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LawTech Partners

 

 

Teaching old dogs new tricks.

We write about legal technology, practice management and our day to day experiences helping law  firms with their hardware, software, systems and processes.

5 Things Every Attorney Should Know
(How to do with their computer)

Adriana Linares - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Whether a solo practitioner or partner at a large firm, there are some basic compute skills that every attorney should have.

1. Basic Document Editing Skills

Basic document creation and editing skills couldn’t be any more important these days. Long gone are the days of faxes and copies delivered by courier. Today, a Word document reveals much more than an contract or a deposition exchange. It also reveals the skill and attention to detail that the creator put into his or her work. A poorly constructed document can hint of inefficient or poorly managed technology. An attorney should, nominally, understand:


How a document is formatted (characters, paragraphs, page setup)
How to add bullets, leveled numbers (1., 1.1, 1.1.1), page numbers
Use AutoText to quickly input regularly used phrases, sentences, clauses and paragraphs
Use advanced find and replace functions


1a. Understand Cut/Copy and Paste Option in Word
If you only learn one thing make it this: understand how to cut/copy then paste text from one source into your Word document. 
When you paste text from another document, an email, or even a web page, the original formatting is retained. That is, if you copy a paragraph from an old WordPerfect document that was automatically numbered, is in Courier New, and size 12 font then paste it into Word; Word will paste it with its' auto-number (which by the way you might note even see!) and in Courier New, size 12. In most cases, you will probably want the text to blend seamlessly into your existing document. The Paste Options button allows you to decide how Word should manipulate the text.
Once you’ve pasted some text, a small icon (a clipboard with a lightening bolt with appear). Click on it, you will be presented with 3 main options.


Keep Source Formatting: keeps the original formatting. Think of it “as-is” – and also add this caveat “without guarantee”. This is usually the least desired choice as hidden codes or text can often wreak havoc in Word.
Match Destination Formatting: changes the text formatting of the pasted to match that of the surrounding text and paragraph. This option is better than Keep Source Formatting, but not as good as:
Keep Text Only: strips all previously applied formatting, leaves text good as new as if you had typed it right in yourself. 


2. Create a Basic PowerPoint
"I want to practice law not create pretty presentations in PowerPoint" but this day and age - you really should have some basic development and design skills. If you have the luxury of an assistant or a paid designer- who creates presentations for you then you might get away with just some basic know-how on editing. 
It is always good to know how to throw together a PowerPoint. Given sufficient time, you will always want to create a custom and unique presentation but when in a pinch. 
Regardless of who creates your presentation, you should be an absolute expert on delivering them. You should be able to set up and troubleshoot the laptop , projector, mouse and pointer. There is no reason that you or your firm shouldn't own a projector. Don’t always count on getting a loaner from the client or the group you are presenting to. Many old laptops don't display well with new projectors or vice-versa. Bottom line, you should get a projector to call your own and become familiar with it. 


3. Use Adobe to Create and Comment Documents
Consider this tip mandatory: Adobe Acrobat should be on every computer in your office. Acrobat can be very pricey and there may be some economical alternatives out there but this tool is so important that I would get stingy somewhere else in your budget. Products like Adobe Acrobat Nuance PDF Converter Pro add a virtual printer to your computer that allows you to “print” anything you can send to your regular printer as a PDF file.


4. Send and Receive Emails from Any Device
These days there is little excuse for not getting an email. One of the most valuable tech tricks you should make the time to learn and understand is that of email setup. You should know how to set up incoming and outgoing emails on any device (desktop, laptop, cell phone). When it comes to this topic, there is a lot that you could know but who has time for that? Here is what you need to know. 




First, like a street, there are two lanes for your email: one coming and one going. Email comes into your inbox through a pipe called POP3 (Post Office Protocol if you must know). It goes out through a different pipe called SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). The addresses for those “pipes” can and often are the same. The second and third bits of information you need to know is your user ID and password for that email account and how you are expected to input that data. Some service providers require you to always include the domain name when you input the ID. Other providers might not require the domain so you might just enter something like alinares for the user ID. 




