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    2016 Predictions – Part 1
    Monday, December 21st, 2015

    ♫ The sun will come out tomorrow
    So you gotta hang on
    ’til tomorrow, come what may!
    Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
    You’re always a day away! ♫

    Lyrics and music by: Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, recorded by Anne.

     

    2016

     

    This is the time of the year that I love!  The 2016 Predictions – Part I!  Our group of thoughtful prognosticators  have put their thinking caps on and now we can see what they think lies ahead.  In this instalment, we have predictions from:

    • Gerry Riskin
    • Bill Lipner
    • Jordan Furlong
    • Terrance Hudson
    • Larry Bodine
    • Buzz Bruggerman
    • Colin Rule
    • Ellen Freedman
     Part II and Part III will follow later this week with predictions from:
    • Bob Denney
    • Sharon Nelson and John Simek
    • Joshua Lennon
    • Sheila Blackford
    • Andre Coetzee
    • Ben Stevens
    • Brian Mauch
    • Nikki Black
    • Frank Fowlie
    • Russell Alexander
    • Michael McCubbin
    • Rob Walls
    • Rodger Smith
    • Kevin O’Keefe
    • Yours truly and others…

    I hope you have as much fun with these as I do! And you, gentle reader, can send in your predictions for the next instalment!

     

    Gerry Riskin:

    Gerry Riskin

    In 2016, The legal profession camel will grow a 3rd hump.

    Traditional hump number one will be the top firms doing the top work for the top clients. They have their own set of problems but for the most part will survive for at least one more year.

    Hump number two will be firms that are  sensitive to a major shift in the marketplace and will adapt quickly and imaginatively with sophisticated project management, pricing and labor allocation.

    Hump number three are the firms that are holding on to tradition for dear life. One well known hump three firm (that was perceived to be very strong) will surprise the marketplace by disclosing major weakness under their financial hood and rapidly liquidate. This event may be the catalyst that causes other hump three firms to move into hump two with great speed as 2017 approaches.

    About Gerry:

    “When Gerry speaks, he reaches parts of your mind that have never been used before.”
    –Sue Stapely, Solicitor and Media Professional; London, England

    Gerry Riskin, B.Com. LLB, P. Admin, is a Canadian lawyer and Business School graduate with a global reputation.Gerry has clients including the most prominent firms in the world. Gerry is also a Visiting Fellow of The College of Law in London and a Visiting Professor to the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management.

    Gerald Riskin is a Canadian lawyer and Business School graduate with a global reputation as an author, management consultant and pioneer in the field of professional firm economics and marketing.

    After winning two Queen Elizabeth Scholarships, he practiced law from 1973, in 1979 becoming a partner with one hundred-year-old Emery Jamieson and then in 1984 becoming the Managing Partner of Snyder & Company with offices in Canada and Hong Kong. Gerry was consistently a strong rainmaker and quickly began to develop a reputation which led to a demand for his abilities to teach others to attract clients.

    In 1983, Gerry co-founded The Edge Group which in January 2001, evolved into Edge International. Edge topped the list in a survey depicting the most popular marketing consultants by major U.S. firms.

    Gerry authored ABA best seller The Successful Lawyer available as a book and a CD audio program. Gerry co-authored, at Butterworths’ request, a text on the marketing of legal services called Practice Development: Creating the Marketing Mindset, and, for The Institute for Best Practices, two works for those in firms with management responsibilities: Herding Cats and beyond KNOWING, both of which have become management best-sellers (Herding Cats has remained on the “Canadian Management Bestsellers “list for several years).

    A popular facilitator, teacher and retreat speaker, Gerry is a widely recognized expert on managing professional service firms, described by The Financial Post as “Canada’s professional firm management and marketing guru, with a client base stretching from Britain to the United States.” Professional marketing pioneer, Bruce Marcus, said of him in Competing for Clients, “Light years ahead of almost everybody else, his clientele is indeed worldwide.” Recently, the head of a national conference said of Gerry’s session, “As far as I’m concerned, that was the best practice-related seminar I’d ever attended!” His highly interactive approach mixed with energy and humour keeps attendees engaged and eager for more.

     

    Bill Lipner:

    Bill Lipner

    I’ll bite (no pun):

    1. With corporate resources at hand, law departments will deploy technology which (significantly) further reduces the role of outside counsel.
    2. A key technology in law will be artificial intelligence which will be used to replace human powered work with machine powered work. AI is starting with routine tasks like document review but will be applied to higher level tasks like contract review and facts analysis.
    3. The “innovative few” law firms will deploy emerging technologies to reinvent their business, making it easier for them to take larger slices of the services pie at the expense of their peer firms.
    4. Non-lawyer ownership will be permitted in the USA by 2018.

    About Bill:

    Bill Lipner is a consultant and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in content management and how unstructured data is created, managed, shared, and leveraged for bottom line benefits. Bill’s experience includes work with document management systems in document-intensive organizations, collaboration solutions, and how to move organizations to the paperless office.

    Special focus on legal practice and special interest in teaching information consumers in any organization how to best leverage the technology they are using to manage and predict risk, meet compliance obligations, and drive operational efficiency and effectiveness.

    Bill holds an MBA from Florida State University,is a Certified Document Imaging Architect (CDIA), and an Adobe ACE (Acrobat 10.1).

    EMAIL Bill at bill.lipner@discoverypartners.us
    LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/lipner

     

     Jordan Furlong

    jordan furlong

    Thanks very much for the invitation, Dave! Here’s my best shot:

    We’ll look back at 2016 as a turning point for legal regulation in Canada. “Non-lawyer” ownership of law firms was stymied in 2015, but this year will bring us something profoundly more important: proactive, principle-based, entity regulation of legal services. Starting with Nova Scotia and the Prairie provinces, law societies will shift the regulatory focus away from rules of conduct and lawyer misbehaviour and towards “ethical infrastructure” and enterprise-level responsibility for maintaining and improving a regulatory culture. This will have an enormous influence on how lawyers practice, how law firms manage, how law schools teach and how law societies regulate. ABS would have affected maybe 1 lawyer in 100; entity-based regulation will affect every single lawyer in private practice.

    About Jordan:

    Jordan Furlong is a leading legal industry analyst who forecasts the impact of the changing legal market on lawyers, clients, and legal organizations. Jordan has addressed dozens of law firms, state bars, law societies, bar executives, law schools, and judges throughout the United States and Canada on the evolution of the legal services market. 

     

    Terrance Hudson:

    Terry Hudson

    My predictions for family law are as follows:

    The Courts will continue to be viewed as a resource of last-resort for those experiencing family law issues; and, mediation, arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution will continue to increase in demand by the public as they are far less destructive to the family and are more economical.

    While families may break up, the family dynamic must be maintained. The courts are not set up to handle these types of things as they are based on confrontation principles such as the Rule in Brown v. Dunn. The Courts will continue to be overburdened by those that cannot afford private alternative dispute resolution services and by those who do not want to do the work necessary to help people work out solutions.

    In my view, the Legal Services Society should expand its funding of alternative dispute resolution services by increasing funding to mediation, and adding arbitration and parenting coordination services. This would expand the access to these services that are desperately need to reduce the burden on the Courts, to expand access to justice, and provide a more wholistic process for the resolution of disputes. Training needs to continue to be at the high end for those wishing to practice these areas.

    The reality is that families are irreparably harmed by trials. While they are necessary in about 5-10% of cases where there is abuse, in most cases they are not required.  Lawyers need to be increasingly creative, use alternative dispute resolution methods and avoid trials that can needlessly destroy families.

    About Terry:

    My interest in family law includes representing clients in the provincial and supreme Court, acting as a mediator and arbitrator, writing articles and doing my best to provide information to the public that is of general interest in a manner that is readily accessible.

    The Courts processes are often difficult to understand and navigate and thus, I do my best to provide information to assist those who are unrepresented to seek Justice for themselves.  www.hudsonlawyers.ca 

     

    Larry Bodine:

    Larry Bodine

    Here are my marketing predictions for 2016.

    • SEO officially becomes obsolete in 2016, killed off by repeated Google artificial intelligence and algorithm updates.
      More blogs = more business. Law firms that don’t adopt content marketing with a frequently-updated blog will gradually fade away, as other web-savvy law firms nip away 2-3 good files per month — like being nibbled to death by ducks. Smart law firms already know that more frequent blogging equals more leads and clients, according to Hubspot.
    • Social media goes legal. Troglodyte law firms will start to get active in social media, because the more engagement their posts get, particularly on Facebook and Google+, the higher the authority that Google will assign to the website.
    • Law firms will start to create non-promotional, single-topic informational sites — like Drugwatch.com (sponsored by the Peterson Firm) or BrainandSpinalCord.org (sponsored by Newsome Melton) — to capture clients early in the decision-making process when they are researching their injury.
    • Law firm marketing will be shaped by the way consumers search for an attorney. For example, the top directories for personal injury attorneys are:
      • FindLaw.com
      • Avvo.com
      • Yelp.com – surprise!
      • Lawyers.com
      • Thumbtack.com – surprise!
    • Review sites. Law firms will assign staff and develop systems to methodically get good reviews on imporant sites like Google, Yelp and Lawyers.com. Approximately 83 percent of people check lawyer reviews as the first step to finding an attorney.

    About Larry:

    Larry Bodine is a marketer, journalist and attorney who knows how to turn website visitors into clients for trial law firms. His team has drafted law firm blog posts for many websites including The National Trial Lawyers, PersonalInjury.com, Martindale-Hubbell, Lawyers.com and LexisNexis. Results include:

    He was inducted into the PILMMA Hall of Fame in July 2015.

    4 Million consumers read the latest legal news on Lawyers.com over a 12-month period, producing more than 7 Million page views.

    The LawMarketing Blog gets 400 visits per day — more than 1 million visits over the last 10 years.

    Larry is followed by 23,000 people on Twitter followers, he is in 2,000 Google+ circles, and participates in dozens of LinkedIn groups.

    He writes for websites like the Huffington Post, the LexisNexis Business of Law Blog, state bar association websites, LawFuel, and trial law firms.

    He is the Editor in Chief of PersonalInjury.com, the leading news site about verdicts and settlements.

    Larry updates The National Trial Lawyers website every day with legal news for lawyers.

    To get a content review of your website, call Larry today at 520.577.9759.

    For Business Development Training for Your Firm, visit bit.ly/BodineTraining.

     

    Buzz Bruggerman:

     

    Buzz Bruggeman bio pic

    Given the anti-immigrant hysteria here in parts of America, coupled with the madness around gun control, here’s my prediction vis a vis American politics…

    I fully expect Hilary Clinton to get the Dem. Nomination, and at the end of the day I expect the Reps to rally around someone like John Kasich. In November 2016, I expect the R’s to win by a hair, and for our country to be plunged into 4 or more years of darkness.

    Very depressing prospects, but America is becoming very polarized, and I see nothing that is going to reverse that process in the near term.

    About Buzz:

    Trying to change the world, and helping to connect great people.

    ActiveWords Co-Founder, Tech Evangelist, connector, small town Minnesota boy, Duke grad, and serious Duke basketball fan.

     

    Colin Rule:

    crule at cpr[1]

    2016 will be the year of ODR and Consumer Protection. Some folks might remember the conference held in Vancouver in 2010 focused on ODR and Consumers. 2016 will be the year many of the ideas hatched there finally come to fruition. The EU ODR regulation will come live early in the year. The UNCITRAL ODR Working Group will wrap up over the Summer, issuing a position paper from all the delegates calling for high quality cross-border consumer ODR. The OECD Council on Consumer Protection in eCommerce will finalize recommendations calling for quality ODR. Amy Schmitz and I will also publish our book on ODR and Consumer Protection through the American Bar Association. The need for fast and fair redress for consumers is finally coming a head, and the consensus is that ODR is the only path forward. 2016 will be the breakthrough year.

    About Colin:

    Colin Rule is Co-Founder and COO of Modria.com, an ODR provider based in Silicon Valley. From 2003 to 2011 he was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. He has worked in the dispute resolution field for more than a decade as a mediator, trainer, and consultant. He is currently Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at Stanford Law School.

    Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO (2000) and President. In 2002 Colin co-founded the Online Public Disputes Project (now eDeliberation.com) which applies ODR to multiparty, public disputes. Previously, Colin was General Manager of Mediate.com, the largest online resource for the dispute resolution field. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

    Colin has presented and trained throughout Europe and North America for organizations including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Department of State, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. He has also lectured and taught at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Pepperdine University, Creighton University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Ottawa, and Brandeis University.

    Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has contributed more than 50 articles to prestigious ADR publications such as Consensus, The Fourth R, ACResolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He serves on the boards of the Consensus Building Institute and the PeaceTech Lab at the United States Institute of Peace. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.

     

    Ellen Freedman:

    ellen freedman

    The perfect storm has arrived. I (and other PMAs – Practice Management Advisors) predicated it’s arrival long before the recession hit. Thanks to the layoffs and freezes on hiring during the recession, the storm was temporarily delayed in arriving. Now that the legal industry sluggishly pulls out of the pit many firms fell into, the storm effects are clearly being felt.

    The perfect storm I am referring to is the shortage of available law firm personnel suited to the positions open. Primarily we are hearing the first desperate pleas for help from firms located in rural and suburban areas. Whether the opening involves a legal assistant, legal secretary, bookkeeper, paralegal or courthouse runner, or any other administrative position, firms are struggling harder than ever to find suitable candidates.

    The perfect storm has been created by a convergence of many factors:

    1. Accelerating rate of retirement of the “old guard” of experienced legal secretaries, estate administrators, and so forth.
    2. Lowered quality of available entry level candidates – many of whom lack the most basic skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and proofreading.
    3. Law firm’s inability and unwillingness to train, accompanied by increasing complexity of even the simplest positions.
    4. Increasing move of candidates entering the workforce toward higher positions than before, which in turn tends to increase demand for administrative support even further.
    5. Diminished regard for administrative positions by potential employment candidates.
    6. Increased competition with other industries which provide advancement opportunities not available in the legal industry
    7. A smaller workforce demographically, despite dual-career households as the new normal.

    Professionals are included. As firms seek to start regrowing their firm’s associate ranks from the bottom, the average law firm struggles to find the combination of work ethic and abilities necessary to join what is essentially still a mostly sink-or-swim environment. Firms with brand names or profitable boutique practices continue to entice the best and brightest candidates. The rest of the firms scramble over the remaining candidates. General practices in rural areas risk dying due to lack of talent for succession purposes, rather than lack of demand for services.

    About Ellen:

    Ellen serves as the Law Practice Management Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Bar Association. In that capacity she assists PBA’s members with management issues and decisions on the business side of their practice, including areas like technology, financial management and profitability, human resources, marketing, risk management, setting up a practice and so forth. PBA members are encouraged to contact Ellen through the 800 “Hot Line” at PBA headquarters, (800-932-0311 x2228) or through email (lawpractice@pabar.org).

    Ellen is founder and President of Freedman Consulting, which assists PA law firms with a full range of issues and projects on the business side of the practice. More information about Ellen and her law practice management services may be obtained at http:www.FreedmanLPM.com. Ellen also publishes the Law Practice Management blog at www.PA-LawPracticeManagement.com.

    Ellen holds the designation of Certified Legal Manager through the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), the credentialing body for the CLM degree. Of the 11,000+ members of the ALA, approximately 260 are certified legal managers. Ellen was one of the first 20 in the nation to have achieved this designation. She holds a Certification in Computer Programming from Maxwell Institute, and a Certification in Web Site Design and a B.A. from Temple University.

    Ellen managed inside law firms for twenty years. Most of that time was spent in a mid-size (35+ attorney) firm environment. She launched her consulting practice in 1998, and joined the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1999.

    Ellen is an associate member of the American Bar Association, and its Law Practice Management and General Practice & Small Firm sections. She was a member of the Association of Legal Administrators for over 20 years, and founded the Independence Chapter. She is a frequent author and speaker on law firm management issues on a national level.

    That is it for Part I – stay tuned for Parts II and III – So you gotta hang on ’til tomorrow, come what may…!!!

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    2016 Predictions!
    Sunday, December 6th, 2015

    ♫ I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
    I can see all obstacles in my way.
    Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
    bright (bright) sunshiny day…♫

    Lyrics and music by Johnny Nash, recorded by Jimmy Cliff.

    write the future

     

    This is the time of the year when I call for our gentle readers to submit their ideas for what 2016 will hold for the legal community.

    Whether it is a bright future or perhaps a guarded cloudy one, I would love to hear from you. Whether it is on legal software, access to justice, online dispute resolution, alternative business structures, changes in legal regulations, business development, legal marketing change management, firm governance, moving to paperless  or moving to Mac (or back to Windows), quality of life, tips and trends …all these topics and more are on the table.

    Results will be posted in a series of articles near the end of December.

    So put your thinking cap on and let’s see what we can to together to write the future!

     

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    The 2015 Pacific Legal Technology Conference
    Thursday, September 10th, 2015

    2015 pltc logo

    On Friday Oct 2, 2015 in Vancouver, BC, the ninth Pacific Legal Technology Conference will take place. But it can also take place right in your office.  This year 13 sessions will be real-time webcast (the keynote will be recorded and made available for viewing after the conference due to logistical issues) allowing both in person and webinar attendees to fully participate in the conference.

    28 speakers from Toronto, New York City, Salt Lake City, Alaska and all across BC will speak on such sessions as “Blending Technology with Strong Advocacy Skills”, “Practice Management Tools: There has never been a better time”, “Securing Mobile Devices: Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones, USB keys and More”and of course the favourite “All the Gadgets, Sites and More we can Squeeze into 60+ minutes”

    One session will be a debate format: “How Tech is Changing the Practice of Law: Watson, AI, Expert Systems and More” and promises to be highly entertaining as well as deeply thoughtful on the future of the profession.  Simon Chester of Toronto will face off against Nate Russell of Vancouver in what should be a unique way to explore these emerging issues.

    The eight Tracks are focused on specific issues facing lawyers, such as the “Solo and Small Firm Track” (offering for example:  ‘No Brainer “Sweet Spot” Tech for Solos and Small Firms’), Front Office Technology: The Lawyer’s Desktop Track (offering for example: “Sharing Documents Securely with Clients, Lawyers and Others”), The Security and Threat Protection Track (offering: “What is an Appropriate Level of Protection and How to Achieve It”) and the Innovation and Advanced Track (offering: “Emerging Canadian Legal Technology”).

    Each edition of the PLTC is designed by the Advisory Board building an on-line survey of possible topics and issues and asking past attendees to tell us what they most want to hear about and see.  This results in the educational sessions being designed with the attendees needs uppermost.  This year the response was overwhelming:  Privacy and Security was clearly the #1 issue on everyone’s mind.  Accordingly our keynote will be Lincoln Mead, the IT Director of the Utah State Bar and a long-standing ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board Member, acclaimed speaker and expert on Legal IT and Security. His topic will be: Security and Privacy: Don’t be Worried, be Terrified! 

    There will be a discussion track of 4 sessions that will not be webcast due to their particular format.  Here the attendees will be joining our speakers to discuss issues of interest in such sessions as: “Going Beyond the Law Society of BC’s Cloud Checklist”, “Technology and Legal Ethics: What are a lawyer’s ethical obligations in connection with technology? How best can we meet these obligations?” and “The Strategic Reinvention of the Law Firm: People, Processes, Technology and Change”.

    At the CLC conference in Calgary this August, Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin made it clear that resisting change is no longer an option.  LegalFeeds in writing about her speech, stated:

    “We’re part of it, and there’s no escape,” she said, referring to the technological changes making legal information available in other ways and players such as LegalZoom that are growing rapidly.

    In her speech, McLachlin focused on the major challenges facing the legal profession while outlining what she sees as new opportunities that provide some optimism for different ways of doing business, particularly for “nimble, tech-savvy lawyers.”

    We invite you to join your colleagues across Canada and participate in Canada’s online legal technology conference.  Sponsoring organizations this year are: The Law Society of British Columbia, together with the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, The Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association and the Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers Association.

    The Sponsor floor is sold out and details of the sponsors can be found here, including our Platinum sponsor, Dye & Durham Corporation.  For the benefit of both in person attendees as well as webinar attendees, the last 10 minutes of each session will be allocated to one of the sponsors who will show how their product or service helps address the issues raised by our speakers in their presentations.  We are hopeful that this will allow all attendees to benefit in learning about the sponsors and the educational sessions and how they tie in together.

    The conference has been approved for 6 hours of CPD credit in BC which includes ethics and practice management credit.  Further MCLE credit approvals can be found here.

    Early-bird registration rates are available until Sept 12, 2015.

    I hope to see you at the Conference and join in with your nimble, tech-savvy colleagues!

    -David J. Bilinsky, Chair, The Pacific Legal Technology Conference. (posted concurrently with slaw.ca). 

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    World Backup Day
    Thursday, March 26th, 2015

    ♫ Get back, get back.
    Get back to where you once belonged…♫

    Lyrics and music by Lennon–McCartney, recorded by The Beatles.

    backup

    Tuesday March 31, 2015 is World Backup Day. I think it is important to focus on this often neglected task as it is often lost in the hustle and bustle of getting the work out. But with the recent attacks of ransomware on all types of businesses, law firms included, having a proper back up that is not infected has assumed increasing, if not vital, importance.

    Furthermore, having a proper backup is not just for your business. Consider all your digital photographs and personal files..how would you feel if they were lost?

    So the focus of this article is to motivate you to implement backup solutions at your office and at your home.

    Why back up?

    • Protection against malware, viruses and trojans including Cryptowall and other ransomware (1 in 10 computers infected with a virus each month, according to ICSA Labs/TruSecure, 2002)
    • Protection against disasters, either man-made (pipes bursting and the like) to natural disasters such as storms, lightening and such.
    • Preservation of precious memories that once gone, are gone.

    What are the best practices when it comes to back ups?  Here is a list of some things to consider.

    1. Have a data retention plan
      1. Without a plan, you are left to haphazard backups.  The worst time to realize that you don’t have a current backup is precisely when you need it most.
    2. Plan for increasing amounts of data
      1. Your storage should be scalable since you will be generating increasing amounts of data in the future.
      2. Ensure that your current system can be scaled up to handle greater and greater amounts of data without any disruption in your office.
    3. Have a redundancy plan – backup your backup
      1. What if the same disaster hits your backup as well as your systems?
      2. Consider having both a physical backup in your office and a cloud based backup that is unaffected if your office is hit with a disaster.
    4. Have your data readily available
      1. Cloud backups are wonderful as a ‘last resort’ but they do take time to download.
      2. Consider having a local NAS or other device in the office just in case your servers fry and you need a fast locally accessible copy of your data.
    5. Data security and integrity are priorities
      1. Always consider physical security and data security.
      2. Follow best practices in data security.
    6. Consider backups and archival copies
      1. Backups are snapshots at any point in time
      2. Archives are historical records – unalterable and therefore important if you need to go back and show what happened when.

    The important thing to consider is your risk management position. Have you considered the cost of restoring your data and the potential of losing vital data and having to explain that to your clients? You may perceive the incidence of loss to be low, but the cost of recovery can be very high indeed. In fact not having a proper backup may result in a significant disruption of your business or even its failure.

    If you suffer such a loss, you certainly want to be able to go back to where you once belonged.

    (posted concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)

     

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Lawyer gets 10 Years for Over Billing…
    Friday, April 25th, 2014

    ♫ Twisting and turning
    Your face to the wall
    Your future was soaring
    The landing was hard..♫

    Lyrics and Music by Tom Mallicoat, recorded by Lethal.

    Police Officer Carrying Nightstick

    The American Bar Association Journal reported today:

    A Texas lawyer accused of double-billing Bexar County for indigent defense work and forging judges’ signatures on payment vouchers has been sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty in March to forgery and securing execution of a document by deception.

    This lawyer was once the most prolific  indigent  defence attorney in the county.  According to My SAHilda Valadez was originally indicted:

    ..[O]n 46 felony counts related to allegations she forged judges’ signatures and double-billed the county for her services.

    My SA further reported that the deception charge Hilda plead guilty to is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  She may be able to apply for probation.

    A hard landing indeed.  One can only speculate on what led this lawyer to such behaviour.

    Posted in Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    2014 Predictions!
    Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

    ♫  Let’s tell the future
    Let’s see how it’s been done
    By numbers, by mirrors, by water
    By dots made at random on paper…♫

    Lyrics, Music and recorded by Susan Vega.

    2014

    (images: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fire_craker.jpg and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Diego_Fireworks.jpg – creative commons licence)

    The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it” has been variously attributed to many authors, particularly Dennis Gabor.

    Accordingly this is a call for all gentle readers to contribute their tips and predictions for 2014!  Last year we heard from Stephanie Kimbro, Nate Russell, Tom Spraggs, Richard Granat, Jean Francois De Rico, Mitch Kowalski, John Zeleznikow, Andrew Clark, Colin Rule, Robert Denney, Ross Fishman, Noric Dilanchian, Steve Matthews and of course, Jordan Furlong.

    I think that this is the most interested series of posts in the year and so I invite everyone to submit a post and we all can see what everyone thinks the future of law and legal practice will be like!

    Let’s tell the future!

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 4 Comments »
    LawPro Creates Cybercrime Coverage
    Thursday, October 17th, 2013

    ♫ Digital, criminals you’ll make meals in cyber-crime
    Let’s all plan ahead, 2 times, I keep the chimes to a great mind… ♫

    Lyrics and music by GZA, Inspectah Deck, Killah Priest.

    LawPRO_LOGO

    LawPro, the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO) has announced that they will be providing a $250,000 submit coverage for eligible cybercrime losses in the 2014 policy year.

    LawPro is a wholly Canadian owned insurance company that provides professional liability insurance to lawyers in Ontario and TitlePLUS title insurance coast-to-coast. LAWPRO is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    The cybercrime coverage appears to have been prompted by cyber attacks in 2012. According to LawPro’s newsletter:

    In late 2012, LAWPRO learned of a high-value cyber attack on an Ontario firm. The attack was highly sophisticated and complex, and was designed to permit the fraudster to gain direct access to a firm’s trust account using online banking privileges. For details about this attack and how to avoid being the victim of a similar fraud, see our December 21, 2012, post on the AvoidAClaim blog:
    avoidaclaim.com/2012/ontario-law-firm-victim-of-large-frauddue- to-infection-by-trojan-banker-virus/.  This is in addition to instances reported in the media involving cyber attacks against several law firms to access confidential client information.

    According to LawPro:

    At LAW PRO, we believe that preventing breaches in confidentiality and financial losses due to these cyber attacks is a responsibility we all share. Law firms and individual staff members and lawyers who work in them must educate themselves about cyber risks and take all reasonable steps to ensure that data and funds are securely protected. Insurance against resulting losses should be viewed as a worst-case remedy, and not a replacement for preventive and protective steps.

    The particulars of the coverage are to be found in the 2014 policy. LawPro states:

    Lawyers should also understand that the sublimit provided, like all areas of the policy, applies to losses arising from lawyers providing professional services as lawyers. Losses that a firm might experience that go beyond this type of insurance coverage include reputational loss, physical damage or business interruption.

    While this coverage is innovative in Canada, it does not alleviate the necessity for law firms to be vigilant and take every precaution to avoid being taken in by digital criminals.

    (cross-posted to slaw.ca)

    Posted in Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Secure Passwords
    Thursday, October 10th, 2013

    ♫ Password, please use the password
    It opens the door to my heart…♫

    Password, recorded by Kitty Wells.

    BCPA-2013-OnlineBanner-900x250px

     

    The writer spoke yesterday at the Privacy and Access 20/20:  A New Vision for Information Rights‘ workshop on Legal Ethics dealing with issues of privacy, security and technology for lawyers and their clients.  The writer spoke along with Dr. Benjamin Goold, Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean Academic Affairs, University of British Columbia and Tamara Hunter, Associate Counsel and Head of the Davis LLP Privacy Law Compliance Group.

    This workshop was part of the pre-conference sessions and was a two-hour practice management and ethics seminar from a privacy law perspective.  We addressed such issues as the use of technologies such as cloud computing by lawyers, and information security considerations including encryption, adequate passwords and mobile devices.

    We dealt with a whole range of matters including the Law Society of British Columbia’s Cloud Computing Checklist and other other issues such as maintaining strong passwords.

    I thought I would post on how lawyers can maintain strong passwords and not cause themselves grief in trying to remember complex series of upper, lowercase and symbols to craft strong passwords.

    First, how do you create strong passwords?  I use the Perfect Password generator on Steve Gibson’s website www.grc.com.  Steve states that “Every time this page is displayed, our server generates a unique set of custom, high quality, cryptographic-strength password strings which are safe for you to use.”  You can read the techy details of how the passwords are generated and why Steve states that they are safe on his password web page. Suffice it to say that Steve has a long history of protecting client information and system security.

    OK so you have a 63 character random password that is highly secure.  How can you possibly remember this?  For one, *don’t* put it into an Excel spreadsheet or Word document on your computer.  Malware will scan for these and then you will have lost all your passwords if your computer is compromised.

    Much better to use a proper password manager such as LastPass.  It works on practically every platform:

    lastpass platforms

     

    It is easy to use and has received praise from C|Net, PCMagazine, LifeHacker and many others.  Best of all you only need to remember one password – the one to open LastPass.  You can then enter your long secure passwords into web forms with just one click.

    There is a free version or a premium version for $12/year.

    With so many lawyers entering data on the cloud (not to mention using banking and e-commerce sites and such) it is comforting to know that you are secure by using complex passwords and protecting them in a proper way.

    So to ensure maximum privacy and security, please use strong passwords and a good password manager – and use them to open all sorts of electronic doors…

    Cross-posted to slawtips.ca

    Posted in Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Don’t Be a Definite Maybe
    Monday, May 6th, 2013

    ♫ Be prepared for indecision
    It might make me disappear
    But then again, my addiction
    To indecision keeps me here…

    Lyrics  and music by: Stephen Duffy and Steven Page, recorded by Stephen Page.

     

     

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    This is another guest post from Beth Flynn of the  Ohio State University Leadership Center.

    To be a successful leader-manager, you have to be decisive. Probably the most frustrating thing to employees is working for a leader who can’t make a decision. The phrase “don’t be a definite maybe” is well known. The problem is that no one believes he or she is a definite maybe. The term itself is demeaning by what it implies. We all think we make decisions in a prompt or decisive manner, but I wonder if that is true and if it is what our employees think. I found that most leaders could make decisions about things quite easily. It’s making decisions about people that is difficult. In many cases, middle managers can’t make people decisions, or they will vacillate over them. When it becomes apparent to people in the organization that they are working for a definite maybe, they begin to lose confidence in that person’s leadership completely (Monastero, 2010, p. 75).

    From: Monastero, S. (2010). Winning at leadership: how to become an effective leader. Bloomington, IN: IUNIVERSE, Inc. Winning at Leadership is available from the OSU Leadership Center.  Click here to borrow this resource.

    Learn how the Ohio State University Leadership Center is inspiring others to take a leadership role that empowers the world at http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu 

    To begin receiving Leadership Moments, or to update your information, please click on Join Our Mailing List.

    Thanks Beth for another great leadership post on how all of us can move towards being a better leader by leaving our addiction to indecision behind!

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Dave's Top 10 Lists, Fraud and theft, I'm a Mac, personal focus and renewal, Technology | Permalink | No Comments »
    Huge Canadian Mortgage Fraud…
    Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

    ♬ Everything is not what it seems
    When you can get what you want by the simplest of means
    Be careful not to mess with the balance of things
    Because everything is not what it seems…♬

    Lyrics and music by: John R. Adair, Ryan David Elder, Bradley Jay Hamilton, Stephen R. Hampton, recorded by: Selena Gomez.

    CBC News on May 4, 2010 in an on-line article entitled: “Bank of Montreal alleges huge mortgage fraud” reported on a potential $30 million mortage/real estate fraud in Alberta.

    The article is disturbing, as the size of the fraud and the number of people involved is not small: there are apparently 14 inter-connected groups involved:

    Toronto forensic accountant Al Rosen said he has never seen anything like it.

    “This is massive in the sense that it is so broad and so deep,” Rosen said Tuesday. “This is [allegedly] a huge fraud. I can’t think of any situation that has so many people involved and over a period of time like this one.”

    The people involved ranged from ‘straw buyers’ who fronted the purchase of the properties for inflated prices based on fake, inflated wage and net income documents, to lawyers, to bank employees and ‘masterminds’.
    (more…)

    Posted in Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »