The Anthem Hack: 5 Critical Lessons for Your Law Firm

Last week, the nation’s second largest health insurance company, Anthem, announced a massive data breach. According to reports, personal information for as many as 80 million customers and employees of Anthem was accessed. While no bank account or credit card numbers were apparently stolen, information taken includes names, addresses, social security numbers, and medical records numbers. I have echoed the warnings of security experts who have identified health care organizations as a major future target of hackers. While Anthem is not the first health care-related business that has suffered a data breach, it’s currently the largest. But the Anthem hack targeted a health insurance company. What can we lawyers possibly learn? Plenty. 1) Hackers aren’t just looking for credit cards. Why do you rob banks? “Because that’s where the money is.” Willie Sutton’s famous quote (and one he denied ever making) is appropriate here. The hackers behind the Anthem hack didn’t go after credit card or billing information. They went after personal identity information (“PII”). Why? Because that’s where the money is. With your PII, a hacker can steal your identity. More significant, they can do so anytime they want to. How is that? Well, just having your SSN is one thing, but what happens when they know your email and your mother’s maiden name. Yep, that password hint that you added to make your email more “secure.” Now they don’t need to use your credit card before you report it stolen. Instead, they can wait years before taking out a loan in your name. Health care providers have a wealth of PII in their possession. Medical records have... read more

Does Your Law Firm Need an Enterprise Social Network?

How do you talk to your co-workers? In person? That’s SO 20th Century! Via email? How 2002. Intra-company instant messenger? Don’t even get me started. At least, that appears to be what Facebook and LinkedIn think about it. How else can you explain both companies diving into the enterprise social network game? Both companies want to “revolutionize” the way you communicate within your company. And they want to do it using tools you’re familiar with. Facebook’s new system, helpfully titled Facebook at Work, wants to help you… Facebook… at work. Not to be outdone, LinkedIn, long the refuge for professionals who want to get in on the social media game, is testing its own enterprise systems. Are either of these enterprise social networks going to be useful to your practice? Facebook at Work Enterprise Social Network Have you ever felt like all your office needs to be complete is an enterprise social network? Facebook thinks so! (Either that, or they really want a way to rope in those of your co-workers who don’t use regular Facebook – which has been suggested.) The idea is that your office gets to create its own internal social network. By connecting, all the employees are able to communicate, collaborate, and Facebook-stalk each other in the office. Interestingly enough, this is apparently a public version of Facebook’s internal enterprise social media setup. One of the potential strengths of the system is that Facebook is so popular that everyone is familiar with the platform. That means there will be no learning curve. The true strength of the platform is that it allows for communication, like an internal... read more

The Best New Apps for Lawyers – January 2015

February has arrived! Anyone else really confused as to why the Seahawks decided to pass the ball on 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line? Other than Cris Collinsworth, who was apparently even more baffled by the call than I was. Anyway, another month has passed, and a whole new slate of apps have been released. And when I say a whole new slate, I mean a WHOLE new slate. As in, so many that I had to leave a bunch of good apps off the list, like the new apps FullContact, Timeline, and Bluenote, which I nevertheless highly recommend checking out. Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in January 2015: Multi-Platform: Facebook at Work by Facebook, Inc., free (iOS, Android). Well, it’s not necessarily the best start for quite an impressive list of new apps, but there’s no denying that when Facebook releases a whole new system for enterprise social networking, it needs to be discussed. Facebook at Work wants to help you, well, Facebook at Work. If your company utilizes an enterprise communication system (meaning you’re able to send instant messages to your co-workers), then Facebook hopes you’ll consider trying this new offering. Designed with a news feed for staying up-to-date with the goings-on of your company, the best feature is probably the groups settings, allowing for collaboration between any number of your co-workers. I personally wonder whether Facebook at Work or Google Hangouts will win this battle. Any thoughts? Comment below! Starlike by AOL, Inc., free (iOS, Android). Most people may not think that being able to follow feeds from multiple social... read more

