Folks, presumably most of us have Linkedin profiles. There are widespread reports of a possible security breach at Linkedin involving user passwords being compromised. See this SF Gate article, and also this BusinessInsider blurb (which came to me as a Linkedin newsfeed item), but you can Google others. Reportedly, around 11:20AM EDT, Linkedin alerted some users – I say “some” because I didn’t receive anything and probably would’ve presumed it was a phishing attack anyway. Prudence dictates immediately changing your Linkedin passwords – I just did.
Interested proposed federal legislation today related to limiting employer and school access to social media accounts. Here’s the scoop from MSNBC today:
“A New York Congressman has introduced federal legislation nicknamed “SNOPA” that would make it illegal for employers and educational institutions to require a potential or current employee, or a potential or current student, to divulge personal online information as part of the hiring, enrollment or discipline process.
The bill, with a full name of the Social Networking Online Protection Act, was introduced Friday by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
. . .
The legislation would ban employers from requiring that employees or job candidates share social networking passwords or “other means of accessing a private account”; it would also ban post-secondary schools from disciplining students for failing to provide such access, or from discriminating against applicants who refuse to provide such access. Local educational agencies would also be banned from requiring login credentials.”
Not surprising – something like this was expected soon. I’ll be talking about this very topic at the ABA GP|Solo Spring Meeting in Charleston, S.C. on May 18th at 8AM (info is here) along with technopal Alan Klevan. I’m sure we’ll see a flood of discussion on this – some variation of it seems necessary to avoid some potentially outrageous privacy and personal digital security issues. Here’s ZDNet’s early take on SNOPA.
Why “DocuLaw?” Hold that thought until the end of this post . . .
Every so often I feel the need to answer the questions I get from lawyers everywhere who email me asking questions like, “We really enjoy your CLEs and your blog posts, but how do you actually make a living?” That probably tells me that my company has a branding issue, but . . . the answer is really simple and here it is. For the last almost 27 years since I founded the company, MicroLaw has exclusively focused on a mission of guiding legal entities – law firms of all sizes, corporate and governmental legal departments, government agencies and Bar associations / Law Societies – in the most effective use of technology and how it integrates into the flow of their practices and businesses.
We embody the “Five B’s Approach” that I talk about in some recent CLEs: Best Practices, Being More Profitable, Battling Malpractice, Being Ethically Compliant and Better Quality of Life. We see these five goals as being the right reasons for a smarter law practice management and legal technology approach for any type of law practice, public or private. Technology for technology’s sake can be a lot of fun as a hobby and it’s great to be enthusiastic about legal tech, but we’ve never thought of it as an end in itself – that just isn’t a sound business strategy.
We’ve always been fiercely independent in terms of any products we recommend – this makes us very different in an age where most “consultants” are really “vendors.” We objectively evaluate our clients’ needs and make recommendations. Sometimes we recommend that nothing new be bought, but rather, existing tools be better used. If we do recommend products, we certainly have our favorites and benchmarks, but we often recommend products that, for implementation, we may need to refer out to a qualified expert rathering than being able to handle it ourselves. This is important – we exist to analyze and advise and manage projects, first and foremost.
Wow – some of that sounds awfully formal, so here’s the informal version. We help with every technology that involves something that plugs in for power or runs on batteries (in a legal practice environment – stop that snickering :-)). That means everything from:
- Law practice management and technology audits – how are you doing? what can you do better? what’s your next set of steps? This includes a detailed review and audit of your network, hardware, security, remote access, mobility plans and backup infrastructure, including reviewing IT upgrade proposals and even VOIP and IP phone system proposals. Oh, and we also speak Mac in case you were wondering.
- Cloud strategies – we help our clients figure out what elements of cloud technology make sense for them and help them select and implement the services that make sense. From practice management to document management, financial management, secure data storage, online backup and fax technologies and more.
- Document streamlining – this means document, email and paper management – that can mean a version of our Paper LESS Office approach tailored to a practice, document/email management with leading tools like Worldox GX3 or NetDocuments or even the DM functions within some practice managers. It can also mean developing scanning approaches and helping practices figure out what to do with their existing and to-be-accumulated paper.
- Financial systems – helping get your money straight and your billings/collections maximized – we’ve worked with many legal financial systems over the years and particularly like the venerable Tabs 3 system for many of our clients, but also systems like Rippe-Kingston, Omega, and others. We also help practices migrate from one system to another.
- Practice management systems – the core of our existence, focusing on our long-espoused belief that it’s all about “building complete electronic cases files.” PM systems are the beating information heart of a practice and we help either select a system and help with the best way to implement it, to migrating from one system to another. We recommend both “terrestrial” and “cloud” systems based on what makes the most sense for any given client – and then we help make sure that PM, document management and financial management work together as one integrated system, accessible from anywhere, anytime, from any device. So whether it’s Tabs PracticeMaster or CLIO, JustWare or anything else, we can help
- Microsoft Office – we help with legal-focused selection, configuration on all aspects of Microsoft Office – Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint. our custom-created training reference materials have drawn raves from our clients as have our CLEs on these subjects – and of course, how they integrate with document management and practice management systems.
- Adobe Acrobat and PDFing – we help educate our clients about everything legal professionals need to know and understand about living in a PDF-centric world, and how to securely use Acrobat to their best advantage – with tools like Bates Stamping, Secure Redaction, Electronic 3-Ring Binders, Typewriter, Security, Editing, Comment and Markup, PDF File Comparisons, Creating Forms and more.
- Remote Access and Mobility – we help clients figure out the best and most secure “work away” capabilities include Windows RDP, Citrix, Logmein and then extension of practice information to smartphones, iPads and Android tablets.
- Litigation technology and forensics – we have a network of the top professionals to help with every aspect of trial practice automation and with forensic examinations.
- IT – yes, we’ve been hardcore geeks having been in the trenches since before some of our clients were born, starting in the DOS and Novell days through modern cloud structures and the bridging of the Mac and Windows gaps. We can help design hardware and network systems from 1-100 users and help our clients get the best pricing on right components, review local IT proposals to make sure they make sense and are fairly priced, manage projects literally anywhere in the world and even provide actual turnkey systems to our smaller clients – shipping them and ourselves to set them up if there is no competent local IT support available.
Why “DocuLaw” then? Because so much of what we help with is wrapped up in the understanding, streamlining and management of documents for our clients. Whether paper, electronic or both. Whether texts or Facebook postings. Whether blog posts or Tweets. They’re all documents and we help our clients find ways to build complete electronic case files so they can feel confident, when working a case or a project, that they’re seeing everything that a responsible legal professional should see before advising a client or taking a position on their behalf.
So . . . does that help? That’s what MicroLaw has been, continues to be, and will always be about.
Oh, and did I mention we do it incredibly affordably – so much so that many solo practitioners have been, and are our clients. If you have a practice or a business, we’ll find a way we can help you in a way you can afford, big or small, in the U.S. or around the world, in any time-zone. And be sure to look at our Spring into Spring MicroLaw CARES (Computer and Resource Evaluation & Study) discounts here.
Ready to chat about how we can help? Email me here.
So . . . crying about your failed bracketology attempts over this past March Madness weekend? My two teams – the UW Badgers and the Marquette Golden Eagles have both made it to the Sweet 16 – very exciting! Fingers crossed. I do have to confess though that when I was at Marquette Law School in the mid-80′s, they were still the Warriors and it’s hard to think of them as anything else :-).
My latest CLE materials are up and online at MicroLaw’s CLE downloads page here. These include four session sets from my guest lecture engagement at the Charleston School of Law this past week, as well as my PDFing materials from the Tennessee Bar’s law technology day last month. As always, the materials are free, searchable PDFs – feel free to share them with anyone who you think might benefit from the knowledge they’ll gain.
