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    Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category
    We Need to Hear from You
    Thursday, October 8th, 2015

    ♫  I need to hear from You 
    Before this night is through 
    I need to hear from You 
    So I’m waiting, waiting just to hear from you…♫

    Lyrics and music by: Robert Hartman, recorded by Petra.


    This week, Garry Wise and I chatted about the possible topics that we could cover in this column (posted at slawtips.ca and on this site) over the next while.  Without being exhaustive, I pulled together the following list from our discussions. Now it is up to you. In the comments section, please indicate which topic(s) are of greatest interest to you!  We really want to hear from you and to write on the topics that you most wish to hear about.

    Here is the (incomplete) list of possible topics:

    New ways of working:

    • Virtual office examples
    • Virtual assistants
    • Virtual contract lawyers
    • Using Skype and other communication methods to reach out
    • Portals
    • Collaboration tools/applications/websites
    • Dragon Dictate and VR on the Mac
    • IBM’s Watson and AI: What are the implications?

    New Software/web tools:

    • Emerging Canadian software
    • Apps, Apps Apps!
    • Websites: Are they relevant anymore?
    • Blogs: Are they relevant anymore?
    • Vlogs: Are they the way to go?
    • Smartphones
    • Tablets
    • Sony paper
    • Microsoft’s Matter Center
    • Why use Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Other SM ?
    • Windows 10
    • OS X El Capitan
    • Do Process Software

    Capturing, Organizing and Using Information

    • Evernote and OneNote
    • Don’t Forget the Milk
    • Wunderlist
    • IFTTT recipes
    • Wikis and law firms
    • CanLII Connect
    • SurveyMonkey and lawyers/law firms
    • MindMapping: The New Way of Legal Thinking?

    Security and Privacy

    • Portals
    • Encryption
    • Cryptolocker and other ransomware
    • Ethical Hacking?
    • How do you handle a security breach?
    • Canadian Backup and Storage Services
    • Canadian Hosted and Managed Services

    Practice Management Software Reviews

    • CLIO
    • Amicus Attorney
    • MyCase
    • RocketMatter
    • PracticePanther
    • HoudiniESQ
    • LegalFiles
    • PCLaw
    • ProLaw
    • TimeSolv Legal
    • Synergy Legal Suite

    Legal Accounting Software and lawyers

    • PCLaw
    • ESILAW
    • Brief Legal Software
    • Quickbooks
    • Sage50
    • XERO
    • BillQuick
    • CosmoLex

    Stages in a Lawyer’s Life

    • Entering law school
    • Finding Articles
    • Life as an Associate
    • Life as a junior partner
    • Life as a senior partner
    • Life as a managing partner
    • Life as ‘of counsel’
    • Going out on Your own
    • Moving Firms
    • Finding an Associate
    • Office Sharing
    • Easing into Retirement
    • Moving an Office
    • Closing an Office

    Using Consultants and Service Providers

    • Bookkeepers
    • IT providers
      • In house IT
      • Managed IT services
      • Hosted services
    • Working with Security professionals
    • How to use IT Consultants to Max Advantage
    • Apple vs Mac vs Does it Matter Anymore?
    • Finding and working with an Office Administrator

    Setting up in Practice

    • Finding the right location
    • Finding the right staff
    • Working with staff
    • Balancing life and work
    • Hiring, firing and managing staff

    New Ways of Handling Legal Matters

    • ADR
    • ODR
    • Virtual courts and trials
    • Setting up a virtual practice/services
    • Taking Technology to Court/Mediations/Arbitrations
    • Taking Technology to clients

    Other Legal Software

    • Optinet Systems
    • Emergent Solutions
    • Tracument
    • Triage Data Solutions
    • Dye & Durham
    • Thomson Reuters
    • Lexis Nexis
    • Econveyance
    • Esentire
    • Worldox
    • Primafact
    • SAI Systems Auditing
    • LexBox
    • WordRake
    • SimplyFile

    Innovative ways of Practising:

    • Cognition LLP
    • Axess Law
    • ABS across the world

    New Ways of Thinking about Legal Practice

    Whatever we have missed.

