Best New Apps for Lawyers – June 2015

Download this Episode: Download Audio I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! With Independence Day weekend in the proverbial rear-view, it’s time to tell you about some of the great new apps released last month. We have some new stuff here at the Cyber Advocate, too! For everyone who has checked out our new podcast, the Legal Technology Review, we appreciate it. For those who haven’t, here’s your perfect opportunity: Beginning with this post, our Best New Apps series will become part of the podcast. Not to worry, you’ll still be able to get the monthly list right here. The podcast will offer more detailed information on how you can use each app to improve your practice. Additionally, the podcast will include additional apps – an honorable mention, of sorts – that didn’t make the final cut for the post. So without further ado, here are my best new apps for lawyers released in June 2015: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the 1:34 mark of the podcast. Microsoft Outlook by Microsoft Corp., (iOS, Android), free. (Update) Microsoft’s Outlook app underwent a significant update last month, adding functionality that is both incredible and critical for anyone concerned with the security of mobile devices. Bring Your Own Device, or “BYOD,” is a major concern for IT staff, and attorneys and law firms should be incredibly concerned about the potential for confidential data to be compromised due to a lost or hacked phone or tablet. The recent update should help your firm and IT manager enforce compliance with your BYOD Policies, particularly with mobile device management. Now, you can prevent users... read more

13 Mobile Apps to Help You Enjoy Your Holiday Weekend

There’s just something about the time right around Independence Day. It just feels like vacation. That might have something to do with the fact that even the people staying in town begin leaving the office at around 2 pm in the days before. Just because. So, in that spirit, I’ve decided not to advocate for a paperless law firm, promote the benefits of LinkedIn, or talk about how stupid the EU is for dismantling Net Neutrality (SO. FREAKING. STUPID.) Nope, instead I thought maybe I could give you a hand as the weekend approaches. We’re all going to take some part of our digital lives with us, and maybe you’re looking for a way to improve that. With that in mind, here are the mobile apps I’ll be relying on this holiday weekend: Feedly During a normal work week, I get most of my news from Twitter. As I’ve described before, Tweetdeck operates constantly for most of my day, updating me on the latest information from my lists. Feedly, on the other hand, is my wonderful RSS reader. Instead of displaying the articles I’m subscribed to in real time, it stores them until I have a chance to browse. So while I spend the weekend unable to check out the real-time updates of Twitter, I know that the most important stories are being saved for me. Evernote I wish I could say that I’m going to spend this entire weekend not working. Just not reasonable, sorry. Whether it’s my “day job” as a civil litigator, or writing the next Cyber Advocate post, I’m likely to work on something. Ok, I admit it,... read more

3 Ways to Better Protect Your Law Firm from a Cyber Attack

Special Guest: Larry Port Download this Episode: Download Audio These days, cyber security is no joke. I feel like we’ve actually started to expect that we’re going to find out that our personal data has been stolen by some hacker operating out of a warehouse in China or a bar in Moscow. As lawyers, it’s even more frightening. We’re not regular business people. Because of our role, there’s simply more at stake. We’re under ethical obligations to keep our clients’ data confidential. It’s all part of being trusted with a lot of information. Information that is valuable to someone else. Protecting your clients’ confidential information from a cyber attack has to be one of your top priorities as a lawyer. Yet, as I speak to lawyers about cyber attacks, one thing that I’m struck by is how little most of them are aware of the nature of the risk. As I spoke to Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter, I wondered about that, and I think he makes a great point: Fear is a Terrible Motivator I’ve spoken about cyber attacks in front of a couple different groups of attorneys, and I have to say that even I was amazed at how easy it is to scare the living daylights out of those in the room by talking about the threats. Yet, months later, I’ve not run into a single person who immediately went back to their law firm and instituted more security. While I figured that it was a combination of factors, I began to realize that basic fear is a terrible motivator. Particularly because it’s visceral – it... read more

A Better Firm Website: 8 Critical Website Components

Your website is how you’re found, it’s as simple as that. There are no attorneys anymore who are both looking to bring in new clients and in a position that they don’t need an effective website. Even if recommended by a close friend, family member or business associate, you’d be foolish to assume that anyone who walks into your office didn’t look you up first. They did. So what did they find? I’ve discussed a number of different content-based issues on this blog, but today I want to address something a little bit different. The reason for that is quite simple – no matter how beautiful or expensive your website is, it’s worthless if it doesn’t convert visitors into clients. There are a lot of variables, for sure. However, without certain elements, you’re wasting important opportunities to grow your client base. Here are the 8 critical components of your law firm website: 1) Client-focused… everything I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Your website isn’t about YOU! It’s about how you will SOLVE your potential clients’ problems. Guess what, nothing that you did on the moot court board in law school is going to do a damn thing about your prospective clients’ problems. Period. Everything from your home page, to your practice areas, to your attorney bio pages, to your contact form, should be about how your law firm can solve your visitors’ problems. Believe me, very few people visit a law firm website for the hell of it. They’re on your site because they need, or will soon need, a lawyer. Make sure your content always lets them know... read more

6 Unparalleled LinkedIn Tools You Ignore Every Day

LinkedIn is the social networking site for lawyers – despite Thompson Reuter’s best, and entirely useless, efforts. More attorneys are active on LinkedIn than on any other social network, and nearly 100% of law firms have a presence – no other social network comes close. And unlike your local bar association, LinkedIn has plaintiff’s lawyers and insurance defense lawyers, white collar criminal defense attorneys and your local DA. And judges! (But be careful!) The opportunity to establish a powerful network is immense, if you know how to use the LinkedIn tools available. Six incredibly powerful LinkedIn tools exist right under your nose. You’ve been ignoring them. It’s time to take a look at the Relationship Tab. The LinkedIn Relationship Tab Open up one of your contacts on LinkedIn, preferably one you you don’t mind knowing that you looked at their profile. (For this, sadly, you have to be on your desktop – no mobile option as of yet) Right below your contact’s photo, you’ll see a separate box with two tabs on it: Relationship and Contact Info. It will default to the Relationship Tab. Despite it’s fairly understated look, this tab contains several incredibly useful tools to help supercharge your networking. The information in each contact’s Relationship Tab is visible only to you, so don’t worry about what you put in there (unless you don’t follow my password advice, that is). The information is also unique to each contact, so you don’t have to worry about mixing up your contacts. So how can these LinkedIn tools help your networking? 1) Remind Yourself About When You Connected Let’s be honest, we all look at... read more

The Best Home Office for Your Law Practice

Special Guest: Alison Monahan   Download this Episode Download Audio Most attorneys today tend to think of the “work-life balance” exactly as most lawyers have always viewed it: “the balance of my time will involve work, and I might have time for a life when work is done.” However, many solo or small-firm attorneys picked their current vocation based on the belief that they should take a more, I hate to say it, “balanced” approach to their lives. Regardless, there’s no denying that the ability to carve out a little space for your “work” in the space normally reserved for your “life” is probably going to become essential. By that, of course, I mean your home office. Or, for many solo practitioners, your actual office, within your home. Well, if you’re a solo practitioner, or if you’re just an attorney or other legal professional hoping to find a better way to set up a remote office, you’ve come to the right place! Flexibility is the Biggest Advantage of a Home Office So all of those interruptions during work. You hate them. So does everyone else. There’s almost no better place to avoid work, it seems, than work! But you’re still not ready to give in to the idea that you can somehow do everything from home. I get it. I’m in the same position. One of the big things you might be overlooking is flexibility. Alison Monahan, the founder of the Law School Toolbox and the author of the Girls Guide to Law School has some interesting advice that you should consider! The biggest advantage to working from home, in a remote... read more

How to Create a Powerful Brand for Your Law Firm

Special Guest – Ben Stroinski Download this Episode: Download Audio A few weeks ago, the AMC show Mