How to Save Serious Money with a Paperless Law Firm

Special Guest: Justin Nifong Download this Episode: Download Audio Ah, the “Paperless Law Firm.” The unicorn of the professional world – a creature of myth, impossible to capture. Beautiful to behold, from afar… While many law firms seem to view becoming paperless as some impossible feat, it seems that most regard it as a novelty. A few have dedicated the resources and determination necessary to succeed, but much more common are the stories of half-hearted attempts and small initiatives. So when I wanted to discuss a Paperless Law Firm on the Legal Technology Review Podcast, I knew that I wanted to talk to someone who actually did it. As a strong advocate of a digital practice, I wanted to see what success in a paperless law firm looked like, to show others both that it could be done, and how it could be done. To be able to do that, I wanted to know how they succeeded, and what success looked like. Turns out, it looks like an extra $5,000 per month. Here’s how they do it: Justin Nifong and NK Patent Law. Justin Nifong, founder of NK Patent Law in Raleigh, North Carolina, has succeeded in creating a Paperless Law Firm. More importantly, he has succeeded in creating a digital system that puts extra money in the pockets of the attorneys, and does so on a regular basis. I wanted to know how. But before I could understand his law firm’s practices, there was a little something that needed to be addressed: What Does It Mean to be a “Paperless Law Firm”? Ask around, and pretty much everyone will tell you... read more

12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) Vol. 3

12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) – Vol. 1 12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) – Vol. 2 12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) – Vol. 3 (You’re here) Once again, we find ourselves approaching that most joyous of holidays – Full Contact Shopping Friday! We should all stop at least once, allowing our aggressive consumerism to rest for a moment, and realize that we’re supposed to be buying things for other people. With that in mind, you’ve likely made your way to this post because one of the people you’re buying for is a lawyer. Or you need a good laugh. Either way, I present to you my third annual “12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!)”: 1) Res Ipsa Liquor Flask – $24.99 So there are those interesting times when you need a drink. You know them well, I assume. Those times when liquor is absolutely called for, but for whatever reason, “polite” society has deemed them inappropriate for drinking. Like in church. Or in the middle of a trial. An important one. That’s being televised. So make like it’s Prohibition all over again with this helpful stainless steel flask. It’ll hold 6 ounces of your favorite tummy-warming beverage (aka Moonshine), with a helpful leak-preventing cap. You wouldn’t want to waste any of that precious liquid (or give the bailiff cause to investigate the “moderate odor of alcohol.” And just in case you’ve consumed too much, there’s a helpful instructional diagram right on the flask for what you should do! The thing drinks for itself! (A derivative of Descartes’ “I drink... read more

10 Innovative Project Management Tools for Lawyers

Earlier this week, I gave you several reasons why your law firm needs to implement a project management system. Presumably, you understood and agree that existing market pressures and client demands mean law firms need to streamline processes to be more efficient. Along the way, you’ll also get superior work product with fewer mistakes as a little side benefit. I also listed four key elements that a good project management tool needed to have to be effective in a law firm. The right project management tool has: 1) Adjustable Workflows 2) Secure Communication 3) Real-Time Collaboration, and 4) Detailed Analytics. However, there are literally hundreds of project management tools available. So here are my recommendations – 10 Innovative Project Management Tools for Lawyers. Project Management Tools – The Basics Ok, I’m not going to just throw you in. There’s far too much information to do that to you. These are complex systems designed to do a number of different things, while keeping you connected to your team. So, for that reason, here are a few things that all of the project management tools on this list do: Task Management – Each one of these tools allows you to set project goals, broken into its component parts. Those parts can be divided into tasks and subtasks, and the completion of those tasks can be seen and tracked by most/all users. Task Assignment – They also all let you assign various tasks or sub-tasks to other users. Users will all know when they’ve been assigned a task, and can see the overall progress in the project. Basic Collaboration – All of these tools allow users to... read more

How to Energize Your Law Firm by Practicing Mindfulness

Special Guest: Jeena Cho Preorder a copy of Jeena’s new book, The Anxious Lawyer, today! (Affiliate link) Download this Episode: Download Audio I was told it was inevitable. “Wait until you have you own clients,” they said. “That’s when it’ll happen.” What were they talking about? Success? no. Money? No. Recognition? Nope. Crippling insomnia due to the inability to get your brain to shut the hell up. That’s what I was promised was in my future as a litigator. Followed by needing an unhealthy amount of caffeine just to function (although, one could probably argue…) Exciting, huh? Fortunately for me, it hasn’t hit me yet – although I do think the little ADD problem I have due to playing too much Rock Band certainly helps. The Chaos of a Lawyer’s Mind However, even though I didn’t have it as bad as the partner at my first firm did, I could certainly feel it creeping up. Those moments that used to be silent are now filled with noise. Sometimes it’s helpful analysis related to my cases, most of the times it’s not. But it’s getting louder. You know the feeling, particularly in those busy times. And you need a break. How can you possibly keep your mind focused and fresh enough to do a job that you have an ethical duty to do well? Jeena Cho has been talking to lawyers all over the country (including an impressive road trip this past summer) about how to practice law and remain mentally sane, by practicing mindfulness. What Does Practicing Mindfulness mean? Essentially, all practicing mindfulness really means is allowing yourself to be... read more

Why You Need Project Management in Your Law Firm

(Welcome to my 200th post on The Cyber Advocate!) “Everyone hates lawyers, except their own, of course.” It’s an interesting proposition – the idea that people universally hate lawyers. Oftentimes, I happen to believe, lawyers are hated as a result of misdirected anger. We’re the face that opposing parties put on the less-than-courteous actions of our clients. Sure, it might be the bank that’s throwing me out, or the doctor who injured me, or OJ who (allegedly) murdered his wife, but it’s the lawyer whose face we see. So I suppose I understand the first part, but the second part of the quote leaves a lot of wiggle room. For lawyers, we like to read it as a sign that everyone loves their own lawyer. But that’s not what the quote says. All it really says is that they don’t hate us. Why wouldn’t they like us? Well, a lot of reasons… But one of the highest on the list (and growing in prominence recently) is the way we do our job – and how that ends up costing our clients more. The result is a steady change in the way law firms are expected to do business, with greater efficiency, transparency, and communication. But even major companies don’t achieve those kinds of goals through sheer will. They use sophisticated project management tools and systems, put in place over time. So why haven’t law firms implemented legal project management? There is no good answer, because you need it. Why Do You Need Project Management? For lawyers, we like to think that each client is a snowflake. Entertainingly, it’s not a wholly inappropriate analogy. To... read more

Boost Your Online Marketing with Lawyer Marketing Score

Special Guest: Dan Weeks Download this Episode: Download Audio Name one thing that all lawyers hate. And you can’t even say “BlueBook” anymore, because it’s kind of become a little bit of a joke. Advertising. All lawyers hate advertising. Ok, so it’s probably not totally true. I’m sure there are a few who like it. But I’d be willing to bet that any survey of lawyers in this country would bear me out on that. I’d imagine the percentage of lawyers answering “hate with the hellfire of Satan himself” would go even higher if we asked specifically about online marketing. View image | Why do lawyers hate online marketing? Setting aside the (somewhat) accurate line about lawyers hating business, there has to be a more specific reason why lawyers hate dealing with advertising. It could be that, as a profession, we’re embarrassingly bad at it. I mean, like HUGE embarrassingly bad. Why do lawyers suck at online marketing? But I actually thing it’s something a little more cerebral: we don’t understand it. We don’t know what works, what doesn’t, or why. How can we do something better if we don’t know what works? Sadly, most of us pick one of two options: we ignore it or we accept the advice of third-party vendors blindly. The results suck, and it’s long past friggin’ time to STOP that crap! I doubt that I have the actual mental endurance to truly protest, but we need to start an uprising here! As a profession, let’s all agree to generate ads that don’t suck, and to take an active role in promoting our law... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – October 2015

Well, after what I can only describe as two amazing months for apps in August and September, it appears the world of app developers slowed down somewhat in October. Fine by me, since most of mine was occupied by my honeymoon in Italy (which was freaking awesome). However, that’s not to suggest that the month was a complete waste! Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in October 2015: Multi-Platform: Office Lens by Microsoft Corp., free (iOS, Android). (Update) Leading off the list of multi-platform apps this month (all of which are major updates of existing apps) is Office Lens, your mobile scanner by Microsoft. What’s most interesting about the updates this month is that they’re not universal. For iOS users, Office Lens now connects directly to your Microsoft 365 account, giving you the ability to directly scan in documents to your OneNote or OneDrive account. While this was probably a lot more interesting before Microsoft decided to completely back-out on their promise to provide unlimited storage in OneDrive, it’s still going to be a very effective way of making sure that your business-related documents get saved correctly. For Android users, Office Lens now boasts the capability (already available on iOS) to scan a business card, digitize the data, and add the information directly to your contacts list. Although not as effective as Evernote (according to this author), users of MS Office products likely want to keep their information in one ecosystem, which Android users are now able to do. Overall, Office Lens still falls short of Evernote in several ways. However, if you’re like the author... read more

Buy Your Way to Thought Leadership! (Yes, sarcasm)

Looking for help being a lawyer? Well, Thompson Reuters, presumably in an attempt to remain relevant and bolster revenue after Ravel Law and Harvard Law School banded together to make case law free, has the following offer: “Websites need fresh content on a regular basis to remain visible in search engines. But maintaining a blog can be daunting. Do you have time for that? We didn’t think so.” That’s right, for just $199 per article ($139 if you’re a “Checkpoint” subscriber), you can buy that pesky content for your website that you didn’t have the time to write. And why would you do that? To boost your “thought leadership quotient,” of course! This is the second time that I’ve written about the ethics and rationality of utilizing ghost written blog posts to boost your website. Apparently, since the last time I discussed it, services ghost writing for law firms has exploded, and none of the state ethics boards have really addressed the issue at all. So as a recap, here’s my take as to why it’s bad: 1) Buying “thought leadership” puts you on seriously sketchy ethical ground. Your advertising, regardless the medium (website, social media, email, billboard, guy on the street yelling to passers-by), cannot be misleading. Why does that matter for ghost written blog posts? Well, are you sharing those posts in order to, as Thompson Reuters suggests, increase your “thought leadership quotient”? (As an aside, what the f@ck is “thought leadership quotient” anyway? All it makes me think of is the cross examinations I used to do of chiropractors, asking them about the statutory definition of... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – September 2015

Download this Episode: Download Audio First, please let me apologize for my absence over the past few weeks. A combination of major involvement in a large construction defect litigation case and my wife and I moving into our first new house kept me INSANELY BUSY over the last month. Hoping to rectify that in the next few weeks, though. More importantly, the apps. Well, June and July were actually relatively light for high-quality apps, so I wasn’t expecting too much from August. My mistake. Tons of great new apps have dropped, and sadly, I had to leave off plenty of good ones. Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in August 2015: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the (0:46) mark of the podcast. AdBlock Browser by Eyeo, free (iOS, Android) / Crystal by Dean Murphy, $0.99 (iOS only). Regardless which side of the Ad-Blocking Software vs. Online Publishers debate you are, there’s really no denying that the current state of online advertising is a mess. Ads pop up on every part of every site you visit (I really do try to minimize the intrusion!), and actually destroy performance in a lot of cases. In fact, I can think of too many sites whose content I love, but whose ads make me shudder at the thought of even visiting. Well, Apple has finally announced that it’s jumping on board and allowing developers to help everyone block ads. Two major new apps were released for mobile last month as part of that – AdBlock Browser and Crystal. They both do roughly the same thing… and they’re both potentially problematic for the same... read more

Data Visualization: Inside Ravel Law’s Research Revolution

Special Guest: Daniel Lewis Download this Episode: Download Audio Research is one of those time-honored traditions in the legal profession. Time honored in that it takes a lot of time. Honored in that the most junior associate should feel “honored” to have been assigned the research. Yep, it’s the double-edged sword of the profession – necessary and widely despised. But if research is so crucial to the proper working of our profession, why does it suck so much? Daniel Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Ravel Law, has a theory: it’s not the research, but the process, that people hate. Legal Research – In Need of a Revolution Despite the fact that the practice of law has changed considerably in the past 20 years, the major tools for legal research have remained largely the same. Although Westlaw and Lexis Nexis, the two major players in legal research, have responded with some new innovations in the past couple of years, their preference has been to add content, primarily secondary source content, to their offerings. Well, since 80% of legal research is case law and primary source material, Dan believed there was a better way – revolutionize research through data visualization. By re-inventing the way we perform legal research, Daniel believes that he can make lawyers happier in their work, while giving them a serious competitive advantage. Data Analytics Isn’t New One truly begins to understand the “competitive advantage” that Daniel talks about through the lens of history. As Daniel explains, in the 1948 Texas senatorial election, Representative Lyndon Johnson was embroiled in a difficult race. Allegations of voter fraud resulted in... read more
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