Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Register
Law Practice Management Tips

Quick Tip: Steps to Prevent "Zoom Bombing" at Your Next Virtual MeetingOpen in a New Window

You may have heard in the news about a new phenomenon called “zoom bombing”, which is essentially when someone uninvited “crashes” a zoom session by sharing offensive and possibly pornographic content. Typically, this bombing happens when your Zoom conference information is shared publicly and ends up in the hands of someone who decides to hijack your meeting. The FBI has even indicated there have been a number of reports of incidents involving hijackers invading both work and school video conferences. See the story here from PC Magazine.

In order to prevent zoom bombing from happening at your next meeting, here are a few recommended tips:

  • Do not share Zoom conference links publicly. This includes on your website and social media. Provide the link directly to specific people.
  • Manage your screen-sharing options. In Zoom, change screen sharing to ‘Host Only.’
  • It is recommended you also make your meetings private. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
  • Lastly, ensure users have up-to-date Zoom clients. In January, Zoom rolled out a security update that added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.

Here are a few additional items you can change in your Zoom settings:

  • Disable “Join Before Host” so people can’t cause trouble before you arrive.
  • Disable “File Transfer” so there’s no digital virus sharing.
  • Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin” so booted attendees can’t slip back in.

To change these settings login to https://zoom.us, then pick “Settings” from the menu on the left, and find those listed above. They are about 1/3 of the page down.

 

Working Remotely Quick Tip—How to Manage Email OverloadOpen in a New Window

As we all continue to navigate the new normal of working remotely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have noticed that email has become an even more relied-upon method of communication. Part of the reason—it is quick, it is easy—and in this day and age, just about everyone has an email account. You might also have noticed, however, that during these unprecedented times, information management can quickly break down when everyone is relying on email as the primary means to communicate.   

 

For internal communication, a solution to this problem can be relying upon other tools to leverage quick and informal communication. These tools allow for constant contact with your colleagues while working remotely. Many include the ability to use chat applications, make unscheduled calls, and conduct video chat with one another. The added benefit is that they can also help reduce the feelings of isolation and email overload.

 

For those firms using Office 365, Microsoft Teams is an available option. This gives you the capabilities to use individual and group chat functions and video and audio calls. For G-Suite users, you can use the G-Suite Hangout chat feature as an option. If your firm uses neither of these products, other options include using Slack or possibly your case management software. For instance, some case management software applications such as Rocket Matter include built-in chat features.  

 

Using any of these options should help reduce the number of internal emails in your inbox, and hopefully, help you better manage the flow of information.

 

 

Technology Quick Tip: Serving Clients RemotelyOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers have come face to face with the reality they may have to work remotely over the coming weeks. That begs the question, “how can I effectively serve my clients?” Once you are ready to work remotely, (see Awareness, Response and Workplace Plan/Policies Part 1 and Law Firm Operations Part 2https://cpm.ncbar.org/2020/03/16/covid-19-law-firm-operations-part-2/) you may find that you have some clients who are averse to using technology. If that is case, I recommend reading the paper from the 2020 ABA TECHSHOW by Annie Arbenz and Shantelle L. Argyle on Loving the Luddites: Serving Tech-Averse Clients. This paper does an excellent job of walking you through online alternatives and how to adapt for your clients.

 

Covid-19: Law Firm Operations (Part 2)Open in a New Window

As a part two of her recent blog post, Catherine Sanders Reach of the North Carolina Bar Association, discussed considerations and guidance on temporarily moving a firm to a “virtual” environment in the wake of COVID-19. She recommends speaking with your IT service provider, whether in-house or outsourced, to understand your options to move your firm to remote work as quickly and securely as possible. Additionally, remember to use what you have and buy only what you absolutely need. Many software applications have freemium (free for basic use) offers, as well as free trials.  Before getting a free product, however, check the terms of service to make sure it is appropriate for confidential client information. 

In her post, Sanders Reach looks at the following areas lawyers should consider in preparation of moving to a virtual environment: Hardware, Infrastructure, Security, Software/Productivity, Marketing/Communication, Intra-Office Communication, and Staffing.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Sanders Reach pertinently points out that everyone will need a computer, however, not everyone may have a laptop. Ideally, you don’t want to ask employees to use their home computers due to security reasons. If purchasing new hardware is not option, team members with desktops may be able to pack everything up and take it with in. If the firm chooses to have staff use their home equipment, they will need to deploy a VPN for security reasons.
  • Keep in mind most remote work will require in internet access. Additionally, a plan should be put in place to ensure your data is being backed up while working remotely.
  • For law firms using a VoIP telephone system like RingCentral, Ooma, Jive, or others, the system can be set up to be used remotely through apps on mobile phones, through a computer browser, or have calls forwarded to mobile phones. Other VoIP systems through Comcast, Spectrum or AT&T may have similar options. For firms that have more traditional non-internet based phone systems or hybrid systems should check to see if calls can be forwarded to mobile phones. If not check to see if voicemails can be forwarded to email. An additional option may be to use a virtual receptionist service. Ruby Receptionist, for instance, is member benefit for KBA members.
  • If you will need to participate in video chats and video conferences, you will need a camera. Most newer laptops have a built-in camera. You will also need a microphone and speakers. If your firm uses a file server for shared files or to access on-premise client/server software like your practice management software or time/billing/accounting or other firm-wide software you will need to make that server available to your team remotely. Keep in mind, firms using cloud-based systems and services may have limited need for access to the firm’s servers. 
  • You should determine who in the office will receive the firm’s mail and make sure that the person has the capability to scan and email to files to appropriate parties. Keep in mind, mail forwarding through USPS can take up to 10 business days, so you may alert the necessary parties of your temporary address.
  • Have strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication, encryption and an VPN are always recommended, and Sanders Reach points out working remotely is not different with respect to employing these methods to work securely.
  • If your firm saves files to the cloud in an online document storage/sync application like OneDrive, GoogleDrive, ShareFile, Box, Dropbox, etc. then you’ll just need to make sure everyone has the login information and access they need and know how to save files to the appropriate folder. If the firm stores files on a physical server in the office, you will need to set up access via VPN or remote desktop and provide login instructions so your team can access the files. For firms using installed or client/server practice management, time and billing, accounting or practice specific software you will need to set up remote access.
  • Put a sign on the door of your office telling clients, as well as other visitors, how to get in touch.
  • Don’t forget to update your website to reflect any changes to phone numbers, fax numbers, or other communication methods. Your firm may also issue a statement through email to current and former clients, on the web and through social media, about how the firm will continue to do business, and measures you are taking to maintain a safe environment and continue to serve their needs. 
  • Email is an easy was to communicate with your team. However, there are more tools available to communicate. For instance, chat tools may be useful. For firms using Office 365 you have Teams for video and audio calls, group chat, individual chat and more. firms using G Suite (f/k/a Google for Business), your firm can use the G-suite Hangout  A very popular and freemium chat product is Slack. In the free version, Slack allows your team to chat, hold 1:1 audio and video calls, share files and integrate with G Suite, Office 365 and many other products.
  • Working offsite may create environments that are difficult to stay on top of tasks and deadlines. If so, your firms can create or share calendars in Office 365 and G Suite. There are also many freemium task management application options available, such as To-Do, Asana, and Trello.

To read the complete post, which is highly recommended visit: https://cpm.ncbar.org/2020/03/16/covid-19-law-firm-operations-part-2/

 

Covid-19: Awareness, Response, and Workplace Plans/Policies (Part 1)Open in a New Window

In her recent blog post, Catherine Sanders Reach of the North Carolina Bar Association discussed how law firms should maintain and monitor the current outbreak of COVID19. She opined that while law firms may have a disaster recovery or a business continuity plan, they should be reviewed and updated to reflect a pandemic response.

Additionally, Sanders Reach suggests law firms should review their plans and policies and update them to reflect possible quarantine situations, infected employees, reducing the spread of the virus, and strategies for dealing with a swiftly evolving situation.

Below are some of the resources Sanders Reach suggests lawyers review. To view the entire post, visit https://cpm.ncbar.org/2020/03/16/covid-19-awareness-response-and-workplace-plans-policies-part-1/.

Stay Aware

Global Response

Covid-19 Legal Implications for the Firm and Clients

General Business Planning

Law Firm Policies/Plans to Review and Update

Policies

Sample Law Firm Policies

Some policies have legal implications. Contact a Labor and Employment lawyer or Privacy and Data Security lawyer if you need help with compliant policy language. 

Business Plans

Sample Business Continuity and Succession plans:

 

Quick Tip: Cleaning/Disinfecting Your Electronic DevicesOpen in a New Window

With the growing awareness and concern over the spread of the coronavirus, you are likely taking extra precautions, such as washing your hands more often and for 20 seconds. But what about those devices?

 

As store shelves of cleaning products empty and people hoard sanitizer, I recommend learning how to appropriately clean your devices without damaging them. For instance, most newer phones have screens that can be damaged by harsh chemicals—and you should never submerge your phone in a cleaning agent or spray cleaning fluid directly on the device. In fact, most phone manufactures suggest wiping them down with a damp cloth.

 

To learn more about how to appropriately clean your devices, check out the following resources:

 

 

Microsoft Word Quick Tip—Keyboard Shortcut to Reveal FormattingOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

If you have ever had formatting issues within a Microsoft Word document, you know that these issues can sometimes be a pain to fix. If you find yourself in this situation, using the keyboard shortcut SHIFT + F1 can be helpful. When used, this keyboard shortcut will reveal the formatting within a chosen area of a document. The formatting will be displayed on the right hand of your screen, allowing for easy identification of any formatting errors that may need to be corrected, and hopefully, saving you some time.

 

The Consumer Electronics ShowOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

The massive, annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is ongoing as this goes to print and already there have been a variety of interesting announcements this year. Not all products announced at CES actually make it to market but quite a few can be expected by the end of the year.

Dell and Lenovo Folding Tablets – Both laptop giants are betting on dual screen, folding tablets for 2020. Dell’s Ori and Lenovo’s X1 Fold open to a 13.4” OLED screen surface when fully unfolded. The devices look and function like a tablet or offer a virtual keyboard on one half when opened partway like a laptop. Dell’s Duet is twice the size offering up to 26” of screen and a detachable keyboard providing an unprecedented amount of screen space in a such small form factor.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus – The ThinkBook Plus is a truly unique offering with a paperwhite e-ink display on the outside cover of the 13” laptop. The e-ink screen can display calendar, text, and other notifications or act as a notetaking platform. It consumes little power, looks clean and crisp like paper, and nicely supplements the full HD display inside. The ThinkBook Plus will start at $1,200 this year.

Samsung Sero TV – Samsung has recognized how ubiquitous mobile phones are for video and image recording and sharing and the majority of mobile phone imagery is vertically oriented. The Sero TV accommodates this by rotating from a horizontal to a vertical orientation to make full screen presentation more natural – no large black or blurred frames. It may seem like a simple trick but it allows mobile phone imagery to fully fill a large screen and makes for more compelling display. Anticipated to arrive this year near the $1,000 price point.

Hachi Infinite Touchscreen Projector- The short-throw projector from Hachi can display a bright, crisp image up to 26” on any surface and the image will respond as a touchscreen with 10 points of touch. The portable three-pound device includes an onboard battery, microphone for voice command via Amazon Alexa, and dual 5W speakers. It is Android-powered and Bluetooth-enabled to allow wireless screen casting. Shipping is anticipated in March at around $1,000.

Mophie PowerStation Go – Mophie is well-known and respected for its portable power banks and the PowerStation Go adds a new trick – it can jump start your car. In addition to dual USB-A charge ports, the new model adds a wireless charging pad and an attachment that can jumpstart any car or SUV. The PowerStation Go will retail for $160 and should arrive on shelves in February.

IVEA Time-C Smartwatch – Most smartwatch activity trackers only monitor the user’s stats like heart rate and activity levels. The analogue face, steel band Time-C monitors environmental factors as well. It can measure sun/UV exposure, pollution and particulate levels, humidity, temperature, ambient noise, and ambient lighting. This full-spectrum monitoring station on your wrist will ultimately help wearers be more alert to environmental factors on health and well-being. Pricing starts at $500.

Neutrogena Skin360 – The Skin360 app uses your phone’s front-facing camera to take a 180-selfie and then process and analyze over 100,000 pixels to measure skin health. The algorithm evaluates features like smoothness, wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and dark circles to watch for problem areas and to create a custom skin care maintenance regime (using Neutrogena products, of course). Available now for Android and iOS.

Opte Beauty Wand – Throw away the old-fashioned foundation and concealer because there is a new technology for concealing age spots, sun spots, and pigmentation issues. Sweep the Beauty Wand over your face and it scans the surface of your skin, analyzes spots, and then uses 120 nozzles to spray pigment and moisturizer like an inkjet printer. Demonstrations (in a controlled environment) make it look fast, simple, and effective with no mess. The Beauty Wand should ship this year and starts at $600.

Motion Pillow by TenMinds – Snoring is a problem for the snorer and anyone else within earshot but the Motion Pillow aims to stop it. The memory foam pillow houses multiple air chambers that can inflate and deflate on command. That command comes when microphones in the pillow detect snoring and the pumps activate to shift the snorer’s head on the pillow until silence returns. It aims to provide a gentle nudge to reposition rather than the harsh slap expected from an exhausted bed mate. The newest version will ship this year for $420.

Cosmo Connected Helmet – The Cosmo with glasses provides high-tech safety options for motorcyclists. The glasses offer a full heads-up display of the vehicle’s instrumentation and offer an array of sensors monitoring the environment for potential dangers around the cyclist and signaling on-coming risks. The Bluetooth-connected glasses and helmet cannot execute emergency maneuvers but they can call 911 and emergency contacts for help, providing GPS coordinates if you are down. The helmet and glasses will retail for $300.

Google Assistant Web Page Reader – This enhancement to the Google Assistant will allow users to say, “Hey Google, read this page” and it will read the text of a webpage in a natural-sounding voice. AI is improving such that it will only read relevant text and ignore navigation buttons, ads, and other clutter that infests websites. The Web Page Reader will be a free enhancement to Google Assistant later this year.

Originally published in the February 2020 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association.

 

Casemaker Tip: Tutorial VideosOpen in a New Window

You may be a bit hesitant to use Casemaker4, since changing to a new system can be a bit overwhelming. The improvements, however, make it worth it. With the newest version of your KBA member benefit, Casemaker has updated the homepage, improved the search, added an alert system, and have given users the ability to customize the interface to more suit their individual needs. Are you looking to learn more about Casemaker4 before committing to the change? If so, there are tutorial videos available within the Casemaker system that can be helpful.

Once you log in to the research tool through the KBA website, you will be prompted to try Casemaker4. If not prompted, you will find this option on the lower left hand side. Once in Casemaker4, you can click on the Videos link in the upper right. Here you can review a tutorial overview that covers all you need to get started with Casemaker4. 

Click image for full size

 

Email Quick Tip: How to Delay/Schedule an EmailOpen in a New Window

Have you ever found yourself working over the weekend or into the evening to catch up on work? While we all should strive to attain a better work/life balance, there will inevitably be a time when we need to work during non-business hours. If you find yourself in this position—particularly with finding the time to catch up on emails—I recommend considering the use of delayed or scheduled emails. 

Recent studies have shown email notifications received after hours can be a source of stress for lawyers. While access to email after hours provides flexibility, care should be taken to avoid burnout, and we should also demonstrate consideration for our colleagues. Just because I have found myself in a position where I am catching up on the weekend, it shouldn’t mean that I expect a response from my colleagues over the weekend as well. A good way to alleviate this expectation—even if it is a false one—is to use the delay/schedule email option. This option will allow you the time to compose your catch-up emails, but delay sending them until a later date (ie., Monday morning at 8:00 a.m).

To delay emails in Outlook (PC):

  1. Go the Options Tab.
  2. Select Delay Delivery.
  3. Under Delivery options, select the Do not deliver before check box, and then click the delivery date and  time you want.
  4. Click Close.
  5. When you're done composing your email message, select Send.
Click image for full size

After you click Send, the message remains in the Outbox folder until the delivery time.

Google recently (April 2019) added a scheduling feature to Gmail. Before that, you needed a third-party extension for this capability. For instruction on how to now delay/schedule an email within Gmail, check out the recent article on How to Geek.

To delay emails in Outlook (Mac):

  1. Compose your email message and include one or more recipient names on the To: line.
  2. On the Send button, select the dropdown arrow Send Later.
  3. Enter a time and date.
  4. Select Send. The message will be saved in the Drafts folder until the specified date and time. It will be sent even if Outlook is not open on your computer.
Click image for full size
View full Microsoft Office support article

 

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff—Getting Rid of Formatting ChangesOpen in a New Window

The “track changes” or “redline” function for word processors is essential to law practice, whether used to suggest revisions to a colleague’s work, to send modified contract terms to opposing counsel, or to tweak an agreed-upon order. It’s a great tool that promotes efficiency and transparency between lawyers.

But the changes can be overwhelming. Oftentimes, that results from “formatting” adjustments like those shown below:

Click image for full size

And let’s face it, precise formatting changes don’t matter much to us. We just want a document that looks “right,” and we don’t typically care how it got that way.

There are a couple of ways to avoid unnecessary formatting clutter. If you are marking up a document and want to stop recording formatting changes in Word, click the “Review” tab at the top of your screen, find the “Tracking” section, then click the small arrow in the bottom, right-hand corner.

Click image for full size

 

Then click on “Advanced Options.”  Towards the bottom of the new pop-up window, you can deselect “Track Formatting.” 

If you have received a document with a bunch of formatting bubbles and you only want to review the substance of what was modified, first click on the “Show Markup” drop-down menu in the “Tracking” section of the “Review” tab. Deselect “Comments” and “Insertions and Deletions,” but leave “Formatting” selected. The only changes shown in the document now should be the formatting changes you wish to accept (i.e., the bubbles you want to remove). Next, move to the “Changes” section immediately to the right of the “Tracking” section within the “Review” tab. Click the “Accept [arrow]” button below the button with the document image behind a green checkmark:

Click image for full size

Now select “Accept All Changes Shown.” 

Because the only changes shown are formatting, that option will accept and remove formatting changes while leaving the substantive redlines you really want to see. After clicking “Accept All Changes Shown,” simply return to the “Show Markup” menu from before and reselect “Comments” and “Insertions and Deletions.”

 

Casemaker 4 Quick Tip: Client ToolOpen in a New Window

In the Features Toolbar is a link labeled Clients. In the Clients menu you can create and store a list of clients you will be doing research for. Click Add next to the client field, type in your client’s name, and click Save. You also have the ability to set up several matters you are working on for that client. To add different matters to your clients, you will go through the same process of clicking Add, typing a title, and clicking Save. Once you have made your selections, choose Continue. You have now effectively logged in to do research for this client. The Client link will display the client’s name, letting you know that from this point forward any research you do, or any documents you view, are being labeled as research for this client. 

Click image for full size
Click image for full size

When you view your history, documents and search queries will be tagged with the time, date and client you had selected. Later, upon clicking our Sign Out link you will be logged out of the system and provided with a Session Summary. Like History, the session summary is a listing of everything you did while logged in—complete with date, time, and client labels; however, it is limited to only what you have done during that particular session. It is useful for some to sign out after completing research for that client. That way, every session summary is client-specific, and you can print a copy of your session summary for your client files. The date and time stamps can help you keep track of your billable hours for research you conducted.

 

Please note—the session summary page is unique to the session, and you will not be shown that page again. However, if you wish to see your client research information, you can still find that in your History.

 

Time Management: The Quadrant MethodOpen in a New Window

Developing and maintaining effective time management skills is a continual process. However, if you are willing to put in the work to improve your time management skills, the pay off can be well worth it. Studies show that in addition to improving productivity, time management skills can also help reduce stress. 

In our July 17, 2018 post, we discussed using the Pomodoro technique to better help manage your time. This technique is a personal favorite; however, it might not work for everyone. If you are looking for a different option to better suit your needs, you may want to consider the quadrant method, a time management method developed by speaker and author, Stephen Covey.

This method takes your linear to-do list and asks you to split the items up into two buckets: what’s important and what is not. From there you split the tasks even further into what is due soon and what is due later.

Here is a sample:

Click image for full size

 

Quadrant 1 would include only those activities that need your immediate attention. This space should stay reserved for emergencies and extremely important deadlines. When you start your day, you know where to work first: the upper left corner in Quadrant 1.

Quadrant 2 should be comprised of things that are important to you and your business but need not be done until a later date. A good example for this quadrant would be something like strategic planning.

Quadrant 3 would contain items that are more than likely interruptions in your day. Items like emails, phone calls, some meetings. Setting aside a time to specifically handle these interruptions at one time should save you some time in your day and allow you to focus on Quadrant 1 tasks. Delegation may also be an option for some of your Quadrant 3 tasks.

Quadrant 4 activities are those that waste your time and offer no value. These are the tasks you want to eliminate. Think: surfing the internet or social media.

You should find that most of your time is spent in Quadrants 1 and 3; however, having a more organized and prioritized list should open time in your schedule to work on Quadrant 2 tasks, allowing time to focus on items that enhance your skills and your business.

Do you have a different time management method that you have found effective? Leave your recommendations in the comments.

 

You Don't Need to Plug the Dam Yourself—Let Outlook Do It For YouOpen in a New Window

We’ve all experienced it: the email flood.  Whether it’s due to a pro se opposing party who doesn’t have a day job or a slew of “unsubscribe” “reply all” listserv emails, sifting through dozens of obnoxious messages makes the practice of law much (but needlessly) more difficult.

Rather than sorting or deleting the problematic emails one by one, set up a “rule” in your email application that sends them somewhere other than your inbox.  To do so in Outlook, click on “File,” then “Info,” and look down the list of buttons until you find “Manage Rules & Alerts.”  There you can ask Outlook to automatically move certain emails to a specific, separate folder.  And Outlook can sort emails based upon a slew of conditions, including sender, subject line, and the content.  By using the appropriate rule, you can review your inbox much more easily and manage the problematic emails as necessary.

Click image for full size
Click image for full size

 

Spoofing on Caller ID: problems for you and your clientsOpen in a New Window

Caller ID Spoofing

“The original factory warranty on your vehicle has expired and this is a final courtesy call to activate your warranty.”

“This call is regarding your Social Security Number. We found some fraudulent activities under your name.”

“We have called to inform you about a lawsuit filed in your name and the Internal Revenue Service has issued an arrest warrant in your name.”

“Grandma, I got arrested and I need you to write down this case number to talk to my lawyer when he calls you soon. I need help with bail money. I love you grandma.”

Scammers & Spoofing

If you have not been on the receiving end of a scam call, then your phone is probably two soup cans on a string. Estimates show as many as one in 10 American adults has lost money in a phone scam each year for a total of almost $10 billion annually. Over 60 percent of those calls originate outside the U.S., but technology allows those callers to alter their caller ID to appear as a domestic call. Some brazenly spoof the caller ID of legitimate businesses, government entities, or even family of their intended victims. The caller ID spoofing tools scammers use are causing issues for lawyers in routine cases.

SpoofCard – Cheap & Easy

It helps first to have some familiarity with how an amateur accesses caller ID spoofing technology. SpoofCard is one of the more popular services because it is so simple and cheap.

  • Step One: Go to spoofcard.com and create a login.
  • Step Two: Pay as little as $7.95 for call time credits.
  • Step Three: Enter the number you want to appear as your caller ID (e.g. Stan Hazlett’s office, the IRS, or Jenny at 867-5309).
  • Step Four: Dial the spoofcard.com switchboard and enter your call PIN.

The process is that easy and is available from desktop or mobile app. You can try it yourself for free without an account; SpoofCard allows a 60-second trial. SpoofCard even allows a call to push direct to voicemail so you can make it appear to your mark that they missed a call from Rudy Giuliani.

Problems for Clients

Domestic lawyers are well aware of problems from caller ID spoofing technology. Angry partners use spoofing to get through to their victims by spoofing the caller ID of the victim’s parents, her children’s school, or even her lawyer. Harassers push obscene and threatening calls directly to voice mail even if the victim never picks up her phone. Lawyers report that this high-tech, low-cost psychological warfare helps to isolate their clients as they come to distrust any incoming calls including from family, trusted friends and counsel.

Some lawyers share another twist: instead of calling the victim, the harasser would use caller ID spoofing to fake calls from the victim. Harassers can generate a call log of repeated calls to their own phone making it appear as if they were the actual victim of harassing calls. Others would spoof the victim’s number to threaten the victim’s support network and children who might unwittingly give up information useful to enable continued harassment.

Domestic lawyers have discovered they often have to provide technological instruction and assistance to their clients ranging from replacing phones and numbers, enabling filtering in Android/iOS, and subscribing clients to defensive services like Trapcall. (Trapcall.com offers subscriptions for $4-7 per month and provide some tools that help unmask caller ID without picking up a call.)

While domestic lawyers might have the most experience with caller ID spoofing impacting their cases and clients, there is no forcefield protecting other practice areas. A variety of scams have targeted civil litigants using litigants’ lawyers’ caller ID to direct payments to scammers’ accounts. Parties themselves can also join the fun, spoofing their opponent’s lawyer and obtaining sensitive case information. A lawyer herself may even use caller ID spoofing to get a leg up on her case.

Problems for Lawyers

In May, 2019, the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys decided a case in which a lawyer used caller ID spoofing in an attempt to collect a debt and repossess vehicles after consumers defaulted on a lease agreement. The lawyer called an individual she believed had the vehicles but used spoofing software to make her call appear to be from the individual’s wife. (For whatever reason, spoofing the caller ID of his wife did not prompt the individual to pick up, and the lawyer did leave a message with her real name.)

The Board found that the lawyer violated Rule 8.4(c) as use of the software constituted misrepresentation. The Board did not find a violation of Rule 4.4(a). After deciding that the lawyer’s use of the spoofing software was motivated by dishonesty, it unanimously recommended informal admonition. Lawyers dabbling with caller ID spoofing should beware of ethics ramifications of their conduct and be cognizant of exposure under federal laws including the Truth in Caller ID Act and, where applicable, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act—each of which may expose a lawyer to financial penalties and fees.

While generally legal, caller ID spoofing presents a range of problems for lawyers. Our clients and cases can be impacted by other litigants and non-parties, while our own license and practice can be impacted if we decide a little misrepresentation might help our case.

Originally published in the January 2020 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association.

 

Holiday Gifts Worth GettingOpen in a New Window

The holidays approach and the shopping days are running out. If you have any nice lawyers left on your list, consider the following:

DocuSign (docusign.com) – Now is the time to experiment with electronically signed documents with clients and opposing counsel. Getting signatures back electronically is considerably faster than paper and mail in an era of smartphones. Additionally, electronic agreements come with tamper-evident technology, admissibility certificates, and audit trails built in unlike wet-ink paper solutions. Lawyers should skip the personal plan ($10/month) and start with the $25/month plan which includes unlimited documents, access via mobile app, and adds reminders, personalized branding, and real-time comment and markup.

Klipfolio (klipfolio.com) – Lawyers have an abundance of tools available to monitor cases, deadlines, and clients. Significantly fewer tools are available which tell lawyers how the business is faring. Klipfolio is a cloud-based analytics tool which allows you to automatically upload key data about your business and then share that information as a visual dashboard for at-a-glance review. For example, a firm could track when bills are sent and record when those bills are paid to generate a visual dashboard indicator of average time to pay. A test drive is available at $49/month allowing up to five users to view up to five custom dashboards. It is one of the quickest and easiest ways to start with visual business analytics.

Fizzy Flight Insurance (fizzy.axa/en-gb) – **UPDATE (1/7/2020): Fizzy Flight Insurance is no longer available.** Smart contracts based on blockchain technology and its inherent ability to automatically verify compliance are still just buzzwords to many lawyers. Fizzy offers an opportunity to see how such smart contracts work in real life. Enter your flight number and departure date and Fizzy will allow you to purchase insurance on covered flights. If your flight is delayed by two hours or more or cancelled, Fizzy knows automatically and you are paid without ever filing a claim. The terms are clearly defined and independently verifiable. The payment automatic and instant. Using something like Fizzy can help lawyers visualize how smart contracts can be designed and deployed for our clients.

Privacy (privacy.com) – Credit card fraud remains a big business for criminals and U.S. consumers are more than twice as likely to be impacted due in part to lackadaisical security measures by card issuers here versus abroad. Services like Privacy create a single-use credit card number subscribers can use for online, phone, and recurring charges that keeps your primary card out of the retailer’s hands. How you use your cards is also scrubbed by Privacy so your card issuer cannot use your payment history to sell ads and otherwise target you based on your habits. The service is free (funded by the interchange paid by merchants) unless you get into extensive use beyond 12 cards per month.

Zipwhip (zipwhip.com) – If you set an appointment with your dentist, she probably sends you a text message confirmation and then a reminder the day before. No one in her office is tapping away on their phone to send those reminders. It is automated through a service like Zipwhip which allows you to manage texting from the desktop just like email. Zipwhip allows automated messaging in addition to more one-on-one interactive options. The economy option starts at $35/month per line for unlimited texts and contacts for up to two numbers (devices) with reporting and apps included. Jump to the business package at $100/month per line and features like firm personalization, scheduled messaging, auto-reply, and integration with Clio is enabled. (Clio integration logs and preserves texts in the client file for billing and record-keeping purposes.)

Faraday Bag/Box (do-it-yourself or faradaybag.com) – I have never allowed Alexa or Google Home devices into the office as they feature always-on microphones recording what they hear to Amazon and Google servers. The electronic eavesdropping issue is not so simple, however. Recently I was discussing a case in my office with an intern and my Android smartphone chimed in with an unsolicited comment. This occurred despite my configuring it to disregard wake words and to only activate with a physical action. A Faraday box or bag shields a device like a phone or laptop from all radio frequencies so it cannot “phone home” or receive remote instructions. You can make a tinfoil hat for your phone yourself or buy something more professional-looking for $50 and up.

Date Night at Kansas Supreme Court Special Session (kscourts.org) – Assuming the Kansas Supreme Court continues its traveling dockets after Chief Justice Nuss’s retirement, it is well worth the experience of attending one of its special sessions away from the Judicial Center in Topeka. My wife and I have attended five special sessions now from Lawrence to El Dorado and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience every time. We are not invested in the cases heard but swell with lawyerly pride at seeing hundreds gather at a time to watch the process. Afterwards, the non-lawyer public debates thoughtfully and sincerely about the cases and acknowledges the challenging work lawyers and judges do. Just remember that you are a lawyer and a special session in a high school is still a court room; show up dressed appropriately as an officer of the court.

Six Minute Meditation for Lawyers (theanxiouslawyer.com) – As cheesy as it seems to some of us cynics, the data is in and meditation offers tangible health and mental benefits. Jeena Cho offers free guided meditation audio files broken up into 0.1 hour segments. I reluctantly submitted and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. I am not at peace but am more peaceful—and that is truly a gift.

 

Microsoft Quick Tip: Unformatted Copy/PasteOpen in a New Window

Sometimes you need to copy and paste data from one document to another. Unfortunately, copy and paste may place unwanted formatting and styles into your new document. To avoid the unwanted formatting and styles, try pasting using the “text only” option:

  1. Copy the content you want to place from your document.
  2. Click where you want to paste the content in the new document.
  3. Select the  Keep Text Only option.

Should you forget to select the Keep Text Only option, you can clear the formatting by using tools in  Styles group under the Home tab of the Ribbon in Word.

 

  1. Highlight the text for which you want to clear the formatting.
  2. Click on the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the down arrow next to your Styles to select the More option.
  4. Click Clear Formatting.
Click image for full size
Click image for full size
Click image for full size

 

Casemaker Quick Tip – FolderOpen in a New Window

Like its predecessor CasemakerLegal, Casemaker4 also allows you to store documents you find over the course of your research. Using the Folders feature, you can access your documents from anywhere you have access to the internet—saving hard drive space and paper. 

First, create a new folder.

You can create a folder at any time by clicking on the folder link in the upper right or the Folder menu option under the My Account menu. In addition, if you are on the document you wish to save, you can click the Save to Folder icon and type a name for your folder into the New Folder field and click the + button. 

Click image for full size

You can save to your folder at any time.

Just click the Save To Folder icon from the Document Toolbar, choose your folder, and click Save. If you prefer to drag and drop simply click the Folder icon, and this time choose the folder you would like to use and click ok. This allows the icon to represent the folder you have chosen. Next click and drag the title of the document to the grey toolbar area. Your chosen folder name will appear, and you can drop the document title on top of it. 

To view the contents of a folder, click the Folders link in the Features toolbar or the Folders option under My Account.

Once there, on the left of your screen is a listing of all of your folders. Clicking your folder will display its contents in the central area of the page. Once the folder is open you have the opportunity to move, rename, or delete the entire folder using the options menu at the top of the folders list. On the right you can use the corresponding check boxes to move an individual document to a different folder, or to add it to the print queue, print directly, download, email, or remove. If you have accidentally deleted a document, or folder, that you need, you also have access to a Trash file to recover the information. 

 

Click image for full size

 

Quick Tip: Staying Safe Online This Holiday Shopping SeasonOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

With the holiday shopping in full swing, it is a good time to discuss tips for shopping safely online. According TechCrunch, U.S. consumers already spent $50.1 billion dollars shopping online in the month of November alone. This is surely bound to increase with the holiday shopping season and cyber deals occurring during this first week of December.  You know what else is also bound to increase? Online scams. So knowing how to spot phishing emails, scam deals, and fake advertisements will help protect you during this busiest shopping time of the year. 

 

  • Use credit cards, not debit cards, to shop online. Credit cards come with more protection against fraud and faulty products.
  • Avoid clicking on shopping links from social media and chat apps. Instead, if you see a deal go to the retailer’s site directly to find the item, rather than clicking on the link. These links could lead to fake or malicious websites, or even better yet cause a virus to be downloaded on your device.
  • If you see an offer that is too good to be true, that’s because it probably isn’t.  Be sure to research unknown retailers making these offers to ensure they are legitimate.

 

For more tips on staying safe while shopping online visit:

National Security Alliance – Shopping Online

Techlicious Blog – 11 Online Shopping Safety Tips

 

Microsoft Word Quick Tip: Default Settings—Ignore UppercaseOpen in a New Window

Did you know that one of the default proof reading settings in Microsoft Word is to ignore words in uppercase? Leaving this checked in your settings will cause Word to ignore anything in uppercase such as headings and titles when running a spelling and grammar check.

To change this default setting, while you have a Word document open:

  1. Go to File>Options>Proofing.
  2. From there, uncheck this option
  3. Click OK to save the new setting.

 

Click image for full size

 

LPM Quick Tip: Schedule Time for Continued LearningOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

As immigration law is changing wildly based on policy memos issued every other day, it is hard to keep up. With a small firm, a lot of business and changing policy, it has been exceedingly important to schedule time to digest, analyze and implement all the policy changes in ongoing case work. The quick LPM tip here is to make time to stay abreast of the changing legal landscape in your area of law. It is not a money-generating activity, but it keeps you sharp for your clients. Being deeply knowledgeable in your field also helps if you’re asked to speak or write on a topic, clearly demonstrating to the public that you are the expert.  

 

 

Casemaker4 Quick Tip — AlertsOpen in a New Window

This past summer Casemaker launched a redesign of their legal research system. The new platform design is known as Casemaker4. Currently, upon log-in to your member benefit, the system defaults to the prior version, Casemaker Legal. This, however, will eventually change. As a result, now is a good time to start getting familiar with the new platform. If you want to explore Casemaker4, simply click the “Click here to try the new Casemaker4” icon, which is found on the right side of your screen under the KBA logo.

 

Click image for full size

 

A new feature to become familiar within Casemaker4 is Alerts. Alerts provide you with notification of changes to search results, cases, statutes, rules and more – be it a change to the document itself, such as an updated statute, a new case citing the case or statute, new negative treatment of a case, or even new search results for a search query. You can set up alerts in multiple ways. If you are viewing a statute or case, you can use the “Add Alert” icon in the Document Toolbar. Similarly, if you wish to set up an alert for a search you can use the same icon on the page of search results.  

Click image for full size

 

In addition to creating or adding alerts from the search and document pages, you can also create an alert from the Alerts page itself. After clicking the Create Alert button you have the opportunity to choose if you are creating a search or document alert type, as well as provide the description and specifications for your alert.


The Alerts tab will also provide you with a notification if there is new information or an update for an alert since your last log in. You can then use the toggles on the left of the alerts page to select what you are viewing. The pencil and paper icon next to the toggles for your alerts will allow you to make any changes you wish to make.


You can also choose to receive email notifications for updates from your alerts, in addition to the Casemaker notifications.

 

Data Backup Quick Tip—Simple as 3–2–1Open in a New Window

Click image for full size

With Cybersecurity Awareness Month coming to a close, now is a good time to look at your data backup processes to determine if you are in the best position should you ever suffer a breach, security incident, or even a systems problem such as a hard drive or server failure.

A common approach to data backup is to follow the 3-2-1 rule. This time-honored strategy means having at least three copies of your data, two of which are local but on different mediums, and at least one copy offsite. To learn more about backing up your data, visit the KBA member benefit partner ALPS for a 5 part series ondata backup featured on the ALPS blog.

 

Use Quick Parts to Increase Your Microsoft Word and Outlook EfficiencyOpen in a New Window

Do you use Microsoft Outlook and Word and find yourself repeatedly copying and pasting the same boilerplate language from email to email or brief to brief? If you have sentences or whole paragraphs that you regularly use, consider adding them to your Quick Parts gallery. Quick Parts allows you to quickly and easily insert saved language into Outlook messages or Word documents.

 

Click image for full size

Step One – Save Boilerplate Text to the Quick Parts Gallery

  • The next time you have a draft email or document on your screen and you see text that you use regularly, click on the “Insert” tab on the toolbar. Note: if you are using an Outlook reading pane, you will have to expand the message by clicking on “Pop Out”.
  • Highlight the block of text with your mouse and click on “Quick Parts” on the toolbar.  Depending on your version of Word, Quick Parts may be identified only by an icon in the “Text” portion of the toolbar.
  • Click “Save Selection to Quick Parts Gallery” to create your new building block of text.  Select a Name for the text building block (e.g., Summary Judgment Standard of Review).  In addition to naming the text building block, you can also assign it to a particular category for easy organization of your building blocks.

Step Two – Insert Previously Saved Language Into Your Next Email or Document

  • When you are ready to reuse previously saved language, click on the “Insert” tab on the toolbar.  Note: if you are using an Outlook reading pane, you will have to expand the message by clicking on “Pop Out”.
  • Click on “Quick Parts” on the toolbar.
  • Click on the building block you want to add, and the text will be automatically inserted into your email or document.

It’s as easy as that! In no time, you’ll have a gallery of text building blocks created that you can reuse in future documents or messages. 

 

Keeping Your Eyes on the Road: Hovering Over a Link BEFORE You ClickOpen in a New Window

As you can see from clicking on the link below, whenever you encounter a link in an email, Google search, or anywhere else, the link does not necessarily have to lead where it says it’s taking you: 

            winningestcollegefootballprogram2009-2019.com

Click image for full size

Because links can be disguised, there is always a potential they could lead to virus or malware infections. Thankfully, the risks posed by links can be significantly reduced by hovering over a link before you click. Most programs that allow for the use of links have the capability to show where the link is going.

As an example, when moving a cursor over a link without clicking (i.e., hovering) in Firefox—a web browser—the link location shows up in the bottom left-hand corner: 

Or, when hovering over a link in Microsoft Outlook, it shows up as shown below:

Click image for full size

If the address shown when you hover seems odd or is overly long and complicated, rethink whether you really want to click. You can also consider other ways to get the information you want, like doing a Google search for the content on your own or calling the purported sender to verify that the link is taking you where you are supposed to go.

The next time you click on a link, keep your eyes on the road and be sure to hover over the link so that you can see where you’re going.

 

Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Now is the Time to Look at Your Cybersecurity Policies and PlansOpen in a New Window

In honor of October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I suggest now is a good time to look at your cybersecurity policies and plans to see if they need updating. It is recommended that you update your policies and plans on a yearly basis, especially if you have made any changes or upgrades to your systems or bought any new products that may need to be addressed. Since we are approaching the end of 2019, what better time to review your policies and plans than during Cybersecurity Awareness Month. If you don’t have a plan or policies in place, now is a good time to create them.

There are great resources available that can help you create a plan for prevention, detection and response. For instance, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have readily available resources on their website including their Cybersecurity Framework – based upon existing standards, guidelines and practices—for reducing cyber risks.

Another great resource specifically for law firms are the resources available from the ABA Cybersecurity Legal Task Force. You can find items such as a third-party vendor cybersecurity checklist, podcasts and articles related to law firm cybersecurity policies, and much more.  I also encourage you to read ABA Opinion 483, which discusses a lawyer’s obligation after an electronic data breach, and ABA Opinion 477R, which discusses securing communication of protected client information.

If you are a government lawyer and are looking for resources on cybersecurity, I highly suggest you look at the International City/County Management Association’s website. They have a whole section devoted to cybersecurity resources in relation to local governments.

Stay tuned for more cybersecurity tips coming throughout this month on the blog.

 

Protected Activity—Discussing Wages, Benefits and Working ConditionsOpen in a New Window

Many companies at one point or another have experienced the negative impacts of “water cooler talk” on staff morale and productivity. To alleviate the effects of employees discussing their wages, many companies enforce a policy prohibiting discussion of wages. However, if you are a private sector employer in America, a policy prohibiting discussion of wages is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which provides employees the right to discuss the “terms and conditions of employment” with one another, including their wages, benefits, etc. This right applies in both union and non-union settings, as well as on social media platforms.

Per the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):

In its decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), the Board reassessed the standard for when the mere maintenance of a work rule violates Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. The Board then established a new standard that focused on the balance between the rule’s negative impact on employees’ ability to exercise their Section 7 rights and the rule’s connection to employers’ rights to maintain discipline and productivity in the workplace.

With respect to confidentiality rules specifically regarding wages, benefits or working conditions, the Board held that these rules are generally unlawful because they could prohibit or limit NLRA-protected conduct, and the adverse impact on the rights guaranteed by the NLRA outweighs any justifications associated with the rule.

In summary, most discussion of wages and benefits will likely be protected and concerted. There are few legitimate interests in banning employees from discussing wages or working conditions that are sufficient to overcome Section 7 rights.

Per the Texas Workforce Commission:

“Employees discussing their own information are protected, as are employees discussing the pay and benefits of others if they obtained that information through ordinary conversations with others”, the Commission noted. “However, if in order to get the pay and benefits information they discuss with others they access offices or files known to be off-limits to them, or cause others to break access restrictions and give them confidential information, and the company has clearly taken steps to restrict the information and uphold its confidentiality, then they may well find themselves unprotected by the NLRA.”

What can an employer do to avoid the downfalls of these problematic conversations? Prohibiting employees from discussing compensation generally remains unlawful. The best way to alleviate these problems is to maintain a strong culture of equitable and transparent compensation practices. Encourage employees to approach management or the Human Resources (HR) Department with questions or observations about salaries and/or working conditions. HR can assist employees with understanding salary ranges and job potential, provide resources and training for management, and develop and maintain a grievance procedure for the company to ensure employees are heard. If appropriate, an employer may consider conducting an Employee Engagement Survey to monitor the company’s culture, employee engagement and the overall perception of compensation and benefits.

 

Sources:

Memorandum GC18-04, Office of the General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board (June 6, 2018)

           Unfair Labor Practices: Can an employer in a nonunion facility prohibit employees from discussing their salaries? (September 27, 2017). Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/prohibitdiscussingsalaries.aspx

 

LPM Quick Tip: Support StaffOpen in a New Window

Giving legal staff the credit they are due is important. It is easy for us lawyers to dive into our casework and client communications without realizing all the work our support staff handles in the background. We are trained to see legal issues and resolve problems. Most of the time, though, we are not trained on how to manage people. A quick tip for ensuring your staff knows you’re grateful is to put their birthdays and big life events on your outlook calendars alongside your client deadlines. By doing this, you are scheduling time for the humanity that keeps your office running.

Click image for full size

 

Privacy Starts with Your Browser: Firefox's New Privacy FeaturesOpen in a New Window

Many websites install files on your computer—commonly referred to as “cookies”—that provide a number of potentially useful functions: keeping track of online purchases, remembering entries in website fields, and authenticating purchases. While browsing, your computer can also gather more malicious cookies and programs that can use your computer’s hardware without your knowledge or build a profile about your activity across websites, among other things. Mozilla’s Firefox browser has recently incorporated a robust set of tools to help manage the cookies your computer picks up. 

Simply install Firefox at https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/, then click on the three-lined, hamburger logo in the top right-hand corner.

Click image for full size

Then, click on content-blocking, as shown below. 

Click image for full size

You can select from the “standard” or “strict” options, which block trackers based upon whether a regular or “private” browser window is open, or you can customize your options based upon the types of content you wish to block. 

While those options are great, they may cause some websites to not function properly. If a website does not seem to be working, simply click on the circle “i” logo next to the URL at the top of the browser window, and select “Turn off Blocking for This Site.”

 

Mandatory Technology CLE—Yes or No?Open in a New Window

Florida and North Carolina now require lawyers to complete mandatory technology CLE each reporting period. Florida requires three hours per three-year reporting period and North Carolina requires one hour per year. More states are expected to join over the coming years, and the idea is even circulating in Kansas.

There is no debate that technology plays a significant role in the practice of law. Further, there is no reasonable debate that technological competence is important to advancing and protecting client interests and firm profitability and longevity. There is, however, some rational debate over whether mandating one or more CLE hours will serve to increase technological competence. Following are some arguments culled from that debate:

Proponent—Mandatory Technology CLE

The Rules Require Competence

In 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court adopted changes to the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct which incorporated clarified and expanded duties of lawyers to develop and maintain technological competence. The broadest of these changes is in Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 requiring lawyers to “…keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology….”

Because the Rules require technological competence, mandating technology CLE would be a logical next step. Just as mandatory ethics CLE exposes lawyers to cases, hypotheticals, and opinions they might not willingly investigate on their own, mandatory technology CLE would help drag the Luddites into the digital era and expose them to coursework they might not choose voluntarily. Mandating ethics CLE is, in fact, something we have done before.

Competence Helps Clients

There is legitimate concern about the prevalence of self-represented litigants and unassisted parties in our legal system. Those individuals are usually overwhelmed and often make decisions that impair the full realization of their rights. Additionally, other actors in the legal system—and tax-payers, more broadly—often have to underwrite those individuals’ on-the-job learning of the law.

This self-represented issue is often linked to the costs of legal representation. One theory asserts that technological competence helps lawyers cut the cost of providing legal services and, therefore, reduces the lawyers’ costs to clients. If this theory is correct, then technological competence from lawyers would be one low-cost means of addressing the self-represented party issue.

Technology Helps Lawyers

There is growing understanding that lawyers are not the healthiest people. The pressures of the profession, dogged competition, and the financial demands of practice combine to expose lawyers to a range of professional dangers including burnout, depression, substance abuse and even suicide. The hopeful suggest that technological competence can help.

If a lawyer is required to attend technology CLE, two potential benefits are suggested: first, the overall fear of technology may be mitigated. Lawyers forced into a CLE may see that technology is not the dark art they feared and find their existing legal skills make them well-suited to understanding technology. Second, learning even a few technology tricks and skills here and there may be enough to take a burden off and provide a lawyer with some much need breathing room.

Opponent—Mandatory Technology CLE

Tail Wags the Dog

The technological competence requirement is a small subset of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct. (Technological competence is also a small subset of another small subset of the Rules—law practice management.)It is problematic from a substantive and a messaging perspective to place one small subset of the Rules on an equal compliance footing with the Rules themselves.

Technological competence may certainly arise as a component of issues of confidentiality, safekeeping, diligence, or communication, but technology is merely a backdrop to those primary duties. Keeping technological competence closely integrated with the Rules focuses the attention where it belongs—on the duty itself and not on some app or service only tangentially relevant to the Rule.

Because technological competence is a subset of the Rules, we can have technology CLE for ethics credit already. Some examples which could be taught now:

  • training on encryption to protect data transmitted in email, on removable drives, and on laptops or phones (Rules 1.6 and 1.15);
  • email training on creating folders, configuring rules, and implementing notifications to address client and court communications (Rules 1.4 and 1.3); and
  • training in accounting software to maintain trust and operating accounts (Rule 1.15).

The opportunities for actual technology training specifically targeted to primary duties under the existing ethics rules is possible now. Additionally, technology training can be approved under the Law Practice Management programming category already in place.

Placebo

A one-hour CLE credit requirement for technology training underestimates the difficulty of obtaining technological competence. I once took formal classroom training in Microsoft Word. It was an all-day course for Level 1 proficiency that barely scratched the surface of what I would need to configure and use Word for the office. (And some of my knowledge “expired” with the next-released version of Word.)

Suggesting that just one hour of CLE training per year in technology will put a dent in either client access to legal services or in lawyer well-being is grossly over-optimistic. It is more likely that mandated technology training would be used to show that the profession is doing something serious without being serious at all about doing something.

The discussion about mandatory technology training is refreshing because it evidences a growing understanding that technological competence is important for overall legal competence—too important to address unmoored from our broader duties.

Originally published in the July/August 2019 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association.

 

Quick Tip: Searching Internet Archives with the Wayback MachineOpen in a New Window

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of information found on the Internet. The information is collected by a process called web crawling, which is similar to how search engines, like Google, collect data for searching. The Wayback Machine was first launched in 2001 by non-profit organization, the Internet Archive.

The service allows users to see archived versions of web pages across time. In fact, the Wayback Machine has catalogued more than 370 billion web pages according to a recent article on Lifewire. If it is a password protected website or includes information populated by databases, then the information cannot be collected by the crawlers and will not be found on the service. If the website is publicly available, however, chances are high that is has been archived by the Wayback Machine.

I recently ran a search of the Kansas Judicial Branch website. You can see in the screenshot what the website looked like on February 29, 2000.

Click image for full size

 

What to Do When It's Time to Hire a New AttorneyOpen in a New Window

Is it time for your firm to add talent and hire a new attorney? NALP and the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Section have an excellent resource designed to help you in navigating this time-consuming and potentially expensive process. It takes time and money to train new hires and to acclimate the new attorney to your firm’s atmosphere, procedures and practices. All employers want to hire smart in order to see a return on their investment, and this resource will aid you in making smart, meaningful hiring decisions. 

Advice includes: how to identify an applicant pool, how to make the offer, tips for salary and benefits negotiations, and an all-important hiring checklist.

Click the link to download What To Do When It’s Time to Hire a New Attorney

 

 

Lending Library Book Review: Women Rainmakers' Best Marketing TipsOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

Theda Snyder’s Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips is a great introduction to marketing for all women lawyers, including those who don’t currently believe they are on the “rainmaker” path. Women need to know about business and how to stand confident in their competence. The book is especially great at identifying those areas of the legal profession that aren’t exciting and presenting them as marketing opportunities. For instance, the author tells women rainmakers to use the legal community’s gossip to your advantage! If you hear about your competitor is making changes, maybe it is an opportunity for you in the wake of their restructuring.

The author also presents a unique way of using Lexis and Westlaw, which are sites normally used for dry legal research. She says spending time on these platforms doing keyword searches for legal issues in your area of practice may show current litigation emerging or growing in your area that you didn’t already know about—i.e. new avenues of revenue. The book also has standard business marketing advice, including articles about watching your competition, discovering your target customer, and drafting a business plan. Yes, draft, it needs to be in writing! She also talks about rainmakers considering focusing their practice so they are the experts in their field—having a niche automatically sets you apart from others in law. This is not always easy to do as a new solo practitioner, but is something to consider.

I think this book is useful for new people learning about marketing themselves. I think some of the material is a little dated, but probably still true. For instance, on page 21 the author gets into the detail of how women rainmakers should dress. She says, “[s]ome men can adopt far-out fashions with success: ponytails, cowboy regalia in northern climates, and feminine-looking fur coats. Regrettably, though, women are still best advised to adopt a conservative look. Since a good rainmaker attracts business everywhere she goes, plan on keeping the conservative appearance for a long, long time.” While I have trouble with this viewpoint, the author is getting at the larger issue— which is women and men are treated differently in business, and this is not going away for a long, long time.

This book is a great start for any woman lawyer ready to awaken her inner rainmaker!

 

FSLA Frequently Asked QuestionsOpen in a New Window

FLSA Frequently Asked Questions

John R. Dietrick, P.A. frequently has inquiries regarding exempt employees and managing their schedules. See below for a few of the most common questions and answers.

Can an employer create a specified schedule for exempt employees?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not specifically prohibit employers from requiring exempt employees to work a particular schedule or to track the hours they work. The Department of Labor (DOL) has stated that employers may require exempt employees to work a specific schedule and to record and track hours without affecting their exempt status. 29 CFR Part 541. However, it is important to note that if you require exempt employees to work a certain number of hours and account for their work time on an hourly basis, you may jeopardize the exempt status of these employees if the accounting has the effect of treating them like hourly workers. This will likely create liability for overtime payment for the employer.

Will tracking time with a specified schedule risk an employees exemption status?

The DOL has allowed for hourly tracking of time for exempt employees. (See 29 CFR Part 541, employersmay require exempt employees to record and track hours.) However, this may only be done for purposes unrelated to employee pay (i.e., tracking to monitor performance, productivity, or billing to clients). The hours should be tied to job duties rather than strictly connected to starting and ending work times. Conversely, tracking hours and then adjusting the base salary compensation to match work hours would likely cause a loss of the exemption. If the exemption is lost, the employee becomes nonexempt and the employer will be liable to pay any earned overtime.

What options are available for an employer when an employee fails to meet the minimum hours of the employee specified work week?

An exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available (i.e., inclement weather). 29 CFR Part 541.602.

The relevant exceptions to this rule are as follows:

  1. Deductions from pay may be made when an exempt employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability;
  2. Deductions from pay may be made for absences of one or more full days occasioned by sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for loss of salary due to sickness or disability;
  3. Employers may offset any amounts received by an employee as jury fees, witness fees or military pay for a particular week against the salary due for that particular week without loss of the exemption if the employee is absent to fulfill those duties; and
  4. An employer is not required to pay the full salary for weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the FMLA. 29 CFR Part 541.602.

Other potential options for employers include a salary cut (not below the minimum exempt requirement), voluntary loss of exemption (this would require a balancing test), and as a last resort, termination.

Note: It may be beneficial to speak with the employee to determine why he or she is not meeting the minimum hours. If an employer has over fifteen (15) employees, the employer is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. If there is a situation that falls under this act preventing the employee from working the minimum hours, the employee may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. 

 

Scam Alert: Vishing Threats on the RiseOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

In the last week or so, there has been an increase in reported vishing attempts targeting law firms and legal departments in Kansas. In fact, not only have I received some of these reports, I recently took one of these scam phone calls at my own office. The phone call appeared to come from a technology company, and the caller indicated there was a problem with my computer. The caller wanted my login credentials and remote access to my computer to “fix the problem.”  Of course, I immediately recognized this was a vishing attempt, and I did not give any information to the caller. The caller was more than likely using spoofing software to make the call appear as if it were coming from a legitimate company.

Vishing is the term used for these types of scam calls. Similar to email phishing, vishing uses social engineering to gain access to private and/or financial information. Instead of using a computer, however, this type of scam takes place over the telephone.

 

To avoid falling victim to vishing scams:

Do NOT
  • Participate in surveys over the phone.
  • Share personal information to an unknown caller. Banks and government entities, for instance, should never ask for personal information over the phone.
  • Give out computer systems or network information over the phone.
Things to DO
  • Document the situation. Verify the caller’s identity, obtain as much information as possible, if caller ID is available write down the caller’s information, and take detailed notes about the call.
  • Designate someone responsible for tracking, notifying, and educating staff on recent vishing attempts.

 

Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows: Let’s Talk about CtrlOpen in a New Window

In several recent blog posts, I have highlighted the usefulness of using keyboard shortcuts into your everyday typing. It is no secret using shortcuts can make you more efficient at doing certain computer tasks. So given the benefits, I have listed below a few more shortcuts that you can add to your cheat sheet. All of them involve using the Ctrl key on your keyboard.

 

 Ctrl + a  select an entire document or a window 
 Ctrl + c  copy a selected item
 Ctrl + v   paste what you have copied
 Ctrl + x   delete the selected text
 Ctrl + z  undo an action
 Ctrl + y  redo an action
 Ctrl + d   delete a selected item or file and move it to the recycle bin on your computer
 Ctrl + r   refresh and active a window

 

There are many more keyboard shortcuts you can use when working in Windows. For a complete list, click here.  If you are a Mac user, you can still use most of these same shortcuts by using the Command key on your keyboard in place of the Ctrl key. Click here to view Mac shortcuts.

 

Do you have a favorite shortcut or maybe a shortcut you created specifically for law-related work? If so, let me know, and I can share it with our readers!

 

Marketing Quick Tip: How Did You Hear About Us?Open in a New Window

This past week, I attended the Kansas Women Attorneys Association Annual Conference in Lindsborg, Kansas. During one of the CLE presentations, a discussion took place regarding marketing efforts. One of the audience members had an excellent suggestion, and I want to share it with you. The suggestion was to take the opportunity to collect information about your marketing efforts from potential clients that call seeking representation. Asking one simple question prior to concluding the call can tell you a lot. That question? “How did you hear about us?” The answer should give you some insight into your marketing efforts. Track the answer to this question, and over the course of time you will have collected data that should show the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. From there, my recommendation is to then make more data based driven decisions about where you plan to spend time and money in your marketing efforts.

 

Casemaker Tip: Search Operators in Casemaker4Open in a New Window

If you were not aware, Casemaker recently introduced a redesign of its legal research platform called Casemaker4. Currently, upon log-in to your member benefit, the platform will continue to default to the prior version. You can, however, select to switch to the new version. Eventually this default will change to Casemaker4 for everyone upon log-in. In the meantime, I suggest taking a look at the new version prior to this switch.

While there are somethings that have changed in Casemaker4 quite a few things have not. For example, you can use the same search operators in Casemaker4 that you used in previous versions of Casemaker. Let’s review them!

Search Operators

"AND" searching

Example: Contract Binding

To perform the AND search, simply leave a space. Casemaker sees the space as the AND operator. Our example will give us documents that have the word contract as well as the word binding.


"OR" searching

Example: alimony OR support

Using OR as the operator will find documents that use either word in the query. In our example, this query will pull up documents mentioning either alimony or support anywhere in them.


"NOT" searching

Example: property NOT commercial

Using the NOT operator will tell the system to find the documents that mention the first term but do not mention the second. In our example, the query will pull up documents that refer to property but do not mention the term commercial


"Phrase" searching

Example: “right of way”

This search type tells the system to treat everything in the quotations as if it were one search term. In our example, this means it will only pull cases that mention right of way but not cases that mention the words right, of and way by themselves.


"Thesaurus" searching

Example: ~parole

The thesaurus search not only locates your search term but also words with the same meaning. In our example query, the search will pull up documents that mention the word parole as well documents that mention any synonyms of the word parole.


"Asterisk" searching

Example: run*

This search will pull up documents that mention terms that begin with the letters prior to the asterisk. In our example, the query will find documents that mention not only run but also any words that start with run such as runner, runs, running and so on.


"Proximity" searching

Example: Tax w/10 property

This search will pull up documents that mention your first term within the number of words you specify of the other term. In our example, this will bring us documents where tax is mentioned within ten words of the term property.


"Grouping" searching

Example: (alimony OR support) AND divorce 

This would be the one case where you should use the word AND in Casemaker. Using the parentheses tells the system we want to group these queries. In this example, the system will return documents that mention alimony or support but also mention divorce.

 

When creating searches, if you run into trouble or need a few tips Casemakers highly recommends contacting their customer support department. They have a live chat feature which will allow you to instant message the customer support team during their regular hours. You will find a link to livechat in the upper right of the Casemaker4 screen. Live chat is especially useful when you are looking for search query assistance. Casemaker’s support team can give you a sample query and you can copy and paste the search suggestions they have to offer.

 

Quick Tip: Using Print Friendly to Print or Convert a Webpage to PDFOpen in a New Window

Have you ever tried printing a webpage that ended up difficult to read because of all the extra content on the page? If so, I suggest trying the free service Print Friendly. If you are like me and find articles on the web you want to save to read later, or that you just want to keep as a resource for when you may need it, then using Print Friendly is a great option. Print Friendly lets you either physically print the webpage, convert the page to a PDF, or email it to yourself without all the extra clutter. Simply copy the URL of the page you wish to print from your browser’s address bar, then go to www.printfriendly.com. Paste the URL into the text box, then click the print preview button. It is that simple! From there, you can choose which option you prefer for saving. There is also an option to install a browser extension for easy use.

Click image for full size

 

Quick Tip: Taking a BreakOpen in a New Window

With the 4th of July holiday this week, and the summer months upon us, now is a good time to talk about taking a much needed break or vacation from work. Taking a break from work may seem impossible at times. In fact, I recently taught a CLE where I discussed unplugging while on vacation. The majority of responses I received from the audience was that completely unplugging is impossible. Why? We worry about the amount of work that piles up while we are gone. Sometimes, it may even feel stressful just preparing to leave for vacation as you work through tasks that need to be completed before leaving. Despite this, studies show that taking time away from work allows the body to replenish and repair itself. In addition to the health benefits, you often come back from a break feeling refreshed and re-energized, allowing you to increase productivity and creativity. Now, in full disclosure, I am currently on vacation as I type this week’s tip. So, I will follow my own advice, and instead of giving you tips for taking a break, I will encourage you to head over to my friends at the Attorney at Work blog and read last week’s article on Time Management Tech Tips to Help Reclaim Your Weekend.

 

eFiling Rejections—The Lambert DecisionOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

Lambert v. Peterson, et al (No. 117,344) decided by the Kansas Supreme Court on April 19, 2019 is worth careful review by every efiling lawyer. Lambert highlights the dangers to litigants in an electronic filing system that discounts the actual pleadings filed in favor of immaterial metadata entered by filers to describe the pleading within eFlex.

Lambert’s lawyer filed a medical malpractice petition on the last day of the statute of limitations. The following day, the clerk of the district court worked the filing queue and rejected the petition because the clerk did not accept how the data describing the petition (metadata) within eFlex was entered. The lawyer refiled the petition, changing the metadata, but that resulted in the petition being file-stamped one day past the statute of limitations. Lambert ultimately lost her claim to a motion to dismiss because of that late file stamp.

Those facts admit Lambert’s lawyer to a large society of Kansas filers who routinely see legally-adequate pleadings rejected due to metadata issues. Under paper filing, Lambert’s lawyer would have walked the petition to the courthouse for a file-stamped petition at the window. The clerks trained to enter metadata about the case would enter it.

Rule 23(c)

When efiling rolled out, it shifted that data entry task from clerks to lawyers. Now, a filing lawyer must know the law on behalf of the client and be able to ferret out the data entry policies of every county—unwritten policies that differ from court to court and which are usually discoverable only through trial and error. (Clerks may correct data entry issues but OJA recommendations and local rules tend toward rejection.)

As I write this, the Kansas Supreme Court is accepting comment on proposed rules which include an effort to address the Lambert issue. Proposed Rule 23(c)(1) narrows clerk rejection reasons to the following:

  1. the document is illegible or in a format that prevents it from being opened;
  2. the document does not leave a margin sufficient to affix a file stamp…;
  3. the document does not have the correct county designation, case number, or case caption; and
  4. the applicable fee has not been paid or there is no poverty affidavit submitted with the document or already on file in the case.

The change redirects clerk attention toward the document itself and away from the metadata in eFlex. Had this rule or focus been in place upon roll out, the Lambert rejection may not have occurred.

Proposed Rule 23(c)(2) also speeds up the review process in the clerks’ offices. Clerks must process a document no more than four business hours after filing. Because Lambert’s petition was submitted at 11:56 AM, the lawyer would have had the rejection by 3:56 PM the same day leaving time to refile within the statute of limitations. A promise of efiling was that the clerk window would always be open to receive filings. However, the rejection process, and the seeming missing audit trail for those rejections, places a caveat on that promise.

Proposed Rule 23 would likely eliminate most of the scenarios in which a Lambert set of facts could bite a litigant. It does not eliminate the possibility, however. First, there are no remedies for non-compliance within the Rule; it serves as a best practices aspiration but does not provide filers any enforcement. Second, there is still room for a clerk rejection unrelated to the document. For example, a dispute over whether a party is fee exempt could still generate a clerk rejection.

Proof of Filing

Because a clerk rejection can adversely impact a party’s rights under statute, the counsel in Lambert is important. The district court and Kansas Supreme Court have not taken judicial notice of the system they maintain to see the content of the original, timely filing. In some cases, lawyers have been told that the courts do not have access to see the same information we see on filing. It is also possible that there simply are no audit records or other digital trail left by documents that cannot survive a clerk rejection. Either way, the state of the court’s efiling system with respect to a pleading is, by nature, outside the pleadings—and that is significant.

The Kansas Supreme Court notes, “Certainly, a party responding to a motion to dismiss can go outside the pleadings to raise facts supporting the party’s response to the motion. But to do so, the party must follow prescribed procedures. Specifically, ‘the motion must be treated as one of summary judgment under K.S.A. 60-256.’” It continued, “Instead, Lambert (or any other party responding to a motion to dismiss) must, ‘by affidavits or by declarations pursuant to K.S.A. 53-601…or as otherwise provided in this section, set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.”

If you have a time-sensitive document, start the filing process with eyes wide open toward how to prove by “affidavit, declaration, or testimony by a competent affiant, declarant, or witness based on personal knowledge setting forth facts that would be admissible into evidence” that the document was timely filed. Think about the checklists and business records your own staff can create which would prove filing. Pay attention to which clerks or other OJA staff might need to be subpoenaed to testify. The burden will be on you to prove you showed up at the clerk’s virtual window on time.

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

 

Cybersecurity Tip: Scan Your Samsung Smart TV for VirusesOpen in a New Window

Click image for full size

Samsung recently posted a tweet revealing that it is possible for your smart TV to get a virus, just like a computer. The original tweet has since been deleted, however, there is a video on the company’s website detailing how to check your Wi-Fi connected Samsung smart TV.  You can view the video here. Should you have one of these TV’s in your office or home, you need to scan the TV for viruses on a regular basis.

 

Casemaker Tip - Client TrackingOpen in a New Window

Need to keep track of time spent doing online research for a client?  Making use of the Client and Session Summary features of Casemaker can help. First, make sure to sign in to your personal Casemaker profile. Next, simply create a Client and select that client each time you begin to conduct research for that individual.  Once you have finished, click the Sign Out link to sign out of Casemaker and view the Session Summary.  The Session Summary contains the date, time and client for each search, which can be used to keep track of billable hours for the client. 

** Please remember to print this information as it cannot be retrieved after closing the Session Summary. **

Click image for full size
Click image for full size

 

Need Help Putting Down Your Phone? Go Grayscale!Open in a New Window

Did you know the average person checks their phone 52 times per day? Or that 2/3 of us check our phones within the first 15 minutes of getting out bed? If you find yourself constantly checking your phone, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, or watching all those cat videos on YouTube well into the wee hours of the night, then you may want to try going to grayscale on your phone. The idea is that by stripping away all the neuron-stimulating colors, you become less motivated to check your phone. 

Interested in going gray? Just Google your phone and model number for instructions. There are plenty of resources out there explaining how to turn your phone to grayscale, however, most newer models of iPhones and Androids will have this option under the Accessibility menu in the Settings app.

 

Casemaker Tip - Finding a Case by Docket NumberOpen in a New Window

Sometimes a case is so new, you may not have a citation. If you have the docket number, you can still find the case. Under the search bar on the homepage of Casemaker, you will see words with circles next to them. These circles are called radio buttons. The options you will see are Keyword, Citation, Party, Section, and finally, Docket No. Make sure you have selected the correct jurisdiction from the jurisdiction menu drop down to the right of the search bar (it is the box with the downward pointing blue arrow); then select the radio button next to Docket No. Enter the docket number of your case and hit the blue search button. You should be able to pull up the case you are looking for.

 

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.”