♫ Is the glass half full or half empty ?
It’s based on your perspective quite simply
We’re the same and we’re not, know what I’m saying, listen
Son, I ain’t better than you, I just think different…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by Nujabes.
Image created by: Nicoguaro.
“Think Different” was the slogan for Apple, Inc at one time. Steve Jobs said in the “One Last Thing” documentary:
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
OK so you want to poke life, you want to be able to change it, you want to make your mark and never be the same again. You want to ‘think different’. Well, how do you, like, begin?
One of the ways is to start listening to new voices. TED.com is excellent in this regard (watch the presentations that are tagged ‘jaw dropping’ for example. You will not be the same again).
Another is by reading new books and publications. TIME.com for example, lists the Best Books of 2015 (so far).
But if you want to start doing things differently you need new thinking tools. Mind mapping software falls within that category. Rather than listing ideas linearly, mind mapping allows you to graphically organize information by starting with a central idea and branching out from there. You create the relationships between concepts and relate them back to the central idea.
According to Wikipedia:
[T]he use of diagrams that visually “map” information using branching and radial maps traces back centuries. These pictorial methods record knowledge and model systems, and have a long history in learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others.
And now lawyers. I know colleagues who use mind mapping software to plan examinations for discovery, to lay out the theory of their cases and to strategically outline their business plans. They are excellent for brainstorming, for organizing large amounts of information, to visualize relationships between ideas and for helping to make decisions.
Wikipedia states that mind mapping may be helpful in assisting with memory recall and can improve learning.
Lifehacker (also another fabulous web site for helping you to think differently) has an article listing the 5 best mind mapping applications.
Mind Mapping may be just part of the solution if we are going to look at change and in particular, think differently. As Steve has said, we must embrace it, change it, improve it and look for tools to help make your mark upon it.
(published concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)
♫ I got something that will sure ’nuff set your stuff on fire
Tell me something good (tell me, tell me, tell me)…♫
Lawyers are sensitive souls. No lawyer wants to receive a complaint from a client. However, what you don’t know can, in this case, actually hurt you. The failure to complain by a dissatisfied client may result in the client leaving quietly but then causing maximal damage to the law firm’s reputation by talking to others about their bad experience.
When given a rational choice between hearing from a dissatisfied client 1-1 or having that client go out and speak to many others about their negative experience with a firm or lawyer, virtually everyone would choose to speak to the client and at least try to remedy their feelings. Yet how many lawyers and law firms seek to find those unhappy clients and find out what went wrong before they cause damage? We all know that word of mouth endorsements are worth their weight in gold; similarly negative word of mouth experiences can sink a firm’s reputation.
Yet few lawyers conduct client feedback surveys. According to Joel Rose, a management consultant to law offices:
Information obtained from client surveys may be the most important marketing activity a law firm can undertake. Most firms that initiate client surveys have found their clients to be impressed that the firm cares about their opinions. Also, as the result of surveys, law firms may detect certain misunderstandings which, if not clarified, could fester and result in dissatisfied clients.
There are many ways to conduct a survey. It can be a Word or PDF document mailed or emailed to clients; it can be conducted using an online tool such as SurveyMonkey. It can be a telephone interview with the client by a firm member. It could be done by inviting a small select group of clients one evening to come and talk confidentially with a few of the partners.
The approach used can be reflective of the resources of the firm, the number of clients to be surveyed, the ability of the clients to navigate an online survey, the desire to meet with people face to face and the like. However done, it does have the ability to learn more about how the firm and its services are perceived and more importantly, how you can change to better meet your desired client’s needs.
I once read (unfortunately I can’t find the reference) that there are three essential questions to ask your clients. These are:
- What did we do right?
- What did we do wrong?
- How can we do it better next time?
You can nuance these how you wish but the essence is to find out what clients liked about your services, what didn’t they like and how you can improve on the client experience.
There are many other possible questions such as “How likely is it that you would recommend our services to others?” and “How do you compare the value we provide against other law firms you may have used?” and “How did you find out about our services?”
In terms of general design, I believe a shorter survey is better and more respecting of your client’s time. Many writers state that providing a reward for completing the survey could be useful (but ensure that the cost doesn’t balloon out of control).
However you do it, you are sure to get some very valuable feedback and information. If you can manage it, inviting clients to provide feedback immediately after closing a matter allows you to also repair any possible dissatisfaction before it is too late.
Once you get that information and feedback, the onus then shifts to you to do something with it. Asking clients for feedback and failing to implement change is only going to create an impression that you are going thru the motions without really desiring change.
In fact the survey is an underused tool in most law firms. According to Quantisoft, there are many surveys that law firms can use to identify their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities such as:
- Partner Evaluation Feedback Survey (Associate Attorneys evaluate Partners)
- Associate Attorney Evaluation Feedback Survey (Partners evaluate Associate Attorneys)
- Associate Attorney Development Survey (Associates provide feedback on their career goals and development, and workplace issues)
- Administrative Staff Feedback Surveys (Providing feedback to Administrative Staff)
- Opinion/Engagement/Satisfaction Surveys
- Risk Assessment Surveys
- IT customer satisfaction surveys
- Other surveys designed to meet your Firm’s special needs.
Whether you do surveys of clients or of people internal to the firm, you are sure to learn something that will sure ’nuff set your stuff on fire.
♫ I need to hear from You
Before this night is through
I need to hear from You
So I’m waiting, waiting just to hear from you…♫
Lyrics and music by: Robert Hartman, recorded by Petra.
This week, Garry Wise and I chatted about the possible topics that we could cover in this column (posted at slawtips.ca and on this site) over the next while. Without being exhaustive, I pulled together the following list from our discussions. Now it is up to you. In the comments section, please indicate which topic(s) are of greatest interest to you! We really want to hear from you and to write on the topics that you most wish to hear about.
Here is the (incomplete) list of possible topics:
New ways of working:
- Virtual office examples
- Virtual assistants
- Virtual contract lawyers
- Using Skype and other communication methods to reach out
- Collaboration tools/applications/websites
- Dragon Dictate and VR on the Mac
- IBM’s Watson and AI: What are the implications?
New Software/web tools:
- Emerging Canadian software
- Apps, Apps Apps!
- Websites: Are they relevant anymore?
- Blogs: Are they relevant anymore?
- Vlogs: Are they the way to go?
- Sony paper
- Microsoft’s Matter Center
- Why use Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Other SM ?
- Windows 10
- OS X El Capitan
- Do Process Software
Capturing, Organizing and Using Information
- Evernote and OneNote
- Don’t Forget the Milk
- IFTTT recipes
- Wikis and law firms
- CanLII Connect
- SurveyMonkey and lawyers/law firms
- MindMapping: The New Way of Legal Thinking?
Security and Privacy
- Cryptolocker and other ransomware
- Ethical Hacking?
- How do you handle a security breach?
- Canadian Backup and Storage Services
- Canadian Hosted and Managed Services
Practice Management Software Reviews
- Amicus Attorney
- TimeSolv Legal
- Synergy Legal Suite
Legal Accounting Software and lawyers
- Brief Legal Software
Stages in a Lawyer’s Life
- Entering law school
- Finding Articles
- Life as an Associate
- Life as a junior partner
- Life as a senior partner
- Life as a managing partner
- Life as ‘of counsel’
- Going out on Your own
- Moving Firms
- Finding an Associate
- Office Sharing
- Easing into Retirement
- Moving an Office
- Closing an Office
Using Consultants and Service Providers
- IT providers
- In house IT
- Managed IT services
- Hosted services
- Working with Security professionals
- How to use IT Consultants to Max Advantage
- Apple vs Mac vs Does it Matter Anymore?
- Finding and working with an Office Administrator
Setting up in Practice
- Finding the right location
- Finding the right staff
- Working with staff
- Balancing life and work
- Hiring, firing and managing staff
New Ways of Handling Legal Matters
- Virtual courts and trials
- Setting up a virtual practice/services
- Taking Technology to Court/Mediations/Arbitrations
- Taking Technology to clients
Other Legal Software
- Optinet Systems
- Emergent Solutions
- Triage Data Solutions
- Dye & Durham
- Thomson Reuters
- Lexis Nexis
- SAI Systems Auditing
Innovative ways of Practising:
- Cognition LLP
- Axess Law
- ABS across the world
New Ways of Thinking about Legal Practice
Whatever we have missed.
Please indicate in the Comments (below) the topic(s) that are most important. Or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to hear from you!
♫ Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to
If you need, you need me to be with you
I will follow where you lead..♫
Lyrics and music by Toni Stern and Carole King, recorded by Carole King.
Lawyers, I surmise, believe with their long history and experience that they are the innovators of any changes in the legal/justice system. However, that theory may need further examination. In fact it may have to be turned onto its head.
There is a countervailing theory, promoted by Eric von Hippel and others, that users and consumers of services, (in our case, legal services) are actually the innovators of new services rather than suppliers of those services, or in our case, lawyers.
“User innovation doesn’t only extend to tangible products but also services. von Hippel found that eighty-five percent of individuals self-provided themselves with accounting and banking processes before banks offered this service.”
Imagine. Clients finding and directing the changes that they desire in legal services and providing them to themselves. How could this happen?
“An extension of user innovations is the idea of lead users. These are the individuals who first feel the need for a product or service and create it for themselves. Lead user identification is an essential method used by companies to identify the newest innovations in their product areas giving them crucial insight on the needs of their users.”
How many lawyers and law firms are focused on the idea of lead users and innovation? How many of us are focused on this innovation segment? Indeed how many lawyers and law firms are actually focused on innovation in the delivery of legal services?
Professor von Hipple:
“finds it interesting that in the UK, 8% (3-4 million people) of consumers modify the product that they use.”
“He stressed the fact that the number of consumers modifying products and thereby innovating outweighs the number of people doing this in companies”
Perhaps we need to be listening to our clients …much more than we are doing right now. The consumers of legal services may in fact be showing us the innovations that we as lawyers need to make to our delivery of legal services.
In fact, they may just be showing us the way..
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ One ringy-dingy…two ringy-dingies…♫
How long should you wait before you return a telephone call? According to Debra J. Schmidt, Loyalty Leader:
“Returning phone calls used to be a common courtesy. Now, busy people claim they don’t have the time. I don’t buy that excuse. I’ve found that the most successful, busy people I know are the ones I can rely on to return my call the same day. It’s a matter of setting priorities.”
Indeed! What could be more important that meeting the expectations of those clients that have already sought your services and who are anxious to hear from you? These are precisely the people who have placed faith and trust in you in meeting their needs and solving their legal problems. What kind of message are you sending them if you fail to return their phone calls promptly?
Susan Dooley of the Dale Carnegie organization states that no response is a response. In fact, in failing to return a phone call promptly, rather than assuming you are busy with assembling the information to return their call (or you are away on vacation) the caller may assume something quite different:
[T]here’s a risk that the person feeling “snubbed” by the offender may draw a completely different, and inaccurate, conclusion, such as:
- This is not a top priority to you
- You’re not a professional
- You’re a procrastinator
- You don’t have the answer
- I’m not important to you
- You’re disorganized
- You can’t be counted on
- You’re hiding
- You have bad news, but are not strong enough to communicate it to me
Yikes! No professional would want to be labeled with these character attributes. Unfortunately, the wrong interpretation by the right person can harm business relationships and even careers.
No one would intentionally send these messages to their clients that are noted above. Yet by failing to return phone calls promptly, we are unintentionally sending these very negative messages…about ourselves and how responsible we are to our clients.
So what to do? There are a number of very good suggestions in these situations:
- The first thing is to recover your credibility. Acknowledge that the trust someone has placed in you has taken a hit. Your words and your actions have failed to align. It is easy to lose credibility and hard to regain it afterwards. You made an explicit or implicit promise to your clients to care about their matter. Failing to return their phone call has broken that promise. Start by apologizing. This is NOT an excuse. Don’t say: “I am sorry, but….” As soon as you say that word ‘but’ you have demolished any shred of credibility you had. Understand that you need to take ownership of the fact that you have disappointed your client and be real and honest to them. They are owed at least that much.
- Try to stop this from occurring in the first place by setting exceptions at the outset. If you are away from the office, on vacation, in court or on a personal matter, let your voice mail message shape the expectation of the caller as to when they can expect a call. If you have gone on an 180 day world tour, having your voice mail message state “Hi this is John Smith, I can’t take your call right now please leave a message” is completely different from “Hi this is John Smith. I am out of the office until March 2016. Please contact Jane Doe at extension 123 to discuss your matter or have this call answered by someone else at this office.”
- Ask yourself: “What kind of message do I want to leave with those who want to reach me?” If the answer to that is one of caring and commitment to their concerns, then you will implement policies such as having your assistant check your voice mail daily for messages and return your calls, if only to communicate that you are in trial and perhaps they could speak to someone else in your absence.
- Don’t wait to communicate bad news. Failing to contact people promptly when things don’t go as expected sends a very powerful message – along the lines that you are weak and don’t wish to face unpleasant facts and situations. Especially when things don’t go as expected is when clients will be looking to you as their source of strength to weather the setbacks. If you fail them now, you will fail them in the long term. Be their oak that stands up to the storm and let them know…in fair weather or foul ..that you will be there for them and be their source of strength.
Above all, when that telephone rings…land line or mobile…recognize that you have a golden opportunity. You can build your reputation and your client trust or destroy it, one ringy-dingy at a time.
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ To boldly go where no one has gone before…♫
Narration to the music by Alexander Courage.
In Chicago for ABA TECHSHOW I heard a presentation to my fellow Practice Management Advisors from Daniel Martin Katz on the future of law and legal eduction. Daniel’s thesis, as I understood it, is that law schools should no longer be liberal arts oriented. Rather they should be Polytechnic Law Schools. The reason for this change is that the future of lawyers is to combine analytics (i.e. computer reasoning) with a lawyer to produce better outcomes. And you can’t apply something that you really don’t understand. Lawyers need to have a solid grounding in legal technology, analytics and computer modelling to be better lawyers.
According to Daniel Katz, an associate professor of law at Michigan State University, computer modeling has proven “able to predict 70 to 75 percent of the cases correctly” in a given year. That compares to a 60 percent rating for legal experts who also predict outcomes.
We all know that IBM is working on Watson, which is “a cognitive system that enables a new partnership between people and computers that enhances and scales human expertise.”
But what you may not know is that IBM’s Watson is not alone. Microsoft and Amazon are undertaking similar research. Pretty soon every Tom, Bill and Jeff will have their own in-house cognitive learning system.
Furthering these ideas will be an exciting event held in conjunction with ABA TECHSHOW:
There will be a Legal Technology and Innovation Meet-up at Sadden Arps being held concurrently during TECHSHOW week. I expect to hear mind-expanding ideas from such speakers as:
- Jeffrey Carr, former GC at FMC Technologies (and one of the innovators in alternative billing systems for lawyers),
- Casey Flaherty, former in-house counsel (Kia Motors America) and creator of the Legal Technology Audit who will be speaking on: A Piece in the Metrics Puzzle: How Well do we Utilize Technology to Deliver Value and Quality?
- Ron Dolin, of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, legal technology consultant and investor and legal technology and informatics instructor speaking on The Importance of Measuring Quality
and many others.
Daniel is not alone in thinking that information technology is changing the face of law. Human enterprise and machine learning is taking the legal profession where no one has gone before.
♫ What’s left to lose?
I painted all these pictures but you couldn’t choose,
All of your company.
But is this distance, calling my name?
I think persistence is this price that we pay in the end…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by State Champs.
This is an image taken from a YouTube marketing video created by a Pittsburgh lawyer named Daniel Muessig. This particular video has been described as “clever, effective, legally ethical and thoroughly despicable” by ethicsalarms.com. They state:
Is this an ethical ad? According to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, it is within the conduct permitted by the state’s legal ethics rules. The ad isn’t misleading. It doesn’t make promises the lawyer cannot keep. It doesn’t represent dramatic recreations as fact, or use broad metaphors and exaggerations. (Lawyer ads are held to a standard of literalness that presumes the public has never see any other kinds of advertising in their entire lives.) Once upon a time the various state bar advertising regulations included prohibitions on “undignified” communications, or those that undermined public trust in the profession, but those days are long past: the standards were necessarily vague, and breached free speech principles.
So we have this: a lawyer who appeals to his future criminal clients by saying that he thinks like a criminal, believes laws are arbitrary, that other lawyers will “blow them off” and that he visits jails frequently because that’s where his friends are. He attacks his own colleagues and profession, denigrates the rule of law he is sworn to uphold, and seeks the trust of criminals not because of his duty as a professional, but because he’s just like them. Muessig is willing to undermine the law-abiding public’s belief in the justice system and the reputation of his profession and his colleagues in order to acquire clients. I’m sure his strategy will work, too.
This YouTube video has received over 282,000 hits at the time of writing this column.
Daniel Muessig has no disciplinary history according to my colleague Nancy Carruthers, of the Law Society of Alberta, who incorporated this into her paper “Ethics and the Business of Law” and displayed the full video to The Business of Law conference by the Legal Education Society of Alberta where I am honoured to be a speaker.
What do you think? Is is over the top and beyond the bounds of ethically allowed marketing by lawyers in Canada? It is certainly creative and ‘in your face’ as Nancy has noted in her paper/presentation. Is it a sign of lawyers engaging in advertising that while undoubtedly effective and distasteful to some, is too close (or perhaps even over) the ethical line? Or is it a sign of lawyers saying, when it comes to the legal battlefield, what’s left to lose?
–Cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca.
♫ Here’s to me, I finally passed the Bar…♫
Music and Lyrics by M. Peterson, M. Puryear, B. Brock and recorded by: Michael Peterson.
Joe Public had a problem. He was off to court in a week and he needed to learn what arguments he should advance to persuade the judge in his favour.
He contemplated heading to a lawyer’s office but instead he signed onto the website IBMLaw.com. A few minutes later he was answering questions put to him by the software. Shortly thereafter he printed up the arguments that had been produced for him by the website and whistled to himself, as he was now prepared for court, armed not only with the arguments he would be advancing but also the ones that he could expect to be advanced against him – with prepared responses.
Sound farfetched? Science fiction? Contemplate this: In June of 2014 Robert Weber, the senior vice president and general counsel of International Business Machines Corp. went to San Jose, California to watch a demonstration of the Watson Debater, according to The American Lawyer.
Weber watched Watson debate whether watching violent video games predisposes young males to be more aggressive. It didn’t just come up with answers to questions as an earlier version did winning on Jeopardy. Now it synthesized information to develop arguments on different sides of an issue.
Indeed, if you go to IBM.com you will find: “Watson is everywhere. Watson has been learning the language of professions and is trained by experts to work across many different industries.”.
Backed by the IBM Watson Group, 2000 employees and $1 billion in funding, Watson is but one of a growing number of ventures seeking to change the delivery of legal services.
IBM says: “Meet IBM Watson, a cognitive system that enables a new partnership between people and computers that enhances and scales human expertise.”
Many people believe that lawyers cannot be replaced by machines as the type of thinking that we do is different from computer algorithms.
IBM’s Watson employs a different type of programming called cognitive processing. Cognitive processing uses natural language and processes unstructured data just like we do. It reads and interprets a sentence as a person does and understands context. It understands legal terms, syntax and more. It collects the knowledge required to have literacy in a professional domain to build a body of knowledge. It curates the data, discarding out-dated information and concepts. As new information is published, it updates its knowledge. It can quickly provide responses to questions about highly complex situations in areas such as law and medicine and provide recommendations backed by evidence, and can find new insights into the problem (per IBM.com).
Science fiction? According to IBM, Watson is “discovering and offering answers and finding patterns we had not known existed, faster than any person or group of people ever could… in ways that make a material difference – every day. Most important of all, Watson learns, adapts and keeps getting smarter.”
The American Lawyers reports:
“In talking about Watson, Weber at times sounds like a proud parent bragging about his gifted child’s potential. ‘I think Watson could pass a multistate Bar exam without a second thought,’ he says.”
I wonder who will hold the party when Watson passes the Bar?
(this was originally published in PracticeTalk, in the Canadian Bar Association’s BarTalk magazine)
♫ How can i go forward when I
don’t know which way to turn?
How can i go forward into something
I’m not sure of? oh no, oh no…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by John Lennon.
2015 ABA book Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide has just been published.
John Heckman, a long-standing and highly acclaimed legal technologist, has published a review of the book. I felt the review was a good one and here it is with his consent:
Does It Compute?
John Heckman’s Take on Practice and Document Management, and Other Legal Technology
February 23, 2015
Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide
This is the eighth yearly edition for the Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide by Sharon Nelson, John Simek and Michael Maschke. There are also very useful chapters by Jennifer Ellis on social media and in particular security, privacy and ethics considerations in using them and on the “iPad for Litigators” by Tom Mighell and Paul Unger.
Why should you read this book? There are two reasons. Obviously if you are starting up a small firm or considering upgrades it provides invaluable advice. There is a second reason, perhaps even more important. As Jim Calloway notes in his introduction, the ABA revised its Model Rules to require that lawyers be competent with the technology tools they must use today. If you sometimes wonder whether the technology you use is actually productive for your firm or if you are losing ground to competing firms, reading this book will bring you up to speed and give you a pretty good idea of where your firm stands from a technology point of view, even if you choose not to make changes. Once, when I was working a law firm I proposed to one of the name partners that the firm adopt a particular program. He thought about it, and then said, “no, I don’t think we can do that at this time, but keep the suggestions coming because every program I don’t use represents a potential competitive advantage for competing firms.” Good advice.
Sharon Nelson sums it up even more harshly:
“The raw choice is that lawyers must choose between adaption and extinction. They will no doubt choose the former en masse, but reluctantly. The slower lawyers are to adapt to the digital age, the harder it may be for them to survive as events overtake them.”
This is particularly important in the rapidly-changing area of social media and dealing with the implications of the fact that there is no privacy any more (the combination of Google, Facebook and the NSA has effectively eliminated privacy). Be sure to read Jennifer Ellis’ chapter attentively.
As the authors note, since the book comes out at the beginning of every year many chapters remain current, other items are only a few months behind (although it seems longer than that in Internet time).
The thing I have always appreciated about this book is that the authors actually have opinions and are not afraid to express them. Of course, it also helps that by and large I agree with them, although with the occasional caveat. In addition, they cover what is necessary for a complete office starting from scratch – hardware, operating systems, peripherals, printers, scanners, monitors, etc. If you follow their recommendations you may not make the best decision possible, but you won’t make a bad one. The perfect is the enemy of the good.