5. Nothing But ‘Net
The Internet could be one of your most valuable resources. If you start using it for everyday tasks. To run a more efficient practice (and life!) you should be taking advantage of many web-based applications. Such as:
Web-based email. You should have a web-based email address or email alternate that you can use and your clients can reach at during a crisis or emergency. After Katrina, many attorneys were left email-helpless because their firm email servers were down. 
Internet Faxing. There is little use for a traditional fax machine these days. An Internet based fax number will deliver faxed to your inbox as a PDF file and a scanner will allow you to scan paper documents to a file that you can “fax” over the Internet. The recipient is none-the-wiser. 
Online banking (especially if you are a solo or small firm that doesn’t have a sophisticated accounting package). You would be hard pressed to find a bank that doesn’t offer statement download and bill payment services that integrate into Quickbooks or Quicken. 
Travel a lot? Learn how to book air and hotel reservations over the net. More importantly, learn how to check-in on-line (or at a kiosk at the airport). The time you won’t be spending in lines at the airport will be spent enjoying a pre-flight cocktail at the bar.
Learn to efficiently search for court records, public records, tax appraiser websites and many other on-line databases.


Technology can be overwhelming and client expectations of how attorneys are using technology don't seem to be waning. Taking the time to learn one tip or tool at a time will not only make you more efficient and less frustrated, but will also impress your clients.

Five Tips for Discovering Your RomanTech Side

Adriana Linares - Friday, February 14, 2014

Tech, you cant live without it, so might as well love it


Relationship problems? You're not the only one. It seems that everyone occasionally suffers from relationship issues. If only I had a diamond for every conversation I've had that started with, "I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm a basket case," or, "I hate to bother you with my problems again, but I know you'll understand."

Most of the time I find the issue is a simple misunderstanding exacerbated by a communication standoff. Neither side can understand the other, and often it takes the intervention of a therapist to help them understand.

Yes, technology can be very difficult to deal with. What we need here is a therapist - a technology therapist.

My official job is helping lawyers to use technology better. My unofficial job seems to be giving relationship advice to friends. Long ago, I started to notice a parallel between the advice I was giving to my clients and the advice I was giving to friends. Now, I might not be able to help you with your wife or your boyfriend, but I can certainly help you improve your tech relationship. 

Below you'll find five tips to help you start improving your tech-love life.


1. Know what you need and want
What do you want out of your relationship? Well, I want someone who will laugh with me, hold me tenderly, tolerate my mother ... uh, sorry, I got side tracked. The real question is: What need are you looking to fill with technology? 

2. Compatibility is key
We all know the importance of compatibility in the relationship equation. However, we often fail to recognize the scope to which compatibility matters.

I've been known to cruise the computer store looking to pick-up; sometimes, I know what I want and sometimes I'm just there browsing. But no matter what, I know that I am looking for technology that will complement my needs as well as get along with my friends and family ... uh, err... I mean, my other technologies.

Just recently I fell into a deep and meaningful gaze with a print server. I had always dreamed big of a print server for my small home network. I have four computers (don't ask) but only one printer. Could this be "the one"? Of course it was, I thought, as I swept it into my cart. I rushed home and quickly read the manual. (Yes, I read manuals — more on that later.) I then began the laborious process of installing software, tinkering with settings, and configuring God-knows-what. I wound up getting very frustrated. In desperation I called one of my own technology therapists, (hey, I'm human too).

Sadly, nobody could help me, so I took it back to Pedro, my buddy at Office Depot (whom I had not consulted before I made my hasty purchase). Pedro sighed as I handed him the box and told me I wasn't the first person to return this model. Apparently the print server had a host of compatibility problems. He suggested, in hushed tones, that I just share my printer through my home network using Microsoft's built-in sharing capabilities. Not surprisingly, it worked great. No compatibility issues, and it was free.

3. Where do you want this relationship to go?
They say the true test of a good relationship is an out-of-town trip. Being on the road takes everyone out of their comfortable routines and creates an opportunity for exploration. Maybe you want a comfortable relationship, but at some point you might have to hit the road. Looking to whisk your new love off to a lush tropical island? Prefer to keep this affair confined to the office? Here are some questions to consider when looking for new technologies such as computers, cell phones, and gadgets.

Will you want to move your computer from your office to your living room? 
Do you travel out of town to visit clients?
Are you a litigator who spends a lot of time at the courthouse? And does the courthouse (or a nearby coffee shop) have wireless Internet access that would enable you to check email?
Do you live in a disaster prone area that might cause you to have to flee at a moments notice? (Think New Orleans here, and remember that most people in New Orleans didn't expect to be away from the city for more than 2 or 3 days).

I'm not saying that you have to opt for a mobile computing set up, but at least consider realistic possibilities. If you have doubts about home versus road, you should remember that if you plan for a trip you can easily stay home. But not vice-versa.

4. Breaking up is hard to do - so be picky
My brother is in his mid thirties; he's smart, funny, good looking, and to top it all off, he's in a band. But he's single, and guess what? That is how he wants it. Getting involved with women is easy for him, but breaking up is hard and he doesn't have time to be installing and uninstalling one woman after another in his life.

If you think about it, you might note that ridding yourself of unwanted software is often even more dramatic. Don't just bring home the first laptop you lay your hands on. And don't fall prey to the overblown promises of some gussied up office gadget.

I am deeply disturbed when I hear someone say that they've been through three cell phones in the past year. There are so many Web resources with hardware and software reviews, so there's really no excuse for getting into a bad tech relationship. Do your homework: use Google, check user forums, product Web sites, tech magazines and see what others are saying. (I wish some of the men that I've been introduced to had come with Amazon-like reviews.)

At least consider the tech-equivalent of a pre-nuptial agreement - the free software trial. But remember, even free software can be hard to get rid of too. So be picky. Always, be picky.

5. Does this thing come with instructions?
Many people consider it a waste of time (or a sign of weakness) to read a product manual. Fact is, most user-manuals are easy to read and are designed to get you up and running quickly with a minimum of bother and fuss. I've read a lot of manuals, and I can tell you that's where I learned most of what I know about the opposite tech.

My friend Randy was thrilled to receive his new Leica camera the other day. He tore the box open and rushed to insert the memory card and pushed the power button. But his high hopes were dashed when his camera didn't seem to work "right out of the box."

He looked at it quizzically, unplugged and replugged, ejected and reinserted, then pushed and pushed that power button. He was packing the camera up to send it back when I intervened. Noting the tear in hi eye, I asked him what the manual said to do.

His response: "Manual? Why would I bother with the manual? I've had ten cameras like this!" Well as it turns out, his new-fangled camera required the removal of a hidden plastic tab.

What's the lesson here? Well, for starters, if you've managed to find the optimal little gadget don't think you can just sit back and let the magic happen. Unlike women, most gadgets come with an instruction manual. So start there. Or as Shakespeare once eloquently put it, "hasten thee to read the friggin' manual!"

CONCLUSION
Technology can stir up emotions reminiscent of romantic relationships. From one minute to another we may love it, loathe it, or decide just to live with it. And like other relationships, the one you have with technology can be productive and fulfilling but not without some understanding, some patience, and some effort. 

Do you know about TechnoLawyer?

Adriana Linares - Monday, April 29, 2013

Mast_technolawyer

TechnoLawyer is one badass company and as a legal professional, you should know about it. I had the fun and pleasure of working as an editor for Blawgworld for a couple of years and have high regard for the folks of TL. As for their work, not only is it one of the best resources for legal technology information, articles, white papers and product reviews but it is ALL FREE. You just have to "join" as most of their info is delivered by email or by logging into your personal portal.