    Please indicate in the Comments (below) the topic(s) that are most important. Or drop me a line at slawtips1@gmail.com. We hope to hear from you!

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    The Long Tail..Innovation in Legal Services
    Thursday, September 17th, 2015

    ♫ Where you lead, I will follow
    Anywhere that you tell me to
    If you need, you need me to be with you
    I will follow where you lead..♫

    Lyrics and music by Toni Stern and Carole King, recorded by Carole King.


    Lawyers, I surmise, believe with their long history and experience that they are the innovators of any changes in the legal/justice system.  However, that theory may need further examination. In fact it may have to be turned onto its head.

    There is a countervailing theory, promoted by Eric von Hippel and others, that users and consumers of services, (in our case, legal services) are actually the innovators of new services rather than suppliers of those services, or in our case, lawyers.

    For example:

    “User innovation doesn’t only extend to tangible products but also services. von Hippel found that eighty-five percent of individuals self-provided themselves with accounting and banking processes before banks offered this service.”

    Imagine. Clients finding and directing the changes that they desire in legal services and providing them to themselves.  How could this happen?

    “An extension of user innovations is the idea of lead users. These are the individuals who first feel the need for a product or service and create it for themselves. Lead user identification is an essential method used by companies to identify the newest innovations in their product areas giving them crucial insight on the needs of their users.”

    How many lawyers and law firms are focused on the idea of lead users and innovation? How many of us are focused on this innovation segment?   Indeed how many lawyers and law firms are actually focused on innovation in the delivery of legal services?

    Professor von Hipple:

    “finds it interesting that in the UK, 8% (3-4 million people) of consumers modify the product that they use.”

    In fact,

    “He stressed the fact that the number of consumers modifying products and thereby innovating outweighs the number of people doing this in companies”

    Perhaps we need to be listening to our clients …much more than we are doing right now.  The consumers of legal services may in fact be showing us the innovations that we as lawyers need to make to our delivery of legal services.

    In fact, they may just be showing us the way..

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    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 »
    How Long Should You Take to Return Phone Calls?
    Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

    ♫ One ringy-dingy…two ringy-dingies…♫

    Ernestine/Miss Tomlin (Lily Tomlin on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in).


    How long should you wait before you return a telephone call?  According to Debra J. Schmidt, Loyalty Leader:

    “Returning phone calls used to be a common courtesy. Now, busy people claim they don’t have the time. I don’t buy that excuse. I’ve found that the most successful, busy people I know are the ones I can rely on to return my call the same day. It’s a matter of setting priorities.”

    Indeed! What could be more important that meeting the expectations of those clients that have already sought your services and who are anxious to hear from you?  These are precisely the people who have placed faith and trust in you in meeting their needs and solving their legal problems. What kind of message are you sending them if you fail to return their phone calls promptly?

    Susan Dooley of the Dale Carnegie organization states that no response is a response. In fact, in failing to return a phone call promptly, rather than assuming you are busy with assembling the information to return their call (or you are away on vacation) the caller may assume something quite different:

    [T]here’s a risk that the person feeling “snubbed” by the offender may draw a completely different, and inaccurate, conclusion, such as:

    1. This is not a top priority to you
    2. You’re not a professional
    3. You’re a procrastinator
    4. You don’t have the answer
    5. I’m not important to you
    6. You’re disorganized
    7. You can’t be counted on
    8. You’re hiding
    9. You have bad news, but are not strong enough to communicate it to me

    Yikes! No professional would want to be labeled with these character attributes. Unfortunately, the wrong interpretation by the right person can harm business relationships and even careers.

    No one would intentionally send these messages to their clients that are noted above.  Yet by failing to return phone calls promptly, we are unintentionally sending these very negative messages…about ourselves and how responsible we are to our clients.

    So what to do?  There are a number of very good suggestions in these situations:

    1. The first thing is to recover your credibility. Acknowledge that the trust someone has placed in you has taken a hit. Your words and your actions have failed to align.  It is easy to lose credibility and hard to regain it afterwards. You made an explicit or implicit promise to your clients to care about their matter. Failing to return their phone call has broken that promise. Start by apologizing. This is NOT an excuse. Don’t say:  “I am sorry, but….” As soon as you say that word ‘but’ you have demolished any shred of credibility you had. Understand that you need to take ownership of the fact that you have disappointed your client and be real and honest to them. They are owed at least that much.
    2. Try to stop this from occurring in the first place by setting exceptions at the outset. If you are away from the office, on vacation, in court or on a personal matter, let your voice mail message shape the expectation of the caller as to when they can expect a call. If you have gone on an 180 day world tour, having your voice mail message state “Hi this is John Smith, I can’t take your call right now please leave a message” is completely different from “Hi this is John Smith. I am out of the office until March 2016. Please contact Jane Doe at extension 123 to discuss your matter or have this call answered by someone else at this office.”
    3. Ask yourself: “What kind of message do I want to leave with those who want to reach me?” If the answer to that is one of caring and commitment to their concerns, then you will implement policies such as having your assistant check your voice mail daily for messages and return your calls, if only to communicate that you are in trial and perhaps they could speak to someone else in your absence.
    4. Don’t wait to communicate bad news.  Failing to contact people promptly when things don’t go as expected sends a very powerful message – along the lines that  you are weak and don’t wish to face unpleasant facts and situations. Especially when things don’t go as expected is when clients will be looking to you as their source of strength to weather the setbacks.  If you fail them now, you will fail them in the long term.  Be their oak that stands up to the storm and let them know…in fair weather or foul ..that you will be there for them and be their source of strength.

    Above all, when that telephone rings…land line or mobile…recognize that you have a golden opportunity. You can build your reputation and your client trust or destroy it, one ringy-dingy at a time.

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Business Development, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    How to Avoid a Dead Cell Phone When Travelling
    Thursday, August 13th, 2015

    ♫ Cell phone’s dead
    Lost in the desert
    One by one…♫

    Lyrics and music by Beck Hensen.

    tossing cell phone

    [Image courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

    Having just returned from a long tenting camping vacation where my Blackberry was dead for most of the trip, I thought I would pass along some tips on how to avoid the kind of experience that I just went through.

    Notwithstanding that we were travelling with both an iPhone and a Blackberry and charging them equally in the vehicle when on the road (courtesy of having USB connectors that allowed us to use the 12 volt ports and plug in the phones to charge while the vehicle was running), the iPhone would have a charge of about 90-95% the next day and the Blackberry would be dead.

    Furthermore, the Blackberry kept on stating that it has exceeded its data limit plan (we were in the States for the most part and had data plans that had to be continually renewed) even when it was only ‘alive’ for 1 out of every 3 days (due to the fact that it would only be charged every 3 days due to our travel/camping schedule).

    What I found out on my return was that there was a big software update from Blackberry that it kept on trying to download when on the road.  If there was a notification of this, I have to say that I didn’t see it.  As a result the attempted download ate up the data limit on the plan and also ate up the battery life as well.

    So here is a collection of tips to hopefully avoid some of the problems encountered when travelling with a cell phone:

    • Get a data roving plan before you leave.  It is much better than getting hit with the pay-as-you-go rate in whatever jurisdiction you find yourself.
    • Use WIFI whenever possible and turn off the data on your phone.  Starbucks is my best friend on the road. For the price of a coffee you can connect to their Wifi network and check your email messages.  If you are lucky you can find a table with a power connection too and top up your battery charge.
    • If you can, use an unlocked phone or a small tablet that can accommodate a SIM card and purchase a SIM card in the jurisdiction of travel to cut down on your data costs.
    • Consider buying a disposable phone in the jurisdiction where you are going.  Often these are much cheaper than a roaming plan using a Canadian phone.  Furthermore, Canadian cell phones may not work in other jurisdictions.
    • Check to ensure that all software updates are installed BEFORE you leave.  Or if you find out there is one released while you are travelling, find a WIFI hotspot and do the update there, if possible.
    • Make sure you can charge your device wherever you may be. You may need extra plugs and adapters to accommodate the AC power in foreign jurisdictions.  See a travel store before you leave.
    • Get the apps, music and entertainment files you need before you leave.
    • Take photos of your passport, important documents, serial numbers etc and put them in the cloud where you can get at them in the event your device and such are stolen or lost.
    • Set up one HTML based email service with an easy to remember password that you can use in the event of an emergency, such as losing your device.
    • GPS applications are wonderful when travelling, but remember that they also eat up data at a horrendous rate (at least in my experience).

    I hope this helps ease some of the pain when travelling.  You don’t want to end up in the middle of the desert with your cell phone dead!

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    ScanSnap is a Snap!!!!
    Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

    ♫  Snap, what a happy sound
    Snap is the happiest sound I’ve found
    You may clap, rap, tap, slap but
    Snap… makes the world go round…♫

    Lyrics and music by Moosebutter.

    scansnap ix1500


    Continuing with the theme of technology that just works, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500.

    This little scanner punches way above its weight.  In fact in the years that I have been talking about scanners and going paperless, no one has ever said that they have regretted purchasing one of the ScanSnap line of scanners.  They have been a hit with every size firm, with every practice area and every type of lawyer right across North America.  Why?  They do their job simply, quietly, quickly and very efficiently.

    What do they do?  Here are the specs:

    • 50 page automatic sheet feeder
    • full duplex scan
    • 25 pages per minute in full colour, faster in B&W
    • works with Windows and Mac computers (I use mine with my MacBook Pro)
    • works with Android and iOS mobile devices and tablets
    • comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat Standard (for Windows PCs only, regrettably for us Mac users) as well as other bundled software
    • comes with a ‘carrier sheet’ – a dual layer clear plastic sheet that allows you to scan loose papers and receipts
    • can be set to OCR (optical character recognition) files automatically
    • detects colour, greyscale and black & white
    • you can create a PDF, text-searchable PDF or JPEG file
    • using Wi-Fi, you can scan directly to a personal computer, iPhone, iPad or Android device
    • if you wish, you can scan directly to your existing Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, SugarSync and Salesforce accounts

    The ScanSnap iX500 comes with a set of bundled software:

    • ScanSnap Manager (Windows and Mac)
    • ScanSnap Organizer (Windows)
    • ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap (Windows and Mac)
    • Adobe Acrobat X standard (Windows)
    • PFU CardMinder (Windows and Mac)
    • Rack2-Filer Smart and Magic Desktop (Windows) – Available only with iX500 Deluxe
    • ScanSnap Folder (Windows)
    • Scan to SharePoint (Windows)
    • Scan to Mobile (Windows and Mac)

    Full specifications can be found here and system requirements here.

    I have a ScanSnap at home and love it. It has allowed me to take my paper files and digitalize them and eliminate the need for paper files.  I also upload my documents into Dropbox and this allows me to have a full cloud-copy as well as a local copy of all my documents.  Have a hard drive failure?  No worries…get a new PC or Windows, link it to your Dropbox account and ZIP…your documents are now dowloaded on your local computer.  I know ..I experienced this.  Everything in my Dropbox account was quickly and easily recovered notwithstanding the HD crash (unfortunately I found out to my regret that my photos..that I thought were backed up in iCloud ..were not.  Now all my photos are backed up in Dropbox).  For important documents and folders, I use third party encryption that creates encrypted volumes within Dropbox for security.

    In my world, Snap makes the world go round.

    (published concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    What’s Your Bag?
    Thursday, June 25th, 2015

    ♫  He ain’t no drag 
    He’s got a brand new bag… ♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by: James Brown.


    solo ultracase

    This post continues the ‘no brainer’ posts about technology.  This time it is about a bit of technology that most people don’t put much thought into, I suspect, namely their computer laptop bag.

    Now some people will say that a bag is a bag is a bag.  I am not one of them. In fact I can say that I am quite particular about my bag.  I had a nice laptop bag given to me by our local Continuing Legal Education provider for being a volunteer that fit the bill nicely, but when it finally wore out after many years of hard use, I started looking for a replacement.

    I first settled on an Eagle Creek bag – the “Strictly Business” carryall.  Prior to this purchase I had had a number of bags from Eagle Creek of various sorts and liked them all. However, I discovered that the handles on the Strictly Business were too long…the bag almost dragged on the ground when carried by the handles rather than the shoulder strap- and I am a fellow who is 6’2″ tall.

    But when the zipper blew after only 6 months of owning the bag, I went in search of an alternative bag.

    What are the features that one looks for in a laptop bag?  To me the important features are:

    •  Size: Look for a nice padded internal compartment for the laptop that is well-padded and once inside, won’t allow the laptop to slide around much.  The compartment should be wide enough to take your laptop without a lot of extra room. The standard is to fit a 15″ laptop…if your laptop is bigger or smaller you may want to consider a larger or smaller bag.
    • Durable construction.  The bag that I received from CLE-BC lasted years of heavy use.  That was my measure of durability. Look for good padding, stout seams and good hardware, especially the zippers.  If you live in an area of significant rainfall or other harsh weather, ensure that the laptop will stay clean and dry inside.  I prefer a soft-sided laptop bag but some may prefer a harder case.  Personal preference.  Velcro should close easily and be secure. Magnetic fastenings should stay closed.  Seams should be well-sewn.
    • Style:  You are going to be taking this laptop bag to business meetings, on airplanes, checking into hotels and generally having it with you most days.  Accordingly the bag should match your style.
    • Weight: Leather may be a good choice in terms of durability and style; personally while I like the look and feel of a great leather bag, weight was also a consideration.  I carry a great deal of ‘stuff’ and the extra weight of a leather bag was too much for me since I walk to and from the office.  Accordingly, a fabric bag that is largely waterproof is high on my list of requirements.
    • Size: As I mentioned, I carry a lot of ‘stuff’ from the laptop power cord to various other cords, papers, USB drives, my chequebook etc…so I want a bag that has lots of compartments, pockets, internal zipped pouches etc to organize things such as your cell phone, business cards, pens, a chocolate bar or two, your wallet and passport and even your toothbrush and toothpaste. Ensure that your laptop bag meets the new restricted size limits if you plan to use it on airplanes.
    • Color: I am not referring to the color of the outside of the bag…that is a matter of personal preference.  But the new bag that I acquired..the Solo Urban 17.3″ Ultracase, while black (with orange trim) on the outside is bright orange on the inside. If you are accustomed to ferreting around trying to find something inside a black bag you will totally appreciate the difference a bright orange lining makes.  Finding something is now effortless.  Plus the bag is perhaps one of the sharpest I have seen for looks.  It it is a joy to carry and easily organizes and stores all my ‘stuff’.

    A laptop bag can be one of the most important overlooked items in your business life.  When it works well it is practically invisible since it performs its duties effortlessly and in a way that matches your lifestyle.  I am quite pleased with my Solo Urban Ultracase…Daddy’s got a brand new bag!!!

    (published concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Thursday, June 4th, 2015

    ♫ I just want the simple things..♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Miguel.


    This post continues the theme of innovative  technology for lawyers.  John Heckman, a legal technology consultant for whom I have a great deal of respect recently wrote in his blog “Does it Compute” a piece entitled:
    Technophobe and Proud Of It — the Consequences.  He states that there are “attorneys whose willful refusal to become conversant with their firm’s technology will drag down its productivity and ability to respond to client needs.” John then quotes Sharon Nelson, another good friend and legal technologist who is a co-author of the annual American Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide (for which the write is a contributing author) put it bluntly: “The raw choice is that lawyers must choose between adaption and extinction.”

    Well, fortunately there are technologies that are simple, effective and easy to use even for technophobes.  SimplyFile is one of them.

    This application which is a toolbar add-on for MS Outlook on the PC (not Mac..sigh!).  It does one thing very very well. It is an adaptive program that learns from you where you like to file emails in your Outlook folders.

    If you set up your Outlook folders to match your client files, then SimplyFile will help you quickly and easily move both incoming and outgoing emails into their proper file in Outlook. It learns from you and correctly guesses the correct folder 80-90% of the time.  Moving the email to the right folder once Simplyfile guesses the folder is just a mouse click.

    No longer will you end up with all your outgoing emails in the ‘Sent’ folder in Outlook.

    No longer do you ‘drag and drop’ emails to organize them.

    I have been using SimplyFile for years now and love it. There are companion applications that speed up other tasks and for those I refer you to Techhit’s web page.

    If you use a Document Management System (we use OpenText) Simplyfile helps you move your emails into your profiled folders in Outlook and from there they are indexed into the DMS system.  I understand it is equally effective with Worldox and other DMS platforms that work with MS Outlook (but you should check with your DMS provider first).

    When it comes to legal technology there is no question that for maximum adoption by lawyers on all points on the legal technology spectrum, the applications should keep it simple.

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Refine Your Writing with WordRake
    Thursday, May 21st, 2015

    ♫  Good lookin’, so refined
    Say wouldn’t you like to know whats going on in my mind?
    So let me get right to the point
    I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
    Hey Big Spender
    Spend, a little time with me…♫

    Music and lyrics by:  Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, from Sweet Charity.


    This column starts what I hope will be a series of columns on new and innovative technologies for lawyers.

    The kickoff column in this series deals with WordRake.

    WordRake is editing software for lawyers.

    Most of us have to write for a living. Contracts, pleadings, documents, memorandums – even blog posts – our ideas are as clear as the words, grammar, syntax and tone that we use to communicate our thoughts.

    Other than hiring an editor to go over your work, we are pretty much on our own to do our own editing and proofreading.

    That is, until WordRake. As Gary Kinder, the developer states, the secret to writing well is rewriting. WordRake will take your writing and suggest edits to remove unnecessary words, improve phrasing, improve your grammar and make dull sentences sparkle.

    It allows you to write clearly, be understood and make things happen with your written communications.

    If nothing else, you can improve your writing by subscribing to Gary Kinder’s Wednesday Writing Tips.

    WordRake works in Windows and with MS Word and Outlook. Alas, it doesn’t work on a Mac or I would be using it to help tighten this column. There is a 7 day free trial at www.wordrake.com.  So let me get right to the point, spend a little time with WordRake; it may be the best $199 (Word and Outlook for 1 year) that you spend this year.

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Fitbit is Here!
    Thursday, May 7th, 2015

    ♫ wheeeeeeeeeefit

    Lyrics and music by Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family).

    Who knew that keeping track of your fitness could be addictive – and fun? Welcome to the world of wearable technology and in particular, the Fitbit.


    The FitBit Flex is a wearable fitness wristband that helps you track your daily activity in terms of steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes.

    It tracks how long you slept and the quality of your sleep. It buzzes when you have achieved 10,000 steps in a day (the first time mine did this I almost jumped out of my skin!).

    It synchs wirelessly to your computer and smartphones. You can log additional activities such as biking, skiing, running and more.

    As you achieve your fitness goals, you get email reminders and badges that reinforce your progress. You can also track drinks of water and calories eaten in the food log section.

    If what gets measured gets done, the FitBit is a fun and novel way to keep on top of your fitness goals and see how you are doing.

    There are different devices ranging from the Flex (above) to the Surge that incorporates a heart monitor and is classified as a ‘Fitness Super Watch’ with GPS, notifications, music, Auto Sleep monitoring and alarms.

    Since keeping fit is something that all of us need to do more of, it is good to know that the Fitbit can be a great little way to get that little bit of motivation to achieve your goals with a tiny bit of wheeeeeeeeee….

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »