2013 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2011 Canadian Law Blog Finalist

2010 Canadian Law Blog Finalist

2009 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2008 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2007 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2008 InnovAction Awards



  • Categories
  • Archives
    Archive for the ‘Cheap is Good but Free is Better!’ Category
    2012 Tips and Predictions – Part 1
    Thursday, December 29th, 2011

    ♬ What’s happenin brothers and sisters?
    Welcome to our time…♬

    Lyrics, music and recorded by NAS.

    Happy New Year 2012

    Happy New Year 2012

    Last year on Dec. 31, 2010 I posted a Top 10 Legal Tech Predictions for 2011.  This year I asked my very good friends and colleagues to contribute their top Tips and Predictions for 2012 thinking that this would be a great way to get some perspective on the New Year. The response has been overwhelming! Accordingly, here is Part 1 of a three-part blog post containing their top advice and predictions for the coming year.  But this isn’t the end – I will add in my own tips and predictions for 2012 at the end of Part 3 (can’t help but go out on a limb as well) and ask that you, good readers, add in your own tips and predictions by way of comments on the three blog posts.

    Accordingly, here are Part 1 of the Tips and Predictions for 2012!

    Karen MacKay:  Change is Neigh…

    There will be more change in Canadian law firms in 2012 than we have seen in the last 3 years. In Canada, we will see more mergers and spinoffs.  Lots of change happened in the USA in 2011 that was forced on them by the economy.  The difference between what happened in the USA and Canada will be: The change in Canada will be created by strategic decisions within firms seeking opportunities rather than the financial change that was forced on the American firms.

    Karen MacKay MBA CHRP, Phoenix Legal Inc., direct 416.657.2997, mobile 416.904.4848, e-mail kmackay@phoenix-legal.com, www.phoenix-legal.com.

     

    Mitch Kowalski: 2012 – A Turning Point for the Canadian Legal Profession?

    When I ran for Bencher in Ontario earlier this year (and was utterly thrashed at the polls!) I did so because I believed that the next ten years are critical to the future of the legal profession. Six months later, my view has not changed.

    All over Canada, the legal profession faces challenges it has never faced in the past – and the challenges will only become more numerous. Richard Susskind was right on point when he wrote, “Law does not exist to provide a livelihood for lawyers any more than illness exists to provide a livelihood for doctors. Successful legal business may be a by-product of law . . . but it is not the purpose.”

    As lawyers we must constantly earn our right to retain a monopoly over the practice of law. It should never be assumed that we will always have the exclusive right to give legal advice, prepare legal documents, close transactions or even appear in court. One just has to look to the U.K.’s Legal Services Act which is dramatically transforming that jurisdiction’s legal profession. Or, take a look to Australia with Slater & Gordon being the only publically-traded law firm in the world – a firm that was once based on a strong litigation practice but is now aggressively moving into commercial practice areas.

    Canada cannot remain an island of lawyer-exclusivity for long – particularly if the legal profession shows itself to be incapable of coming up with creative and efficient ways to make legal services better, faster and cheaper. The commercial pressures of the global economy are too great to ignore and lawyers who stick their heads in the sand will become the dodo birds of the 21st century.

    I hope that 2012 will be a watershed year in which meaningful change will finally commence to surface throughout Canada’s legal profession. The following are eight predictions of what can (and should) occur over the next 12 months. (more…)

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Firm Governance, humour, I'm a Mac, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Twitter as a Social Metric
    Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

    ♫ Be not selfish in your doings:
    Pass it on. (Pass it on, children)
    Help your brothers (help them) in their needs:
    Pass it on…♫

    Lyrics and Music by Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer), recorded by The Wailers.

    As a lawyer, I enjoy the study of law. As we all know, laws come in many forms. When studying laws, we are accustomed to dealing with a set of formal laws – being those duly considered and passed by a parliament, legislature, congress or other legislative body. In addition to these formal laws and associated regulations, at least in the common-law system, there is also precedent or judge-made law. However, experience tells us that outside these formal laws exists a parallel universe of unwritten laws. A good example of an unwritten law is the Pereto Principle: namely that in any business entity, 80% of the revenues arise from only 20% of the clients – or as it is usually restated, 80% of your time is occupied by 20% of your client base.

    Read the rest of the post on Slaw.ca here.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Issues facing Law Firms, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    ABA TECHSHOW 2009: My Kind of Conference
    Thursday, February 26th, 2009

    My kind of town, chicago is
    My kind of town, chicago is
    My kind of razzmatazz
    And it has, all that jazz…

    Lyrics by Sammy Cahn, Music by Jimmy Van Heusen, recorded by Frank Sinatra.

    On April 2-4 in Chicago a once-in-a-year, not-to-be-missed event will take place.  This year – of all years – should be the year lawyers, administrators, legal technologists, researchers and anyone involved in the delivery of legal services makes a bee-line to TECHSHOW in Chicago.  Why?  Simply because this recession is the best opportunity  to upgrade your systems and technology to be able to take advantage of the upswing (that is coming, notwithstanding the financial news).  It is difficult to either introduce new technology or get people to change when they are going gangbusters…hence the Stephen Covey 7th habit: “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal”.

    This economic downswing is the perfect opportunity to take a step back, examine not only what you are doing from a business perspective but also how you are doing it.  What principles of workflow and efficiency can  you apply to your practice? How do you determine what are the best strategies for you and your firm? What have other firms done and how well is it working for them?  Lastly but certainly not least, what can you do for yourself to improve your own personal productivity and effectiveness?

    I have found TECHSHOW to simply be the best resource in this regard.  The collection of minds that assemble and speak, discuss, go out for dinner and mingle are the ones that will stimulate you, raise issues and ask questions at a depth equalled nowhere else.

    The keynote speaker is non other than:  Richard Susskind, OBE, who has 25 years of legal technology experience, and serves as Chair of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information and has been IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England. In an interview in The Times Online, Richard states:

    “[T]he UK Government is unquestionably reforming the legal profession and legal system at a rate of knots but in none of the white papers, consultation documents or speeches by ministers can I find a clear articulation of a distant end game that takes into account the phenomena that most long-range strategic planners are wrestling with — such as the impact of outsourcing or of Web 2.0 (two phenomena that are disrupting and reconfiguring most sectors) on legal practice.”

    Sir Richard will no doubt be addressing similar themes in his keynote, based on his latest book: The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services. But Richard is but one voice to be heard at TECHSHOW.  There are 60 other notable presenters (including many Canadians: Nils Jensen, Steve Matthews, Joel Alleyne, Jean-François DeRico, Dominic Jaar, Peg Duncan, Donna Neff, Dan Pinnington and yours truly).

    Tracks range from “A Day in the (techno) Life” to Solo and Small Firm, Trial Skills, e-Discovery Update, Tech for Financial Management and others.  Sessions range from  Records Management Policies and Systems: Back to the Drawing Board? to Getting to Paperless: A Lawyer’s Step by Step Guide, Got Apple Envy? Macs in a PC World and my two personal perennial favourites: 60 Sites in 60 Minutes and 60 Tips in 60 Minutes.  There is also the full exhibit hall to visit with its incredible array of legal technology offerings.

    By registering as an early-bird by Feb. 28th, combined with a program promoter discount, you can save $150 off the full registration cost.  The Law Society of British Columbia’s program promoter code is: # EP929 and the Canadian Bar Associations’ is: EP927. A full list of program promoters may be found here.

    Chicago has all that jazz (and blues!) and it also has my kind of Conference…TECHSHOW is…I hope to see you there.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Firm Governance, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Cleaning out the C***
    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    I’ve got the demons within
    I’ve got to brush them all away
    I feel the demon’s rage
    I must clean them all away
    Yeah, yeah…

    Lyrics and Music by Josh Homme, recorded by Tool.

    These days frugal is the defining criteria.  Accordingly, it is great when you come across something that is both wonderful, works quickly and well, is easy to use and is, of course, *free*.   Accordingly CCleaner was a great find.  To quote their website:

    CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :)

    I have been using CCleaner (originally called CrapCleaner, but they have, ahem, modified the name somewhat) for a couple of years now and totally love it.  It does just what it says it does, quickly and easily.  My only regret is that it isn’t available for a Mac (it runs under Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista including the 64-bit versions of XP and Vista).  The purists will probably tell me you don’t need the equvalent software on a Mac, but I digress..

    There are options if you wish to clean more than just the defaults – there is the “Advanced” tab to investigate.  It cleans Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. It cleans your registry and Windows. It also cleans up temp files and such from third party applications.

    Piriform, the creator of CCleaner, also has Defraggler (a defragmentation tool) and Recuva (a file recovery tool). I haven’t tried those yet, but if they work as well as CCleaner, this could be a hat trick.

    Good to know that there are (free) tools out there for the times that you feel you need to clean out all the demons within…

    Posted in Adding Value, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    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 »
    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 »