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Practice Management Tip Archive

Touchfire Keyboard for iPads—7/12/12

    Touchfire KeyboardThis super thin overlay keyboard is an amazing advance, bringing true touch typing to the iPad while adding almost nothing to its profile or weight. The transparent keyboard attaches magnetically to the bottom half of the iPad in a profile so thin you can "swipe" right through it to see the keys underneath, and so flexible it can be folded out of the way. Some early reviews of the Touchfire include:

    New York Times—"The keyboard is incredibly simple to use. Typing on it is like typing on a physical keyboard."

    Wired—"Two Seattle-based inventors have come up with an iPad keyboard that could dramatically alter the tablet keyboard landscape."

    FastCompany—"Turns the iPad into a true laptop killer."

    CNET—"The super-thin-and-lightweight TouchFire adds virtually no physical bulk."

    Technolawyer’s review of the Touchfire is titled This Accessory is the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Your iPad's Keyboard. Read the review or go right to the Touchfire website and watch the video. Either way, if you own an iPad, are thinking about buying one, or simply like technology, check out the new Touchfire keyboard.

Law Practice Solutions (Monthly Feature of the Michigan Bar Journal)

    Customer Relationship Management Software
    Help for Attorneys in a Competitive Marketplace
    By John Crane and Victoria Vuletich

    The legal profession is not immune to the profound changes occurring in the business world. To be successful, attorneys must adapt to these changes.

    Clients are increasingly demanding that their attorneys demonstrate an active personal interest in their unique needs and challenges in addition to providing quality legal services. Relationship marketing has been a weapon in attorneys’ arsenals for a number of years. However, the traditional way attorneys have approached client development requires adaptation to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. (Read the article in the July issue.)

Real PC Apps on iPad and Android—6/28/12

    OnLive Desktop
    OnLive Desktop delivers the power of a desktop PC to your iPad and Android tablets, providing a Microsoft Windows desktop experience through the cloud. By accessing OnLive Desktop through the Internet, working with redlines in Word, editing Excel graphs, presenting PowerPoint presentations, and browsing Flash websites is as easy as turning on your tablet. The basic application is free. OnLive Desktop Plus ($4.99/month) provides "all the features of the Standard service, plus cloud-accelerated Web browsing with Adobe Flash, lightning-fast transfer of Web mail attachments (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo!Mail), cloud storage (e.g., Dropbox) files, priority access to the OnLive Desktop service, and more." Internet connectivity is the critical component to take advantage of this application. Take a minute to watch the introductory video to learn why you should consider adding OnLive Desktop to your tablet.

Adobe® SENDNOW—6/20/12

    If you need to send large files and have struggled with different solutions, spend a few minutesAdobe SendNow exploring Adobe SENDNOW. This service provides a way to send large files, convert the files to PDF prior to sending, limit the amount of time the recipient has to retrieve the file, provide an e-mail receipt when the file has been retrieved, attach personal branding items, and supply detailed tracking. Functionality options vary according to pricing plan. Plan versions are Free, Basic Plan @ $9.99/month and the Plus Plan @ $15.83 month.

Law Practice Solutions (Monthly Feature of the Michigan Bar Journal)

    The iPad in Law Practice (Part 2)
    By Scott Bassett

    Last month, I wrote about using the iPad 2 in my practice. I covered the basics, from the initial purchase decision to accessories I find useful, along with the all-important collection of apps that turn the iPad into a law practice tool. This month, I move beyond the basics to explore less obvious ways I use the iPad in my practice and related activities. (Read the article in the June issues.)

Zoom Zoom . . .—6/12/12

    magnifyIf you find yourself looking for the toolbar icon that lets you zoom in and out, STOP! Instead, hold down the control key and use the scroll button on your mouse. Using this shortcut, it is very easy to change the view to multiple pages by continuing to "scroll smaller." Take a minute to try this tip—it is easy to remember and intuitive to use with just a couple of practice runs. Control + Scroll works in Office, Adobe, and on web pages.

Document Assembly Tools—Free Podcast—6/8/12

    Legal Talk Network's "The Un-Billable Hour" host Rodney Dowell and State Bar of Michigan Practice Management Advisor Diane Ebersole explain how document assembly applications have advanced in the last few years and how these applications can increase the bottom line for your law firm. Listen to the free podcast (34 min) and download the accompanying list of resources to explore the many ways a lawyer can increase productivity, particularly for document intensive practices. legaltalk

Web Conference Using Your Smart Phone—5/24/12

    Several web conferencing service providers have customized their applications and services to work on smart phones. You no longer have to be locked in to a land line to host or join a web conference. Check out the following applications to learn about time-saving options that would be an asset for your firm.

    Android iPhone
      Smart Phone Dictation
    WebEx WebEx
    GoToMeeting GoToMeeting
    JoinMe JoinMe
    Adobe Connect Adobe Connect

Smart Phone Dictation—5/9/12

    Optimize your smart phone efficiency by installing and using a smart phone dictation application. These applications do more than enable digital dictation—they also make it easy to attach your dictated file to an e-mail or send it to an Internet storage location like Dropbox. Using either of these options, your transcription assistant has easy access to the digital file. The file can also be processed by a digital transcription application.

    Some of the most popular digital transcription applications are listed here:

Outlook—Disabling Forwarding and Reply to All—5/1/12

    Outlook

    Thanks to Reba Nance, practice management advisor for the Colorado Bar Association, for sharing this tip:

    Outlook 2003 and 2007 allow setting up an e-mail form that prevents recipients from forwarding e-mails to anyone else as long as the sender and recipient both use Outlook. Although there are ways of getting around this, (the recipient could cut and paste the content of your e-mail into another e-mail), this isn’t as easy as simply hitting "Forward." Plus, the cut-and-pasted e-mail would not have your "header" information on it, such as your name, your e-mail address, the time and date you sent the original message, etc.

    The two links below contain detailed instructions for setting this up. Even easier, click on the "Show Me" link and you can watch a step-by-step video. Note that the instructions show how to prevent "forwarding" and also prevent "reply to all." You can set up a form that does both, or simply create a form to prevent "forwarding." The instructions are very straight-forward.

    Here’s how to do it in Outlook 2007

    Here’s how to do it in Outlook 2003

Law Practice Today—4/18/12

    Law Practice Today

    ABA TECHSHOW Tips, the current issue of The ABA Law Practice Management bi-monthly magazine Law Practice Today, has articles and informative columns written by frequent presenters at TECHSHOW. This issue, available on the web even if you are not a member of the ABA, will help to Increase your knowledge and skills in a variety of applications. The magazine provides a great list of books, blogs, and websites, feature articles, columns, and product reviews that are designed to help move your practice to the next level of efficiency by utilizing technology.

Mac Trojan Flashback—4/10/12

    Macbook

    If you are a Mac user, you may have noticed that the trojan Flashback, a malicious software program, is making the news. Flashback differs from earlier Mac attack applications by the way your machine becomes infected. Flashback is known as a drive-by download—all you have to do is visit a website that is hosting Flashback and the application can install itself. Macword magazine has published a very thorough article outlining the steps to take to minimize the risk of drive-by malware infections like Flashback. If you use a Mac in your practice or at home and haven’t yet taken the time to get up-to-speed on drive-by malware risks, make the time today.

Law Practice Solutions (Monthly Feature of the Michigan Bar Journal)

    Practice Smarter, Not Harder, With These 50 iPad and iPhone Apps
    By JoAnn L. Hathaway

    When talking technology in 2012, it’s becoming more and more apparent that yesterday’s news is closer to last week’s. We find that technological advances are moving rapidly, providing ever-expanding options. It’s not uncommon to hear people voice feelings of frustration with their inability to keep up with technology. If this sounds like you, take comfort—you’re not alone. (Read the article in the March issue)

Keep Your Touch Screens Fingerprint Free—4/3/12

    Mobile ClothSharon Nelson, attorney and president of Sensei Enterprises, Inc. has written an uncharacteristically low tech post on her Ride the Lightning blog. Sharon has found a solution for those smudges, fingerprints, and germs that are covering our touch screen devices. Read her post about Mobile Cloth and while you are there, explore some of her other posts. If computer forensics and information security are of interest to you, be sure to bookmark Ride the Lightning.

Practice Management Lending Library

Legal Talk Network—3/22/12

SBM's Free Legal Research Tool, Casemaker, Gets High Marks—3/14/12

    CasemakerHow much is your firm currently spending on a legal research service? Robert Ambrogi, author of the blog LawSites, has recently posted a detailed review of the new and improved Casemaker, the legal research service provided free of charge to all State Bar of Michigan members. Mr. Ambrogi gives the improved Casemaker high marks for the new "simple and intuitive" user interface and the "universal search from every page." His review also explains how to use additional new enhancements which include User Created Folders, Track Research by Clients, and Add Notes to Documents. The post includes a succinct explanation of the premium product Casemaker+ which includes the Casemaker version of Shepard’s and Key Site, and CiteCheck which allows you to upload a document and run it through a citation checker. Take a few minutes to read this post, then go to the Member Area of the SBM website and try Casemaker yourself.

Up Your iPad Productivity—3/7/12

    iPadTom Mighell, author of iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, has written iPad for Lawyers: Practice Law; Tips and Tricks; More for the March Your ABA newsletter. In this article Tom writes about accessories, productivity apps for lawyers, legal specific apps, and provides some great user tips. This article is a perfect resource to help quickly improve the usefulness of your iPad in your practice.

Scan Business Cards with Your Cell Phone—2/23/12

    CamCard

    There are several applications available that will scan and read business cards using your cell phone. CamCard is one example that has applications for both Android and iPhone smart phones. This app allows the user to scan, save, organize and share business cards. The CamCard website describes the app: "CamCard is a professional business card reader and business card scanner. Simply take a picture of a business card, and CamCard recognizes the business card and saves contact information in Card Holder or your Address Book." A quick search of iTunes or the Android Market will let you shop for all of the apps that scan from your phone. Shop around to see which one is for you.

When Do You Send Out Your Bills?—2/14/12

    calendar

    Billing is probably the least favorite task on an attorney's to-do list. This often leads to an erratic billing "system" with unintended consequences. One factor you may not have considered is when it's best to send out your statements. If you bill once a month, when should the bills be mailed to your clients? Ed Poll, author of The Business of Law, recommends that "Billing statements should be mailed so that they reach the client on or before the first day of the month." Since many people pay their bills on or shortly after the first of the month, you want your bill to be on the top of the pile! According to Mr. Poll, "All statements received after about the fifth of the month are usually considered for payment in the following month." Establish a date around the 25th of each month where you reserve time to do your billing. Billing predictability, combined with an end-of-month arrival date, will help reduce the firm’s receivables.

    Additional resources to help you develop billing policies for your firm:
    Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour, Strategies That Work by James A. Calloway & Mark A Robertson; How to Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay by J. Harris Morgan & Jay G. Foonberg. These books and The Business of Law are available to borrow from the PMRC Lending Library.

The SBM Brings You Its Newest Membership Benefit

    Best BuyNEW! Best Buy for Business™ offers State Bar of Michigan members the technology products and services you need to keep your business running smoothly. Personal Account Managers are ready to listen and learn about your specific requirements, give objective advice and assist you every step of the way. We offer over 150,000 business-grade products beyond our in-store assortment. Whether you are shopping for appliances, computers, televisions, furniture, office supplies, commercial performance plans or installation services, we provide complete business solutions.

    Best Buy For Business offers discounted pricing for SBM members. You can place orders over the phone, online or by fax, and we’ll arrange for in-store pick-up or delivery to your location, so you can Geek Squadstay focused on your business. SBM members are also eligible for special pricing on Geek Squad® Office Support. Keep your business on track and enjoy peace of mind with 24/7 support and IT coverage that includes remote access as well as on-site installation, upgrades and repairs.

    To take advantage of the SBM member benefits Best Buy For Business offers, e-mail Account Manager Ty Harris at ty.harris@bestbuy.com, call (800) 373-3050 x20306 or fax (952) 430-2391. Introduce yourself as a member of the State Bar of Michigan and we’ll help you find the right products and services at discounted prices.

New Improved Clio!—2/7/12

    clio

    Clio, the web based practice management tool, is consistently adding to and improving the functionality of the application. They recently made several improvements to the calendar functions. One that is especially useful is the ability to add the statute of limitations date to a matter. You canclio calendar also have the system remind you of a date by either e-mail or a popup. Clio also has added the ability to have all statute of limitation dates that you have set viewed in your monthly calendars. Review the Clio announcement of the new calendar features and explore how they might be useful to your firm. Spend some time learning how to implement adding the statute of limitations date to a matter and set up the auto reminders. This new feature could help save you from a very serious oversight!

The SBM Brings You A New Membership Benefit

    Ruby ReceptionistsRuby Receptionists is the perfect solution for solo and small law firms. We’re the bright, friendly virtual receptionist service that provides top-notch service at a fraction of the cost of an onsite receptionist. Best of all, your callers will think we work in your office.

    SBM members enjoy free setup, ongoing free voicemail boxes, and discounts on monthly charges. To learn more, contact Diana Stepleton at (866) 611-RUBY (7829) or by e-mail to hello@callruby.com or visit us at www.callruby.com.

    For a wealth of practice management resources at your fingertips visit the PMRC website.

Save Time Printing Labels—1/31/12

    Lawyerist.com

    Randall Ryder, writing for Lawyerist.com, makes an excellent case for investing in a Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo Printer. These handy label printers can be used in a variety of ways to increase the efficiency in your office. The 450 Twin Turbo prints both address labels and postage labels. There are a lot of uses for these handy little printers. Some offices have a label printer set up to print appointment reminder labels—print a label with the date and time of the client’s next appointment, stick it on the back of a business card and give it to the client as the appointment reminder. Having a quick way to create file labels will increase the likelihood that files are properly labeled as they are created. The ROI is measured in efficiency and saves your regular printer from damage when label printing goes bad.

Making Collaboration Tools Work in 2012

    Join presenters Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell for this FREE PODCAST as they discuss how lawyers can overcome common collaboration challenges, improve their knowledge of collaboration tools, and access the best related technologies available in 2012. Listen to the Podcast.

Google "Ah Ha" Moments—1/24/12

    google law

    Jim Calloway’s column, Sites for Sore Eyes, in the latest GPSOLO eReport entitled Beyond the Basics of Google, is guaranteed to provide every reader with an "Ah Ha" moment. This article not only points out some of the most often overlooked features of Google that everyone can use, but also provides tips designed specifically to help attorneys make the most of Google. Google Alerts, Google Scholar and Google Patents are all covered in this lively article.

    Did you know that you can make sure your firm appears in the results of a Google search for "attorney + your zip code"? Read this column to learn how to maximize this Google marketing tool for your firm so you can reap the dividends.

Note That!—1/17/12

    mail

    Every week someone has done something which helped, motivated or touched you. Send them an old fashioned snail mail note to thank them! Make it a Friday afternoon, winding-down-the-week scheduled task. If you encountered someone who needs encouragement, send them a note. If the court clerk was especially helpful or the security guard at the court house extended you a helping hand, send them a note. Ending your week with a random act of kindness is uplifting and good marketing!

Gizmo–Free Resources!—1/10/12

    gizmo's freewareGizmo is a website that reviews and rates some of the best free applications available. It also provides articles, tutorials and user guides. There are recommendations for applications that are available for productivity, security, education, and just plain fun. You can sign up to receive their newsletter or subscribe to their RSS feed so that you never miss the news about free applications that can help boost your productivity, protect your data, and provide some stress relief.

Starting the New Year Right—1/4/12

    Josh Camson, writing for Lawyerist.com, created a post Use the Bluth Method to Improve Your Law Practice. It is very cleverly written and an excellent read. The three Bluth tips andcalendar the analogies used to explain them will stick with you. Take a minute to read the "Bluth Method" and peruse the Lawyerist.com site for other valuable resources. It is a good way to start the New Year and improve your law practice.

Success or Failure May Depend on How Well You Handle Client Communications—12/20/11

    cansRandall Ryder, writing for Lawyerist.com recently posted Client Communication: Set Expectations for Response Time. This blog post is an excellent reminder of how important it is to clearly establish the communication expectations for your clients. If you don’t establish the expectation, your clients might create their own, and you may fall short. Read the post and then implement some of the suggestions. Adding a paragraph to your retainer agreement outlining your communication policies might be a good task to add to your New Year’s improvement plan.

Teach Google Chrome and Acrobat to Play Nice Together—12/13/11

    Google ChromeIf you are a fan of Google Chrome and PDFs, you may have experienced a high level of frustration when trying to work with them together. Rick Borstein, author of the blog "Acrobat for Legal Professionals" has a new post which will show you how to enhance the Chrome-PDF experience. He describes how to turn off Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer and replace it with Adobe Reader or your version of Acrobat. The post also outlines the steps needed to improve printing PDF files from Chrome. The instructions are precise, well illustrated, and easy to follow.

Gift Ideas for the Holidays—12/6/11

    Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson have created the 49th edition of the Digital Edge podcast in the gift-giving spirit of December. Their lively banter discusses a wide variety of tech items and gadgets, both useful and fun, that may help you with your December purchases. In addition to their podcast, the list of show notes provides links to all of the items discussed.

    Reid Trautz, chair of ABA Techshow 2012, has also issued his annual Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers. This list provides some product comparisons and purchase advice. If you are looking for gifts in the productivity, food, or just plain fun categories, check out Reid’s list for some great ideas.

    One more excellent list which provides a compilation of shopping ideas is Attention, Shoppers: A Lawyer’s Gift Guide from the folks at Attorney At Work. In addition to looking at the list, take a minute to read some of the posts on this site whose motto is "one really good idea every day."

    SBM waterbottle and other logo gear for saleDon’t forget that the State Bar of Michigan has some great gift ideas also. We have water bottles, travel mugs, t-shirts, hats, polo shirts, and many other items. To order your SBM gear, you can log in to the Member Area and select SBM Store or simply complete the mail/fax form. If you have any questions about the products, please contact Tracy Sproul in Member Services at 888-SBM-ForU or by e-mail to tsproul@mail.michbar.org.

Sticky State of Mind—11/29/11

    StickiesDo you have yellow sticky notes all over your work space, attached to your monitor, cell phone, briefcase, laptop, and the dashboard of your car? Then you live in a sticky state of mind. Never fear, there is a free application to take your sticky notes to the next level. Integrate them into your computer desktop using an app appropriately called Stickies. This nifty little application functions like a to-do-list with alarms, a memory, and the beautiful square yellow visual of a sticky note. In a perfectly disciplined mind, all of the uses for sticky notes would be incorporated into the functions in your e-mail application using reminder notes, appointments, and tasks. For some of us, that will never happen. Enter Stickies. This tiny app, contained in a super fast download and install, was recently reviewed by PCWorld. Take a look and see if this might be a tool that helps your sticky state of mind stay organized. Once installed the icon resides in your task tray near the clock in the lower right corner of your monitor. A click on the icon creates a new note; a right click on the icon displays options to create a new note. A right click on the title bar of an existing note lets you change options. Although it is not a web-based mobile app, it is a very tidy, quite handy addition to your monitor desktop.

PrimoPDF—11/22/11

    PrimoPDFIf you are looking for an affordable alternative to Adobe Acrobat, you can’t beat PrimoPDF because it’s free! Granted, PrimoPDF doesn’t do everything Adobe Acrobat does, but it will create a PDF file from any file that prints. The PrimoPDF creation profile allows you to create the same kind of PDF file every time. Choose from predefined profiles or create a custom profile. Any newly created PDF can easily be appended to an existing PDF and you can set the document properties to control what metadata is included in each PDF creation. You can also control whether a viewer of your PDF creation can print, copy the text, add comments, or change the contents of the file. The newest version includes a drag-and-drop PDF creation option that allows you to drag a file to the PrimoPDF desktop icon to create the document. Alternatively, you can choose the PrimoPDF printer option. The PrimoPDF download takes about 15 seconds, and the install completes in less than 2 minutes. Choosing to also install the PrimoPDF Reader adds another 2 minutes to the process. PrimoPDF provides a very viable alternative to the more pricey Adobe Acrobat. Check it out!

Time Management—Who Has Time for it?—11/15/11

    clockTime management may be one of the most crucial factors in determining the success or failure of every attorney, but especially the solo small firm attorney. There are books, seminars, blogs, software applications for your computer and your cell phone, plus time management specialists all devoted to helping you learn to manage your time. Who has time for all of that? If you recognize the need, but don’t know where to start, read How to Manage Not to Waste Your Time by Donna Seyle. Donna writes frankly and succinctly about her "less-than-productive time management system" and how she is working to change it. Her post shares a list of 10 applicable concepts to help every attorney improve their personal time management skills. It is a quick read too!

Gmail Conversation View Driving You Crazy? Turn It Off!

    gearBy default, Gmail groups all e-mail items in a conversation behind the original e-mail. You can easily manage the setting that turns the conversation feature on or off by following these steps: Click on the gear shaped options icon (upper right)> click on Mail Settings > scroll down to Conversation View > click on Off > scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Save.

    If you turn this feature off, your e-mail will be arranged by date and time delivered to your inbox. This process can easily be reversed by repeating the same steps and choosing "On", followed by "Save".

Three Handy Keyboard Shortcuts for Outlook Users

    ctrlThese three keyboard shortcuts are a powerful addition to help speed up navigation in Outlook. Execute these shortcuts by depressing and holding the Control key(Ctrl), followed by the number key.

     

      Control + 1 will move you to the Inbox view
      Control + 2 will move you to the Calendar view
      Control + 3 will move you to the Contacts view

Adobe Reader for Mobile Devices—10/24/11

    October 17, 2011 Adobe released Adobe Reader for iDevices and Android phones, a free application available from the App Store and Android Market in a very quick download. The application starts with "Getting Started with Adobe Reader," a tutorial explaining the Adobe Reader interface. Even if you have a PDF application on your mobile device, add this one to your arsenal of mobile tools.Adobe Reader for Mobile Devices It is quick, easy, and offers some of the classic Adobe Reader options not found in other applications. Features included in the Reader are search, magnify, vertical and horizontal scroll control, and bookmarks. It also supports password-protected PDF documents. In any view, touching the middle of the screen brings up the toolbars, and touching the bookmark in the lower right corner will display an active bookmark window. Opening a PDF file from your e-mail or a web page is easy. In just 10 minutes, you can install this application, quickly run through the tutorial, and increase your PDF firepower. This is a long-overdue solution for users who just want to open, read, and navigate PDF files on their mobile devices.

New iPhone—Worth the Investment?—10/18/11

    Are you thinking about upgrading to a new iPhone 4S? Check out this post by Jeff Richardson, author of the iPhone J.D. Blog. The post It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, not only provides you with Jeff’s insights, but also provides links to over a dozen additional reviews of the iPhone 4S. A word of caution: Don’t read these reviews if you think you will be dissuaded from ordering the new phone. It is likely that you will be queuing up online or at a store after reading these enthusiastic reviews.

Should You Upgrade the Operating System?

    If you noticed the buzz about the latest operating system iOS5 for your iPhone 3GS, 4, iPad or iPad 2 and wonder if it is worth the trouble to download and install it, once you read this post E-mail Improvements in iOS5 you will be sold on the system for the e-mail enhancements alone.

    And Scott Bassett, a member of the State Bar Practice Management Resource Center Advisory Committee, adds . . .

    For those of you with iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices new enough to accept the iOS 5 update (iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, iPod Touch 4G, iPod Touch 3G), but have not been able to download the update file using the standard method in iTunes, try doing it outside of iTunes with a direct download. There are instructions and direct download links at Gizzmodo.com.

    (If following the instructions at the link above, remember that it is Shift>Restore instead of Option>Restore if using a Windows PC.)

    Note that the direct download links will only get you the update file more quickly. You will still need to connect to Apple's servers to authenticate the update after it is installed.

    Plus, here is a useful update and getting started guide.

    One of the nice new features of iOS 5 is that your device will now be completely independent of your Mac or PC.

Save That Thought!—10/11/11

    Do you ever need to quickly capture a thought, list a to-do item or remember a parking spot location? Using an application like Tape-a-Talk for Android devices or Voice Memos for iPhones allows you to quickly create an audio reminder note. These apps can be very handy, making it easy to record a Save that thoughtmessage and delete it after the reminder has served its purpose. Some of these applications also make it easy to send the recording as an attachment to an e-mail. If you've ever found yourself wandering around a parking lot searching for your car—or hitting your forehead because you finally remembered what it was you were supposed to do—explore a "voice solution" through the Android Market or the Apple App Store.

    If you are interested in a cross-platform note capture application this earlier tip about Evernote may prove helpful.

Struggling to Choose A Remote Backup Service?—10/4/11

    If you haven’t implemented a remote backup service as part of your disaster preparedness plan, this website might help you choose your provider. The world of backup providers is a bustling place with new players entering the market and others dropping out on a regular basis. How do you chooseRemote Backup Service which service will be the best for your practice or home? Backup Review provides a top-25 list every month with the top providers for three groups—consumer, small-medium business, and enterprise. Each monthly listing is accompanied by in-depth reviews of several of the products, including instructions on how to install and use the backup services. The site also provides an easily accessible archive which makes it possible to rate a service over time.

Have an iPad but Can’t Use It?—9/29/11

    So you went out and bought an iPad and now you are flummoxed trying to understand how it works. While it appears that very little documentation comes with an iPad there are a couple of surprisingly robust resources available if you have access to the Internet.

    Using the Safari browser on your iPad click on the Bookmark icon. The iPad User Guide bookmark is preloaded and listed in Bookmarks. Simply click on it and you are linked to a comprehensive online source to help you master your iPad.

    A second option is the complete PDF user manual available from Apple. This document is a 16 MB, 198 page, comprehensive manual which may take a few minutes to download. Once it has downloaded to your iPad, touch the screen in the upper right hand corner and you will have the option to open the User Guide in iBooks. Once saved into iBooks it will be at the ready whenever you need it regardless of Internet availability.

Legal Office Guru—9/21/11

    Legal Office Guru recently created a tutorial Don’t miss that important Microsoft Outlook e-mail! Setting Legal Office Guruup a couple of these rules will help you instantly identify important e-mail from your boss or the court. The tutorial is easy to follow, and the results are impressive. Be sure to check out this Legal Office Guru tutorial, and while you are on the site take a minute to look at all the other valuable resources designed specifically for legal environments. There is even a section dedicated to WordPerfect devotees! Consider adding one of the Legal Office Guru feeds or joining their Facebook page to stay current with this valuable resource.

Tips & Techniques for Using an Android-Powered Device in Your Law Practice—9/13/11

Acrobat and Microsoft Office 2010 Compatibility—8/30/11

    Acrobat for Legal Professionals BlogThinking about upgrading to Office 2010? Read this post, Acrobat and Microsoft Office 2010 Compatibility first. Rick Borstein has written a must-read explanation of the results of moving to Office 2010 without upgrading to Adobe Acrobat X. "Adobe Acrobat X is the first version of Acrobat to support Microsoft Office 2010. The Acrobat 9 PDF Maker toolbars do not function or appear in Microsoft Office 2010!" Turns out Acrobat 9 was released back in 2008! Rick’s responses to many questions help put this Office/Acrobat relationship in perspective. Add Acrobat for Legal Professionals, Rick’s blog, to your favorites or use the RSS feed to keep you up-to-date on Acrobat.

NOLO’s Plain English Law Dictionary—8/23/11

    NOLOThis free application is available for both iPad and iPhone. NOLO’s dictionary app was updated in October of 2010 and has even more definitions and features than the original 2009 version. NOLO’s dictionary will not compete with the $50 Black’s Law Dictionary application, but it does a good job explaining common legal terms in plain English. The NOLO dictionary is also available online from your computer. The application may prove most useful when attorneys are looking for the plain English definitions of complex legal terms to help their clients understand the legal lexicon.

Using Checklists in Your Law Practice—8/18/2011

    Jim Calloway’s recent column for Lawyers USA entitled Using Checklists in Your Law Practice is worth the read! If you need some inspiration to help you get organized or improve efficiency, take a minute and check out his column. If you really want checklist inspiration, Jim recommends reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. It is not expensive in paperback, but it is even less if you use one of the free reader applications to purchase and read it.

    Kindle and Nook both have free reader applications which can be installed on almost every platform including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Blackberry, Windows PC or Windows Phone 7. You don’t have to own a Kindle or Nook to take advantage of the reader technology. Install the free application and then purchase the book to read wherever and whenever you have the time. Put it on your checklist!

Browse the Internet Using Google Chrome—7/19/11

    google chromeIf you haven’t browsed the Internet using Google Chrome, consider giving it a try. It is free and installs in minutes, if you are using Windows 7/Vista/XP. Google Chrome offers faster browsing, enhanced security protections, and a streamlined search engine. There are also a wide array of add-ins, known as extensions, that help you to customize Google Chrome. Read the recent CNET review of the newest version of Google Chrome. Visit the Google Chrome site.

Tools and Apps for Bloggers—7/12/11

    Dan Pinnington, practice management advisor and practice PRO director for Lawyers' Professional 20+ TipsIndemnity Company in Toronto, Canada, recently linked to a list of resources designed to make blogging easier. If you are a blogger or interested in improving the quality of your blog, take a few minutes to read 20+ Essential Tools and Applications for Bloggers. The list includes resources to help you to organize your thoughts, develop interesting content, find keywords for search engine optimization, share your content, and publish and edit your posts.

    Even if you don’t blog, the list includes information regarding how to create documents using a web-based word processor, how to save documents, tasks, and reminders that can be accessed from your computer or mobile device, and how to record notes and ideas using digital dictation.*

    * If you are going to use one of these applications (like Dropbox) for secure client data, be sure you understand who holds the encryption key. See also Tip dated 3/1/11.

Quick Reference Software Comparison Guide—7/5/11

    The ABA recently published an updated chart comparing practice management case management software and time and billing software for the benefit of solo and small firm practitioners interested in investing in software applications to improve management of their law practices. The consolidated document, which compares several software applications on the basis of price, technical requirements, compatibility, and technical support, may be downloaded free of charge. (Note: page 6 in the original document is a blank page.) Clio Practice Management System

    The chart includes a description of Clio, which is an SBM Preferred Partner. All members of the State Bar of Michigan receive a 10% lifetime discount. View more information about this new member benefit program.

Accessing a Recently Opened Doc in Word 2007 & 2010—6/28/11

    There are a several ways to open a document you recently worked on. You can look through your directories to find it, create an icon and save it on your desktop, or view your most recently used file list, which is the easiest way.

    In the Windows 7 environment:recent doc

    • Open Word (either a new document or an existing one).
    • The Word icon will now appear in the tray on the bottom of your screen.
    • Right click on the Word icon and a list of the most recently opened Word documents will appear.
    • Click on the document you want and it will automatically open!

      tray






    In the Windows XP environment:

    • Open Word (either a new document or an existing one).
    • Click on the "Office Button" in the upper left corner and a list of the most recently opened Word documents will appear.
    • Click on the document you want and it will automatically open!

Tips for Using Keystrokes to Browse the Web—6/21/11

    After you enter your search terms into your favorite search engine, press the enter key to execute your search. Then, instead of reaching for your mouse to navigate to the previous webarrows page, use the altkey combination: Alt + arrow key, which allows you to quickly page back and forth between all of the web pages you previously viewed. The Alt + left arrow key moves you back a page and the Alt + right moves you forward a page.

    These key strokes are quicker than using your mouse to click on the arrows in the top left-hand corner of your browser page.

    If you are using a Mac, use the Command key instead of the Alt key to navigate back and forth between web pages previously viewed.

Capturing Screenshots on a Mac—6/14/11

    commandThe keystroke combination for capturing a screenshot on a Mac is "Command+Shift+3." This combination of keystrokes will produce a shutter clicking sound and the resulting screenshot will be captured in a file, which is automatically placed on your desktop. crosshair

    The keystroke combination of "Command+Shift+4" will change your cursor to a crosshair symbol. When the crosshair symbol appears, use either of the following options to create a graphic file on your desktop. You can click and drag the cursor to select the area of the screen you camerawant to capture or press the spacebar to capture the window or toolbar you want to copy. When you press the spacebar, the crosshair will change into the picture of a camera. Use your cursor to move the camera to the window or toolbar you want to copy and left click to capture the area.¹ When you release the cursor, you will hear a shutter clicking sound.

    The first graphic file that you create will be labeled "Picture 1." Subsequent screenshots will be labeled in numerical sequence.

    To integrate an image into a document, add the "Control" key to either of the keystroke combinations above ("Command+Shift+Control+3" or "Command+Shift+Control+4"). The image will be captured on your clipboard. Use the keystroke "Command+V" to paste the image from the clipboard into your document.

Capturing Screenshots in Windows—6/7/11

    Print ScreenHave you ever wondered how the "Print Screen" key functions? This key can be used to capture a "screenshot," an image of your desktop or the active Window of the software application that you are using.

    When you press the "Prt Scr" key while using a PC or laptop, which has either XP or Windows 7 operating systems, nothing happens….or so it seems. Actually, when you press the "Prt Scr" key, a screenshot of an image of your desktop or the active Window of the software application that you are using is temporarily stored in the Windows Clipboard waiting to be pasted into whichever document you choose. For example, when you open Word, PowerPoint, an e-mail or Paint, and "right ³ click > paste" or enter the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl + V," the image is pasted into your document.

    If you have multiple Windows open and only want to capture the screenshot of the "top"or "active" Window, such as an error message, hold down the "Alt" key and then press the "Prt Scr" key. This combination of key strokes will allow you to copy only the active Window to the Windows Clipboard. To insert the image of the active Window into your document, "right click > paste" or enter "Ctrl + V" again.

    When using Windows 7 on a 64 bit machine, pressing the "Prt Scr" key darkens the entire screen and a cursor with a click and drag appears. Use the click and drag cursor to select the area to be captured. When you release the click and drag cursor, two tool bars will appear around your selection. The vertical bar allows you to share your screenshot via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook. The horizontal toolbar has the following options: edit online, upload, print, copy, save, and close.

    The Windows 7 operating system also has a Snipping Tool, which includes more sophisticated Windows 7options for capturing a screenshot. The Snipping Tool snipping toolcan be found by clicking the Windows Start button located in the lower left-hand corner of the computer screen. Enter Snipping Tool in the search box and then click on Snipping Tool. You can access the Snipping Tool drop down menu by clicking on the arrow next to "New." An explanation of how the four screen capture features, Free-form Snip, Rectangular Snip, Window Snip, and Full-screen Snip, operate is provided when you click on the each feature.

ABA TECHSHOW 2011 PowerPoint Presentations—5/31/11

    "60 Tips in 60 Minutes" and "60 Sites in 60 Minutes" are popular sessions at Techshow the ABA's annual three-day technology and CLE conference and exposition. The PowerPoint presentations from these two sessions are now available online in PDF format along with materials from other presentations, including "Going Beyond Microsoft Word on the Mac," "Getting the Most Out of PDF Software," "2011 SmartPhone Shootout," and "Getting the Most from Speech Recognition Software."

Google Search Tips—5/24/11

    Google Web Search has advanced search features that allow you to tailor your search to produce specific results.


    search
    google

    Exact phrase search
    There are two easy ways to use Google Search to search for an exact phrase. You can enclose the phrase in quotation marks that you enter into the Google search box (standard search feature). You can also click on the "Advanced search" link, and enter the phrase into the "this exact wording or phrase" box. In both instances, Google will provide results that include the exact phrase in the exact order you specified.

    Narrowing your search
    When using the Google search box, place a minus (-) sign immediately before a word to exclude that specific word from your results. You can also use the advanced search feature to narrow your search by entering words into the "any of these unwanted words" box to exclude those words from your results.

    Broadening your search
    To broaden your results, insert OR (in capital letters) in the search box between words. Alternatively, you can enter words into the "one or more of these words" box in the advanced search feature. Your results will include web pages and documents that include one, some or all of the words you specified.

    File type search
    Another useful but often underutilized advanced search option is the "File type" designation. For example, if you know that the document you are searching for is in PDF format, you can use the "File type" option to select Adobe Acrobat PDF (.pdf). Your search will be limited to documents in PDF format that contain your search terms.

    Click on "Advanced Search Tips" at the upper right hand corner of the advanced search web page to review a detailed list of all of the advanced search features of Google Web Search.

Minimizing the Microsoft Office Suite Ribbon*—5/18/11

    There are several ways to minimize the Ribbon in Office Suite 2007 and 2010 to create more viewing space on the screen. The following methods are provided for your use.

    menuCustomize Quick Access Toolbar

    • To keep the Ribbon minimized, click on the down arrow of the "Customize Quick Access Toolbar" and select "Minimize the Ribbon" on the drop down menu. To restore the Ribbon, repeat these steps.
    • As a shortcut, you can use the Control key plus the F1 key (Ctrl + F1) to minimize and restore the Ribbon.

    menuTabs Toolbar

    • Right click** on the "Tabs Toolbar" and select "Minimize the Ribbon." Right click again and select "Minimize the Ribbon" to restore the Ribbon.

       

    menuActive Tab

    • Double-click on the "Active Tab" (for example, the "Home" tab is the "Active Tab" in the above graphic) to minimize the Ribbon. Double-click on any tab to restore the Ribbon.
    • When the Ribbon is minimized, if you single click on any tab, the Ribbon will return to full view to allow you to use a menu option or a command, after which the Ribbon automatically returns to the minimized view.

    menuOffice 2010

    • In Office 2010, Microsoft added a small white arrow to the Ribbon. Click on the arrow to minimize or restore the Ribbon.

    Always remember, when the Ribbon is minimized, you can click once on any one of the tabs to view the Ribbon or double-click on any one of the tabs to restore the Ribbon.

    * This Tip applies to Microsoft Office Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
    **Left click if using a left-handed mouse.

Create a Map for Your Office Location—5/10/11

    mapTo provide a readily accessible visual reference to your office location for current and prospective clients, you can create a map to include in your electronic signature block or add to your website.

    Go to Google Maps and enter your office location in the search area. Click on the word "Link" in the upper right hand corner of the map.
    Copy the link from the first line of the drop down menu (right click > copy) to insert it into an e-mail or text message (right click > paste).

    Since this link is usually very long and unwieldy, you can create a short link by going to tinyurl.com. TinyURL will automatically generate a link or you can create a custom link. The shorter link will work well in your electronic signature block or in a text message. For example, the URL generated by Google Maps for the State Bar of Michigan was 206 characters long. TinyURL created the following 26 character URL, http://tinyurl.com/6jgjzgs for a map to the State Bar building.

    Finally, if you want to embed the map in your web page, use the HTML code in the second line of the drop down menu that appears when you enter the address for your office and click on "Link" as described above.

iPad in One Hour For Lawyers—5/3/11

    Tom Mighell, co-host of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, a legal technology podcast, authored "iPad in One Hour for Lawyers." Mighell’s book, published by the ABA, is a good resource for attorneys who want to quickly understand both the operational basics of and uses for the iPad in a legal environment. His book may be borrowed from the PMRC Lending Library or purchased from the ABAWeb Store.

Settings Changes to Quickly Mute Android Phones—4/26/11

    Volume

    If you use an Android phone, here are two settings changes to quickly mute incoming calls. Both of these settings are found in Settings > Sound >Smart Sensor Settings. The first setting, Double Tap to Silence, allows you to tap the screen twice in quick succession to silence the ring tone on an incoming call. The option to answer the call remains visible but there is no accompanying sound. The second setting, Smart Profile: Face Down, allows you to silence an incoming call by simply turning the phone face down. The Face Down setting only works while the phone is ringing. If your phone is face down prior to receiving a call, the phone will still ring.

Applications for iPhones and iPads —4/19/11

    60 AppsJeff Richardson, author of the blog iPhone JD, has posted a list of applications for iPhones and iPads presented during the 2011 TECHSHOW session entitled "60 Apps in 60 Minutes". Mr. Richardson, Reid Trautz, and Josh Barrett breezed through 61 apps in an engaging presentation before an enthusiastic audience. The blog post also includes links to apps from the 2009 and 2010 TECHSHOW presentations, which provide the reader with a total of 180 applications! If you use an iPhone or iPad, you may want to check out this list of resources.

Five Easy-to-Remember Keyboard Shortcuts for Word—4/12/11

    The keyboard shortcuts for Cut (CTRL + X), Copy (CTRL + C), and Paste (CTRL + V) are commonly known and used. Did you know that you can also control the line spacing for each paragraph with easy-to-remember keyboard shortcuts? Using the following shortcuts will change the line spacing for the entire paragraph where the cursor is located.

    CTRL + 1 = Single-spaced lines

    CTRL + 2 = Double-spaced lines

    CTRL + 5 = 1.5 spaced lines

    CTRL + 0 (zero) Add or remove one line space preceding the paragraph

    One additional shortcut, CTRL + A will select the entire document. Using CTRL + A (select all) followed by CTRL + 2 will change an entire document from single-spaced to double-spaced lines in a nano-second!

Battle of the Smartphones: Iphone v. Android—3/31/11

    If you find yourself weighing the differences between the iPhone and an Android phone, as you shop for your first smart phone or a replacement, this podcast may help you make that decision. The discussion on the Legal Talk Network Lawyer2Lawyer program provides an animated discussion by attorneys whose points of view were developed through their use of the phones.

    Attorneys and co-hosts Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams invited attorney Richard M. Georges, blogger for FutureLawyer and attorney Jeff Richardson, from Adams and Reese LLP and blogger for iPhone J.D., to "take the gloves off" to discuss the pros and cons of each. Listen to the Battle of the Smartphones podcast.

How Do People Find a Lawyer?—3/22/11

    In 2010, the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct public opinion research examining aspects of decision-making when people seek services for personal legal matters. The standing committee released the survey results earlier this month. View the Report.

    This 29 page document presents detailed information which is summarized nicely in an eleven point bulleted list on page 5. The poll examined four issues:

    • How do people with personal legal matters find their lawyers?
    • How likely are people with personal legal matters to use various online models to assist in their search for a lawyer?
    • What do people think about limited scope representation or "unbundled" legal services?
    • What sources would self-represented litigants turn to for personal legal matters if not a lawyer?

    The report indicates that most people first turn to trusted sources, family, and friends when they are looking for legal assistance. The oldest form of advertising, "word of mouth," is still number one. Reading this report will help you refine your marketing tools to match both your practice area and target demographics. The report also provides interesting information about the future of law practice with discussions of unbundled legal services and self-represented options.

    The document is in a PDF format and is easy to save and or print.

Protect Your E-Mail Address—3/15/11

    Have you ever wondered how spammers collect e-mail addresses? There are several methods but the most common use spam robots and e-mail harvesters. These applications are on the Internet constantly browsing and recovering information formatted in the classic e-mail format, i.e. example@emailserver.com. These roving harvesters are busily working the Internet and social media sites. They can pick up your e-mail address from your web page or blog, a Tweet, and almost anywhere else you post an e-mail address. How can you share your e-mail address and reduce your risk of having it harvested? Use scr.im.

    spring2010Scr.im is a free service which will allow you to protect your e-mail address behind a URL (uniform resource locator) that is protected by a "captcha." A captcha is challenge response test that is commonly used to verify that the computer is responding to a human. Review the scr.im Privacy Statement and Terms of Use before you sign up. View this example from the scr.im site—give it a try and then determine if a scr.im URL for your e-mail might be a valuable tool to add to your anti-spam arsenal.

    FYI: This tip full of acronyms and techspeak may have added a new term to your lexicon. Just in case you are interested in the etymology for "captcha," Dictionary.com provided the following: Captcha is the acronym for Completely Automatic Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

The 2/3’s Rule and Slaw—3/9/11

    Pie ChartDan Pinnington, practice management advisor and practice PRO director for Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company, Toronto, Canada, recently posted The 2/3 Rule Will Make you a Happy and Successful Lawyer on the Slaw weblog. Dan’s post describes a concise concept to help you decide whether or not to take a case.

    "Slaw is a cooperative Canadian weblog on all things legal." Posts are written by a wide variety of bloggers from around the world, not just Canada. Recent posts include:

    David T. S. Fraser From Blackberry to Android

    Ben M. Schorr Protecting Your Data and More Importantly Your Clients

    Jack Newton Securely Erasing Data From Solid State Drives

    In addition to the posts, Slaw contributors provide SlawTips "advice you can use—short and to the point—every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday."

    If you decide to subscribe to Slaw using the RSS option, you can choose to receive only the posts in a chosen category or if you click on "link to build your own subscription" you can refine your selections by topic area and author.

Online File Sync Services—3/1/11

    Dropbox

    SugarSync

    Wuala

    Spideroak

    Dropbox, SugarSync, Wuala, and Spideroak are terms you might be hearing around the water cooler or in the courthouse halls. If you haven’t a clue what these terms refer to, it is online data synchronization. Online data synchronization service provides access to your files whenever you need it, regardless of your location, if you have access to the Internet. If you are still at a loss, Dropbox has a three-minute video clip which explains the service. Watch the clip here. Most of these services offer free storage for up to 2 GB of data. The cost of increasing storage GB varies with each service but is reasonable.

    The four listed services protect data using encryption. Some encrypt at their server level; others encrypt at your desktop level. If you are going to use one of these applications for secure client data, be sure you understand who holds the encryption key. Spend some time exploring the options because to get started costs you nothing, and the potential for increased efficiency may be worth the effort!

Pictures of You on Facebook—02/22/11

    tips5
    tip10

    How do you know if your friends or family may have posted and tagged "unflattering" pictures of you in their Facebook photo albums?

    Log into Facebook > click on Profile (upper right corner) > click on Photos (left column). You will see every photo in which you are tagged. Click on the photo and see the details of where the photo is posted. Under the photo you will see the option to "remove the tag."

    If you have your e-mail notifications turned on in Facebook, you will be sent an e-mail every time you are tagged in a photo. Control exactly when you are notified by Facebook by clicking on Account > Account Settings > Notifications. Select or de-select items to control Facebook activity notification.

    Taking a few minutes to periodically review your photos is an important step to help safeguard your reputation.

Quick Switch—02/15/11

    turn off
    turn off

    If you still drive your mouse down to the bottom of your screen to toggle between applications and open documents this tip can save you time and "mouse fatigue". In a Windows environment hold down the Alt key then hit the Tab key. This will open a small gray window which displays all open applications and documents. While keeping the Alt key depressed, hitting the Tab key again will move you through the applications and documents. The name of each will be displayed at the bottom of the little gray box. Release both keys when you are where you want to go and presto, like magic you are there! If you are a Mac user the Command key Tab key combination provide very similar results.

Do You . . .—2/8/11

    Do you know where all the software CDs for the applications on your computer are stored? Do you know where the product keys are stored? If you downloaded the software and received the product key via an e-mail, do you know where it is? Do you still have it? How long will it take you to find the CDs and the software keys if your computer crashes and you need to re-install software? Do you know it is OK to burn a copy of most software disks to keep as a backup? Do you have an image of your computer saved so that the entire system can be restored in one operation?

    This website reviews disk imaging software which facilitates restoring everything on your hard drive including applications! Consider adding imaging software to your arsenal of back-up tools. In the meantime, make sure your answer to the "Do you" questions is yes.

    Watch for more "Do You . . . " posts in the upcoming weeks.

Do You . . .—02/1/11

    Do you know all the passwords? Do you know the password to every computer in your office including the server? Do you have a networked printer which requires a password to make setting turn offchanges? Do you know the administrator password for every software application in use in the office?Do you know the password to your website, host account, and domain registrar?What about online services, online banking, legal research, credit card services, health insurance or cafeteria plan, and TurboTax? Does your firm have a blog, a facebook page, Twitter, or a LinkedIn account? Do you have passwords for you mobile phone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, or iTunes? What about Amazon or Staples and other online transactional services?

    You get the idea! If you are managing by using the "Master Password" concept—re-evaluate! If the task of managing your passwords seems insurmountable, read North Carolina Practice Management Advisor Erik Mazzone’s SmallLaw review of LastPass for one solution. The review is under Recent Issues.

    Watch for more "Do You . . . " posts in the upcoming weeks.

Positive Turn Offs—01/25/11

    turn offTurn off the alerts on your cell phone, stay focused on your work and then focus on your e-mail.

    Turn off the e-mail pop-up notifications on your computer, schedule specific times to check your e-mail.

    Turn off I’ll do that tomorrow, do it now. Tomorrow might be the filing deadline.

    Turn off negativity, lead with a smile. Regardless of your role in the office, make yourself the force for change.

    Turn off your fear of change, look for innovative ways to increase productivity, decrease stress and improve the quality of your business life.

    Turn off your ego and ask for help. Collaborate with colleagues. Contact the PMRC at the SBM. Our advisors are available to help you!

Quickly Reduce PDF File Size—1/18/11

    facebookThe use of Adobe Acrobat and PDF file format is a growing trend in almost all aspects of the legal environment. Once PDF documents are created they are often transmitted electronically and file size can become an issue. If you have a full version of Adobe Acrobat (not Adobe Reader), there is a really quick and easy way to reduce the file size. Print the file to your Adobe printer! This action does not create a printed document, but it creates an electronic file (It doesn’t make sense, but that is what happens.) When you create this file you are prompted for a file name. Create an amended file name before you hit save to protect your original. The cautionary caveat is to remember that you are creating an "electronic printed file" so navigational tools you may have built into your original PDF, such as bookmarks, will not be available.

    If you are creating your PDF from Word or Word Perfect, use the print to PDF option instead of "Save as PDF" and you will have created the smaller file size from the get go. You still need to have a full version of Adobe installed to complete this option.

    A third option available to reduce the file size in the Pro versions of Adobe can be found by navigating to Advanced on the Menu Bar then to PDF Optimizer on the drop down menu. Using this option will leave features like bookmarks in the document but still reduce the file size.

Secure Your Facebook Profile!—1/11/11

    facebookWe have all heard the message but may not have heeded the call. Why not? For many of us, it is because we really don’t know how to lock down our profile. Help is here.

    ZDNet iGeneration blogger Zach Whittaker has posted documentation which will walk you through the steps to thoroughly secure your Facebook profile. The instructions are divided into four sections: Securing your profile page, Secure your account settings, Secure your privacy settings, and Securing the miscellaneous. The format of the instructions may not please all viewers, but if you open two browser windows, one for Facebook and one for the instructions, it is a pretty speedy process to complete.

    Overlooking security settings on your business or personal Facebook profile could prove to be a critical misstep.

25 Quick Tips to Improve Your Bottom Line—1/04/11

    A long road trip over the holidays provided time to peruse the latest issue of Law Practice magazine which features an article that is perfect reading for the start of dollara new business year. The article, 25 Quick Tips for a Healthier Bottom Line is available on line. Integrate some of these tips into your practice to start 2011 on the road to an improved bottom line. Print the article and use it as the agenda for your January firm meeting. Use it as a check-off list—things you currently do, things you could do better, or to help prioritize planned improvements for 2011. At a minimum, take the time to read this article and incorporate the tips into your thinking.

LogMeIn-Ignition—12/21/10

    LogMeIn is an application which allows you to access your Mac or PC from remote locations via the Internet. LogMeIn-Ignition is a similar application which allows you to control your computer from your smart phone or iPad. Jeff Richardson, author of the blog iPhone J.D., originally reviewed Ignition a year ago and has published an updated review this month.

    LogMeIn-Ignition works for both Macs and PCs connecting from an iPhone, iPad or Droid smart phone. The application costs $29.99 but occasionally goes on sale for $19.99. If there have been times when you desperately needed access to a file or application that is residing on your computer, take a few minutes to explore the possibilities for LogMeIn-Ignition.

Gift Idea for the iPad Enthusiast—12/7/10 iPad Case

    It seems counterintuitive to think about taking a super sleek iPad and adding a physical keyboard to it, but if a virtual keyboard doesn’t work for you, read on. Solid Line products has developed an iPad case with integrated Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard. The smart design of this product adds only around 10% in surface dimensions and about 60% in thickness to the dimensions of a naked iPad. The case and keyboard including your iPad measures a mere 9.75 x 8 x 1. The rechargeable keyboard is also compatible with other Bluetooth products. Priced at $99.00 with free shipping, this keyboard and case is reasonably priced. If you love your iPad, but miss the touch of a keyboard check this item out.

Gift Ideas for Lawyers—11/30/10

    If you are looking for the perfect gift for a lawyer or you want to avoid adding to your collection of law themed tchotchke, check out the following two resources. Reid Trautz, PMA for the American Immigration Lawyers Association has written his 6th Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers and posted it on his blog, Reid My Blog.

    Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson, The Digital Edge commentators have posted their Tech Toys for the Holidays podcast.

    Both of these resources are filled with innovative, fun and some productivity enhancing items to brighten the holiday season of your favorite lawyer. Of course, you can figure a clever way to let your loved ones know if you find the ideal gift for you!

Build Your Own Website—11/23/10

    The Massachusetts LOMAP blog (Law Office Management Assistance Program) has had three great posts recently regarding building your own law firm website. These posts provide all the information you need to get started.

    How to Set Up a Law Practice Website was written by guest blogger Jack Cushman.

    Part I: Basic Considerations in Creating a Website Using Wordpress and More Considerations in Creating a Website Using WordPress (Part 2) were written by LOMAP staffer Rachael Wilcox.

    Combined, these three posts describe the basic steps required to build a website for your firm. If you have been wondering how to get started creating your own website, start by reading these. They will either convince you to do it, or confirm that you need to hire an expert. Thanks to the practice management team at the Massachusetts LOMAP for this series!

DOH! Defined—11/16/10

    The Urban dictionary defines DOH! (Homer Simpson’s favorite expletive) as "this word is used to express frustration, or when you realize you've just done something incredibly stupid." Example: busily working on stripping wallpaper and hearing the sound of something plunking into the bucket of water. This sound is usually associated with throwing stones into a babbling brook, or tossing a toy into the pool, or skipping a stone across a rippling pond, peaceful, beautiful sound experiences. Never before has the "plunk" elicited such an emotional response as when my relatively new cell phone hit the center of the water filled bucket! DOH! Quick retrieval, thorough drying, short fervent prayers to the cell phone deity failed. Now for the incredibly stupid part—no insurance on the phone.

    Lessons Learned:
  • When you evaluate if you need insurance on your cell phone, the answer is yes! In this case the $90 deductible and $6 per month would have been pure joy versus outrageous off the shelf price.
  • Look at the replacement cost of the phone to buy it outright, not as part of the contract renewal when you evaluate the cost of insurance.
  • Keep your cell phone, iPad, iPod, laptop, cameras, Kindles, Nooks, away from water!
  • Finally, should something unfortunate like this happen to you—Don’t look at your spouse and shout "This is something I’d expect YOU to do!" DOH!

Shop for Tech Gadgets at Bed Bath and Beyond!—11/9/10

    The Tip of the Week from 10/26/10 for the VuPoint Magic Wand™ Portable Scanner generated a bunch of positive responses from attorneys who are finding it to be a really valuable tool, especially at the court house. Read the entire post below to see if this gadget would be a time and money saver for you.

    If you decide to buy one, find a 20% off coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond in Sunday papers or at a number of sites on the web, and buy the Wand at your nearest Bed Bath and Beyond store or from their website. Reduce the price of the Wand from $100 to $80 using the coupon and then you have $20 to buy the memory card for the Wand. Bed Bath and Beyond also sells Micro SD cards. The Wand can handle up to a 32 GB card.

    Thanks to Laurie Axinn Gienapp, Esq. of Bradford MA for sharing her shopping acumen with the members of Solosez, the discussion list for solo & small firm lawyers sponsored by the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.

Disaster Proof External Hard Drive ioSafe—11/2/10

    The team from ioSafe, a disaster proof external hard drive, recently presented a webinar for the Practice Management Advisor’s group. Fellow PMA for the Law Society of British Columbia, David Bilinsky has written a review of this fireproof/waterproof hard drive. At the end of this post there are additional links to some video demonstrations of the resilience of this drive.

    If you are looking for a back up drive that is safe from physical disaster check this one out. Here is the website and here is David’s review:

    Tech Tip—ioSafe
    911 taught us that each of us needs to maintain a safe and secure backup of our data in order to allow our businesses to survive any natural or man-made disaster. Accordingly it is imperative that we set up a back-up system that (hopefully) survives any disaster that befalls our office.

    Above find a picture of an ioSAFE hard drive. This is an external hard drive that is practically bomb proof! It is USB 2.0 enabled, fireproof (it can withstand 1550 F (843 C) for 30 mins), waterproof (it can be submerged up to 10 feet (3 meters) deep in fresh or salt water for 3 days) and can be physically locked or bolted to the floor. It is also heavy—it weighs about 17 pounds (7.7 kilos).

    It works with both PCs and Macs. It comes in large capacities (1, 1.5 and 2 terabytes) and it comes with data recovery insurance as well. It is also whisper quiet! This is a wonderful hard drive for backup purposes for a solo or smaller law office. I have one and love it!

    It works wonderfully well with TimeMachine on my Mac. I had to do a reformat of the hard drive for the ioSafe to work with the Mac OS but this just took a couple of minutes and was straightforward (as typical of a Mac, my MacBook detected the ioSafe and detected the formatting issue, prompted me to perform the required action and completed the reformat shortly afterwards). Painless!

    Once reformatted, the backup of my MacBook using TimeMachine onto the ioSafe was equally straightforward as well. I simply reconnect the ioSafe when I wish to update my backup and TimeMachine does the rest.

    If you are ever hit with a disaster (which can range from a fire to a flood caused by a burst pipe or overflowing sink in the office above yours), if you have a secure backup, then while we can’t un-break your heart, we can bring back your smile and take your tears away.

    Links to additional demos:
    Gear Diary blogger and firefighter Larry Greenberg enlisted the help of his colleagues and incinerated it in a car prior to dousing the flames with a hose.

    Macworld submerged it in a fountain and then hit it with a fire cannon.

    Gadgeteer heated it up and then fried eggs on it.

VuPoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner—10/26/10

    Last week Jim Calloway reviewed the VuPoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner on his blog. The review and the product are too good to miss. Thank you Jim! Here is his review:

    Really Cool Tool: VuPoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner

    WARNING: If you read this blog post you may find that you have to buy a VuPoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner. I mean, first of all, what lawyer hasn't wished for a magic wand before, particularly in certain courtrooms and depositions?

    But seriously, the VuPoint Magic Wand™ Portable Scanner is a great tool for many, many lawyers. It is very affordable at around $80 street price. Portable scanners are very nice tools, but a cordless battery-operated portable scanner that works independently of the computer for under $100 is a great tool. Watch the demonstration video here. How handy is it to be anywhere (court clerk's counter, taking a statement in the home of a witness, looking at a magazine) and think "oh, I'd like a copy of that" and be able to do it almost instantly without booting up a computer.

    I mentioned it to a few colleagues and one of them, a Legal Aid lawyer, bought one and has already scanned about 200 pages of police reports in just the last six weeks or so. He loves the Magic Wand. Of course, there is a cord to plug into your computer to transfer the scanned images there. It comes with OCR software included, but I have to confess that I just transferred the PDF files to my computer and OCR'd them with Adobe Acrobat. A microSD card is required, along with two AA batteries. It will scan in color or black & white, at 600 dpi or 300 dpi. But truly, this is a stunningly simple gadget that does just what it is supposed to do at a price every lawyer can afford. It should be a great addition to your laptop bag or briefcase.

    Here's the fact sheet with all of the details. Best Buy and Walmart supposedly carry them, although I know of no one who has actually seen one in stock. FTC Blogger disclosure: They are going to have to physically come and pry my review copy out of my hands to get it back. :-)

Excel—Use the Text Functions—10/12/10

    Do you ever do a merge using an Excel spreadsheet with a Word document? Does the resulting number formatting make you crazy? Here is a solution:

    One frequently overlooked function (equation) family residing in Excel is the group of functions under the Text category. The Dollar function in this group will take the contents of a cell containing either a number or a formula and turn the results into text with dollar formatting. This is a really valuable tool if the ultimate result is used in a merge to create a document such as a bill.

      To use this function:
      Click in the cell where you want to enter the formula
      Click on the fx on the Formula Bar (If the Formula Bar is not visible, click on View and turn it on.)
      In the Select Category Box select Text
      In the Select a Function Box select Dollar
      The Function Arguments Box will display
      In the number box enter the cell number for the source number (example C2)
      In the decimals box enter the number of decimal places to display (example 2)
      Click OK
      Hit the enter key to see the results of the function.

    The contents of the cell will be displayed left justified because that is the default setting for text. Using the copy and Paste Special—Formula capabilities of Excel will let you put this formula wherever it is needed in the spreadsheet.

    The beauty of this function is that it transforms the number formatted contents into text which will be inserted into your merge document correctly. If this description has left you dazed and confused look at microsoft.com for another description.

Using Multiple Outlook Windows?—10/05/10

    Here is a great tip from Reba Nance, PMA for the Colorado Bar Association.

    Have you ever been looking at mail in your Inbox, then wanted to jump to your Calendar without losing your place in the Inbox? Outlook makes it possible through the use of multiple windows.

    To open multiple windows, right click on an icon in the Outlook bar (say the Calendar) and pick "Open in a New Window." Now you can see your Calendar and your Inbox at the same time!

Wireless Keyboards for Smart Phones—9/21/10

    Are you among the many users of smart phones who would create more documents on your phone if you had a full size keyboard to use with the phone? Are you using an application like Documents to Go but find yourself frustrated by the keyboarding process? Could you leave your laptop at home and just use your phone as your computer if you could only key in text using more than your opposable thumbs? Take a look at these options and see if there is a solution for you.

    Apple Wireless Keyboard for the iPhone: Jeff Richardson, author if the iPhone J.D. blog, has a good review of this keyboard.

    The keyboards for Verizon Droid from the Pocket Solution look promising, but be sure to read the info under Important Please read!

    Another option is a flexible (roll-up soft touch) keyboard available from Wetkeys.com.

    If you can wait a few months the Jorno keyboard (folds up to the size of a deck of cards) option from jornostore.com might be worth waiting for. It is available for pre-order now and delivery in January.

    If these keyboards seem like they may be a useful tool for your practice on the go, do some shopping and be sure to check the specs for compatibility and power requirements.

    Does anyone remember that Targus made a great little fold-up keyboard that was cutting edge at the time for Palm devices? That is ancient history, but the setup was the envy of everyone who saw it!

Microphone for Dictation—9/14/10

    The Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone is a Plug n’ Play microphone that takes dictation using Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking, Vista Voice or Windows Speech Recognition in Windows 7 to a whole new level. This tidy little microphone can be clipped to the top of your laptop screen, set on your desk or held in your hand. For my testing purposes I clipped it to my laptop screen which was about 28 inches from my face. The plug n’ play installation was faultless on both a Windows 7 and XP machines. I created a new user in Dragon, did the set up reading and began to dictate. Amazingly, with this setup, I achieved greater accuracy that ever before, even when using a high quality headset (which I despise wearing.) Having originally bought the mic for another family member, today I ordered a second one. If you have struggled with Dragon, a high quality microphone might be the solution. This microphone in combination with MacSpeak from Nuance will also work for those using a Mac. The Go Mic comes with a hard shell carrying case and a combination clip/stand. The clip will not go over the top of a regular flat screen monitor but some sticky backed Velcro could solve that problem. Buying the Samson Go Mic from Amazon will cost you around $50 depending on your shipping options.

Can’t Read It Part 2—9/7/10

    Using the tips described in Can’t Read It—08/31/10, allows you to view a website without the "clutter." This facilitates easier reading and printing. However if all you need is to make the text larger to enhance the readability the following tips may help.

    If you simply want to make the view of any web page larger, hold down the Control Key and hit the + key. Each repeat of the + will enlarge the web page another step. Conversely, the Control Key and the - key will shrink the "size" of the web page.

    Enlarge: CTRL +
    Shrink: CTRL -

    On a Mac:
    Enlarge: Apple +
    Shrink: Apple -

    If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can use it and do the same thing. Hold down the Control Key and scroll forward, away from yourself, to enlarge the website; scroll back, toward yourself, to shrink the website.

    Using these tips will not change the way the site or article prints. If that is your goal refer back to last weeks tip.

Can’t Read It!—8/31/10

    Would you like to read articles on the web without the surrounding clutter? Would you like to control the relative size of the text in web page articles? Would you like to print only the article in a format that is truly readable? Explore the options for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari at the following websites:

    Readability for IE
    "Readability™ is a simple tool that makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you're reading. Follow the steps to install Readability™ in your Web browser." This site has a short video to help you set up Readability on your Favorites Bar. Copied from lab.arc90.com.

    Readability for Firefox
    "Readability is a new Firefox add-on that makes reading web pages simpler and more enjoyable. The system strips the superfluous information and shows the main content in a single column of easy-to-read text. It is also a precious tool for printing the web pages in less." Copied from mozilla.org.

    Safari Reader
    "Safari Reader removes annoying ads and other visual distractions from online articles. So you get the whole story and nothing but the story. It works like this: As you browse the web, Safari detects if you’re on a web page with an article. Click the Reader icon in the Smart Address Field, and the article appears instantly in one continuous, clutter-free view. You see every page of the article - whether two or twenty. Onscreen controls let you e-mail, print, and zoom. Change the size of the text, and Safari remembers it the next time you view an article in Safari Reader." Copied from apple.com.

Go Out to Lunch—Don’t Go Out for Lunch—8/24/10

    Jim Calloway and David Bilinsky, Practice management advisors from Oklahoma and British Columbia respectively, wrote these two tips over four years ago and they are still right on point. Which tip is right for you this week?

    Go out to lunch
    For many solo lawyers, working through lunch and eating from a Styrofoam box on their desk may seem like an effective time management arrangement. But that is not always the case. Try to arrange several days per month of scheduled lunches with other lawyers, with referral sources, with other professionals (like accountants), with past clients, or potential clients. People have very busy schedules and yet most everyone takes time for lunch. It will usually be refreshing and might even be fun. While it is very possible that you may generate referrals or legal work from some of these lunches, do not behave as if that is that point. Be yourself and even if it turns out your lunch companion is not the most witty or charming person in the world, enjoy the break from the daily routine.

    Don't go out for lunch . . .
    Feeling sluggish? Out of shape? Diminished energy? Attitude suffering? Don't laden yourself down with yet another high-calorie lunch. Lace on the running shoes—and go out for a run or a walk. Enjoy the sunshine and the relief that a change of circumstances, fresh air and the sense of accomplishment of getting back into shape can bring. Better yet—find a group of people who are outside of your usual group of suspects to run or walk together. This way you can pep up the brain cells with extra oxygen and enjoy a change of perspective and a change of circumstances...all at once. It may be very possible to generate referrals and work from some of these runs or walks. You will enjoy the break from your routine, arrive back at the office feeling reinvigorated and have had a chance to talk out problems with a sympathetic ear - thereby improving your attitude and possibly bringing back a fresh perspective to the tasks at hand.

The iPad Show—8/17/10

    If you have jumped aboard the iPad train, using the powerful adaptability of this device, you may be interested in the iPad Show. It is a weekly podcast produced in Jackson, Michigan, by Dave Buchanan and Steve Bostedor. Find all the show info here. From the site it is easy to check out the contents of each show, go directly to the sites for the applications discussed, or view the show to see demos and critiques of the applications. In addition to the podcasts, the site also provides tabs with application reviews, a blog, and iPad hardware reviews. The podcast Episode 28—Reading in Style—featured applications to annotate PDF files on your iPad. These podcasts aren’t slick and fancy; they are more like conversations with a couple of your really geeky friends—just right for the growing numbers of iPad users in the legal realm.

The Ultimate Guide to Gmail—8/10/10

    The Ultimate Guide to Gmail by Taty Sena is a handy, very informative PDF guide to using Gmail. It also includes valuable links to Gmail shortcuts and a Gmail cheat-sheet. It explains labels, setting, advanced settings, filters and more. If you are using Google Docs, Google Calendar, Tasks, or need help on just about any topic in Gmail this handy PDF document will likely provide some useful assistance for you.

Three Tips in One—8/4/10

    TIP ONE—Practice Management Advisor Reba Nance from the Colorado Bar recently wrote this great tip for sending e-mail directly from Word.

    Composing and Sending an e-Mail Without Ever Leaving Microsoft Word—Word 2007, 2003, and 2000
    Many of us spend much of our time in Word. Wouldn’t it be nice to easily compose and send an e-mail in Word rather than having to minimize Word, open Outlook to send the message, and then go back to Word? Here's how to do it in Word 2003 and earlier versions:

    For Word 2003 and earlier versions:

    1) Open a new Word document and type the text of the e-mail as a normal Word document
    2) Click on the e-mail button on Word's standard toolbar (you've probably never noticed it). To find it, hover your mouse over the icons until you see the word e-mail appear (the button will say Send to Mail Recipient in Word 2007)
    3) Enter the recipient's e-mail address, just as you would if you were typing in Outlook
    4) Click on Send a Copy
    Word will automatically paste the text of the Word document (where you typed the text of your e-mail) into the Introduction area of the box on top, send your e-mail via Outlook, and then return you to the Word document containing the text of your e-mail. You can then exit the Word document without saving it, and go back to your original Word document.

    For Word 2007—If you use Word 2007, the e-mail icon is not on the toolbar. You must first add it:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office button (the graphic in the upper left-hand corner), and then click Word Options
  2. Click Customize on the left, and then in the Choose Commands from box, click on the down arrow (the default is Popular Commands)
  3. Choose All Commands from the drop-down menu
  4. Now scroll down the list until you see Send to Mail Recipient. Highlight it and then click Add (in the middle of the page) to add the command to the Quick Access Toolbar
  5. Click OK
  6. The e-mail button should now be on the far right-hand side of Quick Access Toolbar (Look for Save, Undo, Open, etc. It should be the one on the far right-hand side of that list and say Send to Mail Recipient. It will now be there any time you open Word (so you won’t have to do this again).
  7. Then, repeat steps 1 through 4 above.

    TIP TWO—Practice Management Advisor Nerino Petro from the Wisconsin Bar wrote this quick tip: If you want to PERMANENTLY delete Outlook e-mail messages quickly and easily, Microsoft has provided a very simple way of doing so on a message by message or folder by folder basis:
    Hold down the Shift key and press the Delete key.

    That's it; nothing fancy or complex. When you delete a message this way, it bypasses the Deleted Items folder and is gone for good. If you do this with an Outlook folder, it permanently deletes the entire folder.

    TIP THREE—Michigan attorney Julie Fershtman noted the valuable grouping of articles at the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Solo Resource Center. There are several good articles here including A Googled, Webbed, Less-Papered, Freebie-Based Law Practice by Sam B. Craig and Do Lawyers Really Need Practice Management Software? by Allison C. Shields.

Information Overload Help—7/27/10

    If "information overload" or "information disorganization" is driving you nuts, check out Evernote. The free version is amazing, and the purchased version at $5/month is even more powerful. This application works on practically every platform, integrates across devices, and is so easy to use; it is almost guaranteed to be a major contributor to your sanity.

    A very comprehensive review of Evernote is available online . This is the introductory paragraph: "What if you could collect, in one well-organized, searchable, private digital repository, all the notes you create, clips from Web pages and e-mails you want to recall, dictated audio memos, photos, key documents, and more? And what if that repository was constantly synchronized, so it was accessible through a Web browser and through apps on your various computers and smart phones?"

    The Evernote review includes "10 Reasons Why You Should Download and Try Evernote."

    Read these reviews and see if this tool might be a valuable addition to your arsenal of information management solutions. Try the free version and upgrade to the paid version if you determine you need the additional features. The comparison chart is available online.

Law Practice Magazine—7/20/10

    Law Practice Magazine Legal Malpractice Risks Issue—July/August 2010

    If you subscribe to and receive the hard copy version of Law Practice, sponsored by the ABA Law Practice Management Section, you know the July/August edition is very valuable. The online version of Law Practice, Special Issue: Avoiding Malpractice, has feature articles written by Daniel Pinnington, William Freivogel, Jim Calloway, Justice Carole Curtis, Christian Stiegemeyer, Malcom Mercer, and David Ries in addition to the regular columns.

    Dealing with malpractice claims can bring your practice to a standstill. Most attorneys today cannot afford to expend the time and energy required to deal with such claims regardless of the validity of the claim. Instead, spend the time proactively doing your best to insure your practice from the risk of malpractice. There are also new risks in the form of scams, social media, risks associated with a virtual practice, and safeguarding client data.

    The articles in this edition of Law Practice will help you evaluate your risk and determine what preventative actions to initiate. Be proactive; insure your days are spent practicing law on behalf of your clients, not in defense of your oversights or mistakes.

In Order to Succeed . . .—7/13/10

    The End of Lawyers by Richard Susskind is a great read to get you thinking about the future of the practice of law. You may or may not agree with his predictions, but reading the book will certainly make you think about how you can have a positive impact on the future of your law practice. Doing everything the same way and expecting different results is not likely to enhance the success of your practice.

    Especially if you are in the process of evaluating and upgrading the technology systems used by your office, consider the following concept adapted from his book:

      Success will require working more quickly, more cheaply, more efficiently, and to a higher quality using different methods of working.

    Susskind doesn’t suggest you should deliver less to your clients, he contends that you can deliver more and better service if you advantage technology in your practice. Think about it.

iPhone v. Droid Comparison—6/29/10

    iPhone?—Droid?—iPhone?—Droid?—iPhone?—Droid? How to decide? PCWorld has a new side-by-side comparison article which might help you decide.

    The topic this article doesn’t discuss is provider coverage. If you live and do business in an area where AT&T coverage is not the greatest then the iPhone may not be the best choice for you no matter how badly you would like to be among the owners of the new iPhone 4.

    Coverage maps:

    • AT&T: Zoom in to double check the extent of coverage in your area. There is also a check box that lets you add 3G coverage to the voice coverage map.
    • Verizon
    • Sprint

    Read the PCWorld article and check out the coverage in your area before you make your decision—buy the right phone with the right coverage.

    Remember—"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."

    Hint—quote from famous person who is sometimes on TV. Don’t just go Googling for the easy answer.

Fraud Alert—Family Law Practitioners—6/22/10

    Read Dan Pinnington’s article on the latest scam hitting primarily family law practitioners. You can’t afford to ignore this warning. These scams are getting more sophisticated and difficult to spot.

    Dan’s article also points out that the time frame immediately preceding a holiday weekend is an especially active time for fraudsters to hit so you need to be extra cautious over the next couple of weeks.

    All of your bells, whistles, and sirens should go off loud and clear "if you receive an e-mail message asking you to assist with the collection of spousal support arrears."

    Remember—"Let’s be careful out there."
    (From what TV show? Hint the show title initials are HSB)

What is a PMA?—6/16/10

    Do you struggle with the everyday management demands of your firm? Do you find yourself thinking "There has got to be a better way?" A recent post by Jared Correia, PMA from Massachusetts, does an outstanding job of explaining the role of the practice management advisor. Take a minute and read this post and learn the potential benefits of calling the State Bar of Michigan Practice Management Resource Center to talk with one of our PMAs—(800) 341-9715.

    Here is a snippet of "Outside Counsel: Because You Can’t Spell ‘Practice Management Advice’ Without P-M-A."

    "Practice management advisors address an array of subjects related to the practical practice of law, including: financial management, technology applications, marketing, and advertising queries; office organization; client relations; and, much, much more."

    Read the entire post to learn more about how working with a PMA can help you build and strengthen your practice.

Google Scholar & Legal Research—6/8/10

    Google may not be striving for world domination but sometimes it seems like it! If you are not familiar with Google Scholar and the legal research functionality Google added in late 2009 here are some resources to get you up to speed. Google Scholar won’t totally replace Lexis/Westlaw/Fastcase/Casemaker, yet, but it is a valuable tool to add to your arsenal.

    Article by Bev Butula, manager of Library Services, at Davis & Kuelthau in Wisconsin. This article also includes some screen shots and how to instructions.

    Blog post by William L. Pfeifer, Jr., an Alabama appellate attorney and trial lawyer on his blog. He discusses the shortcomings and some work arounds for Google Scholar when it is being used for legal research.

    Post by Don Cruse on his blog SCOTXblog

ScanSnap Community—6/1/10

    Wisconsin Practice Management Advisor Nerino Petro recently posted the following on his blog Compujurist. If you use a ScanSnap scanner or are shopping for a new scanner, you will want to check out these resources.

    ScanSnap Community—Are you a Part of It?
    By Nerino Petro at May 20, 2010, 7:30 a.m.

    ScanSnap users, if you aren't checking out the ScanSnap Community website or subscribe to the ScanSnap Newsletter you should be. Fujitsu has created a destination for users of ScanSnap model Fujitsu scanners that includes tips & tricks, how to articles, ask the expert section, and even a marketplace for vendors that have created ScanSnap specific products. The ScanSnap newsletter includes links to special features and more on the ScanSnap community.

    In the May 2010 ScanSnap newsletter there is a link to an Ask the Expert Question on How to Quickly Rename Your File After Scanning. Generally, most users have their ScanSnap set to automatically name their scan files using some combination of year, month date and time. However, if you want to avoid having to open the Organizer or your scan folder and then go through the process of renaming the file, you can do it as soon as you finish scanning and before saving your file: use the Rename file after scanning check box on the Save tab for your profile. That's it. The post includes images to show you the exact screen.

Create a Photo Book Using "Blurb"—5/25/10

    Blurb is free book creation software which can be downloaded to your PC or Mac. The software premise is centered on a photo rich book creation. The application can be used to create wonderful memory books of your vacation adventures, cookbooks, family histories or a book to place in the reception area of your firm. The firm book could be a variation of your web page information.

    Blurb makes money by publishing/printing your books at fairly reasonable prices. Your books can also be made available for sale on the Blurb website. Publication takes around two weeks from ordering to delivery.

    The application is very well designed, facilitating quick integration of photos and text in a wide variety of formats. The 37 minute Introductory Tutorial is excellent. Watching it will have you creating your first book in no time. Viewing the Intermediate tutorial (26 minutes) will have your inner Rembrandt in high gear with creative projects that benefit friends, family and maybe even your practice.

What to Keep in Employee Files?—5/11/10

    Lawyers USA recently published an article written by Oklahoma practice management advisor Jim Calloway entitled What to Keep in Your Employee Files: A Small Law Firm’s Guide. This article was written with input from attorney Rebecca Simkins, an employment attorney at Barris, Scott, Denn & Driker, P.L.L.C. in Detroit.

    This concise article provides a bulleted list which answers many questions about establishing and maintaining employee files. Even if you have just one part time employee, take the time to review these policies. Once implemented, these policies may save you from major headaches in the future.

Your Elevator Speech—5/4/10

    The State Bar of Arizona has posted a 6 minute video discussing how to create your elevator speech. The presenter is a marketing expert who makes some excellent points and delivers some relevant examples. If you don’t have your quick self introduction down pat, take a few minutes and gather some ideas from this presentation.

Limit a Web Search to a Single Domain—4/27/10

    Have you ever hit a website that doesn’t have built in search capabilities? The absence of that little search box can result in too much time spent clicking links looking for that item or person you know is on the site.

    This challenge can be solved by limiting the search to a domain. Two solutions follow:

    The first requires entering the search term, followed by site: followed by the domain name in the search box. (In Mozilla Firefox you can make this entry directly into the URL box and it works.)

      Example:
      green resources site:michbar.org

    The same results can be achieved without having to remember how to format the search by using the Google Advanced Search link. Start at a Google search window, click Advanced Search. In the first box (All these words) enter the search term ‘green resources.’ In the last box (search within a site or domain) enter 'michbar.org.’ Hit the enter key or the gray Advanced Search button and the search is executed on only the website designated in the search parameters.

Recycling a Computer? Wipe the Hard Drive First!—4/20/10

    If you are in the process of getting rid of an old computer, wipe the hard drive first. Your computer may have client or personal information residing on the hard drive. The only way to be sure all such data is really gone is to use a software application to clear the hard drive. Simply deleting the files or uninstalling the application won’t rid the hard drive of all the data associated with the files. If you do your own taxes using an application like TurboTax just think about the data on your machine.

    There are several applications which will wipe the hard drive of your computer. DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke)—Hard Drive Wipe and Cleaning, is a highly regarded free application. The application can be downloaded at: dban.org

    The following is copied from the DBAN website:

    "Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

    DBAN is a means of ensuring due diligence in computer recycling, a way of preventing identity theft if you want to sell a computer, and a good way to totally clean a Microsoft Windows installation of viruses and spyware. DBAN prevents or thoroughly hinders all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis.

    DBAN is a free software product that can be used at home or in a business at zero cost. The only official place to obtain DBAN is by download at this website. We do not sell DBAN media."

iPhone J.D. and 60 Apps in 60 Minutes—4/13/10

    If you are an attorney and you use an iPhone, you need this blog—iPhone J.D. Jeff Richardson, a Louisiana attorney blawgs as iPhone J.D. His March 30, 2010, post lists all the applications that Jeff and Reid Trautz presented at ABA TECHSHOW this year in their session 60 Apps in 60 Minutes.

    iPhone J.D. has an index located directly above the ABA Blaw logo. Using the index you can find reviews of many of the apps listed. If you are dedicated to your iPhone don’t forget to use the RSS feed so you never miss a post from iPhone J.D.

60 Sites in 60 Minutes—4/6/10

    One of the most popular sessions at the ABA TECHSHOW is 60 Sites in 60 Minutes. It is traditionally the last session of the event because it is so good attendees actually hang around to attend the session! This year the presenters included Toby Brown, Debbie Foster, Adriana Linares, and Ernest Svenson. The rapid fire presentation of 60 resources that are practice related, informative, or sometimes just fun is the grand finale to the conference.

Cell Phone Data—3/16/10

    If your cell phone has a major failure, the equivalent of a hard drive crash, can you recover all the data that was on the phone? You can do an Internet search for "cell phone backup software" to see the many options available to backup this data. Your cell phone provider may have a product designed to work specifically with their line of phones. There are even free applications. OxyBook Free 1.1.0 is one example of a free application. As with many products there are upgrades available for a charge.

    We are not recommending a specific product, but recommend that you think about the possibility of losing all the data that is currently stored on your cell phone. Can you afford the time to try and recover all of the data? Do you have documents stored on the phone that are at risk? Have you added a memory card? Is it encrypted?

    Do you have any security set on your phone? Do you have a PIN code programmed into your phone with a short timeout set before you have to reenter the code? If your phone is stolen, is there confidential client data on the device? If there is data, and it is lost, what are the ethical implications? Using a PIN on your phone is a pain! Using the full capabilities of the phone can be a great time saver. Weigh the options and make the decisions that protect you and your clients.

Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog by Rick Borstein—3/2/10

    Rick Borstein’s blog Acrobat for Legal Professionals is a resource legal professionals should have feeding their iGoogle page, RSS feed, or e-mail. Subscribe. His most recent post Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat is available online. This blog consistently provides valuable tips and tools specifically designed for the legal environment.

    Rick and Mark Middleton also do a series of great free webinars. Scroll down Rick’s blog to the January 28 posting for a list with descriptions of each session.

Plain English v. Legalese—2/23/10

    I recently saw the following quote by Mark Cooney, associate professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, discussing the use of plain English in the legal environment. When you start using big words and long sentences in your writing, remember Professor Cooney's advice.

      The utilization of inflated language characterized by exceptional verbosity is not the most efficacious methodology for accomplishing the communication of sophisticated ideas. To sound smart, make it simple.

Favorite Windows Key Shortcuts—2/16/10

    Could it be that the older you are the more likely you are to use keyboard shortcuts? If you started using a computer before the advent of the mouse the keyboard shortcut may be second nature to you. Whether you are an old hand at shortcuts or a newbie, try a couple from this very short list of favorite Windows Key shortcuts. They are easy to remember and very efficient. Add a couple to your repertoire this week and a few more next week. You may be surprised how powerful they make you feel and how much time they save!

    WINKEY Opens "Start"
    (Then use arrow keys to move to your selection and hit the enter key to select)
    WINKEY + D Brings the desktop to the top
    WINKEY + M Minimizes all windows—(great escape)
    WINKEY + SHIFT + M Undo either of the previous shortcuts
    WINKEY + E Open Microsoft Explorer (My Computer)
    WINKEY + L Lock the computer (Windows XP and above)

"Holy Credenza, Batman!"—2/9/10

    If you are a solo or small firm and you haven’t found a practice management software application to meet your needs and your budget, check out Credenza. This new application developed by Gavel & Gown Software, Inc. has been developed as an Outlook add-in and quite frankly, it is pretty amazing! Granted, it is not a full blown, all encompassing practice management application but it can do a lot.

    Credenza will allow you to create a matter and link all documents, e-mail, appointments, notes, phone call records to the matter. From the matter tab you can view a chronological list of all of the items associated with the matter. When you install Credenza, it adds time tracking capabilities. Time entries can be electronically posted to your accounting system. The application also allows collaboration between 3 users. Credenza can produce reports, check conflicts, calculate dates, and more.

    This is not a SaaS application. It is software which is downloaded and installed on your computer. The download and install process took less than 5 minutes. There is a 15 day free trial available and the ongoing cost is $9.95 per month. You may cancel your subscription at any time.

    If you are searching for a management tool and use Outlook for your e-mail, this product is worth a visit to their website. The site is excellent, providing explanatory videos, FAQ’s and concise descriptions of Credenza’s capabilities. As Robin would say, "Holy Credenza, Batman!"

Facebook Settings You Need to Check Now!—1/26/10

    If you have a Facebook account this New York Times article, the 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now, is a must read.

    Failure to correct settings in Facebook may make public all of your pictures, status updates, personal information, and what information is being indexed by search engines.

    Negatively interpreted information about your personal life could have a huge negative impact on your professional success so don’t delay—make these changes today!

Heads Up!! Put Down Your Cell Phone—1/19/10

    I had the day off yesterday and I admit it—I watched Oprah. The TV was supposed to be keeping me company while I completed an onerous household task. Instead I was gut punched by the program. The show’s topic brought home in graphic terms the impact of distracted driving. The statistics are terrifying. According to distraction.gov, a driver is four times more likely to be in an accident while talking on a cell phone. That is the same risk as driving with a .08 blood alcohol concentration. Using a hands free phone does not change the statistics. You are eight times more likely to be in an accident if you are texting and driving.

    This point is the most sobering. There is a 37 percent reduction of brain activity associated with driving when you are talking on your phone. Read that again. That means you are driving using only 63% of your attention, acuity, reflex time . . . who would do that? Among many others, busy, stressed, time crunched lawyers do this and more. Do you talk on the phone, dictate and work on your laptop while driving? I know several people who get in the car, hook the seat belt, start the engine and hit the speed dial on their phone. Is that person you?

    Review the statistics at distraction.gov. Then, for those you love and those who love you, and everyone else on the road, reevaluate your priorities. If you have children who drive talk to them.

    If you are driving—drive. Don’t do anything else.

The Oyez Project—www.oyez.org—1/12/10

    If you are interested in what is happening or has happened at the Supreme Court go to oyez.org.

      The Oyez Project is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality 'tour' of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices. (from oyez.com)

    You can browse for cases by issue, court term or view recently updated cases. The court calendar shows the docket at a glance. The Browse the Justices section provides biographical information and financial disclosure reports for the justices.

    The impressive and fast audio accessibility to the oral arguments is worth a look and listen! Bookmark this valuable well designed site!

New FTC Regulations Impact Advertising—1/6/10

    There is a large and successful PI firm in Michigan that has always advertised heavily on TV using satisfied client testimonials. Over the weekend their advertisements changed and there are no longer testimonials telling the viewers how much money was received in settlements. This style of advertisement has long been the standard for the firm and I have been wondering what prompted the change. This morning the pieces fell neatly into place when I viewed an advertisement for an ABA CLE class Counseling Clients on the New FTC Regulations Regarding the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements. These changes clearly have implications for attorney advertising. The new rules are far reaching and impact not only TV and web advertising but also blogging. Learn more at: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising or by signing up for the ABA class. The FTC link offers more resources including video explanations of the rules at ftc.gov.

    Check out the new regulations and be sure your firm’s advertising and blogging are not in violation.

Eliminate Long URLs!—1/5/10

SnagIt for Screen Capture!—12/15/09

    If you ever have the need to capture the image on your computer screen, check out SnagIt. This application has been around for several years and it just keeps getting better. SnagIt lets you capture exactly the portion of your screen you want. It can capture a scrolling web page, the links, the video or the activity on your desk top in addition to a static shot of any portion of your screen. Narration can be added to a video capture allowing creation of tutorials. There are also annotation tools and other features that make this powerful software worth every penny of its $49.95 price tag. A free 30 day download is available for PC users and a new Beta version is available for Macs users to test.

MILO—Mac User Group—12/8/09

    If you are using Mac computers in your law firm and haven’t found MILO keep reading. MILO is the Mac In Law Offices group on Google Groups. From the website, "MILO is a place for attorneys and other professionals to learn and share information to more effectively use Macs in law offices. We encourage open discussions, and we welcome your constructive input…."

    With 1862 members all interested in the Macs in law firms, membership in this group can only be a good thing. One of the best aspects of the group is the option to receive posts in a journal e-mail, which compiles topics for the day into a single e-mail. (This is an option you need to select when you join.)

    Recent threads include these topics:

      Setting up new office
      BeeDocs 3D Timeline—Tips
      Software recommendations for new attorney’s office
      MacPhone Home
      Adobe Portfolio
      Dead PowerBook worth fixing?

    To join go here and click on sign in and apply for membership. Membership is not automatic. Write a short statement about why you want to join and wait for your reply.

    If you are a lawyer and use a Mac or want to use a Mac this group is for you!

Just for Fun! Wordle—12/1/09

    This is the description of the website copied directly from the site.

      "Wordle is a toy for generating "word clouds" from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends."

    This application has potential to create custom holiday cards, invitations to events, or graphics for your custom calendar. Create one and frame it for your child’s teacher. Let your imagination soar and have some fun. If you have a list of words you want to specifically appear, inserting the one you want to hold a place of prominence more times than others will do the trick. After you have created your word cloud use the Edit, Layout, Language, Color, and Font options to customize it even further.

    Because Wordle runs in a Java Applet the only way to copy it is by using the screen shot method. Using an application like SnagIt make doing the screen shot very easy. Even without a SnagIt the Print Screen button will copy the entire screen. The image can then be pasted into any application. PowerPoint makes editing the graphic easy with the crop features. The FAQs for Wordle also have some tips for copying the images.

Great Free Adobe Acrobat Resources—11/24/09

    If you are not sharpening your Adobe Acrobat skills you should be! Start by keeping up with everything Rick Borstein posts on his blog. In addition to great resources Rick creates, this blog will also keep you informed of upcoming training offered for free by Rick and his colleague Mark Middleton. Adobe has focused manpower and mega resources on the legal market for Adobe Acrobat users. These resources are fantastic and free. Use them to up your skill level.

    If you are shopping for Adobe Acrobat, note that the Pro version has functions specific to the legal environment that are not available in the Standard version. These include Bates Numbering and redaction. Both versions are very effective for scrubbing metadata from documents. One of the best ways to obtain Adobe Acrobat is with a new scanner. Some scanners include Acrobat Standard in the price of the scanner. You can upgrade to Pro for around $150.

    If you are currently using Acrobat 8 or 9 check out the following links for Thirty Dirty Tricks for each version of Acrobat. Go though the list and make the changes in your Adobe preference settings and at least read the remainder of the list.

    Acrobat 8
    Acrobat 9

Secure Passwords on Your PC/Laptop and Mobile Devices—11/17/09

    There are many options available to help you securely manage passwords. Ironkey flash drives allow the user to carry an encrypted flash drive which will save your passwords, remember your favorite websites and also provided an encrypted environment to more safely transport your files. The 1GB drive starts at $79.00 and there are a variety of options to choose from.

    Another option is Keeper desktop software from Callpod . Keeper will store and organize a multitude of passwords, user names and account notes, and it requires you to remember only one password! Attempting to log in five times, with the incorrect password will lock you out. Keeper is available for Windows, MAC, Linux OS and mobile iPhone, Android, and Vodafone. The application also features an Auto-Logout Timer which you set to a specific time frame to logout. Additionally your data can be exported in a number of formats for your backup should you have a full out hard drive disaster. Of course if you are not careful with the backup file, the whole exercise of buying Keeper could be pointless.

    Keeper has a 15 day free trial and the purchase price is $29.95. Currently you can get the mobile version for free. If you have both versions, then you can synch your mobile with your computer and have a mutual backup system in place. If you are carrying a card in your wallet with all your user names and passwords written on it, it is time for you to check out Keeper or a similar application.

Looking for help with a software application? Try YouTube!—11/10/09

    If you are looking for a tutorial or "how to" for a specific software application feature, search on YouTube. There are video tutorials available for everything from how to reconcile a bank statement using Quickbooks, inserting video into a PowerPoint presentation, entering a to do in Amicus Attorney, creating an electronic signature in Adobe Acrobat and many more. Just go to YouTube and use their search feature. Enter a search term such as "Adobe Acrobat signature," hit search and YouTube generates the list of how to create a digital signature files!

Value Decisions—10/27/09

    In these difficult economic times attorneys are frequently asked to adjust their fee structure for a variety of reasons. When you are under pressure to discount your fee structure or make special arrangements with just this one client just this one time, excuse yourself from the situation, find an Internet connection and watch this YouTube clip. Return to the fee negotiations with a renewed sense of the value of your work and the reasonableness of the client request and then decide if you should reach a fee accommodation.

Read Out Loud—10/20/09

    Adobe Acrobat Standard will read PDF files to you! This feature is called Read Out Loud and it is easy to use. Using the feature is a two step process. First the feature is activated; next you command it to read.

    To use the feature open a PDF:
    1. Click on View > Activate Read Out Loud.
    2. Click on View > Read Out Loud > Read This Page Only or Read To End of Document.

    The Read feature will remain activated until you close Acrobat. If you have voices installed (SAPI 4 or SAPI 5) you can choose your voice. If not, the voice will be the rather mundane Microsoft voice.

    The following keystrokes will also control the Read Out Loud feature.
    Activate Read Out Loud Shift + Control + Y
    Read This Page Only Shift + Control + V
    Read to End of Document Shift + Control + B
    Pause Shift + Control + C
    Resume Shift + Control + C
    Stop Shift + Control + E

    This Adobe link http://tinyurl.com/lg7v2z provides additional information and instructions to change the default settings for Read Out Loud.

    The voice is not stimulating, and the listening comprehension process requires some extra level of concentration. Even so, listening to a PDF document while driving is far superior to trying to read one!

70 Sizzling & Lawyer Friendly Apps—10/13/09

    G.M. Filisko has written a well organized compilation of "70 Sizzling & Lawyer Friendly Apps" for the October issue of the ABA Journal. This article has the applications organized into six categories that make searching for a solution quick & easy. The sections Word Up, Research and Reference, Productivity, Accessibility, Task Management, and Maps, Fun, and Games contain applications for a wide variety of mobile device OS as well as Windows and MAC computers. Cost for these apps ranges from pricey to free. Read this very informative article.

Does Meeting or Event Scheduling Make You Crazy? Try www.GatherGrid.com—10/6/09

    This website allows you to create an event, list possible times, and send an e-mail notification to participants. When the participant links to the event site they enter the times that work for them and the event coordinator can then choose the best time and date for everyone. Entering the event location address will also provide a map to the location of the meeting. Additional options include sharing the event on social bookmarking and networking sites. If you need to schedule with people outside of your own organization, this website might be a solution for you. The service is currently free, easy to use, and appears to have great potential.

Who’s Been Viewing Your Gmail?—9/29/09

    ABA TECHSHOW 2010 has a blog and the most recent post by Laura Calloway, director of the Alabama State Bar Practice Management Assistance Program is reproduced with her permission here. Read this great tip and then subscribe to the RSS feed for the TECHSHOW Blog for additional timely tips from TECHSHOW experts.

    Who’s Been Viewing Your Gmail?
    There's been a lot of buzz lately about Gmail flaws and hacks. If you're curious about whether someone has been able to gain access to your account without your knowledge, Gmail has a feature which can help you find out. Once you're signed in, at the bottom of the page you'll find a lot of fine print. Beneath where it indicates how much of your allotted storage space you're currently using, you'll see a line that gives the time and IP address of your last account activity. Click on the "Details" link, and you'll be taken to a window showing the last several times anyone signed in to your account, how (browser, mobile, POP3, etc.), the IP address, and the time. It will also tell you whether there is concurrent activity. There's also a button to allow you to close any concurrent sessions and link to allow you to change your password immediately. Whether or not your account has been compromised, isn't it time to change to a strong password now?

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness" Mark Twain—9/15/09

    It seems on every list serve the discussion frequently morphs into one of travel; Where to go? What to see? Places to eat? How to get there? The cheapest way to travel on business? Jim Calloway and Courtney Kennaday, Practice Management Advisors from Oklahoma and South Carolina respectively, combined their talents and wrote Sites For Sore Eyes—The Travel Site Less Visited which was published this month in the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division eTechnology Newsletter. Now that summer is over, it is the perfect time to explore some of these less well know travel websites in preparation for the next break from your busy practice. Whether traveling for business or pleasure or just day dreaming, this article is worth the read and the sites are worth a visit.

It Is All About Communication—9/8/09

    The most frequently filed attorney grievance involves communication failures. I can’t reach my attorney. My attorney won’t return my phone calls or respond to e-mail. I can never get past the secretary. They won’t send me information I have requested. I was not informed about the motion or updated on the status of my case.

    Carolyn Elefant wrote a post on her blog quoting Randy Pausch, author of the Last Lecture, which eloquently describes the importance of communication. If you haven’t read it, take a thoughtful moment and reflect on your communication effectiveness and style—step one. Step two—preemptively force yourself to contact at least two clients every day with a quick update on the status of their case.

Document Retention Policy Resources—9/1/09

    Are you among the many attorneys who are actively running a successful solo or small firm without a Document Retention Policy (DRP) in place? Perhaps you have a policy, but it is not included in your retention letter. Are you the attorney who has just always kept everything and now are the proud owner of a large room full of filing cabinets or bankers boxes full of old files? Have you considered the DRP as it applies to your business records, taxes, and payroll records? Do you have a policy which includes electronic documents and e-mail? If you answered yes to any of these questions the following websites provide valuable resources which may help you. These sites provide guidelines and recommendations. When developing the policy for your firm be sure to follow the specific rules for your jurisdiction.

    The SBM has a Record Retention Kit which includes Ethic Opinions.

    Law Firm Document Retention Policies from Law Practice Today includes a sample retention policy at the bottom of the article.
    abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/ftr07046.html

    Closing the Client’s File, Lawyers USA, July 2009
    lawyersusaonline.com/blog/2009/07/28/closing-the-clients-file/

    ABA Legal Technology Resource Center Records Management/Document Retention resources:
    abanet.org/tech/ltrc/fyidocs/rm.html

    Sample Document Retention policy from Prolegia

    Practice Management Resource Center Sample Closed File Check List

Mind Mapping Solutions—Can One Help You?—8/25/09

    Have you seen how a whiteboard on an episode of Cold Case or CSI frequently leads to the solution of "Who did it?" This whiteboard method is referred to as mind mapping in the software business. If you are brainstorming ideas, relationships, solutions, new business concepts, fund-raising for the PTA, or any concept that requires creative thinking, try capturing the process using one of the following applications. Most of these have a limited free option and one of them might be just the tool to capture the creative flight of thought concept that will generate an acquittal or huge settlement for your client.

    MindMeister—Collaborative on line mind mapping
    Exploreatree—Thinking guides
    Wisdomap—Clean simple approach to mind mapping
    Gliffy—Diagram software
    Mindomo—On line mind mapping
    MapMyself—Organic mind mapping
    Wisemapping—Publish and share your maps

iPhones, Attorneys, Applications & Blog—8/18/09

    Attorney iPhone owners might want to check out this website to learn about five iPhone applications for lawyers. This article provides a balanced description of applications which range from the pricey Black’s Law Dictionary to the more reasonably priced TimeWerks.

    The following blog, iPhones JD—Lawyers using iPhones, may also prove to be a useful addition to your arsenal of sites to help improve your iPhone efficiency.

Podcasts to Help You Survive and Thrive in the Current Economic Climate!—8/11/09

    The ABA is producing a new podcast series entitled "Podcasts to Help You Survive and Thrive in the Current Economic Climate!" New releases are scheduled for the third Friday of each month.

    A quick stop at the following web page to add the RSS feed for this series of podcasts will take just a minute. Then when you’re feeling stuck in the doldrums of the current economic climate, click on one of the topics for a bit of motivation, a new concept, idea, or a new perspective. If you don’t use RSS feeds, you can also sign up for an e-mail reminder when new podcasts are available.

    If you don’t know how to use an RSS Feed watch this short YouTube video or if you prefer to read about RSS Feeds.

Guidelines for Twittering Attorneys—8/4/09

    Here are two links to some great advice specifically designed for Twittering attorneys. If you Tweet or if you want to learn what Twitter is all about you should read these.

    The article by Jim Calloway Twitter: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly provides a valuable overview into the Twitter world. It also describes options which allow you to make Twitter work for you even if you never send out a single Tweet. Lawyer Twitter Practices: 29 Do’s and Don’ts by Steve Matthews outlines 29 tips and "rules of etiquette" for twittering attorneys. Whether you consider Twitter micro blogging or mega texting, both of these articles provide valuable insight into the 140 character world of Twitter!

800-GOOG-411—7/28/09

    GOOG-411 is a FREE*, voice activated, fast service to connect you to businesses anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. This service works from fixed/land, mobile, and VoIP phones but NOT from pay phones.

    How does it work? Call (800) GOOG-411 (4664-411) and a voice will ask: "Say the business and the city and state." You might say "Fox & Obel Chicago Illinois," Google responds" Fox & Obel retail food market, East Illinois Street, I’ll connect you" and Fox & Obel answers the phone. Or if you are calling from a cell phone, GOOG-411 can send the info as a text message or a map.

    If you want a more general search, such as "Delicatessens Oak Park Michigan" GOOG-411 will respond with the top eight listings. Listen to the listings, choose one by saying the number of the listing, and you will be connected, texted, or mapped.

    Put (800) GOOG-411 in your speed dial today! Learn more.

    GOOG-411 does not currently support searches for residential numbers. We tested several law firms with names like "The Law Offices of John Doe" and had no success. However law firms that were named similarly to "Doe and Smith" worked fine. How you name your firm has some all new implications to consider.

    *Your usual charges for making a call or receiving SMS will apply.

Livescribe Smart Pen—7/21/09

    Imagine being in a meeting with your client, taking notes, and at the end of the meeting having not only your written notes, but an audio recording of the session which is electronically tied to your notes. What does that mean? When the session is over, touching the pen to your notes will automatically play back the coordinating audio. Additionally, by setting the pen in its docking station, written notes and the associated audio are automatically uploaded to your computer. How is this possible? This pen, which is slightly larger than a standard pen has built in microphones and a tiny infrared camera. When used in conjunction with "dot paper" (purchase or print yourself), you capture the sound, the notes and the ability to upload everything to a computer. The notes actually look like they have been scanned into your PC. Check out this article for a good review and additional details. Shop for the pen and see demos and additional software options at: livescribe.com.

Before You Contract—7/7/09

    During these tough economic times many solo, small firm and newly independent attorneys are accepting contract work.

    SoloSEZ has had several discussion threads on this topic. Check out those discussions in the SoloSEZ archives. (A username and password are required to access the archives but you do not need to join the SoloSEZ list serve.)

    In addition to how much you will be paid, consider the following questions before you accept contract work:

    • Has the contracting firm had experience affiliating in this fashion?
    • Does the contracting firm or individual have malpractice insurance? If so, does the policy cover a contract lawyer? Can you be added at no charge? If a charge is imposed, who pays it? Will the policy cover work outside of the firm?
    • Does the contracting firm or the lawyer pay the deductible?
    • If you meet with a client of the contracting firm, on whose behalf are you meeting, yours or the firm's?
    • How are conflicts of interest handled? Is there a reporting mechanism and screen that can be used?
    • Is there a written agreement?

    Contract work may provide short term economic benefits, but excellent contract work may also open doors to long term growth and development of your practice!

A Personal WiFi Hot Spot—Is it right for you?—6/30/09

    If you are on the go and want to connect to the Internet anywhere you may be, check this out. The Novatel MiFi 2200 provides a battery powered personal wireless hot spot. Not only can you connect to the Internet, you are able to share your bubble with up to 4 other users. Take your Internet connection with you in your shirt pocket or purse. No need to plug it into your laptop! Cost for the device is around $100. Service fees depend upon usage and provider. Read more at the following links:

   
 

 

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