♫ Love was out to get me
That’s the way it seemed.
Disappointment haunted all my dreams…♫
I have a confession to make. While I love technology, I am not quite sure the feelings are mutual. You see, technology has come to disappoint me so many times that I am questioning its intentions. In fact it causes me concern when thinking of the rise of artificial intelligence. You see, if technology at its current level of development can be so confounding, what lies in store when technology reaches some level of self-awareness? It could be that we would move from our present epoch of relatively benign technology and cross over to the world of self-aware machines, we move into the state of “Artificial Malevolence”.
Now I am aware that I am not the first to think of these things. In fact, being named Dave, the words of Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey haunt me. Hal was supposed to be ‘foolproof and incapable of error.’ However, when asked to take action that would save Dave’s life, he states, devoid of emotion: “I’m sorry Dave – I can’t do that…”
In fact,Wikipedia states that:
“Siri”, Apple’s natural language voice control system for the iPhone 4S, features a reference to the film: it responds “I’m sorry I can’t do that” when asked to “open the pod bay doors”
Well what happens when you ask your favourite technology to open a file and (since it mostly hasn’t – yet – reached the point of communicating by voice), simply displays text stating: “file not found” or words to that effect. ARGH!! Renting of garments, gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair!
What is a mere mortal to do? Well my standard remedy when dealing with malevolent technology is to have a data backup. In fact, not just one, but rather..three.
If you put all your eggs in one electronic basket there is a consequential rule that you should watch that basket very, very carefully. Accordingly, making copies of your electronic data and ensuring that this data is stored in at least two locations, one on a hardened hard drive (such as the ioSafe line of hard drives that are designed to withstand fire, flood, temperatures, immersion etc. for extended periods of time) and the second being a cloud storage system is not only prudent but well advised. In fact I am now advising that you have a third backup. The third is a cloud-based backup that is not connected 24/7 to your network.
Many firms that the writer has spoken to have been hit with various variants of ransomware malware. These malevolent applications encrypt everything they can find on your network and demands a ransom to be paid – otherwise they disappear taking the decryption algorithm with it…leaving your data …useless.
In once case, fortunately, the firm’s cloud backup – which only backed up on a schedule and was not continually connected to the network – was left untouched by the malware and they were able restore their data without paying the ransom. This is perhaps one of the best arguments for backing your data up into a secure cloud backup that can remain isolated from a malware attack such as the ransomware nasties.
It is important that you have a multiple layer redundant backup system. Don’t depend on a sole backup system…if that backup fails … you are left totally vulnerable. It is important to test your backup system and ensure that it is operating properly so that you can restore your data as needed. I have seen situations where the sole backup system seemed to be functioning fine until the time came when it was needed – and then the realization hit that the backup was corrupted and useless. In one such case what had been backed up to Dropbox was recovered … all other data was lost.
The benefit of having a local hardened hard drive backup is that you can restore your data quickly in the event of a loss. Cloud backups…while wonderful for preserving your data in a safe location…will take considerable time to restore onto your network since you are limited by your download speeds. However, if your system is hit with a system-wide problem, such as ransomwear malware, a flood, fire or other disaster or a failure of your primary backup, you will be thanking your lucky stars for having a complete cloud backup no matter how long it takes to do the restore.
Believe me, I have had to restore data from the cloud after a system-wide failure (did I mention that technology seems to hate me?). A fast Internet connection can never be fast enough when time is money. But ultimately, having a cloud backup made the difference between sheer inconvenience and absolute disaster.
After all when technology is out to get you, you don’t want disappointment to haunt all your dreams.
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ Go, go, go New Justice Team
Go team, go team, team team team
Who’s that newest Justice Team…♫
Music by Christopher Tyng, Lyrics by Ron Weiner, recorded by The New Justice Team.
This is a cross-post with SlawTips.
Changes are coming to SlawTips! I would like to introduce our new enhanced team of practice tipsters.
Our team will now include:
- Michael McCubbin, Vancouver
- Andrea Cannavina, New York City
- Stacey Gerrard, Halifax
- Sandra Bekhor, Toronto
- Mark Morris, Toronto
- Elizabeth Mah, Vancouver
- Bjorn (Barney) Christianson, Portage la Prairie
- Ian Hu, Toronto
who will be joining Garry Wise and I in posting all the best tips that we can think of to assist you in practising law.
A little about each of our newest team members:
Michael owns and operates a small firm with a broad focus on civil and administrative litigation and corporate-commercial law. In recent years, he has increasingly focused on regulatory compliance and risk management for businesses. He has run a paperless practice since its inception in the fall of 2011 and is a regular speaker on legal technology matters.
Michael says that the things that he would like to write about are:
- Integration of practice technology with hearing preparation
- Adopting business practices from outside the legal profession to improve service quality and efficiency
- Remote working arrangements and business/employment structures
- Jurisprudential “catch up” with technology (Equustek Solutions?!)
Andrea Cannavina is the CEO and founder of LegalTypist, Inc. the premiere legal transcription, secretarial and administrative service to US based law firms. She helps attorneys and other service based professionals upgrade their business processes to digital in order to get more done with less – less cost, less time and less stress!
An executive legal assistant, Andrea worked in various sized law firms in and around New York City since starting her career in the 1980’s. Andrea has been a professional legal secretary/ assistant for 20+ years and a Virtual Assistant since 2001. ALL Andrea has focused on since opening her virtual practice is help lawyers and other legal professionals upgrade to digital in all the right places.
Her site, LegalTypist.com specializes in providing experienced cyber secretarial services and has serviced law firms of 1-120+ attorneys along with private investigative firms, insurance agencies and other high volume reporting companies.
After putting together LegalTypist’s tech, people and processes, and speaking with 100’s of attorneys, law firm administrators and legal IT types, Andrea expanded her focus in order to help any size practice. In 2005, her site LawFirmSolutions.com went live to help larger firms looking to incorporate the web into their processes and solos looking for secure technology to use in their day-to-day practice.
Andrea is passionate about digital security and has frequently presented on this and other topics, including e-mail overload and etiquette, website how to’s, projecting a professional image and upgrading to a digital workflow.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Andrea’s family moved to Long Island, New York during her teenage years. She graduated from Glen Cove High School, attended Nassau Community College and SUNY Old Westbury.
Andrea lives and works in Hicksville, New York, is married with two children, and has Rosie, the office dog as her constant companion. Along with making things work, Andrea enjoys camping, cooking and spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors.
Andrea says that she would like to write about:
- Systems, processes and organization of the office – people and tech.
- Law practice management.
- Getting Things Done.
- What’s it’s like being on the other side of the desk.
Stacey Gerrard is a practicing member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and joined the Lawyers’ Insurance Association of Nova Scotia (LIANS) as LIANS Counsel in 2010. Graduating from the University of Ottawa’s National Program with bilingual degrees in both Common and Civil Law, Stacey relocated back to Halifax and pursued her interest in civil litigation first in a private firm and then with each of the Federal and Provincial governments until joining the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in 2008. In her current role, Stacey manages and handles assigned claims or potential claims against insured lawyers and provides professional support to the Risk and Practice Management program.
Sandra Bekhor, MBA, BSc, is a professional practice consultant focused on growing and enhancing Canadian, small to mid-sized law, architecture, accounting, consulting, healthcare and other professional practices. A senior marketing professional since 1992,
Sandra has helped take leading entrepreneurs to a new level in the global marketplace with the introduction of business and marketing strategies as well as the enhancement of company structure and process. In September 2005, Sandra founded Bekhor Management with the intent to apply this acumen in a manner that would enable professionals to realize their vision for their practices.
Sandra Bekhor speaks, teaches and writes about practice development for various professional associations and publications, including: The Lawyers Weekly, The Bottom Line, Investment Executive, Interior Designers of Canada (IDC), Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND), Ontario Society of Chiropodists (OSC) and Canadian Vet.
Sandra says that what she would like to write about, basically, her area of expertise, would fall into these categories:
- Online marketing
- Offline marketing
- Firm level marketing
- Personal marketing
- Planning -strategic plans, succession plans, retreats, marketing plans
- Performance management
- Human resources management
- Partner / management meetings
Mark began his career working as the Attorney General of Ontario’s Senior Policy Advisor. Following that, Mark founded Slatewood Retail Advisors, a retail consulting firm primarily focused on the restaurant and apparel market space. In that capacity, Mark transformed small local brands into national chain operations and worked to assist growing international businesses with their legal franchise work, their core branding and their operational workflows.
Presently, Mark is a co-founder of Axess Law, one of Canada’s leading retail law firms with 10 locations in the GTA. Last month, Axess Law was selected as one of the Top 5 Canadian Innovative Law Firms by the Financial Times newspaper.
Mark frequently lectures on Real Estate law and regularly teaches Real Estate Law Courses at the Ontario Real Estate College. In 2014, Mark was selected as one of Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers and was recognized as one of the top 5 Legal Change Makers as rated by Canadian Lawyer magazine.
Mark was called to the Ontario bar in 2002 and has an M.B.A. from the Rotman School of Management, a Law Degree from McGill University and a B.A. from the University of Toronto.
Mark says he likes writing about how Law is changing as we move towards a volume based model of service delivery and about the new entrants that are making their mark on the practice. On a purely legal level, he likes writing about consumer based legal services (developments in real property conveyance, wills etc) and ways that those changes affect consumers.
Elizabeth Mah is the owner of Paperclip Law, a different kind of law firm that helps families and businesses make the best (and biggest) non-litigation decisions of their lives. In her life before her 2 little girls, she enjoyed cooking and eating hot meals, reading and running without interruption, and throwing darts at a map and then travelling to them.
Elizabeth says that since having her 2 little girls, she is most interested in:
- Time efficiency: in making my (and the team’s) time the most effective and productive that it can be
- Business development/networking
- Firm administration and strategy
Bjorn (Barney) Christianson:
Bjorn (Barney) Christianson 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.
Bjorn frequently presents on practice management and office technology topics; some of the victims include the Law Society of Manitoba’s CPLED and MCPD programs, the Law Society of Upper Canada SSF Conference, the Lawyers Insurance Association of Nova Scotia, the Manitoba, Central and Western Manitoba Bar Associations, the CBA’s Skilled Lawyer Series, and the ABA TechShow. He provides practice management advice to the members of the Law Society of Manitoba in his spare time. Twitter @Bjornqc
Barney says that the topics that he finds interesting and wishes to write about are:
- time management (many sub-topics)
- creating impressions for clients
- managing expectations
- importance of clarity in emails
- breaking bad news
- blunt a.o.t nice (and therefore vague)
- planning to buy and replace tech
- staffing issues
- sharpening your axe
- anything to do with running a law office.
Barney has named himself as the curmudgeon of the group; I am not quite so sure about that but I am looking forward to his wise postings!
As the face of Claims Prevention and practicePRO at LAWPRO Ian speaks, writes and blogs about practice management, claims prevention and lawyering issues. His mandate is to help lawyers succeed in the practice of law and avoid malpractice claims. Having had experience in private practice under his belt with various sizes of firms, Ian has seen some of the trials and tribulations lawyers go through.
As a former Vice President of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers he has mentored young lawyers and advocated for hundreds of lawyers and students as a group. Ian also has an interest in promoting diversity in the profession and has sat on various advocacy committees.
Ian tells me that the things he is interested in writing about are:
- cognitive bias
- new and young lawyers issues (being a professional, building career, soft skills, survival tips, managing time, etc.)
Of course Garry Wise and I will also be continuing as contributing authors and editors at tips.slaw.ca to this amazing team of thoughtful minds. I am very excited about this new phase in SlawTips and I (and I believe I can speak for Garry as well) look forward to seeing the thoughts, ideas and tips from our New Justice Team!
-David J. Bilinsky, Editor, Vancouver BC.
♫ 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.
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
- 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!
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.
“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.
I’ll bite (no pun):
- With corporate resources at hand, law departments will deploy technology which (significantly) further reduces the role of outside counsel.
- 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.
- 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.
- Non-lawyer ownership will be permitted in the USA by 2018.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
- Yelp.com – surprise!
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Accelerating rate of retirement of the “old guard” of experienced legal secretaries, estate administrators, and so forth.
- Lowered quality of available entry level candidates – many of whom lack the most basic skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and proofreading.
- Law firm’s inability and unwillingness to train, accompanied by increasing complexity of even the simplest positions.
- Increasing move of candidates entering the workforce toward higher positions than before, which in turn tends to increase demand for administrative support even further.
- Diminished regard for administrative positions by potential employment candidates.
- Increased competition with other industries which provide advancement opportunities not available in the legal industry
- 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.
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 (email@example.com).
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…!!!
♫ 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…♫
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!
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).
♫ Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged…♫
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.
- Have a data retention plan
- 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.
- Plan for increasing amounts of data
- Your storage should be scalable since you will be generating increasing amounts of data in the future.
- Ensure that your current system can be scaled up to handle greater and greater amounts of data without any disruption in your office.
- Have a redundancy plan – backup your backup
- What if the same disaster hits your backup as well as your systems?
- 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.
- Have your data readily available
- Cloud backups are wonderful as a ‘last resort’ but they do take time to download.
- 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.
- Data security and integrity are priorities
- Always consider physical security and data security.
- Follow best practices in data security.
- Consider backups and archival copies
- Backups are snapshots at any point in time
- 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)
♫ 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.
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.
..[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.
♫ 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.
(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!
♫ 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, 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.
♫ Password, please use the password
It opens the door to my heart…♫
Password, recorded by Kitty Wells.
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:
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