The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success

Essential Tips to Power Your Practice
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The Future of Law Practice Conference and Symposium

October 07, 2010 By: Reid Category: Announcements, Events

The College of Law Practice Management (COLPM) will hold their 2010 Futures Conference and Symposium on October 22-23 in Washington, DC, and Dan and I encourage all lawyers attend and participate. The College, of which both Dan and I are honored to be Fellows, is dedicated to improving the practice of law and helping our profession define it’s future. A copy of the program agenda listing sessions and speakers is here.

We could not agree more with the conference planners that:

it’s time to turn the dial to “reset” and, starting now, do things differently in the business of practicing law! The worst is over and as businesses of every type pick themselves up, dust themselves off and forge surprising new routes for the future.

Learn how other lawyers and law firms are breaking that horrible precedent habit. You’ll want to be there as assumption-changing speakers explore and predict ways in which the legal enterprise will “reset” after two years of upheaval. Small group discussion sessions will get up close and personal about what’s really happening in law offices around the globe. This conference will give you a fresh take on the events of the past couple of years and solid ideas for capitalizing on the opportunities that await creative law firm leaders.

If you are interested in attending with Dan and I, complete the registration form and send it to College administrator Karen Rosen or contact the College at 720.271.7015 for more information.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Do you drink too much? Take this survey to find out

September 22, 2010 By: Dan Category: Wellness and balance

I came across an interesting article in the Autumn issue of University of Toronto Magazine. It indicates that John A. Cunningham, a behavioural scientist at U. of T., has come up with new criteria for defining how much alcohol consumption is too much.

You can measure your own drinking habits against these criteria by taking a short five minute survey at checkyourdrinking.net.

The survey asks about the amount of alcohol you consume, and compares it to averages for others of the same age and sex. On an annual basis it also reports how much you spend on alcohol and how may hours you are under the influence of alcohol. Lastly, based on the amount of alcohol you consume, it also gives you your chances of suffering various negative consequences which are specified in some detail.

Go to checkyourdrinking.net and take the survey if you drink anything more than a moderate amount of alcohol – you will find the survey results will be striking and sobering.
Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Success Costs 20% Less This Week Only!

July 26, 2010 By: Reid and Dan Category: Announcements, Uncategorized

All ABA books including the Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice are discounted 20% through July 30, 2010. Head to the ABA Webstore and check out our book and other terrific books–including  some of our favorites from Jim Calloway & Mark Robertson, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell, and Sharon Nelson & John Simek. Just enter discount code PAB9IPSS1 at checkout to redeem your savings on these books and more.

Provincial, Territorial and State Lawyer Licensing Databases

May 26, 2010 By: Dan Category: Fraud prevention

I have had calls from lawyers in the midst of handling apparent fraud attempts that were wanting to verify whether the lawyers named as the drafter of the collaborative family law agreements presented to them by the fraudsters were in fact real lawyers. There were names and signatures in the agreements – but nothing else. No firm names, telephone numbers, addresses etc. Red flag!! Searches of the internet failed to turn up anything.

So where can you go to attempt to establish if you are dealing with a real lawyer that is in good standing?
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We Love Facebook, But Beware The Growing Fraudsters

May 03, 2010 By: Reid Category: Uncategorized

Dan has written extensively on this blog, his PracticePro blog, and on Slaw.ca about the cheque fraud that is claiming victims across the legal profession in the U.S. and Canada. That fraudulent activity has yet to abate, and we are now faced with another type of fraud: Fake and stolen Facebook account fraud. Similar to the deceptive practices Dan has warned about, these fraudsters are phishing to steal Facebook accounts, and then seek to defraud the friends of the real Facebook account owner. According to this article in the New York Times, millions of accounts are bundled and sold to criminals who then post fake messages seeking money from Facebook friends. For example, one such fake message (obstensibly from the account owner) asking friends for money to help her get home from Europe where she was stuck without funds to return home.  Furthermore, access to Facebook accounts can provide personal information that can help these criminals answer account security questions such as “What is your mother’s maiden name?” Scary stuff, but just the tip of the iceberg.

It seems that with almost any technology, the more popular it becomes, the more security concerns pop-up. With over 400 million users, if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. And millions of those people are now closely interconnected. No wonder the world’s criminals are out in full force.

So as with any other technology, beware. Stay up-to-date. Learn and apply security settings. Take care who you friend. Apply the same common sense to requests via Facebook as you would by mail, telephone or e-mail: Make sure you really know who is contacting you.

It’s a shrinking world out there, but the neighborhood is still rough!

What to keep in your employee files: A small law firm’s guide

April 23, 2010 By: Dan Category: Firm Management & Operations

Our very good friend Jim Calloway wrote a great column for the April 22, 2010 LawyersUSA. It covers what should be in small law firm employee files.

In many small law firms there is no formal personnel file or other records for employees besides payroll and tax records. Jim’s article suggests that, at a minimum, there should be a separate file for every employee. Each employee file should contain:

  • contact information for the employee;
  • emergency contact information;
  • every Form W-4 the employee has furnished to the firm;
  • copies of all W-2s and other payroll and tax information could be kept in the employment file (or in another location).

Beyond the basics, consider including these things:

  • A job description;
  • A written employment application;
  • Copies of all documents submitted during the application process;
  • A copy of the written offer of employment;
  • Completed evaluations of the employee’s performance;
  • Notes about the employee’s errors.

Read the complete article here.

Sixty iPhone Apps for Lawyers from ABA TECHSHOW 2010

April 01, 2010 By: Reid Category: Uncategorized

Jeff Richardson and I had a great time presenting 60 iPhone Apps in 60 Minutes at ABA TECHSHOW 2010 in Chicago last week. We spent many hours over the past several months seeking out the best, practical, (and sometimes fun) apps available for the iPhone and that are useful for busy lawyers. From Black’s Law Dictionary to the Federal Rules of Evidence; from document editors to dictation apps; from travel tools to printing apps, we did our best to narrow down the almost 150,000 available apps to just 60. And we presented it in 60 minutes.

Last month I gave everyone a sneak peak at my top ten apps for busy lawyers, but we can now share the rest of them, thanks to Jeff’s effort here and below. Enjoy!

60 Apps in 60 Minutes, 2010 Edition

Research and Accessing the Law

  1. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. by Cliff Maier ($2.99)
  2. Black’s Law Dictionary ($49.99)
  3. Barron’s Law Dictionary ($14.99)
  4. La. Civil Code ($6.99)
  5. U.S. Code by Prof. Shawn Bayern (free)
  6. Fastcase (free)
  7. Lexis Get Cases & Shepardize (free)
  8. Congress in Your Pocket ($0.99-$29.99)
  9. Merck Manual ($9.99-$29.99)
  10. Drug Trials (free)
  11. Wikipanion (free-$4.99)
  12. People (free)
  13. Google Mobile (free)
  14. Bing (free)

Viewing and Editing Documents

  1. Documents to Go ($9.99-$14.99)
  2. Quickoffice ($9.99-$14.99)
  3. Office2 ($2.99-$5.99)
  4. Zosh ($2.99)
  5. Bento ($4.99)
  6. ScanR Business Center ($24.99)

Remote Access

  1. LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99)
  2. Dropbox (free)

Personal Productivity

  1. Groups ($4.99)
  2. Time tracking apps (various)
  3. Things ($9.99)
  4. Personal Assistant (free-$6.99)
  5. Evernote (free)
  6. Dragon Dictation (free)
  7. SpeakWrite (free)
  8. Awesome Note (free-$3.99)
  9. West CLE Mobile (free)

Travel

  1. GateGuru (free)
  2. MotionX GPS Drive ($0.99)
  3. Skype (free)
  4. Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search (free)
  5. The Weather Channel (free-$3.99)
  6. WeatherBug (free-$0.99)
  7. AutoPark ($4.99)

Utilities

  1. Eye Glasses ($2.99)
  2. DaysFrom Date Calculator ($0.99)
  3. AppBox Pro ($0.99)
  4. Keynote Remote ($0.99)
  5. AT&T’s Mark the Spot (free)
  6. Pastebot ($2.99)
  7. Gorillacam (free)
  8. Print n Share ($6.99)
  9. ZeroTap (free)

Marketing and Social Networking

  1. Facebook (free)
  2. Twitterific (free-$4.99)
  3. TweetDeck (free)
  4. Bump (free)
  5. UStream Live Broadcaster (free)
  6. No Traffic Tickets (free)
  7. MoFo2Go (free)

Assisting With Your Personal Life

  1. NotifyMe (free-$3.99)
  2. Grocery IQ ($0.99)
  3. Siri (free)
  4. Anti-Mosquito Pro ($0.99)
  5. Bills ~ On Your Table ($1.99)
  6. Yelp (free)
  7. RadLaser ($1.99)
  8. Relax ($2.99)
  9. Amazon Kindle (free)
  10. Mint (free)

Entertainment

  1. DirecTV (free)
  2. Cocktails+ ($2.99)
  3. Lightsaber Duel (available soon)
  4. Pandora Radio (free)
  5. SoundHound ($4.99)
  6. RunPee Mobile ($1.99)
  7. More Cowbell ($0.99)

Thanks Ed Flitton for all you did for LPM: We will miss you

March 29, 2010 By: Dan Category: Announcements

I lost a friend on the weekend when Ed Flitton unexpectedly passed away. Ed was a true gentleman who was positive all the time and had contagious amounts of enthusiasm and energy.

I met Ed through the ABA Law Practice Management Section and worked with him a lot over the last few years as we were both on Law Practice Magazine Editorial Board. With his amazing knowledge of law firm finance and management issues, Ed made significant contributions to Law Practice. These included his Taking the Lead: Advice for Managing Partners column, and the feature articles he wrote for us from time to time. At our editorial meetings and brainstorming sessions, Ed also offered great input and wisdom when it came to the suggestions he made on the issues and topics we should cover and the knowledgeable people that could write for us on them.

I also had the pleasure to work with Ed in helping to plan the Futures Conferences that the College of Law Practice Management put on last fall in Denver, and the one planned for this fall in DC.

Few, if any, people I have ever met knew as much as Ed about managing and running a law firm. He had amazing stories to tell about interesting law firm management and operational issues – and the appropriate solutions to them. He seemed to always have short pithy one-liners that offered great insights and advice to managing partners. Two I remember are: “Your people are your firm – never forget to stay in touch with them;” and “Never fire a problem staff person until you know who is going to fill the vacant chair.” I wish I had written down more of Ed’s comments.

I enjoyed Ed’s company and conversation at many great breakfasts, lunches and dinners at LPM section events. And, while I never golfed with him (a true passion of his), we enjoyed the most hilarious jeep ride ever together with some other LPM friends at our meeting in Tucson. I was very lucky to have enjoyed a long chat with Ed in the Chair’s hospitality suite at ABA TECHSHOW last week.

Ed, the LPM family will miss you. I will miss you. Thanks for all you shared with me. Thanks for all you did for us.

Cross-posted on the College of Law Practice Management blog.

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.