The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success

Essential Tips to Power Your Practice

Archive for the ‘Technology’

5 basic steps for building a solid social media brand

January 14, 2012 By: Dan Category: Marketing and Client Development, Technology

There is a great post on the Social Media Examiner blog today. It asks the question: “What message does your brand convey to socially engaged customers?”

I think too many people (and their SEO consultants) try to take the tact that you need to be all things to all people in all channels.  Unless you are a celebrity or politician, that is just not the way to go. By trying to be everything everywhere for everyone you and your message will get lost in the crowd. You want to create a brand and post content that connects with the audience that you want to reach – potential and existing clients.

The post outline 5 basic steps for building a social media brand that will give you a consistent and compelling brand voice. The 5 steps are:

1. Determine your brand personality

2. Identify your true audience

3. Develop a consistent tone

4. Timing is everything

5. Practice makes perfect

Read the SME post for more on what you can do to build a better social media brand in 2012.

ABA TECHSHOW Announces 2011 Line-Up

November 08, 2010 By: Reid and Dan Category: Announcements, Events, Technology

The ABA Law Practice Management Section has announced the keynote speaker and educational sessions for ABA TECHSHOW, to be held in Chicago on April 11-13, 2011. Harvard Professor and Creative Commons co-founder, Larry Lessig will be the keynote speaker for the 25th edition of the legal profession’s premier technology conference. The educational sessions will cover a wide range of tech topics including social media, using Macs in a law office, e-discovery, going paperless, safely using “cloud” computing services, remodeling a law firm website, getting the most out of Windows 7, and many more.

There is something for every lawyer, legal administrator, and firm IT staff at this conference. How do we know? Because Dan is a former chair of TECHSHOW, and I am on the planning board for 2011. If you have any questions about the content or value of the show, we’d be happy to share our insight as to how it may be able to help you and your firm.

7 Reasons to Take Your Practice Digital

August 02, 2010 By: Reid Category: Firm Management & Operations, Technology

In his July Lawyers USA column, our good friend Jim Calloway strongly encourages law firms to move away from paper files to digital files, and provides seven compelling reasons to make the move now. I’ve been an advocate of this too, but not as strongly or cogently as Jim puts forth in his column. Definitely worth the read.

From my experience, the main reason law firms don’t make the move to digital is that their computer files are often messier than their paper files. They just don’t have a standardized methodology to name, store, and retrieve documents when they need them.  And firms that have instituted a file naming and storing protocol within their firm can get sloppier over time, and then abandon it as staff turnover and lack of training can come into play.

Standardization is a pain in the neck to many lawyers, but as Jim’s column points out, times are changing and we need to move with the changes or become irrelevant to clients. Now is the time to commence or restart your document naming and storage protocol within your firm. If your protocol is working well, still take time to make sure each person in for office is fully trained and in compliance.

If you need help establishing a protocol, here is an excellent article by fellow ABA TECHSHOW Board member and Ontario lawyer, Donna Neff, that takes you through step by step. The ABA’s Site-tation blog also lists some excellent resources too.

Great advice on how to pick and register a law firm domain name

March 01, 2010 By: Dan Category: Marketing and Client Development, Technology

My friend Steve Matthews over at Stem Legal has written one of the best articles I have ever read on picking and registering a law firm domain name: Domain Name Issues For Law Firms is The Column on SLAW.CA this week. Steves knows more than most on these issues and there is tons of informative and practical information in this article – a must read for any firm scoping out its web real estate.

Facebook tip: List multiple websites on your Facebook profile page

February 24, 2010 By: Dan Category: TechTip, Technology

Facebook appears to let you list only a single website or blog on your profile page.

Of course, many people have a website and a blog, and loads of us have connections with multiple websites and/or blogs.

With this simple trick you can list multiple sites on your Facebook profile page: Simply list the URLs for multiple sites in the Website textbox and separate them with a comma. They will display properly as separate links on your Profile page. Not sure if there is an upper limit, but I currently list 5 websites and blogs on my Facebook profile.

Top Ten iPhone Apps for Busy Lawyers

February 11, 2010 By: Reid Category: Client Service, Firm Management & Operations, Marketing and Client Development, Technology

In a few weeks, I’ll be presenting the seminar 60 iPhone Apps in 60 Minutes at ABA TECHSHOW, but I thought I’d share a sneak peek at ten of the best apps for busy lawyers. Thanks to my co-presenter, Jeff Richardson, of iPhoneJD fame for his contributions to this post. These are among the top apps to keep iPhone lawyers productive and successful.

AppBoxPro.  Every iPhone owner needs one of these multi-function apps that includes a currency converter, date calculator, translator (text), tip calculator, international holiday calendar, unit converter, battery life meter, and more. AppBoxPro is the best I’ve found to date. This one $0.99 app thus replaces the need for many separate, single function $0.99 apps.

Bento. Bento is a $50 powerful but easy to use database for the Mac.  It doesn’t have all of the features of a professional database program like its big brother FileMaker Pro.  But if you use a Mac and you need to create a database to keep track of just about anything for yourself, Bento is a great fit.  It is designed to look like iTunes, and is just as easy to use.  The $4.99 Bento iPhone app can be used as a standalone product, but is most useful as a companion to the desktop app.  You can sync the app with your computer, and virtually all of the fields are carried over to the iPhone, including any fields that contain pictures. You can also create a new database from within the Bento app.  Indeed, if you don’t have a Mac running Bento, then this is the only way to use the app.  When you tap the “New Library” button you can create either a blank database or can start with a pre-designed template and then edit it.  Templates are included for the following: Projects, Contacts, To Do Items, Recipes, Diet Log, Events, Files, Inventory, Event Planning, Time Billing, Home Inventory, Expenses, Exercise Log, Vehicle Maintenance, Classes, Digital Media, Student List, Membership List, Products for Sale, Equipment, Issue Tracking, Items Sold, Customer, Donations, and Notes. Each one of those templates are excellent examples of the types of databases that it would be handy to keep on your iPhone.  The Bento app also, by default, includes a database called Address Book.  This database contains all of the contents of the Contacts on your iPhone and is always synced with the latest information.

Bump. Bump is a new way to exchange contact information instead of using business cards. Merely open the app and select the amount of personal information you want to divulge, then gently bump your iPhone against the other person’s iPhone and you will share information almost instantly. Yep, this is a high-tech business card exchange.

Documents to Go Premium
.  This app lets you edit, create, and view Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.  (You can also view, but not edit, other file formats such as PDF, Apple iWork, and others.)  The editing features are sophisticated, but the app also does a much better job of viewing files than the iPhone does on its own.  And if you use Microsoft Exchange or Gmail for your e-mail, this is the only app that can directly access your e-mail attachments so that you can download an attachment to an e-mail, view or edit it, and then send it to someone.  This is an essential app for most every lawyer.

Dragon Dictation. Just as powerful as it’s big brother Dragon Dictate, this free, easy-to-use voice-recognition app is a quick alternative to typing e-mails, text messages, tweeting, or updating your status on Facebook. Damn accurate too.

DropBox. This is yet another file sharing service that provides on-line file storage, access, and sharing from multiple computers and mobile devices. It has a very clean interface and is easy to install and set up. Users receive 2 gigs of storage for free, with 50 gigs running $10 per month, a bit pricey given other available options. Still, I keep documents I am presently working on in my DropBox account, just in case I need a copy.

Google Mobile App. You can always do a Google search using the Safari web browser on the iPhone, but the marquee feature of the free Google Mobile app is the ability to just speak your search terms.  Start the app and hold up the iPhone to your face.  The app will use the proximity sensor to sense your face and play a beep so that you can say some search terms.  Give the app a second and look at the screen, and you will see search results.

.  This free app is essentially a national “White Pages” database at your fingertips, and a very good one at that. It can search for a phone number, requiring a last name and city; it will search for a person or business based on a street address and zip code; and it is a reverse phone directory too. It’s very handy for personal and professional use, and avoids many of the ads and sales pitches from websites promising similar services.

ScanR Business Center. There are other apps like ScanR (such as DocScanner and JotNot) and they cost less, but you’ll be happier paying the price for this one. ScanR allows you to create PDFs using your iPhone camera or using a picture on your camera roll. Just take a picture of the document you need, upload it to your ScanR account (free to set up), the document is next e-mailed to you as a PDF, but not a searchable PDF. If needed, quickly run the new PDF through OCR software and now you have an editable document. I’ve tested this from business cards to old magazine articles, and I have not been disappointed yet.

This app lets you make either free or very cheap calls on your iPhone using VOIP (voice over internet protocol).  While you can use this app at home, it is particularly useful when you are traveling internationally.  If you have Wi-Fi access, such as in a hotel, you can talk to any user on Skype for free, or even more useful, you can call any landline or cell phone in the U.S. for just a few pennies per minute, which is far less than you would pay with international roaming charges, not to mention far less than what most hotels charge to make international phone calls.
Bonus app because I couldn’t cull the list down to ten!

Things. This task management app is for iPhone users but also has a separate app for Mac computers. It does one thing very well and only one thing: it keeps track of your projects. It’s not cluttered with calendar, contact manager, and other functions, which allows this app to have a very clean interface. That makes it easy to use for just about anyone. When the app is opened I can clearly see what I need to complete today, what I have scheduled to do next, and what ideas I have recorded to complete in the future. When installed on both a Mac and an iPhone, information can be synced over the same wireless network.

Want more? Join us at ABA TECHSHOW in March!

Busy Lawyers Should Attend TECHSHOW 2010 in Chicago

February 09, 2010 By: Reid Category: Collaboration, Events, Technology

Both Dan and I will be headed to ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago  on March 25-27, 2010, and we encourage all our readers to join us that this valuable conference. Whether you are a tech novice or guru, there is something for all legal professionals at TECHSHOW.

Dan and I might be a tad biased: Dan is a former chair of the TECHSHOW Planning Board, and I currently serve on the Board. As TECHSHOW insiders we know how hard the Board works to ensure the conference delivers great value for your time and money. This year is no exception–the 3 days of seminars, vendor showcase, and personal networking are outstanding!

With the rise of cloud computing, the continued march of mobile lawyering, recent changes in on-line legal research, and more lawyers wanting to go “paperless” TECHSHOW is the only place to get the information directly from the best technology minds in our profession and beyond.

I will be presenting several sessions this year: Document Management on a Dime (with Donna Neff)  and 60 iPhone Apps in 60 Minutes (with Jeff Richardson). Dan is presenting Google Tools for Lawyers and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Crackberries. In addition, Dan and I are collaborating on Practical Use of Smart Phones, an interactive hands-on session about the nuances of smart phones.

In addition to the educational sessions, there will be an expo hall full of over 100 vendors who can demonstrate the latest time-saving, productivity-enhancing products for your law firm. Plus, there are plenty of social opportunities to solidify and expand your business network, including the always-popular Taste of TECHSHOW dinners.

Want to know more? Email Dan or me (using the “Contact Us” button above) and we’ll be happy to answer your questions!

ABA TECHSHOW is not to be missed!

Is the Apple iPad a New Tool for Busy Lawyers?

February 08, 2010 By: Reid Category: Collaboration, Technology

Articles and information abound about the upcoming Apple iPad tablet computer, but here are four resources that will help busy lawyers learn quickly whether an iPad is in their future.

Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell do a fantastic job analyzing the pros and cons in their latest Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast. Download and listen to their practical and insightful thoughts on whether the iPad is a game-changer for lawyers.

Jordon Furlong further explores the issues in his blog post on Slaw, mentioning both my blog post, Is the Apple iPad the Tipping Point? and John Wallibillich’s succinct iPad post on his Wired GC blog.

I won’t make my final decision about buying an iPad until I see and try it, but it just seems to me to be the right tool at the right time in the evolution of technology–especially with the dramatic rise of cloud computing.

The Best Law Practice Management Books are Now Up To 25% Off

February 01, 2010 By: Reid Category: Announcements, Collaboration, Firm Management & Operations, Making (more) Money, Technology

Many of the best books in the field of law practice management are on sale for up to 25% off, including The 2010 Solo & Small Firm Legal Technology Guide, Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour, and my favorite–The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success! :-)

Word-2007 2010 Solo Small Firm Tech Guide Collaboration Tools & Technologies Winning Alternatives to the Billable HourThe Busy Lawyer's Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice

February is a great time to spend a few hours each weekend to chill out and read these books to get more ideas and information to have a more successful 2010.

Use these discount codes to save up to 25% through February 28, 2010:

The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success Now Available for Kindle

January 06, 2010 By: Reid and Dan Category: Announcements, Technology

We are pleased to announce that our book was one of the first two books published by the American Bar Association to be made available for Amazon’s blockbuster Kindle e-reader. The Kindle is changing the way people buy and read books: Amazon reports they sold more e-books on Christmas Day than physical books–the first time that has ever happened.

And you don’t need a Kindle either to get our book electronically. If you have an iPhone, you can now download the Kindle for iPhone app from the App Store for free, then download our book or just about any other favorite book. Best of all, the “Kindlized” version of our book will save you a few bucks over the printed book, and it can go with you wherever you take your iPhone or your Kindle.