They just released their VERY USEFUL Buyers Guide to Legal Billing Software. As we all know,  legal billing software is a necessity for all law firms. Their Buyer's Guide compares the 22 leading products (both cloud and classic), including their cost using a benchmark TL has created called the TL Research Price. The Buyer's Guide weighs in at nearly 7,500 words with seven charts, including one that lists how each product stacks up for entering time on the go from smartphones, the iPad, etc. Pretty useful I'd say!

So the deal is that only TechnoLawyer members can download a copy of the Buyer's Guide. But don't forget, both TechnoLawyer membership and the Buyer's Guide are free. If you're not a TechnoLawyer member, use the form on this page to join today, then click Member Library in the navigation bar above. Once you join, you can also choose to receive one or more of their email newsletters, all of which are free and stocked with great information. Get on it!

Client Profiles / Total Office Mobile App by LiteLaw

Adriana Linares - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

While Aderant would certainly prefer that we call it by it's new name, Total Office, most of us can't helpPhoto ourselves - it will always be Client Profiles. So if you're a CP user, check this out -  LiteLaw! It's a very cool and useful app for iOS which plugs right into your existing CP/ATO install (in no more than 30 minutes) and provides secure, complete access to your existing cases and all their info. Developed in his spare time (wherever he finds it!) by  long time CP Administrator and IT Director, Ryan Colbert, of my hometown of Orlando - this guy knows what he's doing! He's a brilliant fella and a dear friend (together we co-founded the Orlando Legal Techs Meetup group). If you don't use CP but like the look of the app, talk to Ryan, they are happy to develop for other platforms when plausible.

LiteLaw allows authorized users to access matter information from anywhere AND more than anything its' simple but integrated timekeeping feature allows attorneys to input time directly to the matter from anywhere. No excuses. Per the LiteLaw website other useful features include:

  • Time entry reminders for phone calls and emails
  • Quick access to recent cases, docs, and parties
  • Print or email docs from directly from the device
  • Send digital dictation via email
  • View case parties, docs, billing items, calendar events, and to-dos
  • Obtain billing and productivity information for your cases and staff 
  • No VPN or remote desktop software required 
  • Law firm geek approved

Well this law firm geek approves. And one more thing - which I rarely say - it requires no-to-low training. Seriously! Learn more and download a free trial at the LiteLaw website. Tell them Adriana sent you! 

3 Good Outlook Tips - Resend Emails, Recurring Events and Creating Rules

Adriana Linares - Thursday, April 11, 2013

Outlook is one of my favorite applications and definitely one of my favorite things to train. As a matter of fact, I'm doing a webinar on Tuesday April 16th with Ernie the Attorney at the Paperless Chase,  so if you like these tips and want to learn more you can sign up here. I'm using Outlook 2010 and 2013 between my laptops and desktops and just run my entire professional and business life from it. Here are three tips that always get a standing ovation when I speak (well, not really, but it would be cool if that did happen).

(The screenshots below are from 2013 but all these tips apply to 2003, 2007 and 2010. Just look around, the prompts or icons might be a little different)

Resend / Reuse / Recycle Sent EmailsResend

Don’t waste precious time cutting, pasting or recreating emails. There is a handy "Resend" feature in Outlook.

  1. From your Sent Items folder, Open the item you would like to resend.
  2. On the Actions menu, click Resend This Message
  3. Edit at will, click Send. 

Create a Recurring Meeting or Appointment

RecurFrom the appointment or meeting that you want to make recurring:
  1. On the Actions menu, click Recurrence (or click the Recurrence button).
  2. Select the frequency (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly) with which you want the appointment to recur, and then select options for the frequency.
  3. Click OK > Save and Close.


Learn to Work with Rules

Rules are great for moving emails out of your Inbox and into subfolders (plus a whole slew of other things). Start with an easy rule like moving emails from a specific sender (like LinkedIn or Facebook) to a special folder that gets your attention when you have the time. Right click on an email and look for "Rules" or "Create Rule" and let Outlooks help you create the rule.

RulesThe look and feel of Rules has changed over the versions of Microsoft Office so if you want to learn more about rules in Outlook 2003 click here, for 2007 click here, 2010 click here and for 2013 take a look here.

Check out Legal Office Guru's blog post WITH A VIDEO! on setting up rules here

Don't forget about my webinar on Tuesday April 16! Hope to see you there. Get details and register here.

Why Lawyers Shouldn't Be Using Android Devices

Adriana Linares - Monday, April 08, 2013

If you know me (and most of you don't but let's pretend you do) - you know that I love technology. I mean, I really REALLY love it. It's hard for me to meet a technology I don't like. I shamelessly and eagerly buy every device, gadget or app that makes sense for me to know about (and even some that don't - like the Roku 3 that's still sitting in a box here on my desk). I buy all these things and learn how to use them so I can give firsthand advice when I'm talking to lawyers about technology.  

My current collection includes a new Windows 8 Acer laptop with a touchscreen (I like it so much, it's replaced my MacBook as my day to day laptop), an iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, a Lenovo Windows 8 Pro tablet, a Windows 8 Phone (the Nokia Lumia 920, which replaced my LG Thrill Android phone as my 2nd phone) and you don't even want to know what's in my tech dopp kit.

I kept hearing and reading about the latest Android operating system and wanted to be in-the-know (particularly got lured in by the idea of Google Now). So I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and like it very much. It's a beautiful experience as far as the OS. I like the on-screen gadgets. And trying to figuring out how a lawyer could use it as much as they can an iPad to practice law has really stimulated my geeky brain (btw, NOT EVEN close in race, the iPad eats this thing's lunch). But I'm bummed because without my personal data on it, it's not much more than an e-reader and surfing device. I've not synced it with my Google accounts - which means no email, no calendar and no contacts on it - which also means Google Now is Google Not for me. So, why have I not loaded it with any of my personal information?  Because I also keep reading and hearing about the security risks associated with the devices. A report from a company named F-Secure claims that Android accounts for 79% of mobile malware. It's reportedly the most widely used (notice I didnt say "popular") OS on the global market, so it makes statistical sense that it's the most riddled with malware. A post just last week titled Many Free Android Apps Are Starting To Look A Lot LikeMalware falls just short of calling the issue a crisis.

A report from GData, a well known antivirus and security company in Europe, claims that on average, a new Android malware strain appears every twominutes. Notables from a recent Trend Micro report:

  • Almost 300,000 apps are classified as outright malicious and a further150,00+ classified as high risk.
  • Of those 300,000+/- malicious apps, 69,000 were sourceddirectly from Google Play. (sooo, its NOT just Chinese and Russian app stores)
  • 22% of apps were found to inappropriately leak user data
  • The leaked data most often includes device data such as IMEI,ICCID as well as Contact data
  • To make matters just generally worse - 32% of apps were classified as “Poor” in terms of batteryusage, 24% “Poor” for network usage and 28% for memory usage

Most attorneys I know cart around plenty of confidential and priveleged information on their mobile devices. From documents to financial information to critical dates and contact info and of course, emails - it is their responsibility and ethical duty to protect that information in the absolute best way they can. With the unsurmountable and undeniable amount of data that exists on this issue, I just don't know how any attorney would want to use an Android as their main device. 

My usual advice? get an iPhone. Yes, I'm a big fan of iPhones - and not just because they only account for 0.7% of all malware but more so because there are so many amazing, useful and productive products for legal professionals. But if for some reason you are not interested in using one of the most secure mobile devices on the planet, then I'd suggest taking a look at the other most secure platform - a Blackberry device. I've heard the new Blackberry is pretty cool (ha! Words I most certainly thought I would never utter after 2005). Or even take a look at a Windows 8 phone - but I'll tell you now, I don't love that OS, it's hard to use. 

But what can you do if you just can't or don't want to let go of that Android?

And dear attorney, I know you don't like to hear this but the truth is that you should become an expert on protecting your client data - after all, it is part of your job now
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