The only point I have a serious problem with this year is their recommendation of Kaspersky internet security. I switched to Kaspersky last year and when it came to upgrade to the 2015 version it was a disaster. It regularly choked on downloading Outlook messages (I am not using Exchange) and would not release the memory. As a result I had to reboot my computer two or three times a day. A call to the paid Kaspersky support (which was very good) wound up with their saying “nothing we can do about it.” So I had to switch to a different program.
A friend of mine used to say “every year I know 10% more and fall 15% further behind.” Reviewing software is like that. The book simply cannot provide detailed reviews of software, so the authors stress the need to get trial versions of anything you are planning to use and “kick the tires” a bit.
The book rightly pays a lot of attention to security issues, especially for mobile devices. They quote the rather amazing statistic that 12,000 laptops were stolen in U.S. airports every week in 2011 (with Chicago in the lead). At the same time, they are realistic (“we know so many lawyers will ignore our advice…”) and offer fall-back options that may at least deter casual hackers or simple thieves who grab your laptop or smartphone. They strongly recommend against using iPhones based on its woefully inadequate security provisions. They rightly insist that the main way to protect your data is to encrypt your entire hard drive. If you do any substantial traveling not to do this is like never locking your door. You should definitely change passwords periodically (they refer to a judge who has had the same password for 10 years!!) or use a password manager or program such as eWallet. I just bought eWallet based on their recommendation and so far have been very happy with it.
I thought the section on Time & Billing applications was somewhat weak (although I certainly agree that QuickBooks is not a good choice for lawfirms). You might want to consult the “Buyer’s Guide to Legal Billing Software” published by Technolawyer for more choices (you need to subscribe to Technolawyer to get it, but subscriptions are free). I agree with their assessment of the decline of LexisNexis products, first and foremost Time Matters. They note that they have not done a single new installation in about 10 years.
Lastly, the book contains a chapter on “favorite utilities” which can be useful. Note however some more industrial strength programs may include functionality provided by single-function utilities. Thus for example, the using Worldox document management system would eliminate the need for a separate indexer or viewer.
The book is available from the ABA store. If you are starting an office, are at a point where you need to make a decision about where to go next, or just to want to keep up to date on what is currently available, this will be an invaluable primer.
Thanks John for a great review! Full disclosure: I wrote the chapter on Going Paperless.
This is a great book for anyone looking at upgrading their current office technology and are not quite sure which way to turn.
-cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca.
-cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca.
♫ If I could do it all again I’d take it a little slower
make a few more memories I could keep
crawl in bed beside my child, just lay down and watch her
soaking up the beauty while she sleeps
I’d work less hours
buy more flowers
make more love on rainy afternoons
I might make less money
but I’d make a better friend
if I could do it all again…♫
Music and lyrics by Rivers Rutherford and George Teren, recorded by Gretchen Wilson.
I thought that, rather than do a New Year’s Resolution-type post, that I would reach out to my friends and colleagues and pull together a collection of ideas all on the theme of: “What one thing (or two) that we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t?”
We all know that there are things that we should be doing but always we don’t seem to find the time to do them. Like exercising more, eating less and laughing…like getting out and enjoying the company of friends, reading a good book or playing that guitar. But this also applies to our law practices as well. Turn on encryption! Be attentive to security concerns. So here goes – the best advice for making the most of 2015:
Roger Smith OBE:
What one thing (or two) that we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t?
Look up as well as down
Here is what a Brit would recommend to a Canadian – make of that what you will. Resist the pull of the provincial – with a big P and a small one. Remember that law is supremely national but that technology is international – and values are eternal. Of course, everyone sees life through the eyes of their home jurisdiction and circumstances. Here in London, this is just downright depressing. Cuts to legal aid are as big as BC faced a decade or so ago. Practitioners and activists are exhausted by the fight to maintain any level of effective legal aid. Few – particularly in the traditional legal aid community – have the energy to lift their eyes to the horizon. As a result, innovation is slow, scattered and even somewhat disparaged. So, what should we be doing that we might not? Combining an excitement about the new approaches developed in other jurisdictions (like BC) with a commitment old values – like a commitment to access to justice for all (even those currently excluded from the new digital world) and the right to appropriate independent legal advice (which must not be fudged in the rush to mediated and mechanised approaches).
Roger Smith is a London-based researcher, journalist, activist and consultant on access to justice and human rights. Editor bimonthly newsletter on latest developments for International Legal Aid Group. Author of the global survey, ’Digital Delivery of Legal Services to People on Low Incomes (thelef.org). Former director of JUSTICE and the Legal Action Group. Visiting Professor, London South Bank University. Awarded an OBE in 2009.
I think the one thing we ALL should be doing more of and are not is MOVE. Get up at least once per hour and move around – get the blood flowing. Don’t forget about proper posture while computing – feet flat on floor, monitor eye level, arms perpendicular to work surface and wrists resting.
For over 13 years Andrea has been helping practicing attorneys, law firm administrators, consultants and business owners with the selection and integration of processes, systems and technologies to get the paying work done. She answers questions regarding telephone/reception, client, file and email administration, time and billing; achieving and maintaining a professional web presence; getting paid; and setting up/maintaining many web based services and technologies aimed at attorneys and “legal”. Andrea is recognized as the CEO of LegalTypist, Inc. a NY based legal transcription and secretarial service and founder of The Legal Connection Community. You can learn more about Andrea at: http://www.andreacannavina.com and the Community at: http://www.thelegalconnection.com
All great objectives to aspire to – I have a hard time choosing one, but I think that the #1 thing we should focus on is digitizing information and building our practices around that as “the file” as opposed to just a complement to “the file” or something we need to do before emailing/uploading a document from “the file”.
The reason? It is just the most basic thing underlying so many of our progressive legal technology practices. I am seeing fewer and fewer email attachments show up with a default scanner-assigned file name that it suggests to me that more users are getting organized.
Of course, many of your readers will be here already, but I do not think that we have crossed the chasm in the adoption curve yet, which some writers suggest only happens after about 16% of consumers adopt a new technology or practice (although I have no idea how such general stats might apply to the legal profession).
Michael draws on a broad variety of life experience that allows him to understand and relate to most clients that walk in the door.
He opened his office with the view that there was a better way to practice law, one that avoids the needless expense of conventional law firms and focusses on client outcomes. Today, his clients value things like not being charged for printing and file storage fees, as well as the responsive, efficient service associated with a digital practice that still has a bricks & mortar office in a Vancouver heritage building.
Michael frequently speaks on legal technology issues and participated in one of the first paperless Court of Appeal hearings in British Columbia. He is an active member of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC and sits on its Legal Aid Action Committee.
- Moving to an encryption by default world with the client data we hold.
- Making sure that all third party vendors that hold our sensitive data are also encrypting it.
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc, a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.” She is a frequent author (twelve books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014. She may be reached at email@example.com.
I was recently told the story of Lord Hailsham’s response to a question from a young law student.
“My Lord, what is the best advice to a young lawyer starting out?”
There was a moment of contemplation before Lord Hailsham responded.
“Take lots of baths.”
At first blush, he could have been referring to the general lack of hygiene among students, but Lord Hailsham went on to explain that everyone, young and old, should take time out from practice to look ahead and plan your future – one musn’t get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.
So this year, I will take lots of baths.
Mitch was recognized as a Fastcase 50 Global Legal Innovator in 2012, and he is the author of the critically acclaimed American Bar Association best-seller, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century. The American Bar Association will be publishing his forthcoming book, The Great Legal Reformation, in the Summer of 2015. Mitch is a principal of Cross Pollen Advisory which redesigns how in-house counsel deliver and buy legal services. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Calgary Law School where he teaches worldwide trends in the legal services market, and what they mean for lawyers and clients.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase.com, a law practice management software company. She is the author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a weekly column for The Daily Record and has authored numerous articles and has spoken at many conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology.
Garry J. Wise:
Get a digital checkup.
Like it or not, law firms are increasingly vulnerable to malicious actors online; we are also perpetually vulnerable to the consequences of our own neglect within.
One solution to these very real threats is to institute an Annual Digital Checkup for your firm.
Have a qualified professional inspect your systems to identify any potential vulnerabilities, and to provide recommendations as to any necessary steps your firm should be taking to protect its data.
In an era where it has become predictable that hackings and security breaches will regularly affect even the largest and most secure of our nation’s institutions and enterprises, lawyers need to become more proactive in fulfilling our basic ethical duty to protect our digital data through appropriate security safeguards, backup procedures and in-house computer-use policies.
Garry J. Wise was called to the Ontario Bar in 1986, and practices with Wise Law Office (www.wiselaw.net), a Toronto litigation firm with focus on Employment Law, Family Law and Civil Litigation.
He is primary contributor to the award-winning Wise Law Blog, and is also developer of WISELII, Canada’s Mobile Legal Research Tool, a free iPhone application enabling users to research Canadian case law, statutes and regulations via CanLii.
Garry has contributed to Bar-eX News, SlawTips, Huffington Post, CCH Labour & Law Newsletter, Canadian Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Addendum, Divorce Magazine and CCH Canadian Family Law Guide.
He has been a Continuing Legal Education presenter for organizations including the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Bar Association on social media, legal ethics, Web 2.0, cloud-related security issues and legal innovation.
Garry has been featured in the National Post, Toronto Star, LawPro Magazine, Lawyer’s Weekly, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, CCH Student E-Monthly and Toronto’s Now Magazine.
In addition to his professional and blogging activities, Garry dabbles as a writer and musician.
Garry can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Garry J. Wise on Twitter: @wiselaw
I went to a World Religions Conference on the weekend that had representation from the Buddhist, Christian, Islam, Jewish and Sikh faiths addressing the world wide problem of radicalism. One of the key take aways for me, and that all speakers appeared to agree with, is that it starts with us as individuals. How do we change our own thinking about other people, other beliefs, other cultures? Let’s stop our own thinking that goes down the wrong path of how we think of others who are different or think differently. Then maybe we can influence others to do the same. I can apply that same concept to technology projects that introduce change. Many of us resist change ourselves, and we are critical of others who resist change. So the one thing I need to be doing in 2015? I need to start with myself, to be more adaptable to change, and more understanding and acceptable of others who resist change.
Andrew Clark is an independent consultant specializing in management consulting and project management in the Justice Sector. Andrew has spent the last ten years providing management consulting for a number of clients worldwide. Andrew started his career over 20 years ago in software engineering as a specialist in user interface design. Andrew worked as an IT Director for the BC Ministry of Attorney General where he was the project director for the JUSTIN project, BC’s criminal case management system. After managing a software company for 8 years, Andrew started his own consulting company. Throughout his career, Andrew has focused on Project Management and Team Building within an organization. He is a UVIC graduate with a B.Sc. and an MBA. Andrew is also a Project Management Professional certified by the Project Management Institute and an associate faculty at Royal Roads University where he has taught project management education within the MBA program for 6 years.
For the past nine years, most of Andrew’s work has been in the Courts, highlighted by his work in British Columbia. He’s also had the opportunity to work with the Courts in Vietnam, Rwanda and the Yukon. Currently Andrew is managing the BC Provincial Court Scheduling Project.
Andrew has spoken at several conferences including the Court Technology Conference (CTC), the Canadian Forum on Court Technology, the Center for Legal and Court Technology Affiliates Conference and the Pacific Legal Technology Conference.
Karen Dunn Skinner:
Here are our top three things lawyers should do in 2015 but probably won’t.
Passwords are our main protection for our online life, but most people use simple passwords with minimal variations and keep the same password forever. We should all be using strong passwords (at least 8 characters long, including mixed case, numbers and symbols) and change them on a regular basis.
Drink more water! Get more exercise! Walk 10,000 steps daily!
Or, wait, was that drink 10,000 glasses of water? Exercise in the water?
Joe Kashi received his BS and MS degrees from MIT in 1973 and his law degree from Georgetown University in 1976. He has been a full-time litigator since 1977. Since 1990, he has published in excess of 200 articles and made dozens of presentations about legal technology on behalf of various bar associations and private publishers. Between 1990 and 2000, he also owned and operated a small computer store.
Treating with respect the power to form an opinion.
Bjorn is the managing partner of the Christianson TDS offices in Portage la Prairie, MacGregor and Gladstone, offices which have operated with the Christianson name since 1970. His current practice is focused principally on transactional matters in the areas of Farm Real Estate, Corporate, Commercial, Estates, Municipal Law, and litigation relating to those matters.
Born and raised in and around Westbourne and Portage la Prairie, Bjorn has spent his working career in South Central Manitoba. His clients are the individuals, businesses and institutions who live, work and shape the communities in the area. The concerns his clients bring him involve the acquisition, growth, and protection of their family, farm, and business assets.
David J. Bilinsky:
Well I hope you have enjoyed reading the ideas put forward by our colleagues! Here are my thoughts on what we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t (or perhaps could do a bit more…):
- Look after our world. Be a part of a group that is trying to make the world a better place. We all say that ‘someone should be doing …X…” well that someone is really each of us. We can’t to everything but we can help out in some way, at some level, by being in some group that is trying to do things better. Someone once said that the best thing you can do for yourself is to help someone else.
- Look after those closest to you. Time slips between our fingers all too quickly. Hilary Cooper said “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Set time aside to catch as many of those breath-taking moments as you can with those you love.
- Take time to look after yourself. The fact is that if you don’t, no one else will. You have a gift of life, time and intelligence. Use these gifts well to not only look after others but look after yourself, too.
So buy more flowers! Be a better friend! Play that guitar that gets lonely sitting in its case! We have the incredible advantage that there is still time ahead of us…