Review: FullContact – Intelligent Contact Management

Ever since I became interested in technology for the legal profession, I’ve been looking for two specific types of software that matched my expectations. The first, case management solutions, have been attacked from all angles, and I’m convinced they’ll get it right soon. The second, well, I really want someone to come up with a system that can organize my damn contacts! Something short of a full CRM system (particularly the price point), yet more than what most contact books offered. In the end, I want a contact management system that allows me to keep track of the professional contacts that I develop over my career, with limited peripherals that help with networking. So as I continued on my expedition to find this mystical program, I came across FullContact… Ever since it’s acquisition of the mobile contact app Cobook, FullContact has been getting rave reviews for its contact management system – along with a few million dollars in venture capital funding. So I took it for a month-long test drive, to see how it would work for lawyers. It Helps Me Do… Contact management. Essentially, FullContact helps with two primary components of contact management and address book organization. First, it combines address books from a number of sources, so all of your contacts are in one place. Then, using the information you’ve added to your contacts, FullContact helps you to combine your duplicates and keep your contact information up-to-date. It Helps Me By… FullContact combines various contact books and social media accounts into one list – your “Unified Contacts.” In Unified Contacts, FullContact intelligently merges, de-dupes, and supplements information from public... read more

How E-Signatures Will Make You a High Tech Professional

When was the last time you signed and sealed a document? Unless you take the title “Esquire” far too seriously (if you’re wearing a powdered wig, this is for you)… or you’re in possession of something passed directly to you from some sitting monarch, the answer is “never.” It’s not just the plebs who no longer respect the value of an ink signature. The United States government (as well as most of those federal units, called “states”) have decided to throw tradition out the window when it comes to signing documents. That’s right, e-signatures are actually valid and legally binding for most transactions. Even where it’s not the preferred option, e-signatures will often be upheld absent affirmative evidence of fraud. But there’s a better reason for you to become an e-signature ninja: your wonderful plans for a “Paperless” Law Firm are basically worthless without them. E-signatures are a feature of modern business. That means it’s a feature of modern law too, provided we’re willing to accept them, which is far from an easy thing to push. We do so love our signature pages, whether all together, or in counterparts. Oh, and we love our fountain pens. Our lovely, expensive, prestige-granting fountain pens! On the other hand, electronic signatures are the lynchpin of the modern paperless law firm. Without electronic signatures, your paperless efforts will be mired in the dreaded “gray area,” a purgatory of sorts. A halfway house. No-man’s Land. Fine, just think of it like this: most of the problems of the old way, along with very few of the positives of the new way. It’s exactly where you don’t want to be. What are e-Signatures? Without... read more

9 Ways Cyber Security will Embarrass Lawyers in 2016

Cyber security is a serious issue for law firms – if a bit of an existential one. It’s hard to fight what you can’t see, and it’s even harder when you don’t even know what it is that you don’t see. However, as a profession, we certainly don’t set ourselves up to look good when the worst happens. There are numerous challenges that any business faces in 2016, with defending from hackers being near the top of that list. Cyber security is a difficult issue. But it’s an area where lawyers and law firms tend to do pretty badly. Embarrassingly so. Here are 9 Ways Cyber Security will Embarrass Lawyers in 2016: 1) We Live in a “When – not “If” – You’ll Get Hacked” World Most law firm cyber security plans revolve around the concept of “if” a cyber security breach occurs. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, it shows they’re thinking about the possibility of a breach – this type of planning is necessarily incomplete. First, planning for a possibility and planning for an eventuality requires two different mindsets. “If” your law firm gets hacked allows law firms to plan based on the possibility that they won’t, in fact, get hacked. On the other hand, acknowledging that it will happen forces decision makers to think about the tough decisions they’ll have to make. Unfortunately, the likelihood of your law firm getting hacked is pretty high. Even a year ago, 80% of the Am Law 100 had reported a cyber security breach. In 2011. (How much you want to bet that number would be higher today?) Sadly, most small... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – December 2015

Download this Episode: Download Audio Well, we’ve passed through the “holiday season,” and on into the new year. While much time has been spent recapping the events of 2015 (usually through about December 1 – seriously, do these people think December didn’t happen?!?) and predicting 2016, it’s time to look back on what happened while you were busy shopping. On the apps front, two important things: First, there were some new ones released, which I’ll get to in a minute. Second, I was invited to speak at the 2016 ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago. And amazingly enough, I’ve been asked to talk about apps alongside established experts Tom Mighell, Jeff Taylor and Jeff Richardson. I’m truly honored to be included on such an amazing panel, and I hope you’ll attend! Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in December 2015: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the (1:49) mark of the podcast. Google Calendar by Google, Inc., free (iOS, Android) (Update). Much like the smartphone industry in the US, the use of office productivity systems by lawyers seems to be split into two main camps: those who use Microsoft Office (the majority), and those who use Google Docs (a growing minority). This, obviously, is for those in the second group. One of the biggest problems with Google Calendar was that, unlike Microsoft Outlook, users were unable to combine task and calendar management on one screen. No longer. The Google Calendar app now lets you add Reminders to your calendar, and allows you to create and view tasks alongside your calendar. You also get the other, lesser discussed benefits of using Google Docs – the power... read more

How to Boost Your Office’s WiFi Network Like a High Tech Pro

How many times have you gone to another law firm and had trouble connecting to their WiFi? If your answer was anything other than “every time,” you obviously don’t use WiFi networks all that much. Or you rely entirely on your device’s cellular capabilities or a hotspot. Which is kind of dumb, if they’re offering free Wi-Fi. Thing is, everyone else has the same problem when they come to your office. Come to think of it, you have that problem in your office! But since you have the ability to plug into your ethernet cable at your desk, you’ve just looked past it. No worries though – after all, you’re used to being chained to your desk! Fortunately, there are some basic steps you can take to improve your office’s WiFi network, without having to make (major) upgrades to your equipment. Here are 12 Easy Tips to help you Boost Your WiFi Network Like a High Tech Professional: WiFi network strength and security are very important to your law firm and your duty to protect your clients. It’s also pretty important to the whole “getting shit done” part of your job. Your WiFi network’s heart is your wireless router – the most common culprit if your office’s WiFi network has turned to crap. Fortunately, that means fixing your crappy router can do a lot of good. Call your IT person, and they’ll charge you for trying these fixes, which you can totally do yourself. They can be broken down into three general categories, the first being… Location, Location, Location! It’s possible, even likely, that your law firm’s IT people put your wireless... read more

Social Media Trends Lawyers Need to Know in 2016 Pt. 3

Part 1: Marketing Your Law Firm with Social Media Part 2: Social Media in Litigation Part 3: Advising Your Clients About Social Media (You’re Here) As the new year approaches, it’s a useful time to look at what we can all look forward to in the new year. I mean, it’s pretty arbitrary in general… except when you’re talking about accounting or CLE requirements. But we do it anyway, because it’s interesting. In reality, the world of social media moves so quickly now that I should probably update you on trends every two or three weeks. But ain’t nobody got time for that! So here is part 3 of my Social Media Trends Lawyers Need to Know in 2016. In this part, the social media trends that will change the way you advise your clients in 2016: 6 Social Media Trends to Know when Advising Your Clients in 2016: 1) More States Adopting Social Media-Specific Ethics Requirements Just as with Part 2, we’ll start with your ethical obligations. More and more states are addressing a lawyer’s duty to his or her client concerning social media. One of the most prominent topics being addressed is what a lawyer can, cannot, and must advise their client about. If you’re in one of the states that has addressed social media, the rules are not entirely consistent as to what you’re permitted to do. One thing, however, is universal: you have a duty to advise your client about any use of social media that’s relevant to the matter. Concerning one crucial topic – the deletion of potentially relevant social media posts – the states have not been... read more

