10 Best Email Apps to Tame Your Runaway Inbox

Email is everywhere. It’s ubiquitous and universal. And thanks to Smartphones, it’s always with us. The universal “ever-presence” of email makes managing your email accounts not just important, but essential to maintaining even the most basic semblance of organization. Ok, so maybe I’m being a little more dramatic than necessary. However, when I became disillusioned with the stock mail app on my iPhone, I decided to make my personal quest to find a better email app into a much greater adventure – figuring out what makes an email app good, great, or better… and then figuring out which app does it best, on iOS and Android. Here are the 10 Best Email Apps for iOS and Android: Criteria for Selecting the Best Email App: My first task was to figure out what I was really looking for in an email app. I need an app that combines accounts from different services in one place. It turns out that’s called a “Unified Inbox.” A brief search turned up far too many apps for me to investigate, so my review became a two-step process: First, I needed to narrow the list of apps, so I set some basic threshold requirements for any apps I would review. Once I had my list of the best available email apps, I selected what I felt was the most relevant criteria to compare the email apps and determine which was the best. The Basics First, in order to be considered, the app: Must be an email client (i.e. capable of supporting email accounts from different service providers) – this eliminated some pretty cool apps like... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – February 2016

 Download this Episode: Download Audio So we’ve made it through February and into March. Hopefully yours came in like a lamb, and not like the angst-filled El Nino, raging drunk and coked out of his goard, that we’ve been hearing about! Anyway, this is ABA TECHSHOW month. Next week, I have the distinct honor of joining some of the best in legal technology – all of whom are much smarter than I am – to talk about a number of tech-related issues… including the best mobile apps for lawyers! Hope to see you there! Until then… Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in February 2016: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the (2:29) mark of the podcast. Hound by SoundHound, Inc., free (iOS, Android). Do you remember the scene from Back to the Future 2 when Marty shows a couple of kids how amazing he is at a Quick-Draw arcade game? After his “Crack Shot” display, one of the unimpressed kids responds: “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!” So, that’s just one of several predictions that Spielberg’s vision of 2015 might have missed on slightly. But only slightly. The advent of the smartphone has brought hands-free digital assistants into the regular lives of millions. “Hey Siri” has become a part of the American vernacular, despite growing pains. However, competition in the digital assistant area has generally been limited to the services offered by your phone’s OS – Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. Hound is a new digital assistant app that might just signal a changing of the guards in this area.... read more

How to Archive Your Digital Files in a Paperless Law Firm

I’ve talked a lot recently about the necessity of backing up your law firm’s data. Losing your data due to computer malfunction, user error, hacking, or any other event can be truly damaging to your law firm and your reputation. However, the rise of the Paperless Law Firm actually creates a new dilemma that few lawyers appreciate: what to do with electronic documents in closed files. What you need is a system of archiving your client files that allows them to be preserved for an extended period of time, and in a retrievable format. Here are _ steps to archiving… Before we begin, a note on your archived files: There are a few quick points I’d like to discuss about what I mean when I’m talking about “archiving” records, as well as a few things you’d better already have in place: Archiving vs. Data Backup Some of you probably already know what I mean when I talk about the differences between archiving and data backup, but it’s worthwhile to clarify. Data backup is creating regular, routine copies of your existing files, whether on local storage media or in the cloud. As such, access to your backups and the speed at which backups can be performed are two of the most important features of a quality backup system. In essence, your data backup is a complete copy of your existing system. Archived files, on the other hand, are stored away once and left untouched and – hopefully – forgotten. You’re less concerned with the speed of the backup than the stability of the media your archive is being stored on.... read more

Apple’s Response: 5 Different Ways the FBI’s Argument Blows

Yep, Apple finally submitted it’s response to the FBI today… So, I’ve done you all a huge favor and read Apple’s entire Motion (and supporting brief) to Vacate the Ex Parte Order issued last week. For those of you who don’t know, here are the basics: Note: This is my summary of the situation, so it is not free of bias. I am now and have long been a supporter of strong security measures in mobile devices, and a strong supporter of Apple in this case. If you wish to debate the relative merits, we can do that elsewhere. Last week, a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court, Central District of California, Eastern Division, issued an ex parte order requiring Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone 5c owned and used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two San Bernadino shooters, including the creation and installation of a new operating system that would: Disable the “anti-brute force” security that deletes all data on the phone after 10 consecutive incorrect passwords are entered; Allow passwords to be entered via computer, instead of by hand; and Eliminate the forced delay after incorrect passwords are entered. Famously, Apple refused. Despite being granted an extension to file their response, the Department of Justice filed a motion to compel Apple’s compliance with the order last Thursday (before even the original 5 day response window had ended). Today, Apple filed their motion to vacate. I have summarized Apple’s arguments as best I can: The motion to vacate rests on a few basic themes: the unprecedented nature of the FBI’s request; a thorough... read more

6 Damn Good Reasons You Really Need VoIP Phone Service

Your law firm needs to have its phone system. Aside from being a fairly basic requirement from every state bar in order to practice law, it’s a pretty nice thing to have whenever you need to talk to someone (or they need to talk to you). Being such a basic need, you probably haven’t given it a second thought since it was installed. It’s exactly that line of thinking that has allowed you to be grotesquely overcharged for service from the phone company. And for a service that is far inferior to another option: VoIP Phone Service. That’s right – phone over the internet. But you’re used to your phone service, and I’d better have some damn good reasons to switch to something different. Well, here goes: 1) VoIP phone service lines are easy to add, reassign, or remove… … but your current system is a pain in the ass.  How many phone numbers do you have at your office? Does every attorney have a direct line, in addition to the firm’s primary line? That was certainly the model in the late 1990s, and has sadly been emulated for years since. One of the biggest problems with the traditional phone line setup is that you have one main phone number, but really a whole bunch of phone lines. Adding a new line, reassigning a phone line, or removing one when someone leaves, is a remarkable headache. How many times have you avoided adding or removing a phone line just to avoid that fresh migraine? With a VoIP phone service network, upscaling or downscaling the size of your office network... read more

Phishing: When One Email Shuts Down Your Law Firm

It can happen. It almost happened to me yesterday. I opened up my email and saw one from a familiar sender, but with a strange subject line entry. The body of the email instructed me to remit payment based on instructions in the attached invoice, referring to the information below. What I saw there was a poor copy-paste job of a local bank’s information page, with a link in the center (written out as a file ending in “.doc”). There was nothing attached, and the email instructed me to view the “attachment.” Our IT vendor was immediately notified. But what if I’d clicked on the link? Phishing may be the biggest Cybersecurity threat to your law firm No, that’s not hyperbole. Phishing, which is basically any attempt to obtain sensitive information or to lure targets to perform a specific action, is a powerful tool for hackers. Phishing used to be made up mostly of attempts to convince people to provide information such as login credentials, social security numbers, or other personal information. Today, the phishing scam has evolved. No longer a simple method of attack, phishing scams come in many forms. However, by far the most dangerous to your law firm is the attack that infects your computer with malware. The malware du jour for hackers? You’ve probably heard quite a bit about it recently: Ransomware. With just one errant click, one infected file opened, a malware infection can enter your law firm’s network. It then really goes to work – it turns out that (at least at this point) they’re not interested in taking your information. It turns out there’s a... read more

How to Create a Successful Law Firm Website: Web Hosting Services

Creating a new website for your law firm, whether you’re opening up a new practice or updating a dated law firm, can be an immense task. I’d love to say that following this guide will allow you to put together a successful and profitable website in your spare time. It won’t. However, in this series, I will walk you through the critical steps of putting together an effective website. Some of those steps inform you to go get help from someone else. Unless you’re a veteran computer programmer, a marketing expert, and a practicing, there’s a lot that’ll probably be over your head. Don’t worry about it. In this four-part series, you’ll learn the basics of setting up a website that, as part of your overall marketing plan, will help convert visitors into clients, and give you a competitive advantage in your market. Part I: Getting Started Part II: Your Domain Name You have your domain name, now it’s time to get technical – first up on that list is finding the right web hosting service for your new website: Most people think of a website based on what they see. Well, this is the part that nobody sees. Just like a play, the most important elements to making sure what happens on stage is working right is performed out of sight. For your website, that’s what your web hosting and your platform are all about. We begin with web hosting. Understanding Your Web Hosting Needs: 5 Questions Before you begin searching for a web hosting provider, there are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself. Trust me, once you start... read more

How to Ignore the Experts: Most Popular Passwords of 2015

Isaac Newton famously said: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” On the other hand, H.L. Mencken said: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Based on the recently released list of the top 25 most popular passwords of 2015, I empathize more with the second quote. The inescapable conclusion: we’re morons. To understand specifically how I came to this conclusion, let’s begin with this little, uncomfortable fact: 40% of Americans have either had a personal account hacked, been notified that their personal information had been compromised, or had a password stolen. So, with that in mind, you’d think we’d take security more seriously. Or maybe listened just a little to the advice security experts have given. We don’t. Every year, SplashData releases its list of the 25 most popular passwords, and it’s always a humbling reminder that although some of our great thinkers might have stood on the shoulders of giants, the rest of us… not so much. The Most Popular Passwords of 2015: Here are some of the most popular passwords from last year. For the full list, check out the infographic below: 1. 123456 2. password 3. 12345678 4. qwerty 5. 12345 … 7. football … 10. baseball … 15. 1qaz2wsx … 19. letmein … 21. princess … 23. solo … 25. starwars Yep, you read that right, the end of the list certainly had a timely Star Wars-based flavor to it. Unfortunately, when one fictional character group does well, another usually suffers. Several of last year’s Top 25 most popular passwords had to get bumped off the... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – January 2016

Download this Episode: Download Audio Well, what a crazy month January has been! Hopefully everyone made it through ok! This month wasn’t quite as much of a blockbuster month for apps, but there are still plenty of good ones to talk about. Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in January 2016: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the (1:28) mark of the podcast. Outlook by Microsoft Corp., free (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) (Update). Ok, the updates to Outlook across all platforms last month are so significant, I’m not going to waste any space with chit-chat: On iOS and Android devices, you can now schedule or join a Skype call directly from the Outlook app. Your calendar description will automatically include a link to the event, and can access the call directly via the link in their app. Navigation improvements and the three-day view have also been added. Don’t like Outlook’s contacts? You can push your contacts directly to your device’s native contacts app. iOS users are able to create an Outlook calendar widget in the Notification center, so scheduling doesn’t necessarily require opening the app. Additionally, users can now print directly using AirPrint printers, and Outlook is officially 3D Touch compatible. Android users are now able to save files and attachments directly from your inbox and cloud services to your device’s local storage. Even Windows Phone users don’t miss out, with a new Year view and improved email rendering via better image scaling. Google Docs (iOS, Android), Sheets (iOS, Android), Slides (iOS, Android) by Google, Inc., free (Update). Yep, I had to pile these apps all in together. It’s becoming trendy for... read more

Your SEO Strategy is About to be Suddenly Obsolete

You’ve finally decided to get into the game and develop a serious, well-designed website for your law firm. It’s got everything your prospective clients need. But they need to find it first. Sure, many visitors will be looking for you specifically, but you also want to rank well on more general searches. For that, you need to optimize your website – a process commonly known as Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”). You know that SEO is really important to do well, because it determines how your website ranks in various search engines, so you studied up. You fixed what you could, but you also got help from professional marketers. After spending considerable time – and money – you believe that you finally have a solid SEO strategy. The thing is, it’s all about to fundamentally change. How SEO Works: When someone performs a Google search, they enter words or phrases about what they want to find. Google, with a mission to provide the best possible results (and thereby keep people using their search), uses their vaunted algorithm to find the best websites. Relying on a complex list of criteria, Google provides the best possible websites based on two primary criteria: relevance and authority. For more information on how SEO plays into that assessment, check out this post. For 15 years, Google has constantly tweaked its algorithm to provide the best search results, and punishing sites that have used shortcuts to improve ranking. Google remains the most used search engine in the world, so your website – and your related digital marketing – is designed to bring people to your website... read more
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