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    Archive for January, 2009
    I’m a Mac – Day 104
    Monday, January 19th, 2009

    With arms wide open
    Under the sunlight
    Welcome to this place
    I’ll show you everything
    With arms wide open

    Words and Music by: Scott Stapp/Mark Tremonti, recorded by Creed.

    Recently I was given a book written in WordPerfect to review.  As you all know, Microsoft Word does not open WordPerfect documents, even on the Mac.  Furthermore, there is no current version of WordPerfect available for a Mac.  What to do?  Mark Robertson, a fellow Mac lawyer in Oklahoma (and co-author of “Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour” published by the ABA) who happened to be on my left-elbow at the time, said: “Try NeoOffice”.  So I did.

    NeoOffice  is “a full-featured set of office applications (including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and database programs) for Mac OS X.”  The good news is that it can open WordPerfect documents  (and Word, OpenDocument Text, Rich Text, StarWriter and others..) with ease.  Moreover, it is clean and easy to use.  You can save documents in Word, OpenDocument Text, Rich Text, StarWriter and others – but alas, not native WordPerfect.  But WordPerfect will open and save to OpenDocument format so perhaps the future is to adopt OpenDocument as a new standard.

    Wikipedia states: “On May 21, 2008 Microsoft announced that Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will add native support for the OpenDocument Format.[24] It will offer the option to make ODF 1.1, as well as PDF, the default format, both in the installer and via options settings, while support for their own pending ISO 29500, based on the Office 2007 format, won’t be implemented until Office 14.”

    The OpenDocument format is one way of getting around the pesky problem of incompatible word processing formats and is to be appaluded.  Furthermore, NeoOffice is the Mac version of Sun’s OpenOffice initiative. I am now wondering if NeoOffice (and OpenOffice for the PC world) is now a viable alternative to acquiring Microsoft’s Office suite.

    Certainly I was impressed when using the NeoOffice word processor.  It seemed clean and simple to use and certainly less annoying than Word and Word’s tendancies to constantly reformat my document, thinking that it knows what I want to do better than I. I haven’t ventured to use the Spreadsheet or Database or Presentation components so far.  But from my venturing into the Text editor – it has styles (that seem easier to use than Word’s), it has a mail merge feature, autotext and all the other bells and whistles that I look for in a full featured word processor.

    Accordingly, I am placing NeoOffice (and OpenOffice for PC) in the “Cheap is Good but Free is Better!” category (since it is unbelieveably all free, being open source)  as well as the “Make it Work!” category.  For anyone setting up a law office today, I would certainly recommend that they try NeoOffice or OpenOffice before they shell out $$ for a proprietary word processing office suite.  I would certainly welcome you to NeoOffice and the whole OpenDocument movement with arms wide open!

    Posted in Adding Value, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Rumpole and the Angel of Death
    Friday, January 16th, 2009

    Live your life with arms wide open
    Today is where your book begins
    The rest is still unwritten..

    Words and music by Natasha Bedingfield, Danielle Brisebois, Wayne Rodriguez, recorded by Natasha Bedingfield.

    I was greatly saddened today to read in the New York Times of the passing of John Mortimer QC, the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey.  Horace Rumpole, the consumate British barrister who was never destined to be awarded  a well-deserved “QC – Queen’s Counsel” designation,  lived large in the pages of the books written by Mortimer, forever quoting his lifelong mantra: “Never plead guilty!” Rumpole lived for the law, he never compromised his ethics and he sought justice when lesser lawyers would have taken an easier path.

    Following his days fighting Judge Bullingham in the Old Bailey, smoking his small cigars, he would return to his mansion flat at  25B Froxbury Court to be greeted by: “She Who Must be Obeyed” namely his wife Hilda, herself the daughter of a prominent QC and the former Head of Chambers where Horace practices.

    Rumpole set the standard for the trodden, but not beaten, barrister – who continues to hold his head high notwithstanding all the vicissitudes of life.

    John Mortimer QC was quoted by the NYT as being in the  “schizoid business of being a writer who had barristering as a day job.”  Budding writers would do well to follow his example and ‘live your life with your arms wide open, for your book is still unwritten’.

    To Sir John, tonight I will be raising a glass of “Chateau Thames Embankment” and toasting his memory…and saying a quiet word of thanks for many many hours of enjoyment spent with my friend Horace Rumpole.

    Posted in humour, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal | Permalink | No Comments »
    Cheap is Good but Free is Better!
    Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

      Doin it right, doin it right,
    Doin it right, doin it right  

    Words and Music by Tom Lavin, recorded by the Powder Blues Band.

    This post inaugurates  a new thread for this blog – the technology-oriented “Cheap is Good but Free is Better!” thread.  This thread will concentrate on how to do more with less.  It is a response to today’s economic situation and is intended to be a collection of cost-effective tips for technology in a law office.

    This first post is on how to create a PDF of something that is on your desktop – presumably something that is displayed in a browser. It could be an image, it could be instructions that are on the screen (but you don’t want to print the whole web page)or it could be video playing in a browser.

    If you are on a PC, at the simplest,   you can use “print screen” (by pressing both shift and  ‘PrtScr’ on your keyboard) in Windows to capture an image of your desktop.  Then go to ‘Paint’ (click on “Start” then “All Programs” then “Accessories” then “Paint”) and then paste the screen capture image into Paint (click on “Edit” then “Paste” in Paint).  From there,  if you only want to use a part of the image, select a portion of the image with your mouse and right click in the middle of the box to cut out that section and save it to your clipboard.

    You can save the final cropped selection as a:

    • monochrome bitmap (*.bmp, *.dip)
    • 16 color bitmap (*.bmp, *.dip)
    • 256 color bitmap (*.bmp, *.dip)
    • 24 bit bitmap (*.bmp, *.dip)
    • JPEG (*.jpg, *.jpeg, *.jpe, *.jfif)
    • GIF (*.gif)
    • TIFF (*.tiff, *.tif)
    • PNG (*.png)

    If you want to make it into a PDF, you can use one of the free PDF conversion sites on the web such as:

    • Primo PDF (http://www.download.com/PrimoPDF/3000-10743_4-10264577.html?tag=lst-0-1). Note that there are no licence restrictions on Primo PDF, which is probably why it is #1 most popular Business & Productivity software download on CNET’s Download.com.

    Of course, on my Mac – I just use “Grab” (“Finder” then “Utilities” then “Grab”), which comes with OS X. From there, you can choose between:

    • Selection
    • Window
    • Screen
    • Timed Screen

    and save your image as a *.TIFF or print it as a *.PDF (which saves it as a PDF file).

    Back to the Windows world for a moment, if you want to get fancier than what MS Paint will do, you will have to go to something like:

    Either way you can be doing it right for little or no cost!

    Posted in Adding Value, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    Microsoft Back to Business Basics?
    Monday, January 12th, 2009

    Pick up the Pieces…

    Words, Music and Recorded by Average White Band, Roger Ball, Hamish Stuart.

    Microsoft is launching a new ad campaign that will stress the savings (i.e. increased productivity) from investing in new technology, according to IT World (“New Microsoft ads stress savings derived from software” by Jeremy Kirk.)

    Proving the ROI of technological investments is not trivial; I suspect that these ads will be high on qualitative reflection rather than quantitative statistics (although I would be happy to be proven wrong).   Microsoft has, in my respectful opinion, concentrated on the consumer side of the operating system for too long, to the detriment of the business user – particularly the smaller business user.

    Most smaller law firms are essentially held hostage by their IT support personnel, since setting up, running and fixing even a small business network requires a great deal of technical ‘know-how’.  I have also heard stories from lawyers that ‘their system can’t do X’ when I know that there are scores of similar firms that are doing “X” on a daily basis.

    Their IT technicians, I suspect, have set up their system in a matter that does not fully meet the business needs of the law firm and the staff and lawyers working there. This is not necessarily by malicious intent – IT people don’t practice law and don’t see the world through the same lens as lawyers.  The IT person’s job is to keep the systems running with a minimum of trouble – that may mean that they do not implement features or applications that may create more work for themselves.  But this also means that the firm is not receiving the full ROI of their technological investment, due to the complications of working with and maintaining the technology.