How to Improve Your Local SEO: 4 Simple Steps

Special Guest: Jason Marsh Download this Episode: Download Audio For most law firms, all business is local. Given the nature of our profession – we’re licensed by the state and expected to completely understand the psyche of judges and jurors where we practice – it’s really no wonder. People want a lawyer that understands their situation, their city, and has had drinks with the judge. So it’s really not a surprise that, like politics, a law practice really is “local.” So when your prospective clients are looking for an attorney, they’re likely going to be looking for someone in their area. So what’s the best way to make sure that when someone is looking for an attorney online, your name appears? By maximizing your Local SEO. How is Local SEO different from regular SEO? As I discussed with our podcast guest, Jason Marsh, Local SEO isn’t really a wholly separate, distinct element of SEO. However, it’s also not entirely confined within basic SEO. The most accurate way to describe it would be to consider it a bit of a tangential offshoot of SEO, with its own unique attributes. Regular Search Engine Optimization is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website… in a search engine’s unpaid [or “organic”] results. General SEO strategies combine a knowledge of how search engines work – such as an understanding of the Google Algorithm and what it likes – with what people search for (a.k.a. keywords, key phrases, etc.). Your general SEO strategy involves making sure your website has the proper code, is easily crawled and indexed by search engines, uses the best keywords for your... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – November 2015

Download this Episode: Download Audio As the food coma from Thanksgiving wore off, I glanced at my collected research for the best new apps from this past November. Holy crap, we’ve returned to what happened in August and September – a TON of new apps with applications for lawyers! Well, I was about to set upon my task, when a case of walking pneumonia – a silly name for an illness that makes walking a wobbly experience – came to visit. However, the illness has mostly passed, so it’s time to get to work! Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in November 2015: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the (1:06) mark of the podcast. Dragon Anywhere by Nuance Communications, Inc., $15/month or $150/year (iOS, Android). There are a few companies that are going to be mentioned on this list anytime they create a new app, simply because of how important the company’s product is to lawyers. LinkedIn is one of those companies (see the next entry on this list), and so is Dragon Dictation. Although not because of how used it is (quite a lot), but because of how much more it needs to be used! Dragon Anywhere is a mobile add-on to your Dragon tools. Provided you have a stable internet connection, Dragon Anywhere gives you cloud-based adaptive speech recognition right on your smartphone. (Translation: You can dictate, and your phone will actually know what the hell you’re saying!) There are a lot of cool tricks you can do with this app that I discuss in greater detail in the podcast. Suffice it to say, if you’re... read more

Social Media Trends Lawyers Need to Know in 2016 Pt. 1

Part 1: Marketing Your Law Firm with Social Media (You’re Here!) Part 2: Social Media in Litigation Part 3: Advising Your Clients About Social Media As the new year approaches, it’s a useful time to look at what we can all look forward to in the new year. I mean, it’s pretty arbitrary in general… except when you’re talking about accounting or CLE requirements. But we do it anyway, because it’s interesting. In reality, the world of social media moves so quickly now that I should probably update you on trends every two or three weeks. But ain’t nobody got time for that! So here is part 1 of my Social Media Trends Lawyers Need to Know in 2016. Up first, social media trends that will impact your law firm’s marketing: 7 Critical Social Media Trends for Marketing Your Law Firm in 2016: 1) Live Streaming is the Next Big Thing If you haven’t heard of Meerkat, Periscope, or Blab, then you’re in a bit of trouble when it comes to social media marketing in 2016. It hasn’t even been a year since Meerkat started the live-stream revolution in social media, and it’s exploded since then. For marketers in general, live streaming is the next level of engagement and communication. It’s not hard to see why – live streaming increases transparency and authenticity, while being new and fresh. How to take advantage of these social media trends in your law firm: Some lawyers and legal services providers have already started to use live streaming in interesting ways, but the most effective in my opinion is the interview. Have someone talk to... read more
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