticulously documenting actions taken on a matter, the best law practice management tools document communication through secure client portals. A built-in client portal allows you to securely exchange documents and messages with clients while recording and time stamping the actions taken regarding the communication.

“If a client insists that they never got a response to an issue, you’ll be able to pull up the communication and point to the date your response was sent, if they opened it, and how they replied,” notes Petro.

4. Mitigating Cybersecurity Issues

Malpractice insurers have seen an uptick in malpractice claims related to hackers. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey
Report reveals that most law firms with fewer than 10 attorneys don’t take any action to encrypt their emails or files. This makes small law firms an appealing target, says Petro, because the information they’re responsible for — whether that’s details of a merger or simply social security numbers — is valuable. That’s why he believes a cybersecurity needs to be a top, if not the number one, priority for law firms.

The easiest way to make sure your law firm is up to speed with the latest and best cybersecurity is by taking advantage of law practice management software, which provides industry-leading security that would be too costly for small law firms to obtain on their own. This includes:

  • The same cybersecurity as the world’s leading financial organizations, including SOC 2 compliance and certification.
  • Encryption for emails and data while in transit and storage.
  • Daily data back up on multiple servers, in discrete locations, with 24/7 physical security and cybersecurity protection.

“Law practice management tools can help you efficiently meet your obligations under the rules of professional conduct,” says Petro. “From keeping your client’s information confidential to providing detailed documentation of activities, time and billing, and communication, you’ll have the data you need to mitigate the situations that cause lawsuits. It’s no wonder many insurers provide discounts to firms that have a law practice management subscription.”

Find out how easy it is to rest easier knowing that your firm is doing everything possible to avoid the human error behind malpractice claims. Take advantage of a two-week free trial of Firm Central that includes all of the features discussed in this article. (We know lawyers get busy, so if you forget to notify us in a couple of weeks that you’re not interested — don’t worry. You won’t automatically be rolled into a subscription.)

And, if at the end of the two weeks you’re wondering how you lived without it, you’ll be relieved to know that subscriptions are affordable — about the same as a basic cell phone or cable bill.

 

 

The Legal Lowdown on Document Management SoftwareOpen in a New Window

 

 

Here's the legal lowdown on document management software

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Niki Black

Nicole Black

 

Choosing the right technology tools for your law firm can be a confusing endeavor. After all, there are so many different types of software products available and so many choices to make when it comes to features, pricing and security. Sifting through the maze of information can be a time-consuming process that can quickly become overwhelming. 

That’s why my goal with this new monthly legal technology column is to get lawyers up to speed on their legal software options. In each column, I’ll focus on a specific type of software—such as billing or contract analysis software—and explain the choices available, including features built into software suites and stand-alone platforms devoted to handling a particular law firm function.

Most of the software tools discussed will be those aimed at small and midsize firms, since large firms have very different, more complex needs. I’ll also focus primarily on cloud-based tools since even the most traditional software providers are transitioning many of their products to the cloud. Generic consumer-focused tools will not be discussed since legal-specific software is designed with lawyers’ needs in mind, both in terms of functionality and security, whereas consumer-focused software is not.

In this column, I’ll cover the document management software options for solo, small and midsize law firms. Because the practice of law is document-intensive, firms of all sizes have document management needs. Some rely on the foldering systems built into their word processing software, but most firms require a more robust system. That’s where document management software comes in.

Document management software is designed to provide a built-in organizational system for your documents. Documents can be associated with case files or matters, and access can be limited to certain firm users. Some more robust systems include document versioning and audit trails that track user access to documents. Document collaboration and sharing features are also built into some platforms and allow secure external sharing with clients, co-counsel, experts and more. Another feature included in some software products is the conversion of scanned documents into optical character recognition format, which creates searchable, indexed PDFs.

Your firm’s document management needs will depend in large part on the size of your law firm and the practice areas handled by your firm. Some practice areas are much more document-intensive and thus require more robust document management tools.

For solo and small-firm lawyers with practices that aren’t document-intensive—such as family lawyers, trust and estate lawyers, and criminal law attorneys—a stand-alone document management system is likely unnecessary. Instead, the document management features built into most law practice management systems such as Rocket Matter, Clio or MyCase (note that I am the legal technology evangelist with MyCase) will often be sufficient and more cost-effective than using both law practice management software and document management software.

The document management features built into law practice management software typically include the ability to store and associate documents with client matters, basic document versioning, and the ability to share documents using secure online portals. Some even allow document collaboration using secure communication portals, a functionality that is all the more important in the wake of ABA Formal Opinion 477, wherein the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility concluded that particularly sensitive client information should no longer be shared using unencrypted email.

Of course, some small and midsize law firms have more complex document management requirements. Three leading stand-alone systems for such firms to consider are iManage, Worldox and Netdocs. Worldox and iManage have been around for years as premise-based solutions, and both recently rolled out cloud-based options. Netdocs, on the other hand, has always been a cloud-based solution. This means Netdocs was designed to work in, and take advantage of, cloud functionality from the very start, whereas Worldox and iManage’s cloud versions are based on functionality and features found in their premise-based software.

All three platforms provide advanced document management features. In addition, they also include robust document versioning, audit trails and OCR conversion from scans that permit document indexing and search features. Each also includes email management tools, knowledge management capabilities, and other features specific to larger firms, including key integrations with Office 365, e-discovery platforms, and more.

Finally, because all the document management systems discussed above—both the stand-alone and built-in options—are cloud-based, mobile document access is available no matter which software solution you choose. When your firm’s documents are securely stored in the cloud, you can easily and securely access those documents from any location via the mobile app of your chosen software program using any internet-enabled device.

With today’s document management software, gone are the days of scrambling to locate documents. Instead, you’ll be able to quickly and easily access, share and collaborate on your firm’s documents no matter where you are. Another bonus is that with cloud-based document management software, you’ll be well on your way to digitizing your firm’s documents, allowing your firm to easily transition to e-filing when it’s required in your jurisdiction.

So if you aren’t already using document management software in your law firm, what better time than now to make the move?


Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist and the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, legal practice management software for solo and small-firm lawyers. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers, and she co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier.She also co-authored Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson West treatise. She writes regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law and Legal IT Pros, has authored hundreds of articles and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile and cloud computing, and internet-based technology. She can be contacted at niki.black@mycase.com.

 

New Edition of Law Practice Today Now Available! Click Inside to Read the Women in Law IssueOpen in a New Window

 

Good news to share! The newest edition of Law Practice Today is now available. Click below to read the full issue. 

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The Women in Law Issue

Law Practice Today, February 2018

Editor-in-Chief: Andrea Malone
Associate Editors: Amy Drushal
Issue Editor: Leonika Charging

 

Taking Control: Time Management Tips for Busy LawyersOpen in a New Window

 

MAKING TIME FOR MARKETING

Taking Control: Time Management Tips for Busy Lawyers

By  | Feb.05.18 | Business DevelopmentDaily DispatchEfficiencyTime Management

You have at least three phone numbers (home, office, and cell), at least two email addresses (work and personal), and at least two social media accounts (Facebook and LinkedIn). You can be texted, tweeted, emailed, snail-mailed and even faxed. If people want to reach you, they expect to do so almost immediately. It’s no wonder you feel pulled in too many directions and think your scarce time is being wasted.

Add to that the evolution of our professional landscape — the fact that being an expert in your respective field requires a more complex understanding of facts and trends than ever before. To earn and keep your clients’ business, you have to impress them with information they didn’t already know (or could Google).

Then there’s business development, an endeavor once sufficiently addressed with a listing in the phone book, an ad in the paper, and a membership with the Rotary club. Now, it requires constant networking, social media posts, charity involvement, PR, conference attendance, competitive intelligence, and persistent “pinging.”

Ways to Make More Time for Business Development

A healthy practice is already a full-time job. The key is to be as efficient as possible so that you have time left for business development (or whatever else you’ve been neglecting). Here are six steps you can take to increase your efficiency.

1. Start your day with a task list, and use it to guide your activities. This is not as easy as it sounds. All too often we find ourselves starting our day with an idea of how it will go and what we’ll get done, only to find that we get sidetracked, distracted, held-up, and rain-checked by various other people and projects. If this happens, be disciplined in getting your day back on track. Keep a white-board or some other large, visible list in your office that you can use to remind yourself of your priorities for the day. The harder it is to miss, the better.

2. Establish set times for email responses, and stick to them. If you always start every day with email, you’re immediately entering a reactive work mode. Your email inbox is like a to-do list assigned by 100 people, none of whose immediate concern is whether or not you bring in new clients. And email is typically the gateway to an entire day spent in that reactive mode. Of course, you’ll tend to your clients’ needs, but it’s very easy to fall into the trap of serving others’ needs all day long, without ever getting around to yours.

Before you open your inbox in the morning, start your day with a proactive business development project. Maybe it’s reviewing a list of prospects you’ve recently collected, or inviting a colleague out to lunch to see if he or she could provide any potential for referrals. Start your day doing something proactive that serves your goals, because chances are that you won’t find time for it once the day gets started.

3. Stop multitasking. There is a widespread misconception that multitasking is doing two or more tasks simultaneously. But this is inaccurate; multitasking actually involves switching back and forth between different tasks (often with mediocre results). This task-switching consists of two stages. The first is goal-shifting: deciding to focus on another task rather than the one on which you’re currently working. The second is rule activation: recalibrating your mind away from the “rules” of the first task and toward the “rules” of the second task. This recalibration can squander as much as 40 percent of your productive time — hardly worth it. Instead, make a conscious effort to “uni-task,” (i.e., work on only one task at a time). Block out time in your calendar and close your office door to ensure there are minimal interruptions during your designated uni-tasking time.

4. Clear off the mess on your desk, so you can think straight. Rather than leave papers cluttered on your desk, apply the “touch it once” principle. For each item, ask yourself if you have time, right now, to touch this item just once? After opening and reading it, can you deal with it quickly? Then decide whether it needs to be filed, responded to, or delegated. Whichever of these three actions is required, do it immediately. If you don’t have time now to “touch it once” and get it off your desk, then leave it until you’re able to focus on it.

5. Use a timer to limit the number of minutes you spend on any given task.Perfection is often the death of production. Whether drafting an email to a client or updating your bio, there are diminishing rates of return on projects that take up too much of your time and attention. Estimate at the outset how much time you will need to devote to a project in order to get your final product to a solid B+ grade level. If it takes hours longer to make it an A+, it’s probably not worth the effort for a result that is only marginally better.

6. Delegate more of your work to someone else, even if they don’t always do it the “right way.” The only way to survive the frenzy of a busy day is to prioritize — to cut low-yield activities out of our lives so that there’s enough room for the ones that produce the best results. Most of the successful rainmakers I know are obsessed with leverage. They are constantly looking for ways to minimize the time spent on client service so they can focus more on client acquisition. Why? Because it’s far easier to find a service partner than a rainmaker.

Prioritize, own your schedule, then delegate. You might find that you have more time for business development than you thought.

 
 

David Ackert is the President of Ackert Inc. and a mentor to high-achieving professionals in the legal, corporate, finance and accounting sectors. David has advised hundreds of lawyers, CEOs and professional-services executives on overcoming business development and marketing challenges. He has developed and implemented business development programs for countless firms, from AmLaw 100s to local boutiques. Follow him on LinkedInor Twitter @DavidAckert.

 

The Art of Resting: How to Fit Relaxation into a Busy ScheduleOpen in a New Window

The Art of Resting: How to fit relaxation into a busy schedule

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woman smiling

Jeena Cho. Photo courtesy of The JC Law Group.

In 2011, I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. In hindsight, this result was foreseeable: My boyfriend and I decided to start a bankruptcy practice in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis. We were both working around the clock. I never thought about sustainability, creating a law practice where there is time not only to work but to renew, restore and rejuvenate.

When we got married, the honeymoon was the only vacation we’d had in over three years. I recall sitting on the porch of a beautiful house in Kauai with nothing to do and full of anxiety. I had no idea how to rest.

Returning to wholeness meant adding consistent and intentional habits to pay attention to my own well-being. I learned to guard myself from unintended consequences of lawyering, such as burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. I was able to tap into my natural sense of curiosity and creativity, which led to surprising insights and different ways of seeing challenging client issues.

I returned to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose for why I practice law. Rest wasn’t an adversary to my law practice, but rather essential and complementary.

Focusing on making small, incremental changes over a sustained period of time is the key to creating any new habit. This includes learning how to rest. As Alex Soojung-Kim Pang wrote in his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, “Rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running. Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.”

TIME FOR REST

Time is one of our most valuable resources. It is so valuable that we sell it in 0.1-hour increments. Ask yourself: How many hours do you dedicate to work and others each day? Does the current rate of work feel sustainable? Is it nourishing or depleting?

Often, lawyers will object and say they can’t afford to take any time for themselves. They are too busy. As Karen Gifford and I wrote in our book, The Anxious Lawyer, “This feeling of ‘busyness’ is both a seduction and a major source of dysfunction for many lawyers. If we are very busy, we secretly believe we must be doing something important—in fact, we must be very important.”

If you reflexively reject the idea that you can and should carve out time for rest, consider what effect this belief has.

Think about rest in the context of self-care. Self-care is an activity for you, by you. No one else can eat more kale or go to the gym for you. It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. Consider activities that feel nourishing and nurturing.

Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. It’s about the attitude or the intention you bring to the activity. Are you taking proper care of yourself? Are you treating yourself kindly?

SELF-CARE ACTIVITIES

Movement. The word exercise is associated with specific activities, such as going to the gym. Broaden your definition to include any activities that involve moving the body. Find movement that feels good. Be flexible. One day, your movement practice might be an hour at the gym; the next day, it might be playing with your kids in the park.

Creativity and hobbies. Do an activity simply for the fun of it. Think back to your childhood and see whether there are activities you used to enjoy that have fallen by the wayside.

Journaling and writing. Writing is an excellent way to process held feelings, explore your inner world and tap into your creativity. One of my favorite practices is described as Morning Pages on the Julia Cameron Live/the Artist’s Way website. You simply sit down each morning with a pen and paper to write whatever comes to mind.

Mindful eating. There is no shortage of diet tips and what you should (or shouldn’t) eat. However, how you eat is as important as what you eat. Simply described, mindful eating means paying attention while you are eating. If you regularly eat mindlessly, shoving food into your mouth while doing email, only to look down and realize your plate is empty, consider making small adjustments to how you eat. Look at the food—all the colors, the flavors, the smells. Savor the experience.

AN ELUSIVE STATE

There’s no off button for the brain. You can go for a massage or sit down to read for pleasure, but the mind may not immediately go into rest mode. It’s natural for the mind to race, think about a case and wonder whether you sent that email.

Trying to force the mind to stop thinking is as effective as holding down a beach ball in the ocean. It takes a lot of effort, and sooner or later it will pop back up. Rather, frame it as an invitation for the mind and body to rest. Your mind or body may have other plans, but you’re still doing your part by creating an optimal state for rest.

You can go on a weeklong vacation to Hawaii, sit on the beach and sip your favorite beverage, yet your mind may still be back at the office, working frantically. These moments can be very frustrating. Part of learning how to rest is increasing self-knowledge about how your mind works. Rather than criticize yourself for feeling anxious, invite the anxiety to sit down for tea.

Finally, if you’re struggling to overcome guilt or negative self-talk about taking time to rest, remember: You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

MINDFULNESS PRACTICE (IN JUST 6 MINUTES)

Here’s how to let go of stress and anxiety: Begin by finding a comfortable posture, allowing the eyes to soften and taking a moment to congratulate yourself for being here. It’s helpful to work through stress and anxiety not by thinking about the content but rather noticing where in the body you’re holding the stress or anxiety.

Do a body scan. Starting with the head, move the attention slowly—down the neck, shoulders and torso, and notice whether there is any tightening or tension. Move down the arms and hands, then into the lower body—the hips, then the legs. Feel your feet on the floor.

Take a nice, long breath. Make it the longest breath you’ve taken all day.

If you notice the mind going into thinking or worrying mode, recognize that in this moment there is nothing to do except simply be here.

With each inhalation, you’re drawing in fresh energy. With each exhalation, you’re releasing and letting go of anything you no longer need.

Close the practice by beginning to wiggle the fingers and toes and very gently moving your body in any way that feels good to you. When you feel ready, allow the eyes to open. (You can hear an audio version of this guided meditation at jeenacho.com/wellbeing.) 


Jeena Cho consults with Am Law 200 firms, focusing on actionable change strategies for stress management, well-being, resilience training, mindfulness and meditation. She is the co-author of The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation and practices bankruptcy law with her husband at the JC Law Group in San Francisco.


This article was published in the February 2018 issue of the ABA Journal with the title "The Art of Resting: It’s critical for lawyer well-being, so here’s how to fit rest into your schedule."

 

Download and Watch this Podcast: Loving Life as a Lawyer - How to Maintain Joy in Your WorkOpen in a New Window

Loving life as a lawyer: How to maintain joy in your work (podcast)

Workspace with a heart drawn in a coffee cup.
Do you dread going to work? If so, maybe it's time to look at the other ways you can flex your legal skills, Nancy Levit says. There are many types of jobs for lawyers, and sometimes what you thought you wanted to do doesn’t work out, Levit tells the ABA Journal's Stephanie Francis Ward in this episode of Asked and Answered. 

Levit shares tips on how to find the work you want to do and how to find joy in the work you’re already doing.

One way to adjust your mindset at work is to look at who you’re spending time with, she says. Are you hanging out with colleagues who have positive outlooks, or with the workplace worrywarts and complainers?

Levit advises keeping a mindset of “upward” comparisons. Comparing “downward” means focusing on the things others have that you don’t, while comparing upward makes you grateful for the things you do have. Lawyers tend to want perfection, she says, and the quest to keep up with the Joneses—or the Jones Days—can cause people to be unhappy.

This podcast was brought to you by our advertiser, LawPay. “Did you know that attorneys who accept online payments get paid 39 percent faster on average than those using traditional payment methods? With LawPay, the only payment solution offered through the ABA Advantage program, you can accept client payments online, via email, or in person—no equipment needed. Visit LawPay.com/podcast to sign up and get your first three months free.”

Download this podcast

In This Podcast:

<p>Nancy Levit</p>

Nancy Levit

Nancy Levit is a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and the interim associate dean for faculty. She teaches defamation and privacy, employment discrimination, gender and justice, jurisprudence and torts, and is the co-adviser to the UMKC Law Review. Levit is the author of several books, including The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law and its sequel, The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law, both co-authored by Douglas Linder.

 

Call Tracking and Live Chat: Two Ways to Measure ROI and Boost Leads on a BudgetOpen in a New Window

Do you know the ROI of your current marketing efforts? Many of us think things are working just fine the way they are, but what if you could increase your leads and client contacts by 20-30% over the next year? Check out today's blog article from Attorneys at Work and find ways to improve your marketing efforts for 2018!

 

Call Tracking and Live Chat: Two Ways to Measure ROI and Boost Leads on a Budget

By  | Jan.25.18 | AdvertisingDaily DispatchDigital Marketing

call tracking and live chat

We’ve all heard that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I want to put a new spin on it: “Marketing insanity” is continuing to spend money without knowing the results — meaning you can’t prioritize how to spend your marketing dollars.

Many law firms come to us experiencing marketing insanity, usually coupled with a track record of overwhelmingly poor performance in their marketing efforts. They’re not alone. Most firms have little understanding of their marketing return on investment. According to the 2017 Clio Legal Trends Report, 92 percent of firms don’t know their cost per lead and 94 percent don’t know what it costs to acquire a new client.

Learn the True Story Behind Your Marketing Efforts

“Isn’t it good enough that we ask our clients how they heard about us?” I hear some form of that question a lot. Or lawyers will say, “I know when business is good because I talk to all the clients.” But that alone won’t give you the true story behind your marketing ROI. Without some technology tools to help pinpoint where business is coming from, or to track which marketing efforts are working well, you’re fighting blind.

  • How can you have confidence that marketing dollars are well spent?
  • How can you properly prioritize how to spend those dollars on different marketing initiatives?

Low-Hanging Fruit: Call Tracking and Live Chat

While there are lots of ways — from simple to complex — to track your marketing efforts, here are two simple and cheap systems you can use to begin measuring your ROI immediately, make better marketing decisions and get more leads.

1. Call tracking. Call tracking will do a few things that are crucial to understanding lead quality, quantity and the cost associated with landing new clients. It gives you the ability to:

  • Easily measure the number of first-time callers to your firm.
  • Record conversations for quality purposes. (If your front office is answering the phones with a bland “law offices,” I can guarantee you’re wasting money already.)
  • Automatically track which keywords visitors type in, to see what’s working in real time. (There are some limitations here, but over time your picture becomes clearer.)

My personal favorite call-tracking system is CallRail. It’s not only cost-effective but ideal for not messing up your local search engine rankings. Plans start at $30 per month and vary based on minutes used. If you’re thinking, “But I love my phone number and I don’t want to lose it,” don’t worry. Companies like CallRail allow you to port your existing phone number to their system so that it becomes a trackable number.

Also, call tracking can be used in many places beyond your website, including TV ads, radio ads, business cards and other forms of print or online advertising. You can use additional call-tracking numbers for any type of marketing campaign, then download the data and match up your call logs with new matters and cases.

Tracking calls and measuring growth over time provide great indicators of your marketing’s effectiveness. I recommend doing this religiously — monthly, quarterly and annually.

Viola! You’re now in the top 10 percent of law firms in the nation.

But what about getting more leads to your website even if you’re on a tight budget? Enter a 24/7 live chat service.

2. Live chat support. We’ve found that placing an additional touchpoint on your website can increase your leads by 20 or 30 percent. Adding a live chat feature is an easy way to do it.

Live chat has become a standard customer support feature, and most consumers expect it on websites. Adding it to your site increases the likelihood that you’ll capture contact information. A law firm chat application will act a bit differently than other business chat services — your provider isn’t going to give advice, consult or qualify a lead. But it will be there for people who want an immediate response before, during and after hours.

I asked Jon Cumberworth, CEO of Client Chat Live, to comment on what customers expect in today’s online environment. He says, “Live chat is an effective tool for law firms because those looking for most attorney’s services are in need of immediate assistance and don’t want to fill out a form and wait for a call. Legal marketing is one of the most competitive verticals, so any opportunity to increase the chance of converting a visitor into a potential client needs to be utilized.”

Live chat is simple to use and you pay only for leads that are good. (In most cases, these are leads you’re already forgoing by not having a live chat service.) Most chat services will charge a flat rate per lead gathered, ranging from $25 to $40, with no monthly minimums or commitment required.

My best advice for any law firm is to try both call tracking and chat and begin tracking their effectiveness. You will increase your leads — and you’ll join the top 10 percent of law firms that actually understand their ROI.

 
 
 
 

Mike Ramsey is President of Nifty Ventures and founder of Nifty Marketing and Nifty Law. The Nifty Law team brings legal marketing rocket science — digital marketing, website design, SEO and content marketing — to firms nationwide. He is the author of "Winning at Local Search" and a partner at LocalU, which provides conferences in the realm of local search marketing. A guest speaker at marketing events such as Avvo Lawyernomics, Mozcon and Pubcon, Mike has been featured on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and SEOmoz. Follow him on Twitter @mikeramsey.

 

Shoot for a Realistic Work-Life Balance in 2018Open in a New Window

Shoot for a Realistic Work-Life Balance in 2018

By  | Jan.19.18 | BalanceDaily DispatchThe Friday FiveWell-being

work-life balance

Now that you’ve survived — maybe even enjoyed — the rounds of law firm holiday parties, the slate is wiped clean for 2018. No doubt, resolutions and good intentions bubbled up with the start of the new year. You may have noted them in your head or purchased a new motivational calendar with quarterly pages for tracking your goals.

The predictable outcome? You won’t make it through the first quarter with your goals intact. As work piles up, most likely you will work through the dark evenings with a reward of fast food at your desk and a drink when you finally get home. And with the new year, you face the increased risk of becoming a statistic for substance abuse. For example:

  • Lawyers are two to four times as addicted as those in other professions.
  • Lawyers are four times as depressed as the general population.
  • During the first 10 years of practice, lawyers have the highest rate of addiction.

There’s Nothing Like a Civilized “Hunger Games”

Of course, this could be the year you break the predictable cycle of broken promises to yourself (and your spouse, your family, your doctor) and insert more balance into your life: eat better, get more exercise, spend more time with family and friends. You know the drill.

Unfortunately, as they climb the rungs to partnership or work to build a viable practice of their own, few lawyers really believe they have a choice in the matter. Finding balance is especially difficult in a law firm of any significant size, where each day is essentially an “interview.” You’re under a microscope as others scrutinize your billable hours, client originations and ability to respond immediately to any demand. You are at the 24/7 disposal of new partners, new clients and new peers who will like you or not, respect you or not, and assess over a six- to nine-year period whether you have “the right stuff.” Nothing like a civilized “Hunger Games,” right?

Tangible, Realistic Ways to Begin a Shift Toward Balance in Your Life

On the bright side, many law firms are shifting away from unhealthy work models, hoping talented lawyers can avoid burnout — and that they’ll stick around. Eventually, this culture shift should reduce defections and lead to more lawyers having long and robust careers.

Until then, however, here are five concrete things you can do to take control of your work-life balance:

1. Disconnect from technology whenever possible. Set up a message on your voicemail and email systems stating you are unavailable and provide contacts for those needing help. Leave an additional number to reach you in a real emergency (it typically is not one). Most senior partners and clients expect 24/7 instant availability, so this won’t be easy. But, it can be accomplished with some creativity. Doctors learned this decades ago by assigning “on call” weekends or weeknights. Maybe your practice group can do the same.

2. Learn to say no. Set realistic work boundaries that permit you to do quality work and maintain high energy. In my experience, a senior partner has more respect for young lawyers who are honest about their workload and do not wish to compromise quality.

3. Take all vacation and comp days. Make them real vacations, not “staycations,” especially if you have finished a major project or trial, or have been traveling excessively for work. Take off for two weeks — not one. You need at least three or four days to feel your body relax and then you’ll have a full week to decompress. And try not to plan too many trips that are exhausting in and of themselves.

4. Commit to healthy habits. Easier said than done, but here are the basics:

  • Take frequent, quick breaks: a quick walk, five minutes of deep breathing, a short meditation.
  • Every night, spend an hour doing something for yourself that you can look forward to — a good book, some Netflix, yoga.
  • Follow good nutrition habits instead of binge eating when you’re feeling starved or late at night.
  • Exercise.
  • Get some social interaction outside of work.
  • Make a sustained sleep schedule a priority. Studies confirm that we lose all stability if our sleep is compromised for any period of time.

5. Get in touch with your life’s priorities, goals and passions. Have you discarded or forgotten them? Your tombstone is not going to read that you had the highest billable hours for a decade. Here are a few tactics to use when looking to reconnect with your passions:

  • Identify your greatest joys. Feel free to go back to your childhood.
  • List five things (jobs, volunteer work, hobbies, adventures) you would like to do.
  • List five more things that you are very good at doing (even if you have never done them in public or as part of a job).
  • Complete this sentence: “My life is ideal when … ” Do it again 15 times, then reduce it to your top five.

Everything in life that results in real change begins with simple and tangible action steps, not a January flood of empty promises to yourself and new gym memberships.

 
 

Link Christin is Executive Director of the Legal Professionals Program at Caron Treatment Centers, and works extensively with impaired lawyers through the treatment and recovery process. A former lawyer and firm partner, he also educates and provides training to law firms about these issues. He is a licensed and board-certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor.

 

 

Money Management Tips for New AssociatesOpen in a New Window

Money Management Tips for New Associates

By  | Jan.17.18 | AssociatesChecklistDaily DispatchMoneyNew Lawyers

money management

Congratulations! You survived law school, passed the bar and got a job. By now you’re somewhat settled in. Some partners have learned your name, and you’ve received a few paychecks.

So, what will you do with the steady earnings?

Since it is far easier to start your financial life on the right foot than be forced to adjust bad habits decades later, here’s a checklist covering what to do and what to avoid as a new attorney.

Before we dive in, please note that the following items are presented for educational purposes only. Nothing here is or should be considered specific financial advice for you. As your situation is undoubtedly nuanced, you should seek the advice of financial and tax professionals before using the strategies mentioned.

Don’t Live at the Level of Your Income

Sometimes called “lifestyle creep,” this personal finance villain snares countless lawyers, and it is especially prevalent among those whose incomes have recently jumped. Newly minted associates are particularly susceptible.

Lifestyle creep might covertly enter your post-law school world as a few nicer things here and there … nothing too extravagant. The occasional nicer dinner with friends, a car that regularly starts, and a vacation to a local beach or lake. At this point, everything is fine.

With blinding speed, however, those “nicer things” can morph into German autos, Italian leather goods, a seven-figure home, and vacations to places seen by most only on the Travel Channel.

Why does this matter? In a word, freedom. Living at the level of your income and routinely spending every dollar that enters your bank account will shackle you to your job. Once you become accustomed to a certain standard of living, it’s tremendously difficult to adjust your spending and lifestyle downward. Lifestyle creep will cripple your professional and personal flexibility.

Eventually going part-time, starting your own firm, entering public service, returning to school, and in some cases, even going in-house, are all out of the question. Your lifestyle simply won’t afford any downward adjustment in income.

How do you not live at the level of your income? Aim to live like (or almost like) you did in law school during your first few years of practicing. While this might be tough to do, you’ll be glad to discover in a couple of years that your credit card debt is gone, you’ve saved some money, and you are free to explore career options.

Realistically, you’ll need to upgrade a few things once you’ve started working, and that’s OK. Just do it discerningly.

Do Understand Your Cash Flow

Young lawyers run into trouble when they’re not cognizant of how much comes in and how much goes out of their bank accounts each month. Lack of awareness leads to spending everything that comes in (and not saving), or worse, spending too much and running up credit card balances.

How do you avoid overspending?

  • Find the amount that actually enters your bank account each month. Let’s say it’s $4,000.
  • Write down the fixed expenses you know you’ll have to pay each month: rent or mortgage, car note, phone, cable/internet, utilities (use a three-month average), student loan payments, credit card minimums and so on. Let’s say this all adds up to $2,250.
  • Subtract this expense total from your monthly take-home pay. You will need to spread the remaining amount — $1,750 — over the four weeks of the month to cover variable expenses, such as gas, groceries, eating out, entertainment, savings, additional credit card payments and surprises. That means you’ll have $437.50 per week for these expenses.

Get familiar with your weekly figure. Your options for boosting it: slashing expenses, or earning more money (or both).

Over time, earning more money has a far greater impact. But you can’t realistically renegotiate your pay six months into your first year. So instead, look to cut expenses.

Look first at reducing your fixed expenses. Renegotiating a cable bill, changing utility providers and rebidding your car insurance can often yield savings without disrupting your lifestyle. From there, look at cutting back on your variable expenses — the restaurants, groceries, shopping and entertainment, and so on.

Regardless of what you choose to adjust, awareness of your cash flow will drive better decisions.

Do Tackle Your Debt

Get organized and confront credit card and student loan debts head-on and you’ll find them less daunting.

For credit cards, visit each card’s website to find your current balance, interest rate and required minimum monthly payment. Enter this info into an Excel or Google spreadsheet to get organized. Focus your efforts and dollars to pay off one card at a time. Choose either the “snowball” method (lowest balance first) or the “avalanche” method (highest interest rate first) and stick with your choice to pay off your debts. Here’s a more in-depth discussion of credit card paydown strategies.

With federal student loans you have two main paths:

  • Pay off the debt as quickly as possible (this often involves refinancing).
  • Or, use an income-contingent plan, pay as little as possible, and maximize the amount of loan forgiveness you can receive.

Analyzing these choices is too complicated and nuanced to responsibly discuss here. Take a look at the Student Loan Planner’s blog for several in-depth student loan discussions.

Don’t Ignore Free Money

If your employer matches your retirement plan contributions up to some level, then contribute up to that level. That’s free money.

Seriously, increase your contributions today to take full advantage of any matching dollars. You’ll be amazed how fast this increases your savings. To gauge the impact of increasing your retirement plan contributions, use ADP’s paycheck calculator.

Do Beware of Your Biggest Expense: Taxes

That’s right. A variety of taxes devour a material portion of your gross (pretax) income. Understanding how much you pay, and why, will serve you well for the rest of your professional career and beyond.

Start by preparing and filing your own taxes for a few years. This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds and will provide you with a good basic tax education.

Bonus Tip: Look Ahead, Leverage Recruiters

Yes, calls from recruiters can be disruptive and tend to come at the worst times — like when you’re waiting for a partner, an opposing counsel, or a client to call.

However, when you do need a recruiter, you’ll want to have the relationship already established. While this may be more relevant for Biglaw attorneys considering lateral moves, a good recruiter can help you benchmark your salary based on your experience and the geography in which you’re practicing — even if you’re at a smaller firm.

Also, many jobs are never posted publicly. Recruiters network constantly and are often better informed than your colleagues about which firms are hiring. And if you’re considering a move to a business-oriented, nontraditional legal role, a recruiter can do wonders to package and present your skillset in a way that lands interviews for you.

 
 

Ryan McPherson is the founder of Intelligent Worth. He helps solo practitioners and partners in smaller firms align their personal and business finances to generate wealth and avoid missteps. Ryan is a Certified Financial Planner and an IRS Enrolled Agent. He is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the XY Planning Network. Follow him on Twitter @RyanDMcPherson.

 

5 Cybersecurity Steps You Should Already Be TakingOpen in a New Window

5 cybersecurity steps you should already be taking

 
cybersecurity
If you have not noticed yet, the ABA Journal is undertaking a yearlong cybersecurity series

Our intent is to explore this complex and tangled issue piece-by-piece to make sense of the current thinking around data protection, legal ethics and regulation.

Admittedly, these articles are often a bird’s eye view of an issue that affects every person and business a little bit differently. Additionally, targets (that’s you) experience online threats differently based on who they are and what data they have. This makes it hard to promote one-size-fits-all recommendations.

To overcome some of the amorphousness that surrounds this topic, we wanted to provide a more concrete checkup that anyone, attorneys to zookeepers, could benefit from.

This checklist comes with the usual disclaimer that you should engage in a threat assessment of your own situation to know what is the best way to protect your data. Further, these are not foolproof recommendations. Nevertheless, if you are not doing the things below, you are likely less safe for it.

    1. Have you been pwned? It is pretty safe to say we have all been hacked or compromised at this point. Between the breaches of Equifax, LinkedIn and Yahoo, information from billions of accounts have spilled out into the world. But were you one of them? While it is impossible to be 100 percent certain, there is one way to see if your account information has fallen prey to a hack. By going to haveibeenpwned.com, you can type in your email addresses or usernames to see if they come up in the sites database of publicly known hacks. If a hack has occurred but it has not been verified or made public, then the site will not have that information. However, it is a good first step to know if your passwords have been compromised. 

    2. Consider a password manager. If your email address came up on haveibeenpwned, your palms are probably sweaty and fear has overtaken you. This is normal, but not necessary. Let us channel that nervous energy towards getting serious about passwords. Even the grinning readers who did not see their email on the website should follow along. A password manager will help you store your bevy of passwords, which should all be as unique as a snowflake. No longer will you need gimmicks to remember which password had an exclamation point or the capital “T” in it. The manager will handle that for you. While not hocking particular software, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has some handy questions to vet a company promising you security: 

    • Is the company clear about the limitations of its product? Do not trust companies that promise the world or use buzzwords like “military grade.” That is gibberish and should be discounted.

    • Does the company share its threat model in case of a compromise? Mature companies who trust in their product will be transparent about the attacks they are prepared for and how they are prepared. Look for this documentation.

    • Does the company say it cannot or will not access your data? You might have to read the terms of service, but companies that cannot access your data by design are better. “Will not” leaves the backdoor ajar.

    • What do users say? Like everything else, you can find online reviews of password managers. Do people still trust the tool? Has the company made unfortunate headlines recently? These are all things to consider in your decision.

    When you are thinking about which manager to use, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy foundthat the password managers that come default in many browsers are being used by ad trackers to scoop up your data. 

    Digital Dangers logo.

    ABA Journal series: Cybersecurity and the law

    3. Treat yourself to better passwords. It is 2018, and a password under seven characters that combines your dog’s name and your birth year are not sufficient. Nor is it cool that you have a dozen passwords that are permutations of each other. While a password manager (see above) will help keep your online life in order, you still need quality passwords to make the software worthwhile. The National Institute of Standards and Technology updated their password guidelines last year, and they recommend that you create a strong password, or longer passphrase where possible, that avoids the maddening nature of passwords with upper-case, special symbols and numbers. Think of a line from a book or song that is not that popular and easy for you to remember. This is especially important to master passwords to things like that new password manager you got after reading this article. Also, unless you are breached, NIST no longer recommends making periodic changes to your password. If it is not broke, do not fix it. Last, NIST recommends avoiding password hints or knowledge-based authentication, which brings us to… 

    4. Two-factor authentication! I hope that when you saw that header, you smugly thought to yourself, “I already do that.” If so, you’ve graduated to step five. However, if you do not know what two-factor authentication is, keep reading. Two-factor authentication is a two-step process to signing into an account. Instead of merely typing your password and logging in, two-factor will send you an email or text message with a unique passcode to enter before you can access your account. The hope here is that if your password is compromised, you have a second line of defense. All major companies have two-factor now, so take advantage of it. (For a list of sites with two-factor authentication check out twofactorauth.org.) 

    5. Encrypt your devices. While the word “encrypt” can sometimes make people feel uneasy, it has become a painless, low cost way to protect your information. Doing so can make you feel slightly more secure if you lose or misplace your device. Android, Apple and Microsoft now all have turnkey encryption for their devices. For Android Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S8 and later phones, they come encrypted. For iPhone users, it is as easy as turning on your passcode, which Apple says 89 percent of its customers already do. Windows, as well, makes it easy to turn on BitLocker, their encryption service. With this step, do not forget to also encrypt external storage devices you use for documents or pirated MP3s from college.

With all of this being said, stay vigilant. As a digital consumer, you are constantly playing defense against an ever-evolving offense. While these tips work for today, they may not in the future. To keep abreast of changing threats and best practices, keep track of the Journal’s ongoing series and other trustworthy news sources.

 

Students at Top Law Schools Ask for More Mental Health SupportOpen in a New Window

Students at top law schools ask for more mental health support

 

mental health

 

Today’s law students may be more open about discussing their mental health issues than previous generations, but law schools still draw many Type A individuals, frequently on a never-ending quest for perfection. 

“I think that people are beginning to realize that by eating right, getting enough sleep and doing things that make them happy, that will make them do better in school. But when you’re in a place like law school, and you see someone going to the law library for four hours, you ask yourself, ‘Should I be studying more?’ And then you give up going to the gym or having dinner with friends to study more,” says Alix Simnock, a Duke University School of Law third-year student, who is president of the school’s bar association.

Simnock is one of 16 student leaders at 13 law schools to sign a recent pledge (PDF) addressed to law school communities that is focused on both improving mental health and promoting wellness on law school campuses.

The letter noted a stereotype that law school must be “grueling and overwhelming” to prepare students for the practice.

“The toll on students’ mental health has become an accepted characteristic of law school life rather than properly recognized as an impediment to our success. Indeed, our laws and judicial decisions display a history of overlooking mental and emotional distress and continue to downplay mental illness as too enigmatic, unimportant or easily faked to have a role in the law,” reads the letter.

Also, it suggested that character and fitness inquiries regarding a student’s mental health history could encourage self-treatment with substance abuse.

“We say to our affected peers: you are not alone. We say to all our friends and colleagues: we can do better. Poor student or practitioner health is not a necessary byproduct of a rigorous legal education and needs to be treated as the scourge of the profession that it is. Students left behind are not failures of personal strength. They are testaments to our collective failure to uplift one another and raise the standards of our trade,” the letter stated.

See also: Disability rights movement’s legislative impact sprang from on-campus activism

Concern about the character and fitness portion of bar admissions can prevent students from discussing mental health problems with law school administrators, says David Jaffe, the associate dean of student affairs at American University Washington College of Law. Jaffe also chairs the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs’ law school assistance committee.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice advised Louisiana and Vermont that it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act when bar associations performing character and fitness evaluations ask about bar applicants’ mental health and require detailed medical information.

In response, Louisiana changed its question, Jaffe says. He adds that several other states, but not all, “saw the handwriting on the wall,” and either changed or eliminated mental health questions on bar admissions’ character and fitness sections.

Jaffe would like to see the National Conference of Bar Examiners release aggregate data showing how many bar licenses are delayed each year over character and fitness issues, and why, so that law school administrators can be more precise when advising students.

“The students sometimes ask: ‘If I get help, will I need to report that to the bar, and will I be denied admission,’” Jaffe says. He adds that some states ask a compound question about candidates’ mental health, focused on diagnosis, treatment and whether the condition could create issues if not treated.

“Students will say: ‘I’m taking my medication for ADHD: How do I know if it will create issues if I don’t take it?’” he says.

Law schools could also get more data on mental health so they can better identify areas where reform is most needed, according to Nick DeFiesta and Alexandria Gilbert, co-presidents of the Stanford Law Association.

“Tracking changes in mental health as students progress through law school, as well as evaluating similar metrics and career satisfaction of law school alumni, would go a long way toward quantifying the problem and help administrators assess where focus is most needed,” the two wrote in a statement to the ABA Journal.

Also, they’d like to see law schools include mental health, wellness and professional fulfillment with their core institutional values, and have student programming that is reflective of that.

“It is critical that we talk about these issues openly and honestly. We can’t just pay lip service to ‘mental health.’ We need to acknowledge the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse — and specifically name those things. When first-year law students arrive to campus, they should know that it’s OK to struggle, that resources are available for them, and that they are not alone,” the two wrote.

An online forum for student leaders at tier-14 law schools led to the mental health pledge, says Clara Chalk, president of the Texas Law Student Bar Association at the University of Texas School of Law. It was released at the beginning of December, shortly before the reading period that precedes final examinations.

Chalk says that at UT Law, the school has a “mental health week” around exam time. It includes massage chairs and social events. She’d like to see more counselors on campus, in safe spaces that could be easily reached from the law school, and student workshops focusing on behaviors that can be warning signs when students need help.

Also, she stresses that self-care is different for everyone.

“Sometimes it can be playing with a puppy, or watching a chick flick. Sometimes it can mean letting yourself be angry at something, and acknowledging that you don’t want to go into a social situation, you want to stay home,” Chalk says. “It’s also being more forgiving and honest with yourself.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

REGISTER for ABA TECHSHOW 2018: Discount Code Now Available!Open in a New Window

TECHSHOW is back.

 

Bringing legal professionals and technology together.

 

TECHSHOW is back and it's better than ever. Register now for the premier learning and networking event for legal professionals. Join us to get the latest education and strategies covering what's new in legal technology and how you can better serve your clients.

TECHSHOW 2018 | CONFERENCE & EXPO
MARCH 7-10, 2018 | CHICAGO

 

 

Register Now and SAVE! Kansas Bar Association attorneys use discount code EP1815 to save!

Save $150 off the full conference prices with early bird pricing. ABA members and LP members save even more. Offer ends January 22, 2018. January 29, 2018.

Register now

 

Send Text Messages to Your Clients without Using Your Cell PhoneOpen in a New Window

Send Text Messages to Your Clients without Using Your Cell Phone

Thank you to InPractice and Hong Dao for this great information!

hands
March 10, 2017 
by Hong Dao

 

Have you ever wanted to text an appointment reminder or a quick message to your clients without having to use your cell phone? Many clients are faster at reading and responding to their text messages than to their emails. There is an easy and free way to do this. It’s called Email-to-SMS Gateway. You just use your email program on your computer to send a short text message to your clients. No need to use a third-party service that you don’t know and trust. No need to install an application. 

What is SMS Gateway?

 An SMS gateway allows your computer to send Short Message Service (SMS), which is generally known as a “text message,” to a cell phone. However, the text message cannot be more than 160 characters and cannot include media. 
  
If you want to send a longer text message with an image, video or audio, you’d need to use the MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) gateway. MMS is a type of messaging that has no character limit and allows media files. Most cell phones support both SMS and MMS. But keep in mind that if your client's phone plan doesn't have MMS, he or she won't receive the message. 

The SMS gateway texting method requires you to know three things:
  1. Your client’s cell phone number. 
     
  2. The name of the client’s phone carrier. You can look up the carrier at this website
     
  3. The SMS gateway address that corresponds with the carrier. The gateway addresses for major U.S. phone service providers are listed below for your convenience:
U.S. Carriers
SMS Gateway (text only)
MMS Gateway (text and media)
AT&T
@txt.att.net
@mms.att.net
Boost Mobile
@sms.myboostmobile.com
@myboostmobile.com
Sprint
@messaging.sprintpcs.com
@pm.sprint.com
T-Mobile
@tmomail.net
(Include “1” before the phone number)
@tmomail.net
(Include “1” before the phone number)
U.S. Cellular
@email.uscc.net
@mms.uscc.net
Verizon
@vtext.com
@vzwpix.com
Virgin Mobile
@vmobl.com
@vmpix.com
                  

Follow these steps to send text messages from your email program:
  1. Compose a new email. 
     
  2. In the “To” field, insert the client’s 10-digit phone number followed by the appropriate @gateway address. Do not include hyphens or dashes in the phone number. 
      
    For example, if your client’s phone number is 503-123-4567 and the carrier is AT&T, this is the SMS gateway address: 5031234567@txt.att.net. 
      
    If the carrier is T-Mobile, make sure you include the number “1” before the 10-digit phone number. 
     
  3. Write your message. Keep the message to fewer than 160 characters. If you need to write a longer message or want to include media, use the MMS gateway address or regular email. 
     
  4. Hit “Send.”
Your client will receive your email in the form of a text message on his or her cell phone. If the client responds to your text, the message will be sent to your email inbox. 

There are other options to send text messages from your computer, including using Google Voice and third-party online services. But SMS gateway is simple, reliable and free. You can test it right now by sending a text from your email to your cell phone.

 

Law Practice Today new TECH EDITION just released! Read it Today!Open in a New Window

Law Practice

January/February 2018A New Edition of Law Practice Today is out!

 

January/February 2018:
The TECHSHOW Issue

Welcome to the TECHSHOW Issue of Law Practice!

This issue of Law Practice offers a preview of the speakers at TECHSHOW 2018. For more than 30 years, the Law Practice Division has gathered the top technology experts for this one-of-a-kind program. If you are resistant to the technological changes affecting the practice of law or just aren't sure where to start, mark your calendars now. One of the reasons lawyers are resistant to technology is they just aren’t sure where to start or how to evaluate the risk of transitioning to a new application or system. Understanding and evaluating that risk can be overwhelming.

This is what TECHSHOW offers lawyers: a one-stop location explaining what technology to use, how to use it and under what circumstances. Whether you are considering using cloud storage for the first time and need to know how to do that safely or whether you are considering using Office 365, TECHSHOW has experts to answer your questions. There are hands-on workshops, small group meetings and an EXPO. The experts at TECHSHOW have done all the research and can help you find the answers. Whether a first-time attendee or a veteran, you will benefit from TECHSHOW 2018. All you have to do is set aside the time to attend.

This issue of Law Practice tackles the current state of artificial intelligence use in the legal community and the prospects for it to change in the near future, the burgeoning use of ransomware, tips on how best to get to the meat of e-discovery matters and much more!

Finally, we’d like to thank our guest columnists. Skip Rudsenske contributed to the Highlights column and Peter Roberts to the Finance column. And we wish Mike Downey well as he hands in his final Ethics column.

FEATURES

Practical Magic: Law's Hands-on AI Revolution
Transitioning from consumer tech to legal intelligence engineering.
By James A. Sherer and Ed Walters

Ransomware: How Many Bitcoins Are in Your Wallet?
Ransomware is an epidemic, and law firms are not immune.
By Sharon D. Nelson and John W. Simek

ABA TECHSHOW 2018: Why This Year Is Special
TECHSHOW co-chairs look forward to the new Conference location.
By Aaron Street

Office 365: What You Need to Know
With Microsoft's Office 365, even solo firms can have enterprise-level software and services.
By Ben Schorr

Managing the E-Discovery Processing Phase
Careful ESI processing can lead to significant time and cost savings.
By Courtney Ward-Reichard

Thinking Smartly About Smart Contracts
Lawyers should get a jump-start on contributing to this emerging technology.
By Dennis Kennedy

 

THANKS TO OUR ISSUE TEAM

Team Leaders: Robert J. Ambrogi and Mary E. Vandenack

 

DEPARTMENTS

Editor's Note
Learn More About Technology!
By Heidi A. Barcus

Perspectives
TECHSHOW 2018: A New Direction
By Bill Ferreira

 

FRONTLINES

Highlights
Patent Pro Bono Is Good for the Economy and Law Practices
By Skip Rudsenske

Simple Steps
Introducing New Technology to Your Law Firm
By Allison C. Shields

Ethics
Legal Ethics and Tech Entrepreneurship

By Michael Downey

News & Events
A New and Technologically Improved Year
By Zachary Bambacht

 

TECHNOLOGY

Product Watch
Lima Creates Your Own Personal Online Storage
By Daniel J. Siegel

Hot Buttons
IT Managed Service Providers--Nearly an Imperative
By Sharon D. Nelson & John W. Simek

The Digital Toolkit
The Digital Toolkit Guide to TECHSHOW 2018

By Tom Mighell

 

BUSINESS

Managing
Resolve to Become a Better Lawyer Leader in 2018
By Thomas C. Grella

Career Steps
Create Technological Buy-In as a New Lawyer
By Wendy L. Werner

Marketing
How Artificial Intelligence Helps Marketing
By Greg Siskind

Finance
Navigating the Bookkeeping of Your Firm
By Peter Roberts

Practice Management Advice
Unity of Direction
By Jim Calloway

Taking the Lead
Lessons from Super Bowl LI
By Karen MacKay

 

Best Regards,
Heidi Barcus, Editor-in-Chief

Heidi Barcus, Editor-in-Chief
hbarcus@londonamburn.com

 

 

For the Judges: Great NJC Courses Coming Up and Scholarships are Available!Open in a New Window

Scholarships available! Try one of our web-based, faculty-led courses for free.
Click here for a complete list, and to apply for a scholarship.

 

Evidence Challenges for Administrative Law Judges

February 19 -
April 6, 2018

 

 

Are you making evidentiary rulings with confidence? This faculty-led onlinecourse will develop the skills needed to rule accurately on issues of hearsay, foundation, privileges and burden of proof, and make correct determinations concerning both expert witness and lay witness observation through real-world examples and interactive tasks.

Selected Criminal Evidence Issues

February 19 -
April 6, 2018

 

 

You are often called on to make instantaneous decisions on the admissibility of evidence from the bench. Do you have a firm grasp on all of the rules of evidence as they apply to criminal cases? This faculty-led onlinecourse provides you with the tools to make evidentiary rulings quickly and confidently in criminal cases.

Fundamentals of Evidence

March 12 -
April 27, 2018

 

 

This course is designed to provide you with a practical framework for ruling on evidence. You will be introduced to the principles of the Federal Rules of Evidence with a focus on using the rules to decide evidentiary issues. This course will benefit judges without law degrees who are looking for a better understanding of evidence as well as judges with law degrees who are looking for a refresher.

 

Is Lawyer Well-Being on Your List of Goals for 2018?Open in a New Window

Happy New Year!

As we all reflect on the past year and plan for our New Year, let us ask ourselves how Lawyer Well-Being factors in to our plans for 2018? Well-Being in our profession has often been overlooked. But, to be an effective lawyer and leader one has to be healthy. Recent studies suggest our profession is not headed in a healthy direction. Yet, one author, in a recent publication, suggested that one significant contribution to achieving well-being is to engage more empathy in our interactions with each other, our clients, and ourselves.

I encourage you to check out the article and conduct your own empathy assessment!

A copy of the article Legal Education and Empathy Assessment: Implications for Mental Health, Well-being, and Future Performance

In case you'd rather have a summary of this lengthy article, rather than reading the full post, here are some of the key summary points:

From the authors’ literature review and synthesis, the following summary points show the many important roles and functions of empathy in lawyers:

  • Empathetic communication, which builds rapport and positive interaction between lawyer and client, enhances the lawyer-client relationship;
  • A free flow of information which more deeply describes and discloses both the legal and non-legal aspects of legal disputes and issues better assists lawyers in developing and executing legal strategies and arguments for more effective resolution of client concerns;
  • Clients of lawyers with higher empathetic communication experience an increased level of satisfaction because they benefit from their lawyers’ attentive listening, understanding of legal issues from client perspectives and explanations of the legal process, strategies, and advice using language that the client can understand;
  • Clients prefer lawyers whom they perceive as empathetic;
  • Empathy, a multidimensional concept which involves the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the client, enables the lawyer to see the landscape of the legal issue or dispute from multiple perspectives, facilitates the effective resolution of client legal issues, problems, or concerns;
  • Empathy motivates helping behavior and makes lawyers more inclined to uphold professional standards;
  • Empathy contributes positively to lawyer mental health and well-being and equips lawyers to attain greater happiness;
  • Compared with students in other professions, law students tend to have lower empathy levels and those levels remain stable.

Research Background: Health Professionals, Lawyers, and Empathy Assessment. “Medicine and other health professionals have long recognized the importance of empathy among their populations, and as such, has been the focused attention in developing a number of empathetic measurement tools.” Empathic behaviors, as indicated in the wide body of literature noted by the authors, has many positive links with the professional performance and mental well-being of law students and lawyers. While the legal profession may have recognized its importance for the well-being and capacity its students and practitioners, the measurement of empathy has not occurred in the law setting to the same extent as in the medical and health fields. The multi-disciplinary team of Australian researchers sought to fill this void.

The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE), described by the authors as “the most significant empathy scale to date”, offers a valid and reliable tool to measure empathy in medical professionals. The JSPE consists of 20 items which divide into four (4) factors: view from the patient’s perspective; understanding patient’s experiences, feelings, and cues; emotions in patient care; and thinking like the patient. Researchers have adapted and applied the scale to students of other professions such as nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy. The JSPE as adapated to these cohorts has been retitled the Jefferson Scale of Empathy – Health Provider-Student Version (JSE-HPS). The authors adapted that version to the law context by changing the phrase “health care” to “lawyer”. The phrasing of each item in the new scale for lawyers and law students – JSE-L-S – otherwise stayed the same. The intent of scale remained consistent with the widely used valid and reliable self-reported empathy scale used for health student cohorts.

Research using the JSE-HPS in the medical, dental, pharmacy, and nursing professions has shown that empathy assessment works.  Its valid and reliable results play a valuable role in those professionals’ education, training, and practice and in their well-being. Accordingly, in terms of the legal realm, the researchers argued that “it stands to reason that the same could be achieved and be highly useful”.

What the Researchers Did: Participants, Methods, and Results. Two hundred seventy-five students (nearly 92% had not cared for a person with permanent disability in their family) enrolled in an Australian law school participated in the study. The researchers adapted the four factor 20 item Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy – Health Provider – Student Version (JSE-HPS). The participants self-reported their response to twenty (20) items which comprised the four factor new empathy scale tested in the reasearch. The total score can range (from 1 to 7 for each item) from a l0w of 20 (each response as 1 – “strongly disagree”) to a high of 140 (each response as 7 – “strongly agree”). According to the test authors and researchers, “Higher scores reflect higher self-reported empathy.”

This part will not discuss the details of the principal component analyses performed by the researchers. The resulting analysis, according to the authors, “yielded a four-factor solution”. The name of each factor, i.e. “big idea”, of the new JSE-L-S empathy assessment, and each factor’s top item, appears below:

  • Factor 1 – “understanding the client’s perspective”, 5 items, top item – “Lawyers should try to think like their clients in order to render better legal advice”;
  • Factor 2 – “responding to clients’ experiences and emotions”, 7 items, top item – “Attentiveness of clients’ personal experiences does not influence legal outcomes” (a reverse scored item, i.e. higher response should be closer to 7, “strongly agree”);
  • Factor 3 – “responding to clients’ cues and behaviors”, 4 items, top item – “Understanding body language is as important as verbal communication in lawyer-client relationships”;
  • Factor 4 – “standing in clients’ shoes”, 2 items, top item – “It is difficult for a lawyer to view things from clients’ perspectives” (reverse scored)

 

End of the Year Reflection: Why I Love Being a LawyerOpen in a New Window

 

End of the Year Reflection:  Why I Love Being a Lawyer

As we close out this year and welcome in a new one, I wanted to offer something that might remind us all of why we love being a lawyer. This work is stressful, frustrating at times, and often depletes our energy. But, there is also great benefit and value in being a lawyer. At this time when we reflect on what we've accomplished this year and look toward the next twelve months, let's reflect on why we love what we do.

I've included "5 reasons why I love being a lawyer" from Daliah Saper to help us in our reflection:

"Amid the stress of practicing law, we often forget how much of an impact we have on the individuals and businesses who hire us to provide legal counsel. Being a lawyer is rewarding! For my last article in 2017, I figured I’d reflect on why I love being a lawyer. Here are my top five reasons, in no particular order. What are yours?

  1. Exposure to different industries. Even though I focus my practice on three or four areas of law, my clients come from a wide range of industries. This week, I helped an e-commerce store, an apparel company, a surrogacy company, a musician, a distributor of colored contact lenses, and an author. Few other professions give you the opportunity to learn about so many different kinds of businesses and allow you to actually advise those businesses.

  2. Events. When you represent a wide range of clients, you often get to attend interesting events or take interesting trips. Clients have invited me to movie premieres, fashion shows, art exhibits and galas. One year I was invited to attend the Arabian Horses Breeders Cup in Las Vegas, where the guest list included foreign dignitaries and Arab sheikhs!

  3. Teaching and Mentoring. I credit two important mentors for helping me start Saper Law. Now, I welcome the opportunity to mentor newer attorneys whenever I have the chance. It feels great to be a resource.

  4. Closing deals and creating new law. Most legal services have a natural start and end. I love being a part of the process of facilitating a negotiation, obtaining a settlement, or winning a case. Helping to create new law along the way is an added bonus.

  5. Great war stories. Even though the average lawyer’s life is not like anything we see in the movies, most of us have unusual stories to share over drinks or dinner. Stories can range from unusual case fact patterns to interactions with opposing counsel. See also, Nos. 1-4."

Don't forget the impact you have on others' lives. Your work is important, valuable, and worthwhile. I hope you have time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation during this holiday season. 

The next Tech Tip/Practice Pointer blog will be posted in the New Year.

Happy holidays!

Sara

 

Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?Open in a New Window

Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?

By  | Dec.19.17 | Business DevelopmentDaily DispatchImagePublic RelationsSocial Media

Sometimes lawyers and law firms need to clean up online reputations sullied by lawsuits, bad press, negative reviews or poor social media choices. While there’s no magic bullet, reputation management is possible. There are two approaches you can take: Either hire a company to help you, or do it yourself. Here are the pros, cons and considerations.

Hired Hands

Reputation.com, which has been around since 2006, is the oldest of a growing number of services that advertise help with managing or cleaning up online reputations. These services purport to employ strategies to make positive information about you rise to the top of search results, but a few words of warning:

  • They can be expensive, adding up to thousands of dollars annually.
  • A few are scams — companies that will take your money and run — so be careful.
  • Critics argue that they don’t provide anything above and beyond what you can easily do yourself to protect your online identity.

However, such services can be a good choice if you have plenty of money, are strapped for time or have a complicated problem that can’t be buried by other means.

Do It Yourself

With time and a bit of work, it’s possible to safeguard your online reputation on your own. Here are six tips to help if you choose to go this direction.

1. Begin monitoring. Set up a Google alert on your name, or if you have a complicated issue such as a lawsuit, consider a service such as Zignal, Klout or Brandwatch that will provide social media as well as general web monitoring.

2. Google yourself. When you get a handle on online content about yourself, you can start to change it. A typical order of appearance for top search engine results is:

  • LinkedIn profile
  • Company or law firm web bio
  • Facebook profile
  • Twitter profile
  • Images of you from around the web
  • Articles about you or by you

Start with the first four items on this list. The good news is that they are completely within your power to edit.

It’s especially important to keep your firm web bio/profile up to date. Google rewards pages that are recently refreshed over stagnant ones. Every time you write an article or complete a major project, make sure your bio is updated and you’ll help your page to stay high in rankings. This pushes pages with unflattering information lower in your search results.

3. Protect what you can. Pay attention to social media privacy settings, and lock down as much as you can. Then go through your personal networks and eliminate language or photos you don’t like; this ensures that inappropriate content falling outside the privacy shield won’t be visible.

4. Address negative reviews. While there are competing opinions as to whether you should claim your Avvo listing, for example, unless you do, you do not have control over content published there. However, one thing you should never do on Avvo (or any other site) is respond in anger to a negative review. Not only will this look bad to potential clients, it may get you reprimanded by your state bar. A measured response is a more appropriate choice and will often actually make you look better and more professional in your online profile.

5. Combat negative or fake news. The rise of fake news complicates communications today, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when addressing it. While you might be able to approach a professional journalist to ask for a retraction (though only if it’s categorically wrong, and if other options, like pitching an update, are off the table), approaching a blogger intent on digging for dirt will make your situation worse. Nefarious bloggers have been known to publish and sometimes alter correspondence with their targets, so your only option in such a scenario is to try to bury them in a flood of other press.

6. Get proactive. While you can’t control everything that is written about you, you can control what you write, create or produce. Content in credentialed publications appears high in search engine results. Ensuring you have a stream of this content (bylined articles, features on pro bono work, podcast appearances, etc.) will be one of the most powerful gifts you can give your online self.

Whether you have something as serious as a malpractice suit or as simple as photos from a party you’d rather forget, know that clients are searching for you on the web. Even attorneys without reputation issues need to regularly attend to their digital identity. Monitoring your online reputation and keeping it clean are integral parts of building and sustaining your practice, and should be ongoing priorities.

Helen Bertelli is a marketer and entrepreneur, having helped to build two PR startups as well as founding the marketing department for a national law firm and her own digital publishing company. She is now Vice President with Infinite Global, an international communications and public relations firm serving the legal industry. Follow her on Twitter @HelenBertelli3.
social media marketing

GET THE GUIDE!

This article is from Attorney at Work’s new 80-page ezine, “Engage! A Lawyer’s Guide to Social Media Marketing. There’s great advice on using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and much more inside, so be sure to download your copy.

 

Security Planner: Improve Your Online Safety With Tools for Your NeedsOpen in a New Window

 

Security Planner:  Improve Your Online Safety With Tools for Your Needs

Do you ever worry about your online safety and security? There is a great new tool available to help you assess your online security and it will make recommendations for you to improve. Answer a few simple questions to get personalized online safety recommendations. It is confidential -- no personal information is stored and none of your online accounts will be accessed. 

I tried it and it provided great ideas for improving my online security. Give it a try!

To access the tool, copy and paste the link below in your browser or visit securityplanner.org

https://securityplanner.org/#/

 

 

 

Need a Mindful Moment? A New App Could Help Your Emotional Well-BeingOpen in a New Window

 

REGISTER for ABA TECHSHOW 2018: Discount Code Now Available!Open in a New Window

Bringing Lawyers & Technology Together

ABA TECHSHOW has over 30 years of experience bringing lawyers and technology together.

Legal work today is dependent on technology to manage day to day activities, to practice more competently, and to service clients more effectively. ABA TECHSHOW teaches you how technology can work for you. Through the expansive EXPO Hall, CLEs, presentations, and workshops, you will be able to get your questions answered and learn from the top legal professionals and tech innovators, all under one roof. Regardless of your expertise level, there’s something for you at ABA TECHSHOW. As a member of the Kansas Bar Association, we want you to know that you can register for ABA TECHSHOW 2018 at a special reduced rate.

This discount only applies to registrants that qualify for the Standard registration and will save you $150. You can register online and include this unique discount code: EP1815 at checkout to receive the discount.

Celebrate over 30 years of legal technology and innovation. Network with legal technology experts from around the globe, March 7-10, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Don’t forget to visit www.techshow.com for registration and current information on ABA TECHSHOW 2018, the best place for bringing lawyers and technology together.

Don't forget to register! And, use the special discount code EP1815 so you can attend this amazing conference while saving money!

 

A Pre-Year-End Checklist for Solos and Small FirmsOpen in a New Window

Original article written by Megan Zavieh | Dec.05.17 

On Balance Legal Ethics

As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to run through your practice’s systems to see which ones may be ethics risks in their current state. This will help you prepare for an end-of-year audit of your biggest risks — and plan how to fix them in the new year.

The purpose of evaluating risks before the end-of-year crunch and New Year’s resolution time is to narrow your focus, so you can set priorities and zero in on bigger projects ahead. It seems we spend a lot of time in self-reflection at the tail end of the year. How great would it be to head into the new year with a clearer idea of where to focus?

Think of this “pre” year-end checklist as like a syllabus for your year-end coursework.

List Key Areas of Your Business

To begin this process, list the key components of your practice.  For most of us, this will include at least the following:

  • Advertising
  • Client intake
  • Maintenance of client files
  • Calendaring of key dates
  • Closing/destroying client files
  • Trust accounting
  • Operating account bookkeeping
  • CLE
  • Insurance
  • Billing
  • Time tracking
  • Client communication

You may also have:

  • Employees
  • Office space/sharing
  • Contractors
  • Virtual assistance (receptionists, assistants, paralegals)

Each practice will differ, but these are some common components of a solo and small firm practice.

What Keeps You Up at Night? Write It Down

With your list in hand, separate the components of your practice into those that keep you up at night and those that do not. Use a yellow pad or simple spreadsheet with three columns labeled “Concern,” “Worry” and “Not Worry,” respectively. Or download the worksheet here.

Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night worrying about a CLE deadline? Put that in the “Worry” column. Know that you have a kick-ass paralegal who keeps excellent track of all client deadlines? Put calendaring in the “Not Worry” column.

The items that keep you up at night will be the first-tier items to tackle when you begin your year-end audit. These may not actually be your biggest areas of risk, but if they raise your stress level, they need to be fixed straight away.

Evaluate Your Systems and Processes Honestly

Beyond the late-night heartburn, are there systems and processes where you really do not have it all together? Be honest with yourself — you know how to spot them.

  • Perhaps you operate with spotty client files, yet always manage to find what you need. If you look closely at your systems, you might realize there is not one single complete client file in either electronic or paper form. Put maintenance of client files on your tier-two list for your year-end audit.
  • Or maybe you know your malpractice insurance is not adequately protecting you. Are you overpaying because you never shopped around? Are you under- or over-insured? If you updated your practice areas, did you tell your carrier that you expanded into a new area of law? Or, do you just copy last year’s renewal application and send in a check each year?

Any part of your practice where you know you need to do better — even if it doesn’t bother you on an emotional level — needs to be identified as something to improve this year-end.

Remind Yourself Why

It is easy to get swept up in holiday festivities and enjoy a slower time of year for law practice. But remind yourself why it is worth investing time and energy in improving your systems.

Being investigated by the state bar over an ethics complaint is a major stress and serious time drain. Plus, consequences of a bar complaint can range from private admonishment all the way to disbarment.

You might think that ensuring your calendar is syncing to your phone or practice management software is helpful, but not critical, for ethics compliance. In truth, simple systems that help you keep on top of deadlines and return client calls might save you from a major headache with the state bar.

It is well worth the time and effort to shore up weaknesses in your systems.

Begin Looking for Resources

Once you identify your practice’s main pain points, take the next couple of weeks before the year’s end to gather resources for making improvements. Read legal blogs, take a crack at Googling your issues, and begin talking to colleagues. Get a handle on where you can turn when you actually sit down at the start of the new year to make some serious improvements.

Laying this groundwork will make that precious year-end time more productive and valuable. Make 2018 the year your practice runs more smoothly and is more ethically compliant than ever before.


Megan Zavieh is the creator and author of "The Playbook: The California Bar Discipline System Practice Guide." In her law firm, Zavieh Law, she focuses her practice exclusively on attorney ethics, providing full and limited scope representation to attorneys facing disciplinary action, and providing guidance to practicing attorneys on questions of legal ethics. Megan is admitted to practice in California, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, as well as in multiple federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. In "On Balance," Megan writes about the issues confronting lawyers in the new world of practicing law. She blogs on ethics at California State Bar Defense and tweets @ZaviehLaw.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

 

Best Ways to Upgrade Your Technology in 2018Open in a New Window

Original article by  | Dec.01.17

upgrade tech

What’s on your tech to-do list for next year? Maybe you’ve resolved to get more organized, go paperless once and for all, or move all of your practice systems to the cloud. Could be you’re dreaming of a new website — or a better laptop and new headphones would make you happy. What’s worthy of your technology investment next year?

We asked the practice management technology pros to recommend one good way for lawyers to upgrade their tech in 2018. Here’s wise advice from Heidi Alexander, Sheila Blackford, Joyce Brafford, Jared Correia, Tom Lambotte, Sharon Nelson and John Simek, and Lee Rosen.

(Tip: Consider Nehal Madhani’s advice on using “process mapping” to identify which areas of your legal workflow are ripe for automation — and where to invest in technology.)

HEIDI ALEXANDER: TAKING CARE OF YOU, FIRST

Quality client service is essential for a successful law practice. Indeed, elevating the needs of your clients will lead to more consistent collections, return clients and referrals. However, while there is no doubt that focusing on client service has its time and place, the only way you can provide real value and efficacy to clients is by putting yourself first.

Something accurate underlies that annoying recitation to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. The reality is that practice is stressful and if you ignore your own needs, you will burn out. If you are so busy that you can’t stop to take a breath, it’s time to take a step back from your practice and focus on you.

What does this have to do with upgrading your legal tech? Well, legal tech solutions are no longer a scarcity; you can find a product to suit any one of your practice needs. Most importantly, though, implementing a legal tech solution requires thoughtful research, vetting, planning, training and more — not to mention budgetary considerations. If you don’t have the mental bandwidth or proper mindset to adequately implement legal tech, it will lead to frustration, increased costs and ultimately failure.

So, before you dive headlong into system upgrades, work on first taking care of you. Schedule time for yourself every day, try exercising regularly, and learn about mindfulness. Test out mediation using an app such as Headspace or Calm, or just take a moment to breathe. (Try setting a timer or use Apple Watch’s Breathe app.) 

If you can make these activities a habit, you’ll reduce stress and approach your practice with a clear head, thus enabling you to effectively implement whatever tech your practice needs in 2018.


Heidi S. Alexander (@heidialexander) is Deputy Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she also leads the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP). She is the author of “Evernote as a Law Practice Tool” and serves on the ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board. In 2017, Heidi was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism. 

SHARON NELSON AND JOHN SIMEK: CONSIDER THE CLIENT PORTAL

If you don’t already have one, consider implementing a client portal. Client portals will help you solve all sorts of problems. Clients can access documents pertaining to their matters. They’ll know the status of their matter whenever they want to check on it. Clients will be able to “follow the money” and know how much the matter is costing, how much may be left in the retainer and even pay their invoice online if needed. Client communications is much improved as well. Client portals can allow document collaboration and even facilitate secure, encrypted communications.

The good news is that many case management platforms provide client portals as part of the offering. Having a client portal integrate with your practice management is an excellent way to improve the client experience (clients adore client portals) and make your practice much more efficient, profitable and attractive to prospective clients.

Sharon D. Nelson (@SharonNelsonEsq) and John W. Simek (@SenseiEnt) are the President and Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, legal technology and information security firm based in Fairfax, Va. They have written several books, including “The Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guides” and “Encryption Made Simple for Lawyers.” Sharon blogs at Ride the Lightning and together they co-host of the Digital Detectives podcast.

JARED CORREIA: INTELLIGENT CLIENT INTAKE

It’s finally happening. The robot apocalypse is upon us — but, the robots are not what you thought they were. These are not walking, talking robots. These are intelligent machines, or software — and they’re not something you need to fear. In fact, if you embrace them, you’ll be another step ahead of your competitors. One place where law firms need to clean up their act is in terms of client intake. Lawyers generally waste time and money and lose business by using antiquated intake systems (read: the office-based telephone). But new options are coming down the pipe, including Gideon, an intelligent messaging system and data analytics tool built specifically for law firms.

Jared Correia (@JaredCorreia) is CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms. A former practicing attorney, Jared is a popular presenter and regular contributor to legal publications (including his “Managing” column for Attorney at Work). 

JOYCE BRAFFORD: EMBRACE SLACK

As an alternative channel for communication, Slack helps you be more responsive to conversations that really matter. It’s like a high-priority system for communication threads, tasks and calendars. Slack connects with many of the apps lawyers are already using, including Dropbox, Google Calendar, Box and Wunderlist. As a single platform to better communicate in the office and with clients, it’s a no-brainer. 

Joyce Brafford (@Joyce_Brafford) is Distance Learning Manager for CLE at the North Carolina Bar Association.

LEE ROSEN: FOCUS ON BEST-OF-BREED APPS AND BRING THEM TOGETHER

Stop trying to find the magic bullet. There isn’t a single app that will properly manage your client information, track your time and billing, create your documents, control your calendar, and generate comprehensive management reports.

You’re asking for something that doesn’t exist and you wouldn’t really want it if it did. Software developers can be good at a bunch of things or great at one thing. Great always beats good, and you’re never going to be satisfied with the compromised software made by vendors trying to be all things to all lawyers.

Pick the best software for solving each of your specific problems. Then tie your best-of-breed applications together so that they share information. You won’t have to enter the same data twice, plus you’ll get applications built by specialists who completely understand your issues.

Pick the best document assembly system, integrate it with the best document management system. Tie both of those apps in with your client relationship management system and connect that to your time and billing product. Bring all that data together with your task management system and connect it to your phone system and your accounting application.

Products like ZapierAutomate.io and IFTTT are the glue connecting your apps to one another. Start small and, over time, go big.

You’ll end up with the best software, minimal data entry, and solutions that keep you satisfied rather than always wishing for more.

Lee Rosen (@LeeRosen) grew his North Carolina family law practice and sold it. He travels full time while helping lawyers grow their practices. His blog at Rosen Institute is an ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame honoree. He is a recipient of the ABA James Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering.

SHEILA BLACKFORD: LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE PRODUCTION TIME

Lawyers who are tech-savvy are taking this year-end time to evaluate their business processes to identify ways to leverage their production time. Clients are choosing efficient law firms that deliver high value at the most reasonable cost. This means upgrading to technology tools that can reduce production time, such as document automation and document assembly software Pathagorus, along with speech recognition software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Tools like this will help get the work done more efficiently.

Sheila M. Blackford (@SheilaBlackford) is an attorney and Practice Management Advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund. She is the author of the ABA book “Trust Accounting in One Hour For Lawyers,” co-author of “Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers,” and a past Editor-in-Chief of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine. She writes the Just Oregon Lawyers Blog

TOM LAMBOTTE: SAFEGUARD YOUR DIGITAL CREDENTIALS

In 2018, something you need to do is find out if your digital credentials are for sale on the Dark Web. Digital credentials such as usernames and passwords connect you and your team to your critical business applications: case management software, banking, online file storage and much more. Unfortunately, criminals know this — and that’s why digital credentials are among the most valuable assets found on the Dark Web. Far too often, law firms that have had their credentials compromised and sold on the Dark Web don’t know it until they have been informed by law enforcement.

Dark Web ID, from ID Agent, will detect your compromised credentials in real-time on the Dark Web. It vigilantly searches the most secretive corners of the internet to find compromised credentials associated with your law firm and notifies you immediately when these critical assets are compromised before they are used for identity theft, data breaches or other crimes. Ask your IT provider if it offers this service.

Tom Lambotte (@LegalMacIT) is CEO of GlobalMacIT, a company specializing in providing IT support to Mac-based law firms. Tom is the author of “Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms” and “Legal Boost: Big Profits Through an IT Transformation.” 

 

2017 What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal ProfessionOpen in a New Window

 

THE 29TH ANNUAL TRENDS REPORT

2017 What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession

By  | Nov.27.17 | Daily DispatchLaw Firm ManagementLegal MarketingProfessional DevelopmentTrendsWhat's Hot and What's Not

Each year, Bob Denney’s big fourth quarter report on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession keeps us on top of the most important business trends. Here’s an early look at the 2017 report before it is released later this week.

This is our 29th annual report on what’s going on in the legal profession. As in all the previous reports, it is based on information my colleagues and I continually gather from many sources — law firms, legal networks, other providers of legal services, legal departments, surveys and the press.

As always, this is not an attempt to report on every development, many of which are generally recognized, but only on those we believe should be noted because, in our opinion, they are having or will have an impact on the profession.

PRACTICE AREAS/INDUSTRY GROUPS

(Note: Four years ago we first reported that a few firms were restructuring their practice into industry groups containing multiple practice areas. This trend has continued.)

RED HOT

  • Health Care, regardless of what has happened to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Immigration, regardless of what policies the Trump administration pursues.
  • Cybersecurity. Will continue to be the No. 1 issue for both in-house counsel and consumers.

HOT

  • Financial Services. The economy will continue to strengthen. This will fuel almost every area of financial services including IPOs and mergers & acquisitions.
  • Food & Beverage due to continued increases in labeling, ingredient and testing requirements.
  • Bitcoins for those firms that have or develop the expertise.
  • Elder Law. Increasing in scope, as we have been reporting.
  • Sports. Particularly contracts.
  • Real Estate & Construction, both residential and commercial, in most parts of the country.

GETTING HOT

  • Other Sports, including eSports and gaming.

COOL

  • Commercial Litigation. The number of cases, and therefore the profitability, in most large and midsize firms continues to decrease although there are exceptions. However, as we reported in our Midyear Update, there are reports that litigation funding is regaining strength
  • Labor & Employment, separate from immigration.

NO READING YET

  • Environmental except in California, New York, Washington and Oregon, which are increasing their regulatory activity.
  • Tax.

HOT GEOGRAPHIC MARKETS

  • Dallas. One of the most notable signs was Winston & Strawn’s opening there early this year.
  • Louisville. As discussed in Of Counsel’s June issue.

MARKETING & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

(Note: As we said in our Midyear Update, there are so many strategies and activities, old and new, proven and unproven, and so much written about them that, except for the items below, we feel it is redundant to discuss or list them here.)

  • Website design and development. The DOJ is expected to start enforcing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, at least at Level A, early in 2018. Unless they also comply, law firms are not immune to these suits as well as to a loss of reputation and declining SEO performance on their websites, according to Content Pilot CEO Deborah McMurray.
  • Artificial intelligence. Just beginning to be involved in marketing, as well as providing legal services.
  • Sales professionals. The most aggressive personal injury firms are supplementing their advertising and promotion programs by hiring sales professionals. Other than personal injury firms, some firms are hiring non-lawyers to uncover and develop new business leads. It took literally several decades for the accounting profession to achieve worthwhile results from this strategy. Even with all the hue and cry for more change in the legal profession, we believe it will still not be even mildly successful.
  • Formal sales coaching training. Has been productive in some firms where supported and funded by firm management.

OTHER TRENDS & ISSUES

  • Another record number of mergers. This is due, in part, to some cross-border mergers but most continue to be acquisitions of small firms and smaller mid-size firms by larger firms.      
  • Stagnant demand for legal services. This will continue.
  • Total number of lawyers in U.S. firms also remains flat. However, some midsize firms such as Spencer Fane have steadily grown due to first-year hiring and selective lateral entries.
  • First-year hiring will increase, according to Robert Half, in what it describes as “high-growth areas — Litigation, Commercial Law and Real Estate.” Frankly, except for real estate, we question this as far as firms go, but not necessarily in corporate legal departments.
  • Small offices. Some firms are closing them to reduce costs and to (hopefully) increase efficiency. However …
  • Virtual offices and working from home continue to increase. A major reason is that millennials prefer this and larger firms are developing systems and policies to accommodate them — as well as reduce space costs.
  • Gender bias lawsuits continue, according to the 2017 Law360 Glass Ceiling Report, because, while women comprise over 50 percent of current law school graduates, their share of equity partnerships remains around 20 percent and has not increased in recent years. However, note that each year there are women who are elected managing partners, succeeding men, in some mid- to larger size firms.
  • Alternate legal service providers (ALSPs) continue to increase in number as well as in the breadth of services they offer. However, note that there are still a substantial number of smaller in-house legal departments that need specialty services but do not yet use ALSPs.
  • In-house client teams. They continue to increase in both number and size in larger clients.
  • Legal incubators. A small but steady increase in the number of these programs continues to provide recent law school graduates with the training and infrastructure they need to launch solo practices.
  • Pressure on general counsels continues to increase as they are called upon to not only control costs but also provide business counsel as part of a company’s or organization’s management team.
  • More with less. Even the largest in-house legal departments continue to face pressure to reduce costs.
  • Blockchain being tested in other uses, not just in relation to bitcoin. This is part of the movement in certain states such as Arizona and Nevada to enact legislation or issue guidance regarding new technologies and digital currencies. As it becomes more widely used, this industry should expect more regulatory efforts.
  • Non-legal subsidiaries. As we reported in June, 15 years ago there were several hundred firms that were owned and managed them in a variety of industries. Although less noted until now, estimates are that many of them have continued. If properly integrated into the structure of the firm and well managed, they can enable firms to counter revenue and profit challenges as well as provide expanded service to clients.
  • Multidisciplinary practices (MDPs). As Susan Duncan discusses in her October post, some of the larger firms have gone beyond the subsidiary structure and have hired non-lawyers, i.e., consultants and other professionals, and integrated them into the practice or industry group structure as part of teams to serve their clients.
  • Other service delivery approaches involving technology, process improvement and knowledge management continue to be developed.
  • Non-lawyers managing firms. A Chicago firm recently announced it would hire a business executive to handle the firm’s operations, apparently at a level above that of chief operating officer. As much as law firms could benefit from effective business management, does this indicate a trend toward non-lawyer MPs and CEOs? Very, very doubtful. Several years ago a large Philadelphia firm brought in a Big 4 partner to be CEO. After two or three years he left the firm and the firm again elected one of its partners CEO.
  • Transition and succession plans. Not only solos but a gradually increasing number of partners in firms are addressing these issues in mid-practice, so to speak, rather than waiting until age, health or other issues force them to.
  • Contract and “flex-time” lawyers. The steady decline in the amount of billable work that began with the recession had already resulted in some of the larger firms replacing full-time associates — and even partners — with part-time lawyers who work only on projects as needed. Several of these firms have now formalized this structure and created flex-time lawyer platforms. There are now also several stand-alone flex-lawyer businesses such as Axiom and Caravel as well as virtual firms such as Taylor English and FisherBroyles.
  • Fee sharing. The District of Columbia is the only U.S. jurisdiction to allow fee sharing with non-lawyers. Otherwise, fees are not federally mandated but are set state by state. For the past four years, we have reported on the small but growing momentum to change these rules and allow non-lawyer ownership of U.S. law firms. Now, with PwC’s forming a separate entity called ILC Legal, the Big 4 will be perfectly positioned to take advantage of new rules and pose a big threat to the law firm business. As Craig Brown stated in a recent post, “ILC” really stands for “I like your clients.”
  • Less need for lawyers. Simultaneous with the gradual trend toward fee-sharing with non-lawyers is the continued growth of technology-powered services that do not require lawyers to deliver them. While lawyers are needed at various stages to help build these services, they are increasingly less needed in many areas to delivery them.
  • Chief Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). This growing group is made up of people within law departments who, among other things, develop and keep the metrics on cases won and lost, fees billed and even diversity to provide information to the GCs so they can determine who they want to assign to a specific case or deal.
  • Artificial intelligence continues to grow in its impact on not only planning and business decisions but also on the practice of law.
  • Cyber-attacks and theft continue to rise around the world and law firms are becoming prime targets. A principal reason why cybersecurity is a “red hot” practice area.
  • Law firm networks. As more of them are formed, they offer clients an alternative to efficient and targeted legal services without having to research large firms.
  • Alternate fee arrangements. Despite the predictions of the last several years, they have not replaced the billable hour except in two extremes: 1) Major litigation where clients want to drive down the fees, and 2) in many “basic” matters such as uncontested divorce where a fixed fee is more appropriate and accepted. 

A Note of Thanks

As stated earlier, this is our 29th annual “What’s Hot and What’s Not” report. Like all the previous reports, it could not have been developed without the contributions of my colleagues, most of whose comments, by agreement, are not attributed to them. I am most appreciative of their input.

I will continue to publish periodic Legal Communiques as I see the need for them. However, this is the final “What’s Hot” report. As Kenny Rogers sings in “The Gambler”:

“You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.
Never count your money
When you’re sitting at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealing’s done.”

 

Bob Denney has provided management, leadership, strategic planning and business development services to corporations, professional firms and non-profit organizations throughout the United States and parts of Canada. A respected speaker and author, his articles have appeared in many legal publications. His firm publishes the highly regarded reports on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.

 

Law Firm's Guide to a Low-Risk Holiday PartyOpen in a New Window

THE REALITY OF 2017

Law Firm’s Guide to a Low-Risk Holiday Party

By  | Nov.28.17 | Daily DispatchLaw Firm CultureLaw Firm ManagementProfessionalism

I know, I know — another cautionary tale about law firm holiday parties. We all know the drill: Have fun, but not too much. Keep in mind the party — whether it includes staff, spouses or clients — is a professional work event. What happens reflects on not only the individual but the firm itself.

You have no doubt heard the same old warnings as each holiday season approaches. And as you should; everyone attending a firm’s party should keep those in mind. But what about those hosting the party? Is there is a separate set of guidelines for partners and firm management to make the night a professional — and social — success?

If you’ve attended more than a couple of years’ worth of parties, you know it as a source of lucid folklore. Everyone remembers the year Jim did this, or Jenna did that, or what Jim and Jenna did together. Blowing off steam after a rugged journey to reach economic and business goals at year’s end is implicitly expected to generate juicy gossip or myths of scandal and embarrassment. Anything less is seen as boring, an unwelcome post-party verdict.

But this year is a little different.

Welcome to the most dangerous party in your firm’s history.

The Reality of 2017

As you are well aware, not much is the same in the practice of law today, and those changes are manifestly affecting the outdated template of the holiday party. For example, it has been found that 21 to 36 percent of practicing lawyers are active problem drinkers. Another growing segment medicates their stress or exhaustion with opiates, sedatives and stimulants, often problematically mixed with alcohol. Welcome to an open bar party at the end of the year!

Further, the issue of sexual harassment has dominated daily news feeds in recent months, across all industries. Past deeds are uncovered while current misbehavior is subject to new and severe in-house scrutiny. DUIs are no longer acceptable to the firm or the licensing and disciplinary boards. The firm’s legal liability for its holiday party can extend to physical harm, harassment, discrimination, workers’ compensation and a host of other legal theories to come.

According to studies, more than 10 percent of attendees at holiday parties act out in some manner that compromises their professional standing. They do so under the watchful eye of countless phones and cameras, waiting to be tomorrow’s Instagram post. And mind-altering substances are not always the culprit — many lawyers have strong personalities that become enhanced in the environment of the annual bash.

As defenses fall with each drink, lawyers might act out on their yearlong peer or subordinate crush. They may drink too much just to relax, even if they are not typically problematic drinkers (often a more destructive scenario than with the seasoned drinker). Others may decide to vent their frustration or anger about the firm, often when impaired and exhausted, or even attempt to drive home while legally incapacitated.

But on a Positive Note …

Although it might seem as if holiday parties are littered with landmines, the reality is they serve a positive and necessary purpose. In fact, because firm culture often is more impersonal and businesslike these days, hosting such events is critical to boosting spirits.

The end of the year is a milestone and a reckoning, good or bad. Lawyers, professionals and staff have been in the trenches together for a year attempting to reach personal and professional goals. The holiday party is essentially “shore leave,” an opportunity to bond, celebrate, find inspiration, build camaraderie, blow off steam, laugh, enjoy one another outside of the office, and give a nod to the holiday season. It is both a recognition of the sacrifices and achievements of the past year as well as a pep talk for the upcoming year.

In other words, a holiday party can and should be a wonderful experience filled with relatively sober and relaxed conversations, a toast or speech from firm leadership, and perhaps a fun activity. (I was at a firm where each year the associates made a video for the partners, which premiered at the party.) Attendees may even experience some gratitude for their bond with the firm.

Every firm is different, and some decidedly have more of a “family” culture, but this party should serve as a positive experience for all, no matter what the nature of your firm.

Predictable Problems: Mitigating the Risks

Taking a few discrete actions, including the below, can minimize predictable problems.

1. Send invitations and emails outlining the firm’s expectations:

  • What to wear
  • The importance of respectful physical and verbal behavior
  • The notion that the party is an extension of the workplace
  • A heads-up on the enhanced scrutiny of workplace behavior and a gentle warning to behave accordingly

2. Limit opportunities to become intoxicated:

  • Provide a certain number of tickets for alcohol for attendees.
  • Make the length of the party shorter rather than longer.
  • Don’t permit shots.
  • Offer good food and non-alcoholic alternatives (and include low-alcohol punch).
  • Give a relatively early “last call.”
  • Designate a member or two of management (not HR) to be sober observers to monitor potential problems.

3. Provide Uber or another ride-share service for every attendee to and from the party. It is impossible to identify every person who may be impaired, so the money will be worth it. My recommendation is that Uber be paid for even when the attendees go to an after-party or meet at a bar. These post-party gatherings are common and it’s often when the attendee has that one drink too many. This policy also protects attendees who choose to have a “pre-party,” a not uncommon tradition for nervous associates who may be socializing with senior partners for the first time.

Final Words

At the end of the day, a party is still a party, with all the fun and risks attendant to a gathering with alcohol, music, food, and scores of different personalities and skills. As host, your firm can certainly put some boundaries and practical tools in place to avoid potential damage to guests and to the firm itself. Neglecting to do so in December 2017 would be a serious error.

Make this year’s party memorable for all the right reasons, even if there are fewer war stories to add to the firm’s history.

 
 

Link Christin is Executive Director of the Legal Professionals Program at Caron Treatment Centers, and works extensively with impaired lawyers through the treatment and recovery process. A former lawyer and firm partner, he also educates and provides training to law firms about these issues. He is a licensed and board-certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

 

How to Wish Clients Happy HolidaysOpen in a New Window

Ask Daliah: 5 ways to wish clients happy holidays (without the clutter of cards)

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Daliah

Daliah Saper

Dear Daliah: What is your opinion on mailing out greeting cards to clients for the holidays?

Dear readers: Every year, toward the end of November and beginning of December, my desk starts to pile up with greeting cards. The majority of them are part of a mass mailing with either a stamped signature or sometimes no signature at all. I look at them for 5 seconds, set them aside, only to look at them again for 5 more seconds right before I throw them out.

Every year I wonder why firms think it is a good idea to invest hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on these cards. Firms, especially smaller firms, should allocate their holiday marketing dollars more effectively.

This year, instead of sending out greeting cards to clients, consider one of these five alternatives:

  1. E-cards. Instead of spending your firm’s hard-earned money on physical cards, send electronic greeting cards. Most e-blast programs allow you to quickly and efficiently personalize each email and track which clients actually open your greeting card. Additionally, an electronic greeting gives you more room to discuss your firm and highlight important and interesting news about your year.

  2. Gifts to charity. Since e-cards cost a fraction of what regular cards do, use the funds allocated for physical cards to donate to a charity that resonates with your law firm. In your holiday news blast, let the recipient know you are donating the dollars you would otherwise have spent on greeting cards.

  3. Physical gifts with social impact. Sometimes you have to give an actual gift along with a card. In those cases, rather than a fruit basket or a flower arrangement, give a gift with impact. For example, Packed with Purpose partners with socially conscious companies to create unique gifts that help give back to the community and people in need. You can choose from a variety of curated gift sets or create custom gift boxes to send your clients.

  4. Gifts your clients sell. Or if your practice is like mine and you represent a variety of businesses, use this holiday season as an opportunity to promote your clients. Give gifts sold by your clients or work with them to create holiday promotions that you can share. In my latest news blast, I promoted my client Birchbox, and included a discount code they gave me specifically for my network. Your clients will appreciate the gift of increased exposure and your network will appreciate the gift of a good discount.

  5. Holiday parties. In addition to sending a holiday greeting or meaningful gift, consider throwing a holiday party. Holiday parties allow you to communicate with your clients in a more relaxed setting. Plus, everyone benefits from the opportunity to make new friends and just have a good time. I usually photograph and video my holiday parties and include links to view the holiday party album in a follow-up email. You can view some of those videos here.


Daliah Saper, founder of Saper Law Offices, is answering reader questions about building a 21st-century law firm. She can be reached at AskDaliah@ABAJournal.com.

Daliah Saper opened Saper Law Offices, an intellectual property, digital media, entertainment and business law firm based in Chicago, in 2005. Saper is regularly interviewed on national TV, radio and in several publications, including Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ABC News, 20/20, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is an adjunct professor of entertainment law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

 

Disaster Planning: Are You Ready?Open in a New Window

 

Disaster Planning:  Are You Ready?

We are all vulnerable to disasters whether they be floods, tornadoes, ice storms, or other emergencies. The question is:  how prepared are you?

Would your practice survive an ice storm that shuts things down for two weeks? What would happen if all the computers in your office were stolen? Or, what would occur if you had a heart attack tonight? Having your practice prepared for a sudden emergency or disaster is a must do for all solo, small, and large firms. A Disaster Recovery Plan can assist your firm in reducing or eliminating some of the dangers associated with a disaster, creating a better response to the emergency, recovering faster from the event, and it minimizes financial losses and service interruption.

To be successful, a plan will need to be strategically developed with foresight and planning offering the appropriate level of detail for your firm structure. Additionally, a plan will only be successful if it is supported by senior management and offers appropriate budget and resource allocations. Disaster plans should always be in writing and discussed and shared with all staff members of the firm. And, because this is a Disaster Plan, one copy should be kept off-site in case your electronic and hard copy files are inaccessible during the emergency event.

A Disaster Plan must, at a minimum, cover proper back-ups and recovery of files, create and keep updated an emergency contact list, and maintain adequate and proper insurance coverage through all emergencies and disasters.

If you’d like to learn more about Disaster Planning attend my session at the Plaza Lights CLE held December 7 & 8 at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Plaza (Presentation on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery on December 7 at 2:50 pm:  register at ksbar.org/cle) or at the Slam Dunk CLE Conference held January 29 & 30 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan (Presentation on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery on January 30 at 8:30 am:  register at ksbar.org/cle).

 

Have You Considered Adding Video Conferencing to Your Practice?Open in a New Window

Have You Considered Adding Video Conferencing to Your Practice?

According to a study conducted by the Legal Resource Technology Center of the American Bar Association, only about 20% of lawyers were using video conferencing in 2016. And, of those 20%, only about 4% were using video conferencing regularly. But, when compared to other businesses, that is far below average. Why? The study didn't reach that far, but there are several reasons why attorneys may not be using video conferencing. They may be skiddish about the technology, unsure about the security features, and unclear about how to make client confidentiality work in the context of both technology and security. But, other businesses are using these tools regularly because video conferencing can reduce travel and other related costs by as much as 30%.

Video conferencing comes with many benefits, particularly in a rural state such as Kansas where traveling to meet with clients can be costly and transportation can be an issue for many clients. Setting up video conferencing in one’s office can allow an attorney to meet with more clients in one day than would be possible by travel alone. And, it can allow the attorney to cover a wider catchment area as well, thereby potentially meeting needs in underserved areas.

The most important question to ask when considering video conferencing is what am I wanting this service to do for me? This question will allow you to sort through potential products and services out there in the realm of video conferencing to find the one that works best for you.

·         Do you want to collaborate on documents with clients, share screens, and chat with clients and participants while on the conference?

·         Will you use one room in the office for video conferencing that will remain set up with all of the necessary tools or will you be carrying your laptop around to do video conferencing on-the-go?

·         Are you looking for a cloud-based service and, if so, what questions do you need to ask to know what happens after the call(s) – where is the data stored and what type of security is used?[i]

Additionally, the attorney will want to consider the cost of the product. There are some free products out there, but not many. A few, such as Zoom, will allow you to use the product for free up to 40 minutes and up to 50 participants, but if you want to add the additional features, support, and functionality, then you must pay for the service. And, this is true across the board. In order to have access to increased functionality and features, the attorney will need to pay for the service and the product.[ii]

When selecting a product, be sure to pick a tool that is easy to use. You will need to be competent on this tool so by picking one that is easy to master you will better ensure your ability to reach the level of competence. Also, your clients will need to use this product and if there is an excessive amount of downloading and technological sophistication needed to use it then you may have upset clients and decreased satisfaction with your services.

Support is an important feature to think about when considering video conferencing. Paying for a product will increase the accessibility to support and this will allow the attorney to focus on being the attorney on the call and not the tech expert. Thus, if the client has trouble logging in, or there is a problem with the platform, then there is someone else to call other than the attorney having to try to troubleshoot all of the tech issues along with the legal ones.[iii]

Some accessories may be necessary to make your video conferencing services flow. You will need a computer, security software, and the video-conferencing service. Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype for Business, WebX, and Go-to-Meeting are just a few of the services on the market today. You will want to explore the products available to find the right fit for your practice. Additionally, when setting up video conferencing in your practice you will want to make sure you have a high-quality webcam and headphones. Even if you are the only one in the room, or in the building, you may want to use headphones. Oftentimes, when speaking directly toward the computer it can leave a muffled echo that does not sound professional. You will want to test your sound quality prior to the first video conference with a client.[iv]

When considering any type of technology every attorney must consider the implications to client confidentiality. Given the range of ethical issues raised by using technology in a law practice, we must always try to identify appropriate security measures to keep client information safe and protected. Here are a few questions to ask regarding technology and data security at your firm:

·         Are your physical, organizational and technological security measures adequate?

·         Are you using firewalls and intrusion detection software appropriately?

·         Are you using anti-malware software appropriately?

·         Are there firm policies in place regarding technology use?

·         Are firm lawyers and staff given adequate technology training?

·         Do you have measures in place to ensure data integrity?

·         Is your data backed-up?

·         Are your passwords, other access restrictions and authentication protocols sufficient?

·         Do you use encryption, where appropriate?

·         When discarding equipment, do you take appropriate measures to guard against unauthorized disclosure of client information?

·         Is there an incident response plan in place at your firm?[v]

Once a choice is made regarding a type of security, a video-conferencing product, and the place and type of storage for client information, all of this information should be listed in the client engagement letter providing notice to clients about how and where their information will be kept and secured by the firm.

Video conferencing can open your practice to new areas, new clients, and new possibilities. While there are many things to consider before jumping in to video conferencing, it can be an exciting opportunity to grow your practice. Before starting, you will want to remember to arrive at your conference early, every time, because software glitches happen, and you want to be prepared. If you are early to the conference, then you have a chance to troubleshoot problems and glitches. And, remember if you are on the screen, or in the room, then people can see you. You are always visible during a video conference, so be prepared to watch your mannerisms and facial expressions and be “on” for the entire call. [vi]

If you have any questions related to video conferencing, contact Sara Rust-Martin, KBA Law Practice Management Attorney, 785-861-8821, or srustmartin@ksbar.org



[i] Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).

[ii] Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).

[iii] Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).

[iv] Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).

[v] Legal Ethics in a Digital World, The Canadian Bar Ass’n (2014).

[vi] Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).

 

The Skill of Being a Successful Lawyer: Relationship BuildingOpen in a New Window

 

The Skill of Being a Successful Lawyer:  Relationship Building

In law school, students are taught legal knowledge, how to write as a lawyer, and even how to think like one, but future lawyers are not often in classes on the most important skill of being a successful lawyer:  relationship building.

To be a successful lawyer you will need relationships – all kinds of them. You need people to help you build your ideas, develop solutions to your problems, and offer key introductions to the “right” people when necessary. Professionally necessary people establish our network. We come to rely on them for all sorts of things inside and outside of the office. And, successful lawyers have a strong, diverse network.

Who makes up your network?

Don’t make the mistake of limiting your network to only lawyers or to people who are too similar to you. “When you interact only with people who are in similar positions, have similar views and share similar experiences, the result is an echo chamber – your network echoes back the same information and ideas to you. And, if everyone in your network has the same contacts that you have, you limit your opportunities to learn, grow, and develop new business.

The echo chamber effect is intensified on social media. Your news feed in Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms is likely to contain content from mostly those within your close circle of family, friends, and colleagues, many of whom have the same interests, concerns and views that you have, and is less likely to contain many people with differing points of view or perspectives.”[i]

What have you done to build or cultivate your network this week?

Be mindful of the limiting practices outlined above when building your network, whether online or off. “Instead of joining groups or speaking only to people who are like you, seek out people who have had different experiences and have different perspectives than you do. Look for new ideas and resources outside of your circle to avoid recirculating the same old information. Follow people from different industries and with different points of view on social media. Actively cultivate relationships with people with whom you disagree.”[ii]

Building business is, ultimately, all about relationships and trust, and these take time to develop, so the earlier in your career that you begin, the more successful you will be.

 



[i] Leading Through Relationships. Allison C. Shields. Law Practice (Nov/Dec. 2017).

[ii] Id.

 

Save-the-Date for ABA TECHSHOW 2018Open in a New Window

  • SAVE THE DATE

    Save the date for ABA TECHSHOW 2018!

    March 7-10, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

    • Hotel Information- 2018

      Hyatt Regency Chicago
      151 E Upper Wacker Drive
      Chicago, Illinois 60601

    • Industry-Leading Faculty

      TECHSHOW is your chance to hear - and meet - the industry's top technology experts. Don't miss your chance to hear and explore the new and best technology has to offer your law practice! 