The latest materials are:
- Social Media Isn’t a Fad: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and YouTube and How to Use Them Responsibly and Ethically in Your New Practice
- The 2012 New Lawyer’s Low-Budget / No-Budget Technology Survival Guide
- Technology for Tightwads: 10+ Tips for Free and Low-Cost Law Practice Management and Tech Tools, Gadgets, Apps and Websites
- How NOT to Commit Malpractice With Your Computer (or Smartphone and iPad)
- The Secret Tech Weapon You Didn’t Know You Had: Acrobat and PDFing Tools, Tips, Techniques to Use Daily
- Increasing Cloudiness in Your Practice – Hardcore Realities of Web-Based Systems and Ethical Issues
Hope you find them useful. As always, if these materials look like they have applicability to your practice (hard not to :-)), feel free to contact me here to chat about it.
MicroLaw has been very busy helping firms continent-wide in cleaning up their practice technology. With Spring just around the corner, more or less at least weatherwise (hey it’s going to be 68 in the “Frozen Tundra” of Wisconsin here early next week . . . we’ll take this kind of “late Winter” weather!), but definitely calendar-wise, it’s the perfect time to clean your practice technology house as we march towards the warmer months. Your practice’s profits can bloom and blossom along with the flora and fauna!
To make this process easier – and less expensive, we’ve got a proposal for you. MicroLaw can conduct its detailed practice technology and practice management review for a flat rate based on the size of your practice. The objective? To critique your present technology use and the state of your systems and processes and then provide a highly detailed, yet plain English short-term and long-term plan on how to squeeze the most out of your current (and future) technology systems.
And just like cleaning your home, office or garage in the springtime, it makes sense to schedule a check-up for your practice every couple of years.
- We’ll spot weaknesses and gaps in your hardware and software mix and recommend how to fix them – this can include transitioning wholly or partly to Macs, but also reviewing local quotes for hardware/network upgrades and/or designing the next generation of your systems and figuring out the best way to get it done cost-effectively
- We’ll explore the best way to integrate iPads and tablets into your practice – for everything from staying connected to litigating cases
- We’ll look for areas where you’re losing otherwise billable time because of inefficient technology tools and procedures that could be better tuned (or where procedures don’t really exist at all!) – including using time-capture tools like Chrometa to capture EVERYTHING
- We’ll help you figure out the best way for your specific practice to build complete electronic case files and get to a single point of entry for client and case information – we can help using a variety of practice management and financial systems, such as the legendary Tabs 3 and Tabs PracticeMaster, as well as the Worldox GX3 document/email manager, among others
- We’ll help you become Paper LESS in a way that works for you
- Better use what you already have – stop under-using Word, Outlook and Acrobat, as well as your practice manager and financial systems
- We’ll check to make sure your practice information is secure and you’re protecting client confidences in an ethically-compliant way
- We can help you determine if you’re taking a “green” approach to your office’s operations and technology use
- We’ll help you sort out your smartphone issues and how to get more out of your phones with the right apps
- We’ll examine your social media efforts to make sure you’re using services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and others in an ethically responsible and effective manner
- We’ll help you figure out if web-based and/or cloud hosting of your data and applications makes sense including using services like CLIO, RocketMatter, MyCase, Advologix, DropBox, Exchange Hosting, online backup and more
- We’ll help you chart out a path consistent with our “Five B’s” approach: using technology intelligently to achieve Best Practices, Battle Malpractice Risk, Be Ethically Compliant, Better Profitability and achieve a more Balanced/Blissful Life – seriously, if these aren’t your real objectives, what’s the point of continually buying new technology?
Our MicroLaw CARES review (CARES = Computer and Resources Evaluation and Study – clever, huh?) includes:
- Step One – Learning About You – Ross will conduct either live or conference-call interviews of everyone you feel has something to offer related to your present technology and how you use it / don’t use it
- Step Two – We Recommend – Ross will draft a detailed, yet highly understandable (our clients tell us that!) set of recommendations and plans for both technology and procedural improvement and how to best use your existing and future tech tools. We’ll leave no stone unturned in recommending software, hardware, services, support and how to get from where you are to where you want/need to be – with all costs very specifically projected and including a leasing analysis.
- Step Three – Let’s Do Lunch! We’ll meet remotely (or live – your choice) to talk through our recommendations and help you develop a specific set of phased action plan steps ready to act on.
While it’s always better to take a big picture approach and look at your entire practice to be able to give the best advice (see below), you can also buy blocks of Ross’ time just to talk about your situation and bounce ideas off of him (or have him comment on a locally-acquired proposal) – the MicroLaw CARES rates for this are discounted from Ross’ regular $245/hour to $185/hour (but you have to mention the “MicroLaw CARES “Spring into Spring” promotion – that’s the only catch!). OR, if you already happen to have programs like Tabs 3, Tabs PracticeMaster and Worldox, Renee from MicroLaw can help hourly as well – she’s normally $185/hour but the “Spring into Spring” discounted rate is $165/hour – every little bit helps! Abe’s tech and Microsoft Office wizardry is normally $150/hour – his “Spring into Spring” rate for MicroLaw CARES work is $145/hour.
So that’s what we can do for you this Spring and into the Summer – as we’ve done for so many firms. And as we did this last Fall – which was wildly popular, we’re offering a MicroLaw CARES discounted flat rate plan as follows:
- 1 person in your practice = Flat CARE rate – Normally $1750, Fall Sale = $1500
- 2-5 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $2000, Fall Sale = $1750
- 6-10 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $2750, Fall Sale = $2500
- 11-20 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $3500, Fall Sale = $3200
- 21-30 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $5000, Fall Sale = $4600
- 31-50 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $6000, Fall Sale = $5600
- 51-75 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $8000, Fall Sale = $7500
- 76-100 people in your practice = Flat CARE rate: Normally $11,000, Fall Sale = $9995
- 101+ people in your practice – ask Ross about it! We’ve helped firms with hundreds of people chart their technology paths
The bottom-line is this – the most expensive business decision for any law practice is usually sticking with the status quo – and not being as profitable and client-service-centered as you can. So talk to Ross today and get your Spring/Summer MicroLaw CARES process scheduled before there are no slots left!
Why am I feeling Andy Rooney-ish (sans the live caterpillars crawling on my brow thing)? Because I’m tired of getting terse, impolite, uncivil emails. In the legal profession, there’s already far too much incivility, not to mention adding the layer of technology-infused terseness those of us in the legal technology world face daily when dealing with ESL or ETL tech support personnel.
What I mean is this – email is correspondence, right? How many of you have crossed into that communication realm where 90+% of your correspondence comes to you and/or is sent from you electronically, without ever touching physical paper. For some of us, as I wrote about more than 15 years ago (so long ago that I can’t even find the piece online to cite), seeing a paper letter today feels sort of “exotic,” doesn’t it?
So if email is correspondence, two things occur to me:
- Stop calling it email – there’s no such thing really, it’s just correspondence. And if it’s correspondence, which is just a type of document, stop treating it differently than all your other documents. I mean, why segregate your correspondence and let it hibernate in the bottomless black hole otherwise known as your email inbox and sent items folders? Shouldn’t it be stored with all the other documents on each case wherever those documents are stored and however you organize them? (ideally with a proper legal document manager like Worldox GX2, or its equivalent).
- If it’s just correspondence, why do we tolerate the nearly universal lack of proper communication etiquette? How often do you get correspondence with no letterhead, no salutation (“Dear Whoever,” or “Hi Whoever”), no initial pleasantry (“I hope you’ve been well”) and no proper professionally courteous closing. Never. So why are these ingrained and time-honored correspondence conventions almost totally ignored when we send correspondence via email? I’m tired of terse messages from people and I suspect you are too.
So stop it. Be more polite when sending correspondence electronically (“ecorrespondence” is a much better term than email). Be nicer. You might be pleasantly surprised at the response. A little more civility could go a long way.
I can always count on my pal Jim Calloway to cut to the core of issues that no one else seems to address. Jim’s got a great post at his Law Practice Tips blog ( the post is here) called “Online Reputation Management: First Rule is to Avoid Self-Inflicted Wounds.” The money quote from Jim’s post is “We’ve all been there. I have one rather infamous e-mail in my past I’d still like to have back. If you tweet multiple times per day, you are going to hit a few foul balls. I’ll probably anger some people with this post. But, I think I am trying to make a point, which is let’s all be careful out there on the Internet, OK?” As usual, well said Jim – read the full post folks (and frankly, pretty much everything Jim blogs about – you’ll always take away something eminently practical and inherently useful.
ct was the new book the three of us will debut exactly one week from today called “How Good Lawyers Survive Bad Times,” published by the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section. Listen to the podcast here – I know you’ll find it’s exploration of the issues facing so many lawyers today to be immediately useful. The book itself is available for pre-order through it’s August 20th publication date at a 15% discount. In the spirit of the content of the book, every little bit helps!
First, I want to thank so many of you for writing and expressing concern because I haven’t posted since late June. We’ve just been completely swamped here at MicroLaw for the last six weeks – an atypically busy summer helping a number of new small firms – all BigSolos – get started out and various CLEs . . . the tanked economy has definitely not been tanking here at MicroLaw (thank goodness – amazingly grateful that we’ve been able to help more and more economically-shifted lawyers get the next stages of their practice careers jumpstarted). So . . . I’m fine and appreciate all your thoughts and concerns.
I also want to apologize (on behalf of the entire Internet I guess) for the distribution of a purported “update” from Ross Ipsa Loquitur last night that linked back to some weird prostate cancer website. Our site was the victim of a major DNS snafu from massive registrar DomainBank. We’ve clamped down on it and fixed it – it underscores the underlying influence and power of the various DNS management sites over the correct operation of Internet connectivity.
I’ve got a bunch of stored blog posts I’ve been working on and will post them in the next few days, getting back on track. Here’s a quick preview of what’s coming:
- Email – totally broken? Can it be counted on for reliable legal communications or any business communication?
- Texting – the devolution of language in action? How will it affect legal writing and communciations?
- CLE Recap – Rhode Island CLE in June, and Colorado Bar CLEs in July a WILD success – huge attendance, great audiences with great questions
- CLE Preview – August seminars and the upcoming Law Practice Management Institute Series this Fall in Milwaukee (October, November, December) – and coming to the BWI/DC area in November thanks to special fares from Southwest and their Milwaukee service inauguration – looking forward to seeing friends in the area and possibly some CLE (still TBD but working on several things)
- The Big Book Release! “How Good Lawyers Survive Bad Times” to be released by the ABA LPM Section this month! Special celebratory promotions at MicroLaw to watch for
- MicroLaw News – some exciting new ideas to think about to renovate your existing practice and new options for those considering taking control of their own destinies – and news from Renee and Abe too
- Netbooks – the latest scoop and my views on where they fit into the grand scheme of virtual and mobile lawyering (and your portabilized life)
- Paper LESS Office and Paper LESS Life updates related to handling incoming paper mail in a clever way that ensures responsible eyes see the inbound material while becoming Paper LESS ASAP
- Links to my latest CLE materials to download – lots of new content, free as always
- My latest gadget finds – things I never knew I couldn’t live without until I had them (or decided to lust after them)
- Links to my latest articles and SmallLaw columns
- Digital dictation – what I’m recommending and what my clients are using
- Practice/case management – the best implementation planning tips
- More on Worldox Web/Mobile and document/email management in the palm of your hand
- A new podcast and articles series with techno.pal (and just plain extraordinary person and dear friend) Donna Payne from PayneGroup and of Metadata Assistant fame
- Why I haven’t twittered in six weeks and how much of a relief it feels like – but why I’ll be back soon and the implications for maintaining sanity, concentration, an attention span and more
So folks, thanks again for your concern – I’m just fine (actually more than fine – some positive life changes this summer!) and will be back with a posting vengeance!
Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention some special thanks to special friends Courtney Kennaday, Renee Kodner, Sharon Nelson, Bruce Dorner, Deb Matthews and Lori Brown over the last couple of months – they know why. And Lisa Martin – she most certainly knows why.
I’ve given Twitter a pretty fair shot, following all sorts of feeds, Twittering some days a dozen or more times. First, let me be clear, Twittering is both really fun and really addictive. If, like me, you were born without any sense of impulse control, are a way out there Type A mega-multitasker, you can easily be sucked into Twitter’s so alluring vortex.
You could Tweet all day long.
Every single day.
And not have to deal with the inherent messiness and all the issues that go along with live human contact. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until we see:
- Twittermania catalogued in the DSM IV Physician’s Desk Reference as a clinically diagnosable syndrome.
- Notwitterphobia – the fear of not being able to Twitter and being otherwise unable to communicate.
- Twaccidents - auto, bike, scooter, cycle, stroller, pedestrian wrecks caused by former Blackberridiots who are now Twidiots, Twittering whilst mobile
So should people stop Twittering? Obviously not – most Twitterers are likely able to control themselves. Should impulsive, obsessive Type A types be consciously aware of descendinginto a Twitterift in the space-time continuum, possibly never to return again in this plane of existence (a digital black hole)? Yep, probably so.
For the life of me, a few folks I follow (no names – just initials: KO, GK, EH) literally seem to Tweet 24×7. Do their spouses or children even recognize them anymore? Do they have human conversations and manage to speak to liveware in more than 140 Tweetbytes? I wonder.
Twitter is the new haiku. It’s Twaiku.
Get out Twitterers, breath some fresh air, now that Spring is nearly upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. Go to a local Bar meeting and talk with actual humans. Attend a Rotary or KiwanisÂ meeting or whatever kind of meeting with fellow humans trips your trigger. Force yourself toÂ shake hands, look people in the eye, smile without imagining an emoticon. It’s GOOD for you. Find balance between your live and online personas (even if you like the latter better).
Todd Jordan’s Broad Brush blog lists 10 signs of Twitter addiction:
- All of your friendsâ€™ names start with @
- You know what a tweet is and donâ€™t snicker
- You tweeted while your wife gave birth
- You tweeted while giving birth
- Your kids have to tweet you to get you to make dinner
- Your mom joined Twitter to chat with you
- All you want for Christmas is unlimited SMS use on your cell phone
- Your sign your work email, @wonky
- You donâ€™t read emails that arenâ€™t highlighted replies to you
- You name your newborn @babygirl1
So before you earn enough stripes to merit a Prozac prescription, please Tweet responsibly. After all, friends don’t let friends Tweet 24×7.
Many of us have missed our colleague and friend, Bob Butler, of TimeMatters co-founding fame. After departing LexisNexis (hey, how long could a visionary like Bob have lasted in a corporate hierarchy – longer than I had predicted actually), Bob seemed to disappear. But thankfully, one of my very favorite big thinkers is back with a fascinating venture called BestThinking.com.Â There’s a quote from Bob currently in the “favorite quotes” section of the main web page that says, “Today’s unprecedented challenges call for new thinking from a broader base of thinkers.”
So what does that mean? Here’s my take on it, which I was just pleasantly surprised to see is also one of today’s “favorite quotes”: “I’m fascinated by the concept of “LinkedIn meets Wikipedia meets Google Scholar.” I really that describes the idea – it’s a collaborative online think tank, different than Wikipedia in its orientation by “thinker” instead of purely by subject. While Wikipedia is a superb substitute for traditional encyclopedias, online or paper, BestThinking is different. Experts on any subject can register as “Thinkers.” The BestThinking people then evaluate and check out the credentials self-submitted by potential Thinkers. I actually was questioned on several of the items I listed as my own credentials when I applied – impressive. So instead of just getting info by subject, one can get info by their expert-of-choice.
While free now, my bet is this could become a subscription service at some point . . . or perhaps Bob, in his endless financial wily-ness will build up an impressive base of content and subscribers and then sell out . . . imagine Google Scholars morphing into Google BestThinkers at some point? Perhaps. In the meantime, I’m a big fan of Bob’s and imagine this will make it big, especially in an economy where those who have the most/best information will likely be those who manage to turn bad times into opportunistically exploited successes.
So now that I’m a “Thinker” at BestThinking.com, I better get my tail in gear and get some of those thoughts posted! Bob, it’s great to have you back – and best of luck with this fascinating new knowledgebase venture.