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    Archive for July, 2008
    Spice up that PowerPoint!
    Friday, July 25th, 2008

    ♫And nobody does it better
    Makes me feel sad for the rest.
    Nobody does it half as good as you.
    Baby, baby, darling you’re the best…♫

    Words by Carole Bayer Sager, Music by Marvin Hamlisch, performed by Carly Simon.

    There is an interesting collaboration going on at:  http://blog.slideshare.net/2008/07/14/one-user-one-day-one-slide-presentation-design-tennis-at-slideshare.

    It is an experiment – in collaborative creativity, built around PowerPoints.

    Now all of us have had to be subjected to excruciatingly bad PowerPoints at one time or another .. so bad in fact that the words of Garrison Keillor come to mind from “A Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra” where he stated:  “Of all the people who have died at concerts, most of them keeled over during big trumpet solos. And most of them were glad to go.”  At times I feel the same way with bad PowerPoints!

    But this site is different – amazingly different.  Some of the presentations are so good and so cool they will never let you look at your presentations in the same way again.  They will leave you in awe on the creativity and thought that others can put into their PowerPoint presentations.  It is well worth a visit – now and every time you have to prepare a PowerPoint. I know I will be going back to it over and over again.

    A hat tip to Connie Crosby for pointing this out to me on Twitter.  I can’t wait to see a PowerPoint presentation by Connie since her slide about community won Presentation Tennis Day 11!  Baby, baby, darling  you’re the best!

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Issues facing Law Firms, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    ODR and Vint Cerf…
    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

    ♫ But in the communique you know he’s gonna come clean
    Think what he say,
    Say what he means…♫

    Words and music by Mark Knopfler.

    For those who followed my earlier post regarding the ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) Conference in Victoria, the final communique regarding the outcome of the conference can be found at: Communiqué on the 2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution.

    It was a heady experience for a humble BC lawyer.  It is not every day that one comes into personal contact with the father of the Internet Vinton Grey “Vint” Cerf, Ambassadors, Nobel Peace Prize winners and a heady collection of delegates from all over the world. Best of all, I had the wonderful opportunity to facilitate the session on “ODR and the Legal Environment”. I am hopeful that the outcome of this session will be the collaboration of the attendees in jointly producing a document resulting in a “Best Practices” document for the implementation of ODR by Governments, businesses and others.

    It is opportunities such as these that make us realize the power that come from and the results that can be achieved by working cooperatively. The fact that Vint Cerf took time from his schedule to put in a personal appearance at this Conference indicates that he views ODR as having an important future not only on the Internet but in the settling of some very human disputes. I can only hope that in some very small way, I have helped to further his dream, since he seems to have this habit of dreaming big. And I know that he came to say what he means….

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Make it Work! Practice Management
    Monday, July 21st, 2008

      Making it work
    Takes a little longer
    Making it work
    Takes a little time…♫

    Words and music by Doug and the Slugs

    In this edition of the Make it Work! blog category (which I have to confess was sparked by Doug Bennett and the rest of the Slug’s crooning in “Making it Work!”) I thought we could explore the different practice management systems in use in law offices today.

    I have been an avid fan of Amicus Attorney  for many years (having been the author of the book Amicus Attorney in One Hour for Lawyers) . Indeed, I use the product constantly in my practice and simply could not imaging practising law without it or a product substantially similar to it.  However, I also recognize that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that there are other excellent products out there…LawStream, PCLaw and ProLaw being the most referenced out my way. However, there are a host of newcomers on the block: Client Profiles, LegalFiles and TimeMatters which may have a larger presence elsewhere but which are just starting to have a foundation out our way.

    I use practice management software to track time, appointments, deadlines, to-do’s, calls, messages and much much more. Indeed, it is the organizing factor for my practice. The paper “25 Benefits of Case Management” is on the Law Society of BC’s website where I have tried to list the benefits of moving to this type of legal software.

    In this installment of “Making it Work!” I would like to hear from you and find out what you use, what you like about it and how it seems to make you more efficient, effective and on top of your deadlines and tasks.

    While installing and adjusting to a practice management software may take a little longer and take a bit of time, once it is working the payoffs are well worth the effort!

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Start all over!
    Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

      We can break the cycle – We can break the chain
    We can start all over – In the new beginning
    …And start all over…♫

    Words and music by Tracy Chapman.

    I get calls all the time from lawyers whose computers have slowed to a crawl.  What was once a zippy new computer starts to act like it is mired in concrete.  Chances are, your once-zippy computer has been infected by something that your current security software is powerless to stop.  And while you could try to clean the machine, it is probably faster (*and easier*) to simply reformat the hard drive and start all over. So how do you do this?

    First: back up your data. Purchase an external hard drive and copy all the data over to this external drive.  Be sure to copy over any photos, browser favourites and all documents that you don’t want to lose!

    Second: make a list of all the applications you have on the computer.  Start with “My Programs” but scour all the folders to ensure that you make an accurate list of the software that you will need to reinstall.

    Third: ensure that you have the installation disks for all the applications *including the operating system* (or know how to download them)  together with the requisite software keys and/or user names and passwords necessary to reinstall and use them on the newly cleaned computer.  You don’t want to find out that you can’t find or recall these after the computer has been cleaned!

    Fourth: copy necessary drivers for your scanner, printer etc to a flash drive.  These are sometimes hard to find on the Web.

    Fifth: take a deep breath and reinitialize the hard drive (commonly called reformatting).  Reinitializing the drive writes zeros to every addressable location (called zero-filling) and identifies any bad sectors on the drive so they are not used.

    Sixth: install the operating system and your security software – firewall, anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware  – and ensure that it updates and installs the latest signatures and that the operating system checks for all updates and patches. This may take a while and may necessitate one or more reboots of the computer.

    Seventh:  install all your applications and drivers.  Check for the latest updates and patches to these applications.

    Eighth: run a security scan on the external hard drive on which you copied your documents, photos etc and once it is found to be ‘clean’, copy over your documents, photos etc to the newly cleaned computer.

    Ninth: institute a regular backup procedure, so that your data is not just sitting in one place, vulnerable to a hard-drive crash or virus attack.

    By taking these steps (as onerous as they are) you can break the chain and start all over with a new beginning.

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Technology | Permalink | No Comments »
    Make it Work! The Paperless Office
    Monday, July 14th, 2008

    ♫ The bad outweighs the good sometimes
    That doesn’t mean we’re ‘spose to give it up
    My problems are yours, and yours are mine
    …We gotta make it work…♫

    Words and music by Ne-Yo.

    How quickly a year goes by!  This blog is now into its second year and I can only thank all the readers who have come together and either posted comments or emailed me about the blog and shared with me their ideas, feedback and energy – and in the process, made all the time and effort worthwhile!

    I have been reflecting on my original goals in launching this blog.  One of the objectives that I would like to emphasize this year is to increase the collaborative aspect of the blog medium – by encouraging a dialogue between all the readers. Accordingly, I am launching the Make it Work! blog category.  The idea here is to start with a problem that lawyers or law firms are facing..and see how many ideas we can assemble thru the readers’ comments that help solve the problem.   By coming up with the questions and working collaboratively on all the different ways we can find to solve them we can build an online storehouse of tips,  techniques and ways to solve our common problems.

    So I thought we could start with the whole idea of moving to the paperless office.  I have seen firms adopting many different solutions. The central problem is to create an electronic version of the paper file and the filing cabinet.  Without a centralized storage location, the ‘file’ is scattered over different storage devices, computers, email accounts, Blackberries and the like. This makes documenting the file and the instructions from the client, difficult if not impossible.   Furthermore, as the number of files grow, so does the size of the problem.  Some firms create a standard folder structure under Exchange and back that up with office policies that require the emails, files etc to be saved to the appropriate folder.  But this can ..and does…fall apart if everyone does not follow the policy.

    One of the more elegant solutions that I have seen work for a smaller firm was the integration of Amicus Attorney with Worldox and MS Outlook. I have seen larger firms move to DOCS open, Interwoven and others.  However, the challenges still remain..and I know that many lawyers are very skeptical about giving up the paper.

    What do you use?  What are the strengths and drawbacks of your system?  I am hopeful that by sharing, we all can gain further insights and make it work!

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 6 Comments »