    • Mark Your Calendar Today!

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FREE WEBINAR: Distraction Management for Busy LawyersOpen in a New Window

Distraction Management for Busy Lawyers [Webinar]

Posted: 26 Oct 2017 01:21 PM PDT

Our next edition of Webinars for Busy Lawyers will show you how to reclaim your time and money from distractions and optimize your ability to focus – in 30 minutes or less.

How many times are you distracted from your work on a typical day? You’ll lose almost 25 minutes on average returning to your original task each time. If you’re still billing by the hour, it’s a quick calculation to turn that loss into dollars.

On November 15th at 12pm (eastern)
Reid Trautz will present
Distraction Management for Busy Lawyers

Recent studies have shown that if you don’t regularly use your ability to focus and concentrate, your abilities will be greatly reduced. In today’s digital world, email and other device distractions often prevent us from concentrating time and mental energy on larger projects such as trial preparation or brief writing.

Loss of focus means time lost trying to get the job done. That means more time in the office but less money to show for it! The key is to reverse this trend by practicing your focus and concentration.

Join us for a fast-paced webinar filled with tips, tools, and strategies to reduce your distractions and increase your productivity.

Our Webinars for Busy Lawyers are always FREE but spots are limited so register now!

About the Expert

Reid Trautz is the Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Practice and Professionalism Center, where he provides ethics guidance and management advisory services to lawyers to help improve their businesses and the delivery of legal services to their clients. He is a nationally recognized advisor, author and presenter on practice issues, including business process improvement, law practice technology, and legal ethics. He is co-author of The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice, published by the ABA, and is a frequent contributor to legal publications nationwide. Reid is an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and was named to the Fastcase 50 list of global legal innovators in 2012.

 

Using the Cloud SecurelyOpen in a New Window

 

Using The Cloud Securely

 

"The Cloud" can mean different things to different people, but usually means using a service provider on the Internet to store and manage your computing systems and/or data for you. An advantage of the Cloud is that you can easily access and synchronize your data form multiple devices anywhere in the world, and you can also share your information with anyone you want. We call these services "The Cloud" because you often do not know where your data is physically stored. Examples of Cloud computing include creating documents on Google Docs, sharing files via Dropbox, setting up your own server on Amazon Cloud, storing customer data in Salesforce, or archiving your music or pictures in Apple's iCloud. These online services can make you far more productive, but they also come with unique risks. In this newsletter, we cover how you can securely make the most of the Cloud.

Read the full Monthly Security Awareness Newsletter for Everyone by clicking this link:  https://securingthehuman.sans.org/newsletters/ouch/issues/OUCH-201611_en.pdf

If the link is inactive on your screen, simply cut and paste it into your browser to read the full Newsletter.

 

 

 

Eye for Errors: Test your skills at editorial triageOpen in a New Window

 

Eye for Errors:  Test your skills at editorial triage

 

Every editor must engage in triage: sorting the most urgently needed edits from minor ones that, although desirable, aren’t absolutely necessary. If instead you treat all edits as if they were equally serious—covering the page in red ink—the writer may feel hopelessly inundated and just reject them all.

If you approach editing sensibly, the extensiveness of your edits to someone else’s work will also depend on your seniority (will your marks be taken as orders?), your skill (do you really know what you’re doing?), and your judgment about how amenable your colleagues will be to your changes (are they secure enough to understand that editing is an act of friendship?).

For now, let’s assume that you’re a junior person in the office. Your colleagues have middling writing skills, but they don’t understand the finer points of style. In short, you’re in a very typical situation here. You’ve been asked to review three briefs before they get filed tomorrow, and your seniors want you to be sure that there aren’t any typos or similar gaffes. Assume that they’re addicted to prior to (for before) and pursuant to (for under), and they won’t take kindly to your editing for mere questions of style.

Give these briefs a minimalist edit—confining yourself to outright errors. In each sentence that follows, find one or more glaring errors and one or more venial errors. The glaring errors (wrong word, poor grammar, misspelling, etc.) must be fixed: They would be regarded as blunders by any informed reader. The venial errors (a finer point of punctuation or word choice) might slide: They won’t tarnish the firm’s image too much because they’re so common. Purely discretionary matters of improvable style (passive voice, wordiness, legalese, etc.) are off-limits here.

Follow the link here to TAKE THE EDITOR"S QUIZ and read the rest of the article. Good luck!

 

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

 

 

 

Successful Law Firms Provide Both Proper Environment and Tech ToolsOpen in a New Window

THE NEW NORMAL

Successful law firms provide both proper environment and tech tools

Posted Oct 17, 2017 8:30 AM CDT
By Randi Mayes

Randi Mayes

Randi Mayes

The noble legal profession is notorious for its inability to move away from long-standing traditions. While many firms of all sizes experiment with new technologies, methodologies and business practices, the vast legal landscape can hardly be distinguished from itself two or more decades ago. 


To see how little has changed, we need only look at the proclamation that “the billable hour is dead”—which has been echoing for many years. We hear the celebratory whoops of success now and then, but we more frequently see the data indicating little has changed.

In this era of the rise of the machine, one is left to wonder how the traditional law firm model will fare for lawyers and staff alike. A modern law firm intent on thriving will likely undergo changes large and small; and a firm that has a high probability of success has thrived in a culture of change that pushed them through the past two decades.

Before we can paint a picture of the 21st-century law firm’s technology landscape, we must focus on the drivers of success: culture, people and processes. Without the right environment in which to leverage technology, success will be accidental and nonrepeatable.

CULTURE SHIFT

The term innovation sits in stark contrast to notions of tradition, hierarchy, repetition and perfection, all of which are part of the DNA of a law firm. A cultural shift is necessary to create the right environment in which entrepreneurship and innovation can be fostered.

A culture of innovation will drive creative approaches to service delivery that will drive business growth. Innovative firms have a deep focus on the client experience, empathetically embracing the client’s needs.

An innovative culture has no regard for rank or privilege, and it cares nothing for the concept of hierarchy so deeply rooted in traditional law firms. Rather, it creates opportunities where every voice is heard, where the freedom to fail is intrinsic, where department and practice silos are nonexistent, and where the strategic and business goals of the firm are understood, valued and moved forward by every employee. All with a single focus on better service to the client.

Knowledge-sharing isn’t a discreet discipline; it is part of the lifeblood of the firm.

THE HUMAN ELEMENT

Scouting, hiring and nurturing exceptional legal talent have long been goals of successful firms. The modern firm has the same desire for exceptional talent as it builds a professional staff who will direct and manage the firm’s business and support the practitioners. Savvy, agile, team-focused individuals who thrive in a culture of innovation and share the firm’s strategic vision and business direction will contribute to success.

The complexities and rapid rate of change of our technologies allow us to view human capital with a fresh eye—focusing less on traditional measures of education and experience (though those are important components), but with a stronger focus on mindset—aka attitude—and general flexibility, critically important attributes of engaged employees.

A collegial, collaborative culture requires collegial, collaborative people for sustainability and adaptability. By creating an environment that telegraphs strong support of personal and professional goals while placing value on family and leisure time, a firm will build a reputation that will attract the right people.

Nurturing all employees of a firm through ongoing education and support of peer networks will underscore the importance placed on the critical human element. The smart firm clears the path for its employees to connect with other smart people via professional associations and industry conferences.

As we increasingly see a world of phone-facing consumption of information, the value of real-life peer connections cannot be overstated. And the wider the network, the more learning opportunities exist. Peer connections across industries and across the globe are priceless.

THE ‘PRO’ IN PROCESS

With the right culture and people supporting it, a modern firm will examine its approach to process improvement. Many successful firms dedicate teams to continual examination and refinement of processes using Six Sigma, Agile or Lean disciplines. Absent this level of formality, a firm’s commitment to ensuring the most efficient, client-focused outcomes will drive success.

With the right culture of collaboration and inclusivity, continual improvement of processes occurs organically. Process improvement is aided by technology, and we’ll see the hot spots as we explore our tech landscape.

SHUT DOWN THE GARBAGE-MASHERS!

There is a scene in the original Star Wars where our soon-to-be heroes find themselves at the bottom of a garbage chute. When the compactor begins compressing their space, they struggle to stay on top of the heap. That scene can be reminiscent of how we’ve often dealt with technology, trying to separate the value from the junk and staying on top of it lest it crush us.

Technology should be used to solve a problem or make a process more efficient. And it should be utilized within intelligent processes by savvy people.

There is no perfect inventory of apps and gadgets that will ensure a firm’s success. Good technology is only part of the makeup of a good law firm.

Our modern law firm exploits the technology that supports the processes that aid the people who thrive in a culture of innovation, inclusion and knowledge-sharing. The obsolete garbage-mashers were shut down long ago.


Randi Mayes retired this year as executive director of the International Legal Technology Association, a position she had held since 1997. Law firm technologists Sheryl Dale, Gerry Heidenreich, Lyle McIntosh, Beth Patterson, David Roden and Barry Wheeler, who serve on ILTA’s program planning teams assisted in this article’s preparation.

 
 

 

Law Practice Today: The Leadership IssueOpen in a New Window

The Leadership Issue.
Get advice and analysis on the business of practicing law in this issue of Law Practice Today.

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The Leadership Issue

Law Practice Today, October 2017

Editor-in-Chief: Andrea Malone
Associate Editors: Amy Drushal
Issue Editor: Anna Rappaport

 

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Features

 

Leadership: Do We Have It
All Wrong?

By Susan Letterman White

Are law firms selecting leaders for all the wrong reasons?

Building A Culture of Rainmakers

By David King Keller

Ten tips for creating a rainmaking culture at your firm.

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Being the boss is different than being a best friend.

By David R. Pierce

Planning, patience, persistence, and understanding human nature helps leadership transitions succeed.

By Anna Rappaport

Effective leaders create other leaders to support them.

By Mary Juetten

Valuable insight to approaching legal technology decisions for your firm as a partner.

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Leaders with high Emotional Intelligence get better results. So why aren’t more firms embracing EI?

By Lainey Feingold

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Technology

 

AI is a Lawyer's Technician, Not a Replacement

By Thomas Suh

Don't fear the advance of artificial intelligence tools--learn how they can work for you and your clients.

What to Read

 

Five Traits of Champion Managers

By Andrew Elowitt & Marcia Watson Wasserman

Timeless tips on effective management from a veteran practitioner.

Finance

 

How to Finance Your New
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Don't assume a bank is your best option for financing a start-up practice.

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Looking Beyond the Hiring Process

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Tips on avoiding bad hires, and retaining good ones.

Women Rainmakers

 

Rainmaking Is All About Relationships: Julie Theall Earp

By Afi Johnson-Parris

Advice on how to build connections that lead to new business.

 

ABA TECHSHOW 2018

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Free Webinar: 2017 Year-End Accounting Checklists & TipsOpen in a New Window

 

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2017 Year-End
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The end of the year can be a hectic time for many business owners. Sorting through the entire year's financials, preparing the documents you'll need to file your tax returns, there are a lot of accounting tasks that need to be completed before you can take some time off to enjoy the holidays with your family.

While it's important to review and understand your law firm's financials throughout the year, building in additional time now to get a grasp on your accounting will save you (and your accountant) major headaches down the road.

In Year-End Accounting Checklist & Tips, we’ll show you the step-by-step actions you need to take to close out your 2017 books. This includes reconciliations, reviewing trust balances, tasks for your accountant, and much more.

Learning Objectives:

• Understand law firm accounting
• Identify common accounting challenges law firms face
• Know your Year-End Legal Accounting Checklist
• See how legal-specific technology can help

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Cybersecurity Alert: All 3 Billion Yahoo! Accounts BreachedOpen in a New Window

Cybersecurity Alert: All 3 Billion Yahoo! Accounts Breached

If you have email affiliated with a Yahoo! Account, be sure to check it if you haven’t already.

Yahoo started sending out notifications on Tuesday that a September 2016 breach was greater than originally thought.
Today, Yahoo account holders should follow these steps from PC World and CNet. Users should also evaluate their options and consider migrating to a different email platform. CNet shows users how to import  data from Yahoo to a Gmail account or users can follow these tips from UpTime JurisPage to set up a custom email address.

 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) Can Help Ensure Your Client Data Remains SafeOpen in a New Window


A Virtual Private Network (VPN) Can Help Ensure Your Client Data Remains Safe

Posted:02 Oct 2017 11:23 AM PDT

Guest post by Lawyerist.com

Modern lawyers don’t just work in an office—they work from everywhere: their home, a client’s office, a coffee shop, and a co-working space are all places a lawyer might find themselves throughout the work day. In all of those instances, it is likely that you would be using someone else’s wifi network. But public wifi is a security nightmare.

Armed with easily obtainable and inexpensive equipment, hackers can intercept public wifi traffic, which means if you are communicating with a client or working on a client file, all that data could be exposed. And just because the wifi network you’re using is password protected doesn’t make it a non-public network. Everyone else working on that coffee shop network used the same password to get on the same network you are using.

If you don’t take care to protect client data, it can lead to serious ethical violations.The ABA and the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct have made clear that they expect you to keep third parties from accessing client data. It used to be that encrypting your communications was clunky and difficult, but, thankfully, protecting your firm’s data and communications is no longer a technical nightmare. Encryption over wifi networks can often be solved with the simple installation of an app.

To avoid potential client data breaches while working out of an airport or your favorite coffee shop, install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates an encrypted private network, or tunnel, within a public network. It runs your data through its encrypted servers, so anyone spying on your electronic communications will see nothing but gibberish. It foils hackers and doesn’t really change anything for you as an end-user. You hop on a public wifi network and wait a few moments for your VPN to automatically connect, and then you are all set.

There are a wide number of VPN services to choose from. Some are free if you only need a small amount of data encrypted each month. Others may cost you around $10-13/month for unlimited encryption.

You should always make sure your computer itself is secure, and you should always secure your client communications. A VPN lets you do that in a cheap, efficient, and automated way, and attorneys should be using one.

 

Tech Tip: Scan Your Email Messages with Antivirus SoftwareOpen in a New Window

Tech Tip: Scan Your Email Messages With Antivirus Software

Posted:02 Oct 2017 05:33 AM PDT

Viruses often infect your computer via instant messages and email attachments, especially when the attachment is an executable file. Enable your antivirus software’s auto-protect feature to automatically scan email attachments for viruses when the messages are downloaded. Hackers routinely create new viruses, so it’s essential to keep the signature files for your antivirus software updated. Ensure your antivirus software also uses heuristic algorithms that allow the software to detect viruses based on their behavior, rather than a specific signature.

For more information on how to set your privacy settings see:

Thank you to the Florida PRI for the information contained in the Security Awareness Tip posted in today's Tech Tip.