Ed discusses what does and doesn't change about the business model for lawyers.
In this technology-driven age, a lot of lawyers' work can be moved online. Today Ed discusses the virtualization of law offices to help you consider whether or not that move makes sense for you.
Nicole Black is an attorney in Rochester, New York, is the Director of Business Development at MyCase, a web-based law practice management platform, and is the ABA-published author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” and the co-author of “Social Media for Lawyers.”
There’s no doubt about it--21st century lawyers are on the move and are embracing mobile devices more than ever. In fact, according to the ABA’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey Report, the vast majority of lawyers have now gone mobile, in one form or another.
Not surprisingly, smart phones lead the way, with 91 percent of lawyers reporting that they used smartphones in their law practices, up from 89 percent 2012. Tablet use also increased at an impressive rate, with nearly half of all lawyers surveyed reporting that they used tablets in their law practices. According to the survey results, 48 percent of lawyers now use tablets, up from 33 percent in 2012.
The reason lawyers are going mobile? Because it offers them flexibility and the ability to practice law and manage their law firms no matter where they happen to be. So, whether it’s using a tablet to pull up a case in court or accessing client files using their smart phone while on vacation, mobile computing is making it easier than ever for lawyers to practice law on the go, 24/7.
But is this necessarily a good thing? Especially with the recent release of Google Glass and the expected release of smart watches, which offer the prospect of virtually erasing the barriers created by devices and making people the new interface, as described in this recent GigaOM blog post: “Today many of these automatic interactions are dependent on a user’s mobile device, but we will be able to remove even that degree of separation between the individual and their home in the future. Through a combination of machine learning and a growing ecosystem of sensors placed within every day objects, we envision an interface that truly feels natural and intuitive to users no matter their level of technology literacy.”
It’s an interesting concept, but is it a healthy one--especially for lawyers, a group that has one of the highest rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide in the United States? Does 24/7 connectivity make sense for the mental health of most lawyers?
Clearly, for lawyers, the next stage of mobile technologies may present difficulties not previously experienced. And for many lawyers, it will be a delicate balance of meeting client expectations of constant availability while maintaining their sanity. In order to maintain this balance, lawyers will need to carefully choose new technologies for use in their practices with the end goal of reducing, not increasing, the non-stop barrage of information.
For example, one of the best ways to do this is to empower your clients by expanding their access to information, making it easy for them to obtain the information that they need about their case, no matter when they need it. In other words, by using tools such as online client portals that are accessible using any Internet-enabled device, you can ensure that your clients can get the information that they are seeking without having to contact you.
Like it or not, the world is changing and lawyers--and their clients--are more mobile than ever. And while this newfound mobility offers an array of benefits, it also creates new problems. Fortunately, selective use of emerging and mobile technologies can help to curb the influx of data and reduce the noise, making it easier than ever for lawyers to reap the benefits of a mobile law practice while simultaneously maintaining their sanity.
On Thursday, August 22, the NASDAQ, one of the largest financial exchanges in the world, failed. It had no backup, and was down for more than three hours. The financial impact had to be in the billions of dollars.
Even as big as NASDAQ is, even though they have a pivotal role in the global economy, they failed to have a plan for disaster recovery. How and why they recovered is still, at this writing, a mystery. The fact that they did recover is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact that it has happened to them before. According to an article in The New York Times, the exchange has been shut down twice before when squirrels chewed through power lines, and as recently as 2011 hackers breached its computer system.
If it happened to NASDAQ, it can happen to your law firm. As I’ve written many times before, “disaster” for a law firm is not a question of if, but rather of when. The only unknowns are what the type of disaster, when it will occur and how bad it will be. NASDAQ was out of commission for three hours. A burst water pipe, a fire, a natural disaster, a computer meltdown could put a law firm out of commission for three weeks, or three months.
NASDAQ had no backup. How about your firm? The issue isn’t just backing up data files, although that is important. Do you have disaster recovery backups like these?
· An internal emergency communication system for lawyers, staff, clients, vendors, and the court, incorporating recorded hotline messages and out of area contact points.
· A plan for temporary office space that will accommodate furnishings, computers and phones.
· A referral arrangement with another firm that will allow you to carry on key practice matters by requesting a continuance or rescheduling a deposition.
· A solid relationship with your banker so you can get an emergency loan.
· An employee assistance fund to help tide staff over in the event there are no ready funds to pay them.
If you don’t, start planning to put them in place now. If disaster happened to NASDAQ, it can happen to you.
Guest blog post by Matt Spiegel
It used to be that lawyers had no choice but to practice law from a brick and mortar office. Opening up a solo practice or small law firm required heavy up front investment in office space, office furniture, office supplies and premise-based computer systems and servers.
That was then. This is now.
These days, all a lawyer needs to start practicing law is a laptop, an internet connection, and a smartphone. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every law practice is sustainable using just these tools--transactional practices are much more amenable to practicing law with a virtual law office. And even then, an attorney with a thriving transactional law practice may eventually need--or want--to expand into brick and mortar office.
But lawyers can launch a successful law practice in the absence of a brick and mortar office. The key is to use the right tools and technologies--and to do so ethically.
First, don’t be afraid to outsource. Take advantage of virtual receptionist and answering services like Ruby Receptionists. And, use legal assistants, whether paralegals or contract attorneys.
Next, make use of all of the cost-effective 21st century technologies now available that are revolutionizing the way that business is being done. The key is to invest in flexible, reliable technologies, including computers, scanners, printers, smart phones and tablets, and more. Research your options and choose wisely. Resources like Lawyerist’s Legal Technology Buyer’s Guide can help.
Once you’ve acquired equipment appropriate for your needs, the next step is to consider online services that effectively replace the costly, clunky tools of yesteryear. So instead of buying a fax machine, use an online fax service. In lieu of a scanner or for scanning on the go, download a scanning app to your smart phone or tablet. Use your smartphone’s built-in phone system or download an app for conference calls. Test drive Google Voice or use an app such as YouMail to manage incoming messages.
Another important step--make the move to the cloud in order to increase your mobility and flexibility while reducing your overhead and IT costs. Take advantage of cloud-based law practice management software to run your law practice no matter where you are. Streamline your law practice and save money on postage by communicating with your clients and contacts using your cloud-based law practice management system. Manage and store your law firm’s documents in the cloud so that you’ll always be able to access and share documents from any location.
And last but not least, make sure your technology choices are in line with the ethical requirements of your jurisdiction. As a starting point, you can learn about ethical obligations and different technologies by reading blogs such as Legalethics.com. The ABA also offers this very helpful chart that lists the ethics decisions from across the country that have been issued regarding the use of cloud computing by lawyers.
So what are you waiting for? Your 21st century modern law firm awaits you! Grab the reigns, research your options, and take advantage of the new world order!
Matt Spiegel is the Vice President and GM of MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management system. He is an attorney in San Diego, California and started his criminal defense law practice in 2009 after working for four years with one of San Diego's largest consumer law firms. As a practicing attorney and one of the founders of MyCase, he often speaks at legal conferences regarding the in and outs of running a law practice and how cloud computing technologies can benefit the legal profession. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visiting ALM LegalTech conference today was eye popping in both its simplicity and complexity.
First, the simple: D. Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel at Kia Motors America, suggests that law firms don't need more software. They need to use their existing software more efficiently and effectively. What a concept. Reminds me of the scientists' suggesting that humans use only 10% or less of our mental capacity.
The difference between the two concepts is that inefficient use of existing technology increases the legal spend for clients. And only Corporate America can do what Mr. Flaherty did: subject his outside counsel to economic consequences when they are guilty. He recently reduced a law firm’s billing to Kia Motors by 40 hours because he detected they didn’t know how to use Word to print to a .pdf file and eliminate the scanning process which would have reduced associates time on his matters by the 40 hours. Multiply this scenario many times and you are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyer billing. More on that in a later post.
Next, the complex: Owen Byrd of Lex Machina discussed the concept of Moneyball for Lawyers. He says that “Moneyball” applies data (any collection of facts) to analytics in order to understand trends and patterns that emerge from that data. This supplements legal research and reasoning with predictive analytics. This approach can help predict a party's behavior, likely outcome of a lawsuit and the results from a specific legal strategy or argument. The concept, emanating from Stanford studies, can be viewed merely as a new research tool. If so, it's rather expensive. It can also be viewed as a marketing tool by helping you refine your pitches for new legal work to prospective clients. In this case, the cost is insignificant when you attain one or more new clients. This is the future of the legal profession. Currently, Lex Machina and its approach can be utilized only by the larger organizations with big money at stake. But, the handwriting is on the wall.
Most important, these two divergent approaches to technology demonstrate the need to be proficient with current technology in order to satisfy rule 1.1 (definition of competence) and to run scared about the future if you fail to pay attention to the changes coming in the future. The bottom line is to serve clients well. Your awareness and proficiency with technology addresses that goal…and may provide a competitive advantage to some.
Virtual veterinarian faces a legal test in Texas. He moved his practice online and talked to distressed pet owners by email and telephone. He charged a flat fee, generally, and recommended treatment options. The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners suspended his license for violating the state law that prevents veterinarians from setting up a medical relationship solely by telephone or electronic means.
The AVMA claims that it is protecting the public's interest. The vet claims that the regulation is intended to protect the brick-and-mortar veterinarian practices.
Does this sound familiar? Every Bar regulation that I've ever reviewed (or testified against) has been sustained on the basis of protecting the public. Where are the interests of the membership, the very professionals who pay dues to keep staff employed? These interests seem to be relegated to the back of the bus, if not ignored completely. In the legal community, this "ship" has sailed. I don't think anyone would claim that a "virtual" law practice is illegal. It will be interesting to see how the Texas court rules in this matter.
Ed stresses the fact that knowledge of technology is now vital in order to be considered a competent lawyer.
Fujitsu introduces its new high speed, low cost scanner today. I have a model sitting on my desk and it’s the same small footprint of the model 1500 that it replaces. The new model is much faster, 25 pages per minute (ppm); I have to keep my eyes open – that’s how fast it is. In a small office, such speed may not be so important, but it sure is nice to have this feature. Another feature that enhances the speed of operation is that the OCR feature begins to operate as you are scanning, not after the document is scanned.
Another new feature, however, is important. The new iX500 has a separation roller that prevents double feeds, meaning that no two pages go through at the same time. Each page gets copied separately and does not get “pasted” to another sheet. This used to drive me nuts. I’d have to watch the feeder to make sure each page went separately and when there was a problem, I’d have to do the scanning a second time. No worries now.
Another cool feature is that you can go to the App Store and download ScanSnap Connect onto you iPad, Android and iOS compatible devices. After you have the application on your iPad or other device, hit the “Scan” icon and pages will flow through your iX500 and the image will then be saved where you want it on your iPad. This saves the step of scanning onto your computer and then using Dropbox or similar program to bring it over to your iPad or laptop computer. What a cool feature and time saver!
Here are some additional features the new iX500 has to boast about:
* convenient way to store, manage and view PDF and JPEG files as well as performing post-scan editing
* transforming paperwork into editable Word®, Excel and PowerPoint files
* blank page detection and deletion
* 50 page document feeder
This is a machine you must have! Check it out.
How can you protect your law firm? Using Ed's Network Technology Guidelines as a simple way to prevent technological failures and keep you up to speed to make you more efficient.
In an earlier blog post, I talked about creating a digital estate plan. A family law attorney speaks of preserving what you already have posted in social media. She suggests that taking down what you have posted in advance of litigation, family law or otherwise, may be the destruction of evidence and a crime!
There is more to the internet than most of us ever imagined. Walk (or type) carefully. The life you preserve may be your own.
I’ve talked about a lawyer having an estate plan. I’ve talked about creating an estate plan for your law practice; this is an idea first generated by Ellen Peck, retired judge of the California State Bar Trial Court. Now, there is another estate plan to prepare: Digital.
What are you going to do with all your passwords, all your email accounts, all your accounts in social media and all your other accounts that reside in the internet?
Your virtual life doesn’t end just because you die. And in some arenas, the material you have on the internet cannot be removed or taken down. You may even have money residing in some of the internet residences such as PayPal, on-line gambling accounts, etc. Be sure to appoint or designate someone to be responsible for dealing with these issues. Be sure to write down all the accounts and passwords. And be sure to contact such companies as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc. to comply with their policies.
There is little or no case law to date about planning for digital assets after death, and certainly no precedent of which I’m aware on this. But, for just that reason, it’s time to think about these issues.
77% of professional services mobile device users agree that their company would lose competitive ground without mobile devices. This, according to a survey conducted by CDW, distributor of computer and related equipment.
Irrespective of the actual percentage, it is clear that mobile devices such as the mobile phone and new tablets, not to mention laptops, are critical to the operation of most law practices today.
And Apple today announced that it will soon be releasing a smaller version of the iPad. What's next and why?
Electronic and computer technology enable lawyers to do more and better work in less time, but this creates a new service dynamic where clients continually demand to pay less for what they increasingly see as a commoditized service.
Law firms must meet client needs through greater technology efficiencies. Not only does this seem obvious, it is an element necessary to maintain competence as required by the rules of professional conduct.
More efficient law firms that reduce client legal costs should gain new business that enhances revenue. However, the ability to increase billings while becoming more efficient depends on changing the billing system to embrace alternative fee arrangements. With greater reliance on contingent, fixed, capped or value fees where time is not the relevant issue to determine the fee; service to the client is the key metric of value to the client, not billable hours.
Two weeks ago, I purchased a Motorola Razr Maxx from Verizon and an iPad. I'm happy with both, but both need some adjusting. Perhaps I would be more correct in saying that the owner of the devices needs some adjusting ... or relearning.
In any event, I went into Verizon this afternoon, the same store from where the purchases were made., and asked for assistance. I was told that they now have a new policy: They would help me if I want to buy a new device or accessory. But, they would need to make an appointment with me for another time if I want to ask questions or get some help about the devices I already own.
The old policy was to wait your turn until a representative had finished with a current customer and was available to meet with you. That seemed fair.
Apple, a much larger store, will put you on their list and you wait your turn. Yes, they will also make an appointment for you at the Genius Bar. And there are many knowledgeable sales people walking the floor who can answer most of the questions I've had ... and are willing to do so.
This reminds me of the lawyer who plays telephone tag with a client ... to the frustration of the client. If you're not in when the client calls and cannot return the phone call quickly, have your assistant make an appointment. It's clearly better, however, to take that call on the first attempt if you're in the office. Failure to connect is still the #1 complaint against lawyers.
Verizon does not seem to get this simple fact of customer relations! Do not let the customer go away angry because you are unwilling to answer his/her questions about the device you sold. Oh, yes, I forgot. They can be as nasty as they want because they have you tied to a two year contract! Just think what would happen without that contract? I'd be back at AT&T in a heartbeat!
Kevin Genirs, formerly with Lehman Bros. and now Global General Counsel, Investment Banking, Barclays Capital, was a keynote speaker at AML's LegalTech West. He was reminiscing on some lessons from the demise of Lehman Bros. Several of his comments struck me, in particular:
He set the stage by commenting on a statue that is in the lobby of the Moody's Building where he worked. It portrays a farmer and a blacksmith shaking hands with the comment, "Credit: Man's Confidence in Man." This is similar to the cowboys shaking hands on the prairie which we photographed during our 2011 trip through Oklahoma. The point is well-taken. Without the confidence that life will proceed as reasonably expected, we have chaos ... and no legal documents are strong enough to withstand such chaos. That is why the cowboys' handshake resonates so dramatically.
26,000 Lehman employees lost their jobs; $370 Billion of claims were settled for just $.20 on the dollar. Eight books have already been written on the subject. From 1930 to 1997, housing prices increased .7% per year. From 1998 to 2006, housing prices increased 8% per year. And the world thought this would continue forever. But, 25% of housing mortgages defaulted; the securitization market dried up; and there were massive writedowns of asset values.
The problem was not Lehman's alone, however, as we learned later. The problem was systemic. For example, credit was loosened; one hardly had to qualify in order to get credit. Short term credit was used for long term assets, and this created part of the problem. While some complain about too much regulation, we took the training wheels off of our financial system and chaos resulted.
This resonates for me in light of my mantra that lines of credit should not be used for partners' compensation. Partners, as equity holders, should be the last ones to be paid, not the first.
Genirs closed by quoting three favorite commentaries:
Galbraith: History counts for so little in financial affairs.
Greenspan: We swing from fear to euphoria and back very quickly.
Keynes: The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.
And, citing The Black Swan, unlikely is not the same as impossible.
The Wall Street Journal, perhaps reflecting the concerns of its corporate readership, continues to emphasize what it considers to be the overpaid lawyers at the pinnacle of the profession. In a recent article that had the less-than-subtle title, “Biggest Lawyers Grab Fee Bounty,” the Journal reported that partners in the top 25% of more than 4,000 law firms examined in a new study boosted their average price to $873 an hour last year, up 4.9% from 2010. At the same time, the lowest-billing partners struggled to keep pace with inflation. Partners in the bottom 25% of surveyed firms charged an average of $204 last year, up just 1.3%. As the paper said, “That disparity between who can raise prices – and who can't – spotlights a growing segmentation in the $100 billion corporate legal market.”
The College of Law Practice Management now has applications available for entries for its legal innovations awards. Check it out. The profession is changing. How will technology and improved management impact these changes?
The tech show in Chicago is very interesting. Some of the items that I think deserve close attention are the new portable Fujitsu Scan Snap scanner. It’s light enough to go into the briefcase with no discernible problem. I love it and will get one. Another interesting item is netdocuments … it’s a case management system extraordinaire, including the ability to bring emails into your system. It will save your documents, organize them, allow you to search very quickly. And it works with Word, WP, .pdf, etc. Looks very good. It resides in the cloud for a relatively small monthly fee and makes Dropbox obsolete. Take a look at MyCase, as well, since today they announced a word processing capability right in the system …. No need to go out to your word processor and return. There is more, but these merit actual purchase.
Ed offers 5 ways to increase your law firm's revenue.
1. Emphasize collections.
2. Hire lateral lawyers to meet specific demands, a new practice area, a new need.
3. Leverage technology.
4. Create a cooperative compensation model that emphasizes the law firm as an institution.
5. Outsource functions that are better done by others. Delegate.
In this technology-driven age, a lot of lawyers' work can be moved online. Today Ed discusses the virtualization of law offices to help you consider whether or not that move makes sense for you.
The web is changing. First, everyone wanted to use "com" in their web address. The .com world became crowded, so we saw .biz, .net and others come onto the scene.
The .org generally was reserved for non-profit organizations ... But, now the Arizona Bar says that it's o.k. to use .org for profit-making organizations as well. This reverses an earlier Arizona state bar ethics panel decision (Arizona Ethics Op. 01-05 (2001)) that had found the use of the suffix ".org" by for-profit law firms would mislead consumers. This most recent opinion, (Arizona State Bar Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct, Op. 11-04), finds that the ".org" suffix is now more widely used by for-profits such that consumers of legal services will no longer be misled.
The cynic might say that the neighborhood has become so crowded that economic forces command that .org be available for everyone, profit and non-profit. My question is who is running the madhouse? Is this the Wild West where anything and everything goes? There was some comfort in knowing that .org was an institution or non-profit. But, since the world is upside down anyway in the last few years, why not the internet and web addresses?
Still, .com is the preferred suffix ... But, then, why do we need a suffix of any kind? It just means more letters have to be typed. While we're not cutting trees to write the extra 4 characters, we are using our energy (means we have to eat more to have energy to move our fingers more), we might encounter more finger strain (carpal tunnel syndrome), and other yet to be determined maladies. Where are the real reformers when we need them?
Corey Stephenson of Lawyers Weekly USA wrote an article about the Oregon Bar's position about metadata:
"If a lawyer receives a document and knows or reasonably should know that metadata was inadvertently included, the Oregon Rules of Professional Responsibility only require notice to the sender. The receiving lawyer is not required to return the document unread or to comply with a request by the sender to return the document, according to the opinion.
The Bar went on to say that the 2nd lawyer's client should be consulted about whether the lawyer should read the document. ".... (G)iven that the decision affects a client’s objectives, lawyers should consult with the client about the risks and rewards of returning the document versus retaining and reading the document prior to making such a decision."
It was my understanding that a misguided "hard copy" needed to be returned, unopened, if the lawyer knew the document was mistakenly sent. It seems we are modifying the rules a bit with technology.
But, there was a more fascinating pronouncement. The opinion went on to say that lawyers may not utilize special software to reveal the metadata in a document. “Searching for metadata using special software when it is apparent that the sender has made reasonable efforts to remove the metadata may ... constitute ‘conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.'" The comparison was made to surreptitiously entering the other lawyer’s office to obtain client information.
In a recent theft of a laptop ... from one's home ... the burglar was caught because of an embedded anti-theft software program.
The homeowners were puzzled and could not figure out how someone was able to get into their home, steal their property, and get away, since there was no sign of forced entry into the house. The owners reported the thefts to the Sheriff’s department.
What the thief didn’t know was that one of the stolen laptop computers was embedded with a “LoJack for Laptops” theft recovery software. The company’s monitoring center was notified of the theft by the owners and the monitoring company kept in close contact with the sheriff’s investigator.
The monitored laptop was also equipped with photo recognition software. When the suspect in possession of the stolen laptop realized he could not log onto the computer, he had a completely new operating system installed and the photo recognition software removed. He incorrectly thought the embedded monitoring software had been removed, but it is very difficult to remove it.
The suspect used the laptop to log on to Facebook. This enabled the monitoring company to gather the suspect’s personal information, including a photo of him, his name, and more. This was given to the Sheriff’s investigator who showed the photo of the suspect to the victims. They immediately recognized him as an unlicensed contractor who had done work at their home two months prior. The victim didn't know him by name, but their information was sufficient to find and arrest the suspect.
Do you have access to such software?
Target is. How long will it take for a law firm to be considered a "retailer"? Will size matter?
The Court, in the Target case said "... a retailer may be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind, stating that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination in the "enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or privileges... Until this ruling, commercial websites were not considered a place of accommodation and were assumed to not fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act..."
“With these lawsuits,” Law School Transparency says, “nearly 10 percent of all ABA-approved law schools across eight states will be accused of tortiously misrepresenting job placement statistics and violating state consumer protection laws.”
The complaint says, among other things, that law schools' employment figures include work outside the law. And Senator Barbara Boxer of California wants the ABA to require all law schools to better determine where their graduates go after school and what kind of employment they get.
In a recent teleseminar I conducted, recent graduates were angry that they spent so much of their money (and incurred so much debt) to receive an education in a profession that does not offer them employment opportunities. They considered it fraudulent for the schools to have taken their money.
Those feelings and this law suit are different. On the one hand, the students want jobs and feel the schools have an obligation to help them get jobs. On the other hand, the current spate of law suits merely wants information -- consumer information -- to be accurate and available to law school entrants.
What is the obligation of the law school? How could anyone have predicted the shifts in our economy and the disruption of the profession? Not even senior partners are safe in their firm positions. Why should students be protected? We need to watch these developments as the profession continues to change ... caused by the economy ... and perhaps more significantly, caused by technology.
Our first stop on our Road to Revenue National Road Show is Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare Festival. We'll see 4 plays in 3 days, a daunting task. But, I love this part of the country. And this oldest of Shakespeare Festivals (since 1935) is done so well amid such great surroundings, how could you not want to be here? My sadness is that we won't be here longer ... So, let me start with our experience today, seeing The Language Archive, written by Julia Cho
One of the best plays I’ve ever seen. Here is what the director says about the play in words that are hard for me to surpass:
Lawyers need to communicate. The ones who face malpractice actions typically fail to communicate with their clients to learn what clients want, how they want to hear about it, and where the client’s business or personal needs may be headed.
But I think lawyers – and most of the rest of society – have increasingly fallen into the trap of too much communication with their cell and smart phones. Cell phone use for many people seems to have become a natural extension of themselves – they inflict it on everybody around them. Just like drivers who hog the left lane while driving at half the speed limit and remaining oblivious to everyone else on the road, these cell phone users hog the physical space of those around them with the sound of their own voice, and are oblivious to how irritating it is.It’s not hard to create a list of pet peeves about these people.
Here are some of mine:
· People determined to shout their conversations as loudly as possible, presumably to show off their wit or importance or intelligence (and of course doing the opposite).
· People who board a plane and decide to place orders on their cell while sharing their private credit card information.
· People who look for the proper signal area – with a constant "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?" – but never seem to find it.
· People who let their cell phone ring time after time, in a workshop or a concert or anywhere else where they can ignore the stares of those they annoy.
· People sharing half of their life stories in an elevator or a crowded vehicle, completely unaware that others don't care about all the “fascinating” details.
· People who absolutely must interrupt their call with me to get another call rather than letting it go to voice mail.
My “favorites” are those who talk while in the stall of a public restroom. When I encounter one of them, I make as much bathroom noise as possible (flushing toilets or urinals multiple times, using the hand-dryers). Anything to let the individual on the other end of the phone know that the person is talking to them from a bathroom....
I’m sure you have your own special list of such people. Share it and I’ll pass along the responses in a future post. Maybe all of us together can generate enough “shaming” to change some behaviors.
The States are now using more creative ways to increase their revenue. If they can't raise taxes, they increase the cost of parking tickets. What used to be a few dollars is now close to $100. What used to be $100 for a moving violation is now $468 for making a right turn on a red light where not permitted.
And, now! Where a taxpayer is delinquent on taxes due and owing, financial institutions subject to a new California law must provide to the Franchise Tax Board (the State equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service) on a quarterly basis the name, record address, and other information for those people who maintain an account at the financial instiution.
The cost of this new initiative will be paid by banking consumers on opening new accounts. And/or banks may decline to open accounts for depositors who are on the delinquent tax debtor list.
How do you get on this list? Fail to pay a demand for payment for 30 days. Nothing is said about the right of the taxpayer to protest the validity of the State's demand.
Technology is becoming a bill/tax collector ... First, for deadbeat dads who have a job or who receive money from the government. Now for those who have money in a financial institution but don't pay their taxes to the State. And, as we know from recent exposes, we are being tracked by the use of our Smartphones. And tracking us by the use of our credit cards at gas stations, ATM machines, seems to be commonplace.
There seems to be no plalce to hide. What's next?
Develop a complete profile; make sure your profile is not merely a resume but, rather, an expression of your persona. Be authentic. Remember, this is for your friends and people you want to befriend. This is the advice from every social media expert I’ve heard.
Yet, it now seems that this “rich” profile is the very substance of Facebook’s billions of dollars of ad revenue. They are mining our profiles and selling targeted advertising to companies for a very healthy profit. That’s our privacy they’re selling, without our overt consent and certainly without any share of the profit.
Usually, a commercial transaction is a two-way transaction. You buy a service or product from someone in exchange for money. The third party who makes the service or product is also compensated by a previous two-party transaction. In this case, Facebook and the marketer are in a two party relationship. But, the third party (we who are participants or members) is not involved – we are not compensated by Facebook for creating our profile for their use. Nor are we told that they will make lots of money by selling the very information of our personal lives that we place there.
How does that strike you?
The issue of child visitation is a very hotly and bitterly contested issue among many parents who find themselves in a divorce court. Using technology in this process, "virtual visitation," has only recently come to the fore. Below is a guest post from one of the leading Family Law attorneys in Southern California.
How many people have gone through a child custody battle themselves, or know someone who has gone through such a battle? Every day, parents fight in the courtroom to be able to see their children, to spend time with them, to interact and share the lives of their children. I just successfully finished a 4-day trial advocating for a father to insure his children were not moved out of state by their mother.
What about Abbie Dorn, a woman who was left paralyzed while giving birth to her triplets? Abbie has been fighting to see her triplets and today in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Abbie Dorn was granted visitation.
Parents all over the country fight to see their children, but this past week, the New York Times published an article which advocated “virtual visitation” via Facebook. This article was not about monitoring your children’s interactions to insure their safety and well-being, but rather it was about reading your children’s Facebook pages as a means of being involved in your children’s lives.
To me, this is no different than reading your child’s diary as a means of staying involved rather than fostering a communicative relationship. “Virtual visitation” to me is absurd if intended to be the means of maintaining a relationship. The world has turned impersonal with an advent of technology. This should not be the case in a parent/child relationship. Parents who seek success in their relationship with their children and in the courtroom need to be directly involved with their children and to interact with their children to create a strong parent-child bond.
After my last post about customer service, Orbea, the manufacturer of the bike frame I was riding when I was involved in an accident, a company representative contacted me. His explanation for the less than appropriate company response was that it was sent from Spain, the company headquarters, and the sender had challenges with the English language.
Whether this is true, I cannot say. But, Mr. Paul Alexander of the U.S. Orbea arm said that I should visit a local Orbea retailer and I would receive a 15% - 20% discount on a new bike. He said, "I look forward to getting you back on your bike and leave you a satisfied Orbea cyclist."
Thank you, Mr. Alexander. That should have been the first response from Orbea. My wife asked for information about the company's "crash program." Even an expression of sympathy/concern and a statement that the company doesn't have a crash program would have sufficed ... and saved unfavorable ink in this blog. Commenting on Orbea's warranty program was not the subject of my wife's inquiry.
I'm glad to see that the company has recouped so gracefully. Some companies don't do even that. Some time ago, you may remember that United Airlines committed a major gaff. By not treating their customers with due respect, a song was written about the company and it appeared in the social media. The company stock dropped 10% as a result! That is still the subject of some discussion.
I'm glad that Orbea represented the cycling industry more professionally and with greater sensitivity on the rebound.
In today’s Managing Partners Roundtable, we talked about the costs of digitizing all files the firm maintains. One partner suggested that failure to do so might result in malpractice allegations. This is an interesting concept, one that I don’t believe has yet taken hold.
Cons: Expensive, time consuming, lawyers must be involved to determine which file matters can be "cleansed" and tossed, files must be taken apart to scan, decisions on what hard copy to toss now and what to save (and for how much longer)
Pros: Reduction in amount of real estate needed to store files, lower cost of occupancy resulting from a conversion, searchability by keyword rather than memory, one time investment.
Several years ago, a Chicago law firm began this process by scanning documents through a photocopy machine. Their contract provided for payment only when paper was copied and printed, not just scanned. Thus, this segment had limited cost. Disabled people were employed to do the work, thus enabling the firm to do well by doing good, and maintain its cost of labor at a lower cost than would have resulted with its own personnel. The entire process was conducted in the evening so the normal workflow of the firm was not disrupted. This firm was ahead of its time in this process.
In today’s meeting, I learned of a major firm that completed this project last year at a rather high cost. But, the investment was believed to be essential to an efficient future operation of the firm. And, of course, younger lawyers are so conversant with the electronic world that some seldom even touch paper anymore.
Technology has and will continue to have a major impact on the efficiency of the delivery of legal services and the costs to clients.
<auer Brown writes about a new California Bar opinion that addresses wireless network use.
Quoting from their note, they say:
"Attorneys owe their clients a duty of confidentiality and competence. But when an attorney uses wireless Internet to communicate or access files, such as in an airport or other public location, is that communication over an unencrypted wireless network confidential? And is an attorney competent if he or she broadcasts client confidences, including employer confidences for in-house counsel, over an unencrypted network?
On January 20, 2011, the State Bar of California issued formal opinion no. 2010-179, addressing these questions. The opinion provides six factors that attorneys should consider when determining whether a particular technology is appropriate for their communication.
- The level of security afforded by that technology, including whether reasonable precautions may be taken to increase that level of security by, for example, encrypting email.
- The legal ramifications to a third party who intercepts, accesses or exceeds authorized use of the electronic information—that is, whether the form of communication is protected by law, like telephones and information stored on computers.
- The degree of sensitivity of the information—the more sensitive the information, the more security is appropriate.
- The possible impact on the client of an inadvertent disclosure of privileged or confidential information or work product—again, the more severe the consequences, the more security is appropriate.
- The urgency of the situation—if a message absolutely must be delivered immediately, security is a secondary consideration.
- The client’s instructions and circumstances, such as access by others to the client’s devices and communications—if, for example, a client has specified that email is not confidential enough, or that a particular kind of communication must be encrypted, the attorney must comply with those instructions." See their note for more.
LexisNexis will announce tomorrow the release of a new product called "Firm Manager." I've seen the beta version of the product (and am on its Advisory Board). It looks like it will be a leading contender in the practice management arena. Lexis has put a lot of effort, and that means money, to help the small firm (1-9) think electronically as lawyers think in their real world. One of the exciting elements of this product is that the company will listen not only to its Advisory Board, but also to the lawyers who use the product, both in the soon to be expanded beta test and afterward. They are serious about listening to their customers. And while their pricing of the product is yet to be determined, I know the range .. all I can say is that it will be affordable.
Lexis has enabled me to make a special offer to those whom I believe will be interested in working with this product as part of the extended beta group. If you're reading this blog and are either a coaching or consulting client of mine, or are on my electronic newsletter list, and want to have this very special offer (one not available elsewhere), contact me directly.
An interesting display of exhibits. A lot of energy and fervor. Almost too much to really spend time to discern what each exhibitor has to offer. E-Discovery is still here, but not so prominent. The third level is without exhibitors, something new in my experience. This suggests that either the economy is still bad for small technology firms or there has been so much consolidation that there are fewer companies in existence, each one a little larger, though, than they would otherwise have been. And, of course, we know that LexisNexis and West Thomson-Reuters continue to gobble up good, small companies to add to their offerings. ALM, the organizer, and LexisNexis, the major sponsor, have done a great job in the presentation and organization of this event. Well worth attending if in the area. Others coming will be TechShow (ABA in Chicago) and LegalTech West in Los Angleles, if you missed this one.
When you read the news, or when you thumb through a catalog, you are exposed to new ideas and suggestions you might not have thought about before. When you shop or read the news on the internet, you are focused on the one item or idea you started with. That is limiting.
Thus, there is a place for both. For example, catalogs create need by suggesting items you weren’t thinking about; the Internet is better at fulfilling the need once it’s identified by allowing you to shop for lower prices and faster delivery.
Don't throw away the baby with the bath water. Newspapers are important. The problem is that if too many people flee the use of the newspaper, they may not be able to pay their investigative reporters. Then, we'll rely on citizen-reporters, a scary thought.
Likewise, use of the internet (social media, etc.) by law firms is only one tool in the marketing arsenal. It may reach more people; it may be less expensive (though I question this); and it may be faster to create. But, traditional methods of creating relationships and reaching your target market should not be abandoned.
Visit our new site! Like building a house, the completion date is often later than the due date .... But, this baby is well worth the wait. We're excited and hope you will be also. Let us hear from you.
I had the pleasure of keynoting a recent conference sponsored by LexisNexis. During a panel discussion among practitioners, technology consultant and myself, the topic of the cost of new technology was discussed. One of the suggestions I made was that the successful law firm of the future will use technology to create and enhance its effort at knowledge management. The firm that is able to retrieve its pre-existing knowledge and use it again will be more efficient, reduce its costs and therefore provide excellent results for clients at a lower price.
Then, the question arises: Who owns the knowledge, who owns the forms, the precedent knowledge? Does the client who paid for it own it? Does the law firm own it? Or does the lawyer who created it own it? This becomes more important in an age of greater lateral movement.
Some clients have as a condition of engagement that they (the client) own the intellectual property ... and that the law firm must share it with other law firms who handle the client's affairs (e.g., product liability litigation) in other parts of the country.
Do you have a firm policy on this? What do you do concerning your intellectual property when a lawyer leaves your firm? Is your policy different when the lawyer is a partner as contrasted to when the lawyer is an associate?
See today's (Dec 1st) article in the Wall Street Journal (Personal Journal) entitled "The Dark Side of 'Webtribution.'" This is truly scary where revenge as a motive with little thought to consequences can impact and perhaps destroy someone's reputation. Because hitting the "send" button is soooooo easy and too often "anonymous," the temptation is huge to lash out at someone for a perceived wrong (whether correct or not). And the internet cannot be erased! We know from the print media that "retractions" are seldom effective, even when made. On the internet, the stain is permanent.
Some folks are now advising the implementation of a hosted exchange server. They appear to have become more stable and reliable. Is this true? Is the "cloud" now being effectively seeded by qualified and capable technology?
What are the pros and cons of hosted exchange servers?
Today, I talked with a solicitor from London who is studying knowledge management and its implementation in UK firms to increase profits. Since much of their work is based on fixed fees, any improvement in efficiency will go directly to the bottom line.
They even employ a group of lawyers whose primary function is to improve their knowledge base, organize it and make it more searchable, all with the view to reduce the time needed to create documents for a new transaction and increase the margins of profit. These lawyers do not engage with clients; their focus is on the infrastructure of the firm and its improvement.
Since her firm (she says most are like hers) uses only the fixed fee billing model, there is no focus on the billable hour; this, then, allows the focus to be on efficiency. Thus far, American law firms do not use this model much ... and thus their focus on cost cutting today is primarily because of the decrease in demand they've experienced from the crises of their clients. That is a far cry, however, from having a focus on efficiency ... Cost cutting and efficiency are not necessarily the same.
An interesting contrast presented today by the solicitor: Increased profit by increased efficiency under a fixed fee engagement agreement. While the American law firm model is increased profit by incresing the hourly billing rate. As clients begin to revolt at annual price increases, American law firms will need to look at alternative fee arrangements to keep clients ... then, their focus might turn to efficiencies in the delivery of those services.
My wife is fond of say, "there is no free lunch." The fixed fee approach is not necesarrily a panacea for profitability. With a fixed fee, there is the inevitable pressure to reduce that fee and squeeze the firm's profit margins. It's an easier target than is the billable hour (where the number of hours can be fudged without much challenge). But, that's another story for another day.
Can you imagine that Twitter, WITHOUT any revenue stream, is valued at $1Billion! Wow. Not many employees and no revenue stream ... and no prospects in sight to get revenue.
Just think what your law firm, with a decent revenue stream, might be worth? What is the difference? And why isn't your firm worth $1B?
FTC is interested in restricting bloggers ... wanting them to disclose any interest in products they promote ... At first I was concerned but then realized that the ruling was no more severe than being applied to broadcasters. So, what is different? Perhaps it's that this may be the first time that the internet is being regulated.
Florida's Bar Board of Bar Examiners, through its Character and Fitness Commission, will examine applicants' Facebook and MySpace websites under certain circumstances, such as where there previously was substance abuse and the like. Why they don't do it in all cases is not explained ... but the Bar has been notified, Beware! Big Brother will be watching to see if you express remorse and are rehabilitated.
I wonder how many other bar associations are doing this without any announcement ... Seems to me that social networking media is public and no permission is required to review your public pronouncements, whether for initial application or even license recertification. And what impact will this have with the Bar ... or even for an adversary in some matter for a client. This is the downside of the internet for some who take a more light-hearted or flippant approach to this media ... it is more than a personal expression. It can have professional consequences. Beware!
On more than one occasion, I've talked about how Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be dangerous. That is, our posts in these public environments that never disappear and cannot be erased can be dangerous. New lawyers have had job offers retracted; lawyers have been asked to leave their firms; and secretaries have been fired ... all because of posts of personal activities or comments seemingly unrelated to the job at hand. But, everything is relevant as the advocate would say.
Today, I'm in Chicago, preparing for the ABA's annual conference. In reading the newspaper, I can across an article about a Chicago corporate landlord suing a former resident for an apparent offhand remark on Twitter about her supposedly moldy apartment. In comes the "sheriff" (the landlord) with a suit for libel.
Courtney Love was sued earlier this year for calling a designer something nasty.
Needless to say, there has been an incredible amount of publicity in both matters ... Unless you believe that all notoriety is good publicity, you might think twice not only about what you post publicly, but also about what you sue for ... Both sides will walk away with mud on their face.
One thing is for sure, though. This new environment sure is powerful and far-reaching!
Some lawyers are beginning to leave Twitter.
I started with Twitter several months ago and within 48 hours received 2 invitations to speak at conference, one on the West Coast and one in the Northeast. Beyond that, I haven't seen any revenue generated, but I have made connections with folks whom I value. Is it worthwhile? That depends on your metric for success. For revenue, no, not yet. For connections and an avenue for quick conversation, I think so (at least that's my current thinking. And I know a number of folks who swear by Twitter.
The problem with all of this social media is that the human body needs no further inducement to hunch over ... we've tried for so long to stand tall, straight. And being hunched over to look at our portable screen takes us back to our origins ... and takes multi-tasking to an entirely new level of understanding.
What has been your experience?
NEW ONLINE FORUM LAUNCHES FOR LEGAL PROFESSIONALS
Ed Poll Unveils LawBiz® Forum as New Online Community
VENICE, CA MAY 5, 2009 - Nationally recognized law firm management expert Ed Poll, JD, MBA, CMC, announced today the launch of www.LawBizForum.com, an online destination for lawyers, sole practitioners, partners, managing partners, of-counsel and in-house counsel, and others who are members of the legal community providing services to the American people.
LawBiz® Forum will promote discussion about issues that enable lawyers to more effectively and efficiently deliver their services to their clients, such as management, marketing, technology and finance, and others. LawBiz® Forum is a place where the legal community can exchange ideas and techniques in order to improve the personal and professional lives of its members.
“Law is an honorable profession. Only lawyers are given the unique responsibility in the United States Constitution to help those accused of a crime, a fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens,” remarks Poll. “This helping, caring nature of the legal community sometimes is forgotten by the psychological, social, and economic pressures facing lawyers, and I created this forum so that we can care for each other.”
LawBiz® Forum will have several levels of membership. All visitors to the site can review the discussions at no cost. However, members will be able to contribute to the discussions, participate in exclusive webinars, and have online access to Poll’s books and audio products.
In addition to LawBiz® Forum, Ed has a popular YouTube Channel and has also started to use Twitter as a way to reach out to the cyber sphere.
About Ed Poll
Ed Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is a nationally recognized expert in law practice management. He helps attorneys and law firms increase their profitability consulting with them on issues of internal operations, business development, and financial matters. Poll brings his clients a solid background in both law and business. He has 25 years experience as a practicing attorney and has also served as CEO and COO for several manufacturing businesses. In 1990, he founded LawBiz® Management Company and is now focused on coaching lawyers, speaking, and writing.
Poll is the author of numerous publications that have become the definitive works in the legal field, including: Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value and Growth Dynamics (LawBiz© Management Co. 2008), Attorney & Law Firm Guide to The Business of Law: Planning and Operating for Survival and Growth, 2nd ed. (American Bar Assoc. 2003); The Profitable Law Office Handbook: Attorney’s Guide to Successful Business Planning (LawBiz® Management Co. 1996); Secrets of the Business of Law®: Successful Practices for Increasing Your Profits! (LawBiz® Management Co. 1998)
With the technology available today, many people prefer to have their accounts paid automatically from their bank account. Charges such as telephone bills are processed directly to one’s bank account and then paid by the bank, oftentimes without the knowledge of the customer unless he/she reviews the account on line.
Today I read about a real nightmare in the L.A. Times. Verizon charged one customer for his cell phone bill, a charge just under $10,000. The bank said it normally doesn’t pay bills where there would be an overdraft; but when the vendor bills the account three times, the online bill pay system honors the third attempt and the customer is charged for the overdraft.
In this case, the bill was in error. The customer did not incur the charge. It was an error. And neither Verison nor Bank of America would reverse the entries without great effort and much consternation by the customer.
That is a perfect template for disaster! And the reason that this technology is one that I choose to avoid. I choose to retain control over my banking relations and vendor payments. This part of technology still frightens me.
Have you had any experience with such technology miscues?
Christopher Painter, a member of the cyber review task force appointed by President Obama for a “clean slate” review of our technology and security appeared before the Los Angeles chapter of the Information Systems Security Association.
I was riveted by his revelations about the process of the task force to prepare and deliver a report to President Obama within 60 days, their assignment. The report, now a matter of public record as part of the President's "transparency initiative, is the basis for the announcement on May 29th that technology department will be created in the White House and that the President will personally appoint a Cybersecurity Coordinator.
Another astounding fact is that President Obama’s comments on May 29th were the first speech by any national leader on the subject of cyber security.
There is a current discussion about a lawyer's obligation or responsibility to make inquiries into a witness' social media pages, and the information contained therein. I don't think anyone is suggesting that the information is not discoverable. But, the Philadelphia Bar has opined in its Professional Guidance Committee Opinion 2009-02 (March 2009) that deceit sanctioned by or authorized by the lawyer to get the information is not permitted.
In listening to Richard Susskind at a recent presentation before an American Bar Association audience, I was struck by his two primary principles, at least as I understood them at that time.
First, technology was making the practice of law more efficient, more like a commodity, with resulting downward pressure on both costs and fees. Second, clients were becoming more sophisticated and demanding, with the resulting requirement of being client-centric for survival. In other words, the practice of law would need to become more collegial and team-oriented to serve the needs of clients in the future.
As I sat there, listening to an obviously impassioned and eloquent presentation, a light bulb went on for me. First, re technology. During the industrial revolution, we learned that the more equipment we could use to make something, the less labor was required, the lower the price could be charged. With a lower price, volume increased and profits likewise could rise. Then, we moved into automation, with the same result ... just a different name. The more a machine could produce a product or service, the less expensive it might be ... and the result would be a lower price with higher volume, all of which produced higher profits. Today, we’ve moved to technology. The principles are the same, just the label is changed.
The move from the Industrial Revolution to today’s technology may have increased in speed of change, even exponentially, but the principles are identical. Increased machine power reduces labor which tends to reduce cost which tends to reduce price which increases volume ... and profits.
Second, when we discuss client-centric practices, we are talking about partnering with clients ... understanding what they need, listening to what they want and bridging the gap between the two with our value proposition. Our value is to understand what they want and show them how we can provide value by addressing that want and also to protect them by delivering what they need to address their challenges.
This partnering, in my earlier manufacturing experience, is called “client loyalty.” One day, I was called in by a buyer of my product. He said that his company had done a quality comparison among my product and others that were sold on his shelves. My product did o.k., but was not so superior that he could ignore the price discount offerings of my competitors. He said to me, “Ed, I don’t need you to meet the competition, but I do need you to do something so I can show that I’ve addressed the competitive marketplace.” As I walked away from his office, I realized a very important fact: This buyer was loyal to me. He had called me last. He gave me the opportunity to compete, without having to reduce my price all the way to the level of my competitors. He called me at the end of the process and was willing to “partner” with me in the sale of my products to his customers. To me, that is client-centric.
Law firms that can partner with their clients, can show their clients how they can reduce their legal costs (without reducing the lawyers’ per unit fees), can develop strategic plans for defending/pursuing legal challenges are the law firms that will thrive in the new economy. It’s these law firms that Richard Susskind was talking about.
This may be new language, like a new business fad of TQM, Sigma ... etc., but it still is the old-fashioned care about your client/customer and treat them well ... and you will be rewarded by a loyal client willing to work with you for the mutual benefit of both the client and the lawyer/law firm.
See my new book, The 3 Dimension Lawyer: How to Thrive in the New Economy, to be released later this year by West Pub.
You still have to have a creative bone in your body ... but it just got easier to create a flow chart and an organization chart. I'm impressed. Check it out.
While in San Francisco, I was given "The Printed Blog." Literally, hard copy publication taken from the electronic world. If blogs can report on the hard copy world, I suppose "turn-around is fair play."
And, there must be some substance behind the group. It is published in Chicago and distributed in San Francisco. Who knows where else?
Just did it ... Thanks to Tim Stanley and Cicely Wilson for helping me set this up. One step at a time, but look out world, I'm joining! <g>
I was reminded to provide the twitter URL ... here it is: http://twitter.com/lawbiz ... I'm looking forward to hearing from y'all.
Here’s a story sent to me by a friend. The moral is that we need to be more careful in how we use our "toys."
A car was broken into while the family was at a football match. The car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans. A garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard were among the items stolen from the car.
When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.
The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.
I came from an immigrant family as many people in my generation did, and still do. Growing up, my parents were involved in the labor movement and unemployment insurance was a big deal. In today’s context, unemployment insurance s hardly significant. But, don’t tell that to the many who are seeking this benefit and can’t crash through the long lines and busy telephone lines.
NPR did a piece today on what unemployment insurance is today and what it means.
Here are some statistics that I find fascinating, and which I did not previously appreciate. There are about 10 million unemployed workers, about half of them being in only eight states including California, Florida, Michigan and New York. There are millions more who don’t even qualify because they were self-employed or have been out of work too long ... they sort of get lost in the system.
When technology companies need to hire a business development person, they're really off the chart in success or they are scrambling to survive. Twitter says it's doing very well and has many partnering offers to evaluate ... and they need some to do that. They've hired a "business development" wiz ... someone who has been using their service for almost a year.
Go Twitter. I have yet to follow, but hope to be there soon.
LawBiz® facilitated a webinar about social networking and the benefits of this new technology for lawyers. David Nour, an expert on Relationship Economics, joined me in what the audience described as an outstanding learning experience. As the saying goes, it was like "drinking from a fire hose."
Substantially more than 100 people signed up and others contacted me with calendar conflicts. By popular demand, we will do our program again; we also will produce a DVD of this week's program; and my teleseminar with West LegalEdcenter on December 9th at 11 a.m. PT will bring David and me together again for another edition of social networking.
Stay tuned. Subcribe to LawBiz® Tips for current information as it is posted.
LMA LA presented a program today on social networking. It was well attended and the speakers were all outstanding. Those in attendance, like me I'm sure, felt like someone had just turned on the firehose and spewed forth a whole lot of knowledge. Now our trick is to implement the ideas expressed.
What does "social media" mean? How does it differ from "social networking"? I'm not sure I understand the difference, but Sally Falkow, president and senior strategist of Expansioin InternetmarketingPR, had as broad a definition as any. If I am paraphrasing her correctly, it's using the internet to communicate with clients and prospective clients. It's not relevant which technique or application you use, just that you use the internet. I like this broad definition. It goes along with my definition of "marketing." Marketing is every technique you use to communicate your ideas to another. Looked at it from this perspective, lawyers even market in their presentations before a judge and a jury, though I know few would agree with me.
Jonathan L. Handel, an attorney with Troy Gould, told how he used social networking to expand his base, starting from just 14 months ago. There is just too much to say about Jonathan in this short space. So, I will suggest, instead, that you go to Google and search on his name. You will be surprised at how many times his name will appear. Suffice to say, Jonathan is a regular contributor to many of the major newspapers in the nation as well as blog sites pertinent to his field. Congratulations must be given to Jonathan.
Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog was the moderator who, as usual, did an outstanding job of explaining the technology and asking the right questions of the panelists. Kevin has taken his business from the beginning stages of entrepreneurship to a spiked growth rate. I've know Kevin since the time he was practicing law in Wisconsin. In fact, he was one of the first subcribers to our audio series, Law Practice Management Review: The Audio Magazine for Busy Attorneys. That series has now morphed into our podcasting that can be heard both here and at our web site.
This topic is now so exciting that LawBiz will be hosting David Nour, an expert in the field who just had his new book, Relationship Economics, published by John Wiley & Sons. Go to our site and sign up for your FREE registration!
As noted in an earlier post, we offered a brand new Fujitsu portable scanner, model ScanSnap S300. Our drawing has now closed. I'm pleased to say we had a large number of participants ... Shows the interest in Fujitsu, and well it should. I use the scanner myself. I'm impressed not only with the speed of its operation, but its very small footprint. It sits inconspicuously on my desk, ready for immediate use.
Our lucky winner is Jon Lewis of the law firm of Lewis, Feldman, Lehane & McAtee, LLC, of Birmingham, AL ... Congratulations, Jon!
A new, ABA Formal Opinion 8-451 (August 5th), states the obvious: A lawyer may, but is responsible for, outsource work to lawyers and non-lawyers support appropriate to represent the interests of his/her client.Continue Reading...
Does more information become competitive intelligence ... or just more information? Read Ann Lee Gibson at her new blog only if you want to learn more, i.e., become more intelligent! Congratulations to Ann for a great start.
Is the Virtual World real? It apparently has more “life” than I knew. Even the IRS is involved, recently ruling that independent, virtual contractors were, in reality, part-time employees for whom taxes needed to be withheld. What impact will this have on other “virtual businesses?” What impact will this ruling have on “virtual assistants?” Are they independent contractors, our assumption in the past, or employees, though at a distance?
Nick Abrahams, chair of the Sydney, Australia office of Deacons, which has branches throughout Asia, discussed his firm's survey on technology.
The survey, among other things, that "If you’re over 35, you're the loneliest person on Facebook because only 1 percent of workers in that age group are using it." But a quarter of the survey respondents between 25 and 34 are on Facebook, he said, and for workers under 25, the rate of Facebook users increases to a third of those surveyed.
It is still early to discern how the new social networking sites will impact a law firm's marketing efforts; but, it is clear that these sites will not disappear in the new future ... and lawyers will need to pay attention to whether these sites can benefit them in the market places in which they operate.
I don't think we've yet got to the "tipping point" in this phenomenon, though we seem to be getting closer and closer with ever greater speed.
The panel suggested that travelers should no longer expect privacy!
Rules of professional conduct require confidentiality. ABA Model Rule 6.1 provides that "A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client ... " Thus, a lawyer should not have any information on the laptop about clients' matters. If that's true, then can a lawyer travel across the border with a laptop? Arguably not!
I’m familiar with Corporate 100, AmLaw 100, etc. When he spoke about the top 5 companies in the world, he jarred my sensitivities. He’s right, of course, and I intellectually knew that. But, he connected with the emotional side of my understanding. He got my attention.
Of course, that’s the function of the keynote presenter – get the attention of the audience. He did that by describing his gripes against technology vendors ... and challenges to law firms.
Discussing how much work Chevron "farms out" (outsources) to outside counsel, and the metric (see below) he uses to increase the size of his internal legal department, Mr. James was more candid than I recall from other GC.
Travel has become more difficult and expensive, thus localizing efforts to bring the information to the people rather than the people to the information makes sense. Of course, you do remember we’re talking about technology? There should be no reason to travel to see the benefits of technology ... just do it over the web!
On the other hand, as the phone company realized years ago, “high tech, high touch” is required to be truly effective today. Thus, personal contact and demonstration and networking are essential even in a techie world. Hence, the LA show.
There has been so much consolidation in the legal services world of technology, however, that it will be interesting to see just how many vendors are left standing to show in Los Angeles.
Stay tuned for more. As I said, I’m eager to see the 2008 version of the show.
In a recent article by Larry Bodine, he cited the following statistics: Less than 8% surveyed believe social networking is important to them; 91% said they spend less than 25% of their online time working with social networks. Still, these are rather large numbers to be devoting to a networking process that is relatively new ... As with other technologies, we will have to wait and see if this takes hold.
Also, I talk about dreaming having a poor ROI. What does this mean for the law firm? Read LawBiz Tips and learn my approach.
We went to dinner while in Chicago this last week and she took several photographs. Here are two of them that are listed on Facebook, one of the sprouting social networks. One should be careful what is placed on internet boards such as this ... This entry is sedate and trustworthy. This is the first posting for me, excluding our Airstream trailer, of photos on this site.
At the Tech Show, I got to see the new portable unit, Model #300 .... It is sooooo small, light and priced right. Consider buying this if scanning on the road can benefit your practice.
As I walked around the Hilton Hotel, the new site for the show, I met many folks that I have known for years and some new folks as well. It is in these walks around the Exhibit Hall and elsewhere at the Show that I learn the most.
Once again, though, I realize that it's the people you know that is the most important element to growing one's business ... Competence is presumed. But, when people like and trust you, they will help you grow, they will teach you valuable lessons about your business ... and they make it a joy to attend conferences such as this. And, if they happen to be customers/clients of you, they will be loyal to you, you will be able to count on their business for your firm's growth.
- Income fluctuations
- Managing the practice
- Lack of help in the practice
- Isolation from other attorneys
- Inability to discuss ideas with colleagues
- There are more than 63 million active users on Facebook
- Since 2007, Facebook grows by more than 250,000 per year
- There's been an average 3% growth annually since 2007
- Active users double every 6 months
One challenge, though, is how many of these professional and social networking entities can one participate in ... Consider, for example, LinkedIn, supposedly a primary business networking entity. And what about YouTube? One could spend an entire life in this new, virtual world ... and I'm not sure that would produce the best results. So, how does one choose?
According to one source, crisis management statistics include causes that are outside of those traditionally thought about by law firms. But, in addition to Katrina, broken pipes, etc. think about the following:
About 53% of marketing executives responding to a recent survey by BtoB and Eric Mower and Associates, said they have experienced a business crisis that resulted in negative news coverage, declining sales or reduced profitability. About the same number (57%) reported that their company does not have a crisis response plan currently in place.
Of the 43% of companies that have developed a plan, 10% worry about their ability to carry it out, and only one-half have trained spokespersons ready.
Some 23% of respondents who went through a crisis said it took three months to a year for their brand to fully recover, while 13.3% said recovery took more than two years and 17.7% said they have not yet recovered after two years.
Causes for these companies' crises vary. A majority of survey respondents (55.7%) said layoffs, shutdowns or business foreclosures created the crisis. Some 45.2% blamed operational or services failures, 33% cited legal or ethical problems and 32.2% pointed to a competitive attack, such as negative word-of-mouth or messaging by others who have a vested interest in damaging the company.
Answer: Carry a lightweight charger that needs no electrical outlet. What a simple idea! I didn't know they made such things. Check out Duracell's PowerSource Mobile100, available at Amazon.com and elsewhere. There are other brands as well.
Yesterday, I bought a great camera, a new model from a high quality brand. I couldn't believe the difference in the pricing between what I saw in the store and the price of a reputable on-line operation (which, by the way, has a physical store in New York). And my wife says she will buy everything on-line this year in order to avoid the long lines and surly service in stores.
Is there an ethical issue in this circumstance? What are the ethics of using the service of a store, determining what you want, and then buying on-line because of a price differential? Is there any difference between this circumstance and comparing pricing among various stores?
• Find errors and charges that aren’t in keeping with the client’s billing standards
• Compares costs among various outside law firms
• Saves 15 - 18% of its outside legal costs in some instances
• Reduces workload in reviewing and approval process
• Increase payment by 30 days to the law firm
• Faster pay increases profit for the law firm
• Increased cost connected with e-billing
• Usually have to hire a dedicated person/staff to deal with the e-billing detail
• Places small firms at a competitive disadvantage because they generally can’t afford the cost of the software, the learning curve and the additional staff required to handle the process
• On-going software maintenance fees
• Additional fee for each additional custom billing template needed for a new client
• Added accounting requirements
• Steep learning curve for attorneys to learn different billing codes for each client
• Increased possibility/likelihood of billing errors because of lack of uniformity in codes
• Rejection of total billing invoice when there is a human error on one element – invoice is returned for correction
• Notification of error is seldom complete and law firm is expected to know what the error is; if this is not the case, the process becomes process, return, fix, return, reject, etc., until it is finally determined what the error is and it’s fixed.
The article concludes that, at the moment, e-billing today is not likely to benefit law firms, though it may in the future; but it clearly is an added cost of doing business.
Thus, whether it's a blessing or a burden depends on which side of the table this discussion finds you.
Another article in this edition concerns the changing landscape of the legal profession and outsourcing, written by me.
Ed, you’re an avid blogger—I read LawBiz® Blog all the time. I’ve even contemplated starting my own blog. What could blogging do for my private law practice? Continue Reading...
- 83% of medium businesses (more than 100 people) have remote or mobile workers
- That means that only 17% of such businesses have no mobile workers at all
- Lifestyles today blend work and personal activities with fluid boundaries between the two
- 15% of our workforce are telecommuters
- 23% of our workforce travel long distance
- 27% of our workforce travel locally
- "Anywhere solutions" can boost productivity and enhance the probability of recovery in the event of disasters
- New technology for unified communications, not yet a driving force, is generally reviewed, if at all, at the time of replacement or updates rather than as an independent purchase now
- One of the greatest challenges facing today's business is that information is lost or stranded within the head of one individual
That means that technology becomes even more important in the management of a law firm. Technology affects current law firm profitability and becomes essential for survival and continuity in times of disaster. In current terminology, "knowledge management" will be the backbone of the success and survival of a law firm. And knowledge management needs enhanced technology to be effective and readily available. As I've said before, I believe law firms of the future will grow or die based on their effective implementation of knowledge management.
|Venice, CA 90291||September 25 2007|
|Law Practice Management Tips and Business Secrets to Arrive Weekly
VENICE, Calif., September 25, 2007—Law business growth and management consultant Ed Poll announces the release of the new version of his free eNewsletter, LawBiz® Tips, that has a fresh updated look and is presented in a modern HTML design. Arriving weekly instead of monthly, this version offers a new twist on Poll’s already famous advice for lawyers on how to make running a law practice easier, less stressful, and more profitable.
“As readers will notice in the very first issue, the new newsletter has a high value content like the old one but is now delivered in more ‘bite-size’ chunks,” says Poll, founder and president of LawBiz Management Company. Poll practiced law for 25 years, was the CEO and COO of several manufacturing businesses, and has been a consultant to small and large law firms for 15 years. “I’m excited about our new format and hope readers will find it more enjoyable.”
The average issue will feature one article that focuses on a critical aspect of the reader’s law career and business, whether it is low-cost strategies to improve marketing, managing, selling, client management skills, account keeping, or employee relations. The newsletter will also cover some of the personal issues lawyers who run their own practice might feel uncomfortable discussing, such as how to improve relationships at work or what to do with a partner who is not pulling his or her weight. And just like the old newsletter, this one will still feature Ed’s own personal commentary, updating readers on upcoming speaking engagements and family news.
In each issue subscribers also get:
• Access to free gifts and special offers
• Announcements of special events
• Discounts on Poll’s CLE products and coaching
• Their privacy protected. Participants can unsubscribe anytime.
The first issue that was released today discusses why law firm managers should focus less on making money themselves and channel that energy into being a better leader and decision-maker for the firm as a whole. To sign up to receive this issue and many more, please visit www.LawBizTips.com.
To schedule an interview with Ed Poll, or to find out more about his law business consulting and coaching, please contact Carolyn McKibbin at 617-230-4886 or Carolyn@ictusinitiative.com.
|Carolyn McKibbin (Carolyn@ictusinitiative.com)
The Ictus Initiative
343 Commercial St
Boston, MA 02109
Phone : 617-230-4886
It is a remarkable instrument that further reduces the bank float from your clients and gives you almost immediate access to "good funds." No more waiting for the "check to clear" or other excuse for delaying your use of funds. Continue Reading...
I appreciate the opportunity he gives me to expand my thoughts on this subject further. What follows is my response to Scott:
I truly enjoyed reading your comments on what I did not say; quite amusing. I think, however, that you miss the true value of blawging (blogging). It is to convey value, to convey information and to convey help to the reader. Oh, yes, it can be to vent and it can be to journal, but that was not the context in which I made my comment. Lawyers use the blawging process to communicate their existence to the world - to express their expertise so as to make prospective clients aware of them ... and, hopefully, to become clients. If this is true, and I believe it to be and can point to many examples, then it is a marketing tool. Just as large firms have marketing and business development departments, producing quality material that may or may not be written by attorneys (but for which the attorneys/law firm are responsible), so to can blogging be performed under the direction of an attorney though not written by him/her.
Attorneys do not do everything done in a law firm. That doesn't make the information or the service a "scam." There are trial briefs written by paralegals -- is this a scam? There are deposition summaries written by paralegals -- is this a scam? There are many things done for lawyers under the lawyers direction/responsibility that provide benefit for clients .. and enable lawyers to more effectively market their services to new prospects.
Take this out of the context of the law office, there are many books written for famous people that appropriately convey the intent and meaning of the "author." Are these scams? Does the public not get value in better understanding the character and message of the famous person? Lee Iacoca is one that comes to mind quickly. We learned a lot about him, his life and his message ... though he didn't write the book himself.
Blogging is not the last, great American novel ... it is a business tool. As such, one can take a business-like approach to its application. Google certainly does, so I'm not sure why you don't.
Again, thanks for writing about my belief system and allowing me the opportunity to expand on it a bit more ... though I certainly didn't say all the things you said I said. <g> Continue Reading...
Terry L. Brock tells us the story of George Hotz of New Jersey and then extrapolates some principles from George's persistence in breaking the iPhone code.
What will this mean for users? Ability to get to other phone companies, not just AT & T? Will this affect the privacy and confidentiality issues uppermost in conversation of lawyers? Will there still be an expectation of privacy when lawyers use the iPhone?
While the legal issues may be argued in court, the market place will make many decisions for users as well as Apple, the manufacturer.
Reid Trautz mentioned his observations from our panel:
"From a terrific panel of firm financial managers moderated by Ed Poll, comes these interesting ideas:
- Firms are taking advantage of the new check scanners offered by some banks to more quickly and securely deposit client checks.
- More firms are closing their billing on the 25th day of each month to get their bills into the "first of the month" billing cycle of clients--both businesses and individuals.
- Law firms are putting more pressure on partners to collect bills sooner (nothing new there!), but they are using automated e-mail and other added technology features now available in many time & billing programs to keep the pressure on, well, automatically!
- Larger firms are doing more to ensure that each new client matter has a signed representation letter or agreement before starting any work. This is a smart practice, and is just one area where large firms tend to lag behind smaller firms."
Portland, OR 49
I'm surprised that Western cities (further south of OR) aren't on the list and, with all the politicians in the area, why Washington didn't rate higher ...
But, it takes a blog to talk about the blogging list, right? :-)
I'm pleased to say we were included.
“‘Particles have been shown beyond any doubt to be a health hazard,’ said study author Lidia Morawska, a physicist at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.”
HP LaserJet and Ricoh fared well in the study. But HP, for example, had non-emitters in eight HP LaserJet 4050 series printers, while having high emitters in their LaserJet 1320 and 4250, “which, when printing, increased the particle number in the air more than tenfold.”
“Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, allowing us to do things more quickly and efficiently. But too often it seems to make things harder, leaving us with fifty-button remote controls, digital cameras with hundreds of mysterious features and book-length manuals, and cars with dashboard systems worthy of the space shuttle. This spiral of complexity, often called ‘feature creep,’ costs consumers time, but it also costs businesses money.”
I had heard of this project for many years but this is the first time I've been in it ... a marvelous example of future thinking, applied to today's world. Prof. Lederer made some very interesting observations: Continue Reading...
Law firms, especially sole practitioners, can't be too far behind in this world where change is happening at an ever-increasing pace. For example, I was advised not to buy a new PDA because Apple will be releasing its new i-Phone in the next few months. My audio studio is more sophisticated, I'm told by an engineer, than most radio stations. Yet, it is now obsolete because of Panasonic's new phone system which I just installed that allows me to do the same recording, and more, than I was able to do with the old system.
One can spend both a fortune in money and in time just keeping up. The goal: Stay at the leading edge of technology where it enables you to perform more or more efficiently the work that your clients value from you. Know what the bleeding edge of technology will bring, but otherwise ignore it.
That's what happened to a computer technician reformatting a disk drive at the Alaska Department of Revenue. While doing routine maintenance work, the technician accidentally deleted applicant information for an oil-funded account - one of
There was still hope, until the department discovered its third line of defense, backup tapes, were unreadable....
See full article by Anne Sutton (Associated Press Writer)
1. Radio-frequency identification tags for your luggage will increase the chances of keeping your luggage and tracking it if/when lost.
2. New workplace trend: Use a gym ball in place of a chair. Ergonomic consultants suggest that gym balls help strengthen one's abdominal and lower back muscles as well as improving posture. Technology has helped design some of the fancy chairs now being sold for egonomic benefits. Going back, however, to some of the old ways may be the real solution to back and other medical ills. Einstein went on to say that technology fails to bring us happiness "...because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it." The gym ball may be one example of "sensible use" of existing knowledge.
However, there are things you can do with a cell phone that you may not have realized. Check out the following:
David A. Thomas, deputy assistant director of the FBI. Continue Reading...
Moral: Check your belongings frequently, especially your credit cards.
50% of all ID theft is perpetrated by friends, neighbors, employees, family members or relatives.
Moral: It's always the folks who are close to us who have access to our personal information and, most importantly, our trust to be in a position to take from us.
It takes 40 hours on average for a victim of ID theft to clean up the mess.
That's a lot of angst and incredible financial loss (multiply your hourly rate by 40 to know the number.
Approximately 11% of fraud cases are caught via credit monitoring reports.
You're entitled to a free credit report from time to time. Check it regularly to be sure your credit is still intact.
We talked about their new edition. His comments, I thought, were very interesting ... and merit consideration for the upgrade if you've already got an earlier version. I understand that there were some challenges in version 7 that have been eliminated in the new version.
The interview is scheduled to be featured here ---- look here on Monday ---- and on our web site.
I encourage you to listen. Adobe is more powerful now than ever before ... Adobe seems to be quite satisfied with the quality of their new version 8.
I'd welcome feedback on anyone's experience with the new version 8. Contact me.
Now, a new book by Tom Wheeler, "Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War," suggests that President Lincoln used the technology of the 1860's to win the Civil War.
Jeff further says that Postini, a U.S. email security company, says there were 7 billion spam emails worldwide in November compared to 2.5 billion in June.
Wow! With the holiday season upon us, be even more careful than usual!
One of these rules, Rule 1.1 (formerly 3-110), pertains to the definition of “competence.” There is no reference in the definition to technology. Continue Reading...
There are two kinds of people getting email: The Hoarders and The Deleters!
Hoarders keep every email, judging their self-worth by the number of their retained emails.
Deleters get rid of most of their emails, wanting a very clean electronic environment.
While I would not go so far as Alan does, it is clear that blogging is very expensive. See my earlier blog and my writing (check out the archives), where I point out that a modest time commitment to blogging will cost you close to a $100,000 per year! That ain't cheap! Better compute the benefits you receive from blogging, that infamous ROI principle.
Sometimes "paper" is better than technology, even if only as a backup.
Highlights of survey results include the following: Continue Reading...
Does this sound familiar for lawyers?
But, blogging is very expensive. In an article that I wrote for TechnoLawyer, I suggest that the cost is a minimum of $20,000 per year in lost billable time. And this figure is on the low side of today's reality for most committed bloggers. Will this produce revenue of at least the same amount? Let's hope, but there is no guarantee.
Consider all the factors. See the article to learn more.
No one had to leave their office. And anyone with a question could ask it immediately. Great experience for me as the presenter and my thanks to both those who joined us and to Lisa for managing the webinar process.
For those who missed the program, it will be available within two weeks after the post-production process is completed. If interested, contact email@example.com for further information.
HP, one of the first (if not the first!) company to allow telecommuting, just announced that it was wiping out its IT telecommuting!
Most, if not all, of its 1000 persons IT staff around the world will now report to one of 25 offices nearest their homes. In some cases, this may mean quite a move, even thousands of miles.
The standards and practices of some of the telecommuters was less than ideal ... You've heard of the expression, "One bad apple can spoil the barrel." Apparently, enough questionable practices surfaced to compel the new division chief, formerly with 2 major high tech companies, to re-examine this practice and eliminate it ... at least for the moment.
What impact will this move have on industry in general and on law firms in particular? The debate has festered for years in large law firms, with the desire for telecommuting seeminly winning ... HP may be opening the door on yet another movement, this time back to the office where people can physically and frequently interact with one another to make the entire team effort more effective and more productive!
TechnoLawyer is offering its book of listings of the best blogs. See it today!
They're also having a contest: How many folks click on their book from a given blog. So, if you go there from www.lawbizblog.com, for example (from THIS blog), LawBiz gets credit.
Hope you find this book as interesting as I did. This whole world of blogging is still new to me and I'm not sure who's reading my comments and, if you're reading this, what you do with the information and thoughts that I express.
As a side note and request, if you think I've said something significant, please let me know via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). It's comforting to know that folks are reading these posts. Also, if you have topics you'd like me to address in the management of a law firm, please let me know that as well.
As a further side note, look for our podcasts! We will make an announcement in the next few days. I'm really excited about converting the efforts of the last ten years of publishing our monthly Audio Magazine to the new technology, podcasts.
TechnoLawyer member Edward F. Harney, Jr. asks:
"I am somewhat baffled at why folks would want to use GoToMyPC.com, especially in a small firm setting. We used PCAnywhere for years but switched to the Remote Desktop Connection application that comes free with Windows XP...Continue Reading...
The question was asked: Is voice recognition software a viable option today? Is it ready for prime time?
My short answer is: Definitely. Yes.Continue Reading...
The other day, I made a tentative appointment with someone. The next thing I know there is a link in my Outlook with the date, etc. I didn't insert it. The other person did and it was emailed to me and automatically inserted into my system.Continue Reading...
When the Bar requires that all your emails contain a provision that emails may be dangerous to your health, technology may leave a lot to be desired. According to one Missouri lawyer, the MO Bar requires the following on all their emails:Continue Reading...
Let's hope you're not known as this type of
employee of the month.
On the other hand, this does show MS's employees going anywhere and everywhere to handle customers problems.
So, like many things, this may be just a matter of perspective ... Yours or the Clients!
In case you didn't see this article, please read it.
The Congressional hearing members are asking the executives of major companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, et al., why they are altering their business practices in China? Why are they censoring their practices and delivering otherwise confidential information to the government, practices they do not do in the United States, Europe or elsewhere ... just to get more business?
One representative raised the spectre of dealing with Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Moral: Technology may be the "new guy on the block." But, it is still management that controls and uses the technology ... and the ethics and morals of management always must be reviewed.
There actually is someone out there who still knows about typing!
Follow up note to my earlier posting and the Los Angeles Times article:
Mark D. Gershenson reports to me that the PaperPort software has a "typer" feature that lets you easily fill out a form on your computer. You get the form into your computer by scanning it in, by having it faxed to your computer, or by downloading it in .pdf format. You can also fill in forms that are in .pdf format using the free Foxit .pdf reader, even if those forms were not set up as "fillable."
Do you still know what this word means? Does anyone still "type" on a typewriter? Some people don't even use word processors anymore, they are fixated with Blackberries, PDAs and "tablets." What a generational issue this may be!
So why is the Los Angeles Times writing about typewriters?
See the article to find out more ... and, in case you choose to only skim the article (see below), you may be interested to know that the owner/"typist" of the business in the article is a Lawyer. And, in point of fact, his business is just "down the street" from mine.Continue Reading...
See the NY Supreme Court blog posting today for a look at my recent article on the subject of paper and the paperless office.
TechnoLawyer, in its TechnoFeature, today published my article, Why Paper Still Matters: A Contrarian View of the Paperless Office
See www.technolawyer.com for more details.
I recently responded to a comment on Technolawyer, suggesting that WordPerfect is still a powerful word processor. And the argument that our clients use Word is no longer sufficient to migrate to Word. We work with WP, save as an .rtf (Word) or even better, a .pdf file. Then send that file, all the while having created the document in WP.
... this is one response to my comment:
"I just had to say Bravo for your succinct comments on WP v Word. As a WP advocate who does not "get" Word and finds it anything but intuitive, your comments made the most sense of any I've heard. It's a cost benefit analysis. And like you, I can readily convert from one format to another when the need arises. I also try to send out everything as a secured PDF regardless, as I don't want others to mess with my documents."
Are you wanting remote access while on the road, away from the office?
I just came across this review in PC Mag. It is a great comparison of the benefits of each of several options.
Check this out: http://yoursuccess.blogspot.com/
Terry Brock, a technology guru with marketing skills, to boot, talks about the benefits of using Skype (recently purchased by e-Bay for $2.6 billion) as a phone when you travel.
An interesting idea. And, check out his comment about using the video concept available on Skype via e-Bay!
TechnoLawyer has a new e-book on blogging. Today is its release date and it promises to be quite informative.
I encourage you to take a look. I'm flattered to have our blog included amongst the other great samples selected for inclusion.
Any readers that are currently TechnoLawyer members will be receiving the eBook automatically.
Here is an extended comment from Ross Fishman (reprinted here with permission from Ross), a marketing guru. I always enjoy reading his comments on marketing. Since there has been a lot of discussion recently on several listservs about blogging, I thought you might be interested in seeing his thoughts.
Anyone old enough to remember The Great Web Site Debate? Around 1996?
Web sites were brand new and so generated enormous interest: headline stories, bylined articles, guru speeches, two-day conferences, mountainous direct mailings -- mostly by the web-development companies who sold this new product.Continue Reading...
According to a recent survey, 2/3 of customers who try to get service online give up and use the phone instead. That's an interesting statistic (Inc. Magazine, October 2005) and what's more interesting is that the phone's voice mail isn't much better. An earlier study concluded that 14 out of 15 automated voice-response systemsContinue Reading...
Question: How can I get rid of old files and save storage costs?
Answer: The question is a great question! Unfortunately, the answer is not always simple. Here are some observations, however, that might put the issue into perspective.
1. Bring in outside people to do this task; do not disturb the normal flow of your office procedures and current work flow. Engage a disabled person. This provides the person(s) so engaged with an income s/he might not otherwise have and you can generally pay a lower rate than for other folks.
2. Consider using a photocopy machine. Some large companies provide the scanning capability and do not charge a fee unless and until a photocopy is actually made. Scanning and placing files into a .pdf format is not deemed printing photocopies.
3. Begin with the oldest files first, reduce storage space and thereby save on real estate costs.
4. Be sure to have a lawyer or someone with the requisite knowledge review the files and remove all original documents before destruction of the files after scanning.
5. Consult the Rules of Professional Conduct and ethics opinions of your jurisdiction to verify the time for retention of files. After this date and your scanning process, destroy the files.
6. Do more than merely place files and old boxes into a dumpster. Consider hiring a file storage house to shred your tossed files.
7. After all this, consider the following observation by a colleague: "I am in the arduous process of scanning older files and so far, this is what I've found out: I have scanned 9,261 pages which is about 270 Mb of data. This is 179 files (about 130 client matters), which fit into about 5 1/2 bankers' boxes. All of these files were scanned into .pdf format. I have created an archive spreadsheet in Excel, so it is easy to track a document's location.
Obviously, at this rate a CD is the optimal storage media, because a DVD would basically be too much. Good luck, it's pretty time consuming."
How much can you say on a listserv?
In a discussion amongst family law lawyers on a listserv, I just ran across one of the more interesting questions. The facts, as I understand them, are that a request for an expert was made on a listserv; a recommendation was made in response; and then a third comment criticized the referred expert. Participating on the listserv, though quiet during this interchange, was a judge before whom the case was to have been heard the following week!
Is this an ex parte communication?Continue Reading...
I wrote an article some time ago which references some of the technology aspects when law firms enter into merger discussions.
Listening to some IT people who've experienced the "new" life of merged law firms, I began to appreciate the real horrors of merged life. In some instances, in fact, the different technology platforms was too great an obstacle to overcome and the firms decided against merger.
On the other hand, even in the best of situations, with the best of intentions by all parties, each firm must create a technology integration committee and have those two groups work together to create a harmonious and single-purpose technology that serves the needs of the law firm and the interests of the firm's clients.