    Vista, to be blunt, has been responsible for a large part of this – it has caused headaches for many (but not all). I know that the upswing in interest in Macs in law firms has been driven by lawyers and staff who are looking for a ‘less intrusive’ way of working – they simply don’t want to have to be dealing with the all the bothersome IT details.

    It was instructive that at the Board of Trustees Meeting of the College of Law Practice Management in Chicago this past weekend that all but three of the laptops on the table were Macs.  There were two Dells and an HP – the rest were Macs, ranging from a G4 (that is still plugging away) all the way up to the latest black and white, aluminum-cased MacBook.  I looked around and asked myself, if the leaders in management in the legal profession are adopting Macs, can the rest of the profession be far behind?

    I am hopeful that Microsoft’s ads will really bring out how computing technology has and will continue to make us all more productive.  I also hope that this also signals a real sea-change at Microsoft to focus on productivity from the ground-up; by paying more attention to the smaller business user rather than the consumer market.  Looking back at Vista, I truly hope that this indicates a deep-rooted change at Microsoft to pick up the pieces and get back to the business market.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    New Year, Old Frauds Still Work…
    Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

    Trust me
    Try rolling with the flow
    Trust me
    I’ve been there don’t you know
    I’m giving you a chance, so take it
    I got all you want, you’ll make it..

    Music by Elton John, Lyrics by Tim Rice, recorded by Elton John.

    The biggest law firm in the Philippines has been defrauded of P50 Million (approx $1,265,000.oo CDN), according to Purple S. Romero, abs-cbnNEWS.com.

    “The law firm was reportedly promised five percent of its client’s $50 million-claim. However, in order to get their cut, the firm was first asked to advance P50 million.”

    The firm checked the client’s bank account prior to advancing the funds, but the funds ‘disappeared into thin air’ once the advance was made.

    Sycip Salazar Hernandez Gatmaitan appears to have fallen victim to a classic ‘advance fee’ fraud.

    It is truly unfortunate that ‘confidence men’ are able to take advantage of the lure of p100 million (approx $2.6 million CDN) in fees – showing yet again, that if the chance appears to be too good, it probably is…and a firm should not take it.

    Posted in Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    A Quiet and Humble Thank-You…
    Sunday, January 4th, 2009

    ♬Gonna keep on tryin
    Till I reach the highest ground..♬

    Words, music and recorded by Stevie Wonder.

    I was delighted to learn on New Year’s Eve that Thoughtful Legal Management has received a 2008 CLawBie (tied with Jordan Furlong’s Law21 blog) in the Practice Management Award category.  Jordan’s excellent blog has also taken top Canadian blog award, for which he should be justly proud!

    I am humbled by the quality and skill of all the other winners and nominees – and I wish to extend my congratulations to all winners and nominees alike.  Please check out all the blogs that Steve Matthews has listed on www.clawbies.ca. and add them to your RSS feeder!

    I would also like to thank those who put forward thoughtfullaw.com for nomination. My thanks goes out to all the readers, for which, truly, this blog would not otherwise exist.

    The Canadian blog community is being recognized not just nationally but internationally for its high standards, its collegiality and great work. For example, www.slaw.ca has been selected as one of the Top 100 Legal Blogs by the ABA Journal. I know that this ensures that everyone is working to world class standards!

    I also wanted to say thanks to Steve Matthews – for creating these awards, for keeping them going and knowing that he is ineligible for any of them since he administers them! His blogs and his work on the web ranks shoulder to shoulder with the best of them – indeed I would say he stands in a class all his own – and these awards are another example of his contribution to this community. I can only hope that I can follow his lead and, in turn, ‘pay it forward’ in some small fashion.

    Of course this all provides further motivation to keep trying to meet everyone’s expectations in 2009 – gonna keep on trying until I reach the highest ground!  Thanks again all!

    Posted in Adding Value, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »