4 Rules to Prevent Trial Tech from Ruining Your Case

Implementation of new technology is a risky proposition for lawyers, particularly trial tech. The jury trial is the true public face of the legal profession, even if the majority of lawyers will never participate in one. Your client’s perception of your competence may depend entirely on your skills in the courtroom. You win or lose based on how you conduct yourself in front of the jury – after all, Robert Frost called a jury “12 people gathered to determine who has the better lawyer.” Successful use of technology can be a significant boost to your presentation. On the other hand, attempt to implement technology unsuccessfully, your bungling may overshadow your otherwise skillful performance, and your client could get punished as a result. Here are 4 Tips to prevent Trial Tech from Ruining Your Case: 1) Do NOT use technology for the sake of using technology. As tech-savvy as I claim to be, I admit (somewhat proudly) that I have never used anything more than a large notepad on a tripod in a closing argument. Why? Because one of my strengths is that I am a good storyteller. Flashy images and pictures of accident scenes, projected images of medical records, and video of depositions do not compliment my particular style in the cases I’ve tried. However, when you’re in need of illustrating incredibly complex topics, such as presenting an IP dispute to a jury, then video animations may be your absolute best bet. Your use of technology in trial should compliment your style. Your presentation should never be dictated by the available trial tech. Technology can be a great way... read more

4 Excuses Law Firms Use to Avoid Innovating (that are Total BS) pt. II

Part II of II. (Read Part I here.) In part I, I described two excuses (the false cost/benefit analysis and the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it excuse) used for veiling ulterior motives when law firms refuse to adopt innovative tools or technology, how knee-jerk reactions with excuses that cover ulterior motives can hurt a firm, and how a partner that recognizes his or her firm beginning to use those excuses should respond. 3) Time lost to upgrade/training What you say: “Installation/upgrading to the new (technology/equipment/software) will take too long.” “Our staff and attorneys don’t have time to learn a whole new software.” What you’re thinking: “Any time spent by my attorneys and staff that doesn’t equal billable time is wasted.” Why it’s B.S.: A partner would never hand a new case to an untrained associate. Instead, the partner starts small, case-by-case, trusting the associate with increasingly more complex and important tasks only over time. Why? Because only with training and practice will the associate learn how to handle the various aspects of a case. It’s true generally, without training and practice on your systems and tools, your people will never get the most out of them. (The list I referenced in the last post indicates the #5 reason for an associate to leave a firm is making the practice of law focused exclusively on the numbers.) A law firm’s employees, including staff and associates, should engage in training and activities that allows them to get the most out of the tools at their disposal. A partner who only quantifies the value of the firm by number of hours billed will... read more

4 Excuses Law Firms Use to Avoid Innovating (that are Total BS) pt. I

Part I of II (Read Part II here). Being partner of a law firm is hard work. It took hard work to get here, and even MORE now that you’re here. You have tough decisions to make, including whether or not your firm will invest its limited resources in certain tools or technology to help you do your job. Doing your job probably involves rejecting a whole lot more proposed purchases than you accept – that’s the nature of the game. Not every improvement that comes along is right for every firm. Declining to install new equipment can sometimes be justified by simple numbers (a solo practitioner who handles traffic tickets has no need for a $50,000 video conferencing center). Other times, a particular software may end up not being a good fit (cloud-based matter-management is declined after no one improved efficiency when tested). Rational thought and reasonable investigation led to decisions that a new tool or technology was just not in the firm’s best interest. That happens. And it’s a decision you’re right to make. Assuming you’ve done a thorough investigation. But what happens when you don’t seem to have the time or energy for a full investigation? Is it wrong to be satisfied with the systems you already have in place? You’re an attorney, after all, not a corporate CEO. So you put your head down, work on your cases, and the difficult questions disappear. Well, they seem to disappear. When someone comes to you now with a new idea, you don’t usually give it much thought. If it was that important, you’d be doing it already. And you haven’t... read more

Mobile App Review: eSign by Landtech

Among the most powerful tech tools available to the mobile attorney is the electronic signature. All an attorney needs is their tablet and an internet connection, and documents that formerly needed to be printed and signed at the office can now be signed and sent without ever taking paper form. Among the most popular apps on the market for electronic signatures is eSign by Landtech. And it’s popular for a reason. This fantastic app allows you to electronically sign any PDF document and email it to its recipient, right from your iPad. What’s the big deal, a lot of apps do that? See for yourself… eSign comes built in with a number of options for opening documents AND for what you can add once you’re there. When you first open the app, it will request a default email address. This is the email that all of your signed documents will be sent to once signed (don’t worry, you’re able to specify a different email or additional emails at that point). The strength of the app becomes apparent immediately when you realize how many different ways eSign allows you to import a document for signature. Opening a document eSign allows you to receive a document for signature in a variety of ways. As you can see, you’re able to open documents from email, from your Dropbox account, or by photo-scanning a document with your tablet’s camera. However, this list truly gives an incomplete look at how many ways you can open documents for signatures in eSign. With an easy-to-use interface, and step-by-step instructions available, eSign allows you to add a... read more

Lawyers and the Cloud: Better Check Your Internet Connection!

Part II in a continuing series on adoption of cloud-based systems by law firms. Part I: 5 Things to Consider Whether your firm is going to be fully automated, with cloud-based practice management software and full paperless implementation, or if you’re just checking out the option of storing your electronic documents with a third-party service such as Dropbox, the VERY first thing you need to do is make sure that your office’s internet infrastructure can handle it. Most people know that they need to have WiFi routers or sufficient ethernet connections to plug in to. However, neither will matter much without sufficient internet service from your ISP. If you don’t check your internet connection, your transition to the cloud could bring the operation of your firm to a screeching halt. For addressing the ever-growing problem of what to do with all the data your business accumulates, adopting cloud-based services can be a cost-effective solution. Want to know just how much data your office accumulates? Just look at how big your own Outlook data file is, and you’ll get a glimpse of how much is being stored on your firm’s servers. Now that you’ve decided to move to the cloud, all that data has to be able to move smoothly from your third-party vendor to your office’s computers and your mobile devices via your firm’s internet connection. Ok, I get it. We need to have sufficient internet. So… how do I know what is sufficient internet? Now is when we get a little technical, so try to stick with me. Your internet connection really comes down to two things: 1)... read more

Lawyers and The Cloud: 5 Things to Consider

(Part I in a continuing series on adoption of cloud-based services by law firms.) You hear about it everywhere. All of your tech-savvy friends talk about it with giddy excitement. Your office manager is constantly urging you to employ it in your practice. Your younger associates split time between telling you how great it would be and grumbling about the fact that you don’t have it. Yes, I’m talking about “The Cloud.” A few years ago, you may have initially thought I was talking about a comic book villain. Not anymore. We all know what “The Cloud” is, or at least we know it’s related to computers… And the Internet… Okay, we AT LEAST know that it is used in business, and that over 30% of attorneys reported using some type of cloud-based service in a recent ABA survey. Any responsible business owner should always be open to adopting new systems or practices that can increase profitability and long-term stability. So you’ve decided to investigate what The Cloud can do for your firm. However, here are 5 Things to Consider before you move your practice to The Cloud: 1) Has your state bar issued an ethics opinion on the use of cloud-based computing services? Quite a few attorneys have skipped right past the step of making sure that any practice management software complies with their state’s ethics rules. After all, a cloud-based document storage system for my practice is no different than using Microsoft Word, right? Wrong. Use of cloud-based systems for any part of your law practice puts client information under the control of a third-party. Even though... read more

4 Reasons Lawyers Will Love the iPhone 5s

Ok, we’ve all taken a day to cool down from the highs of Apple’s new products announcement yesterday. What’s that? You didn’t experience euphoria? Well, even if you didn’t absolutely fall in love with the products and software that Apple announced yesterday, I’m going to tell you 4 reasons lawyers will love the iPhone 5s. Or, at least, why they should. There are a number of features that the new iPhone 5s comes packed with, ranging from hardware upgrades to a full suite of free software that seem almost geared towards making the iPhone an even more obvious choice for lawyers. (Unlike the rest of the population, lawyers tend to already prefer the iPhone and the iPad to their Android counterparts by a significant margin, according to the ABA.) However, first, I will start with the one you’ve probably heard about, but is so significant for attorneys that it bears mentioning: 1) Fingerprint Reader Yes, I know that a lot of critics on the internet are calling this a gimmick, but even top-level electronic security people are saying that the new fingerprint reader gives the iPhone the potential to have two-level security that no other phone can match. The ideal electronic security system, according to Christopher Pogue, director of security vendor Trustwave’s SpiderLabs security research team, uses some combination of something you know, like a password or a PIN, something you have, like a token, or something you are, like a biometric feature, including fingerprints. The iPhone 5s is the first mobile device that will truly allow for the use of a biometric feature. So yes, although the fingerprint... read more

Four Alternatives to Dropbox to Meet Your Firm’s Storage Needs

A little while back, I wrote an article about the security hazards posed by using Dropbox as your firm’s go-to cloud-based data storage, and why you might want to consider alternatives to Dropbox. While ideal for collaboration and portability of documents, the potential security risks inherent in using Dropbox are significant, unless you adopt specialized encryption software. Other major security issues include that one time when they turned off the password requirement for millions of accounts, stripping them of the little security they had. Those security threats are made even more serious when you consider that the recent ABA Tech Survey reported that Dropbox was, by far, the preferred cloud-based data storage service for attorneys. Well, again a tip-of-my-hat to the guys over at PC World, as they have come up with a list of four alternatives to Dropbox, ideal for small businesses such as law firms. 1) Spider Oak Free Storage: 2GB (same as Dropbox) Pricing: $100/year for 100GB, $600/month for 1TB (100 users) Best option for: Security Spider Oak, a cloud-based data storage service that already has numerous advocates in the legal field, is a fully secure online storage and syncing service. All of your data, and your password, are fully encrypted (using a combination of 2048-bit RSA and 256-bit AES encryption). Additionally, unlike the privacy policy at the heart of Dropbox’s little issue discussed above, SpiderOak has a “zero-knowledge” privacy policy, meaning that not even employees of SpiderOak have access to your documents without your password. This little feature also means you’d better freaking remember your password! SpiderOak has a desktop client, available for Windows, Mac... read more

10 Free Open-Source Alternatives for Small Business

Running a small business, particularly a small law firm, can be expensive. Among all the things you need to pay for, such as office supplies, equipment, and support services, none are as routinely expensive as purchasing software. One license of Microsoft Office will usually run over $200 per user. Little relief can be seen in the future, either, as the subscription models that are available now are even MORE expensive (Office 365, which is flawed and incomplete, will run you $150 per user, with undefined costs to continue using the program in the future). So the fine folks over at PC World have done us all a HUGE favor by creating a list of 10 available open-source alternatives to replace those ridiculously expensive software packages that we have all thought were a necessary and unavoidable part of small business. Without further ado, the 10 Best (but in no particular order) Open-Source Alternatives for Small Business: 1) Office Suite: Libre Office Sporting a full suite of programs, including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and drawing, LibreOffice is Microsoft Office in a free package. It even uses the exact same file types (e.g. .docx, xlsx, etc.) so that you can easily import documents you already have, view files sent by others, and send your files to people who use the Microsoft Office tools. They even sync with online Content Management Systems and online document storage to provide for easy collaboration. 2) Email: Thunderbird (by Mozilla) Another replacement for (what some believe to be) the overpriced Microsoft option that is used by most businesses: Outlook. Instead of shelling out the $95 per... read more

Top 10 Office Tools You Need to Have (But Didn’t Know Existed)

Scouring the recent news about technology in the law firm and in the courtroom, I came across a wonderful slideshow put together by the guys over at PCWorld.com that informed me that there was office equipment and gear that I didn’t even realize that I needed.  Everyone seems to have little things that bother them in day-to-day activities around the office, or things that could be improved, but had long since accepted the status quo.  Not anymore!  Without further ado, the Top 10 Office Tools you Need to Have… but didn’t know existed! (In no particular order): 1) The Logitec K310 Washable Keyboard That’s right, a keyboard that can be WASHED!  Look at your keyboard right now. Go ahead, I know it’s gross. There’s the crumbs under the keys that have petrified over time, the food smudges on the keys that don’t get used quite as much, and the sticky spot underneath the arrow keys from the soda you spilled last spring. You simply thought it was time to buy a new keyboard… Until now! Equipped with a crumb and dust brush snapped to the underside of the keyboard, it can also be fully submerged in up to 11 inches of water. Price: $40 2) Personify Personify is a Software-as-a-Service program that uses depth sensing cameras (such as Microsoft Kinect cameras) to imbed video of you into your online presentations, allowing you to interact while you present. The perfect software for giving presentations online to groups in remote locations, Personify allows you to navigate through your presentation using the Personify app, or even just your own gestures! There’s even... read more
Page 5 of 6« First...23456