A Poem of SCOTUSblog’s Tweets is a Beautiful Thing

Usually I try to keep my posts educational and informative. After all, my mission is to help educate lawyers about technology and whatnot. But sometimes the best way to get people interested in a topic is to be entertaining. This afternoon, I was reading Jim Calloway’s newest post: The Poetic View of Law Practice Management. In it, he discussed a new tool that he learned about via the Huffington Post – Poetweet. It’s a tool that takes your Twitter feed and turns it into a poem. I was curious, so I entered my Twitter handle, @NCCyberAdvocate. Not satisfied with those results alone, I did a few more. And the absolutely ideal candidate? SCOTUSblog. I threw in a few more for fun, including two of The Cyber Advocate’s favorite legal tech gurus: Joshua Lenon from Clio, and the Lawyerist’s Sam Glover. Oh, and Joe Biden, just for good measure: Patent cases by SCOTUSblog Kansas to issue same-sex marriages. Unanimous vote against barriers Pursuit of a claim for damages That excluded abortion protesters. New cases from today’s Conference. This Term; will have a big impact. Dunderheads! Fie on your ignorance! The Child Status Protection Act. Court without filing cross-appeal. Of our Senate press credential: Preserve winning theory on appeal. Nigtmare will follow your decision. Be a good time to get in line. Discrimination based on religion. Permalink @SCOTUSblog * * * Using a by The Cyber Advocate To the flesh of the voter’s chest” Surveillance: The Complete Guide For Lawyers. Check out the rest: That you could ever provide.” Usually your security questions! For your new tablet or smartphone! Study offers... read more

6 Reasons Your Law Firm Needs a Social Media Manager

Social Media. Just like “Law Practice Management,” the term “social media” itself is enough to make most attorneys bury their heads in their desks. Like many aspects of business management, getting the most out of social media requires experience, practice, and patience. Unfortunately, most law firms don’t give social media the attention it deserves. However, in 2015, being active on social media is essential. With more and more people turning to the internet to find attorneys, an effective social media strategy – as part of an overall marketing plan – creates the best opportunity to secure new clients. But it’s not easy. Here are 6 reasons your law firm needs a social media manager. A Social Media Manager Before I dive into the 6 reasons discussed above, first allow me to describe what I mean when I say “Social Media Manager.” I don’t mean your teenage son/daughter. I don’t mean a part-time, $10/hour college kid who has no other affiliation with your firm. A social media manager can have other duties, but it has to be someone the firm trusts. A social media manager must have intimate knowledge of the firm’s overall marketing strategy, with the power to modify approaches when needed. A social media manager must be able to post on social media without violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Mostly, a social media manager must know, or be open to learning, how to use the various social media platforms included in the firm’s marketing strategy. Here’s why your law firm needs a social manager in 2015: 1) Effective social media requires being social. In order to achieve anything... read more

Multi-factor Authentication: the Imperfect Tool You Need to Use

Did you hear about the most recent hack? The systems of a major (retail/entertainment/medical/government/miscellaneous) company were stolen. The information was quickly put up for sale. I decided to keep it generic, because let’s face it, between the time I’m writing this and you’re reading it, another major hack probably happened. As attorneys, securing your clients’ data had better be something that occupies your attention. Mostly because it means you’re a better person. But, even if that isn’t an issue, it is your ethical responsibility. There is no way to guarantee that your data is completely safe. However, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Here’s why Multi-Factor Authentication is the imperfect tool you need to use: What is multi-factor authentication? Your password, regardless how complex it may be, has an inherent weakness: it’s your only line of defense. Once someone has figured out your password (and it better not be one of these), they’re in. Beyond being your only line of defense, passwords have one major weakness: you. Your password is likely easy to figure out, and you probably use the same one multiple times. Multi-factor authentication means that anyone seeking your information is going to need more than one thing. Generally, most multi-factor authentication systems rely on at least two things from three categories: Something you know – like a password; Something you have – like a keycard or a code sent to you remotely; Something you are – biometric data, like your fingerprint or retinal ID. One of the most popular methods of multi-factor authentication calls for you to enter your password, at which time you... read more

How to Create Professional Videos to Market Your Law Firm

Why do clients hire you? For most attorneys, it’s because the client felt some type of connection with the attorney before they set foot in your office. Whether it’s because a friend referred you, or because they heard you speak at a local event, a personal connection of some kind is still the best way to get a client. Video can be an excellent way to make that connection. Whether for a small presentation to prospective clients, your firm’s website, or an aggressive advertising campaign, video can help you expand and engage your audience. Even more importantly, although marketers everywhere are putting even greater emphasis on video in 2015, not many lawyers are on board. As Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even LinkedIn are stressing the power of video content, a lawyer doing it well is a trailblazer. With the right tools and strategy, you can create high-quality video for nearly any purpose. Here’s How to Create Professional Videos for Marketing Your Law Firm, without breaking the bank (and watch for more detailed posts soon to come!): 1) Determine what you want out of your video. Your video isn’t going to market your firm on its own. It has to be a part of a broader strategy. Even on your website, you’re going to have different types of videos in your attorney bio page than elsewhere on your site. However, remember that these videos are for your potential clients. Think about your clients, particularly about what you hope they get out of your video. Make sure that you plan your videos around their interests, needs and behaviors. What good is a 20 minute... read more

4 Alarming Ways Europe’s Surveillance Plan Should Scare You

Updated: January 21, 2015. Details below. In light of the recent massacre at the Paris headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, many have turned their focus on how such tragedies can be prevented in the future. Inevitably, many European leaders are calling for expansive new surveillance powers to help them fight terrorism. British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to revive legislation that bans apps and communication systems (email) that allow users to encrypt communication. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called for stronger surveillance of the internet and social media. UPDATE: The French government announced that as part of the response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the surveillance divisions would add 3,000 new workers, and draft legislation stripping rights of citizenship from those who were affiliated with terrorist groups would be introduced in March. The Italian government is seeking additional power to monitor the internet and create a “black list” of individuals who pose a security threat. Immediately following the march in support of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, 12 European Ministers issued a letter calling for major ISPs to more swiftly report and remove content that “aims to incite hatred and terror.” While some might view these proposals as a sincere attempt to fight terrorism, a closer examination reveals a darker truth. These proposals are cynical power grabs, hostile to privacy and free speech, and should be rejected. Here are 4 Alarming Ways Europe’s Surveillance Plan Should Scare You: 1) The proposed surveillance powers eviscerate the right to free speech. “We must respond to this exceptional situation with exceptional measures.” – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls The legislation being sought as... read more

New Attorney Advertising Decisions Reduce Ethical Minefield

Advertising as an attorney is a perilous endeavor. On one hand, nobody can find you if you don’t advertise. On the other hand, advertise in a new or particularly outrageous (for lawyers) way, and risk drawing the ire of your state bar ethics board. Writing about the legal ethics of attorney advertising can be depressing. But there are good days too. Sometimes you get to write about an ethics decision that really got it right. Other times you get to write about overzealous ethics boards getting a well-deserved bench slap. And rarely, you get to have a very good day, and you get to write about both. In California, you can’t evade attorney advertising rules on a “personal” blog. When is a blog, written or maintained by a lawyer, governed by the ethical rules regarding attorney advertising? Well, when it would be considered “advertising” on any other medium. It would appear that lawyers writing “personal” blogs about their practice didn’t realize that. A recent ethics opinion decided to address the “misunderstanding.” FORMAL OPINION INTERIM NO. 12-0006 According to the opinion, a blog written by a lawyer must comply with attorney advertising rules if the blog is 1) attached directly to a law firm website, or 2) expressly or implicitly invites the reader to retain the attorney. A blog is not required to comply with the rules if it merely links to the attorney’s bio page on another website. Sure, this opinion seems kind of obvious. And, prior to reading the entire opinion, I wondered why it was even something that was being debated. However, upon a full reading, there are apparently plenty of... read more

A Better Firm Website: Improve Your Google Search Rank

Part 8 in a continuing series on improving your firm’s website. When you search for something online, what makes you decide which link to click? A catchy name? A recognizable company? Your absolutely terrible lack of impulse control? For most people, it’s about what appears first. In fact, a recent (massive) study on click-through-rates (aka CTR) put the issue in stark terms. Only about 5% of all users even clicked on a result appearing in the 2nd or 3rd page. On the other hand, nearly 70% of users clicked on a result in the top 5 listings on the first page. The obvious takeaway: a better Google search rank is critical if you rely on business from the internet. Oh, and in case you haven’t been paying attention, that’s where people look for lawyers now. So how do we do it? Well, a year-long study on Google search rank has these suggestions: 1) If you don’t have one, start a blog. I’ve already given you four great reasons to add a blog to your law firm’s website. You can build your firm’s brand, establish your authority, and get your younger associates some excellent exposure. Moreover, it will likely increase your firm’s Google search rank. Another great reason? The tips that follow work best if used in conjunction with a blog! 2) Make sure your site is managed properly. Content may be king, but Google places a lot of value on how your site works too. Generally, unless you have someone in your firm with particular expertise, you probably want to begin with a professional. One option is using a managed platform on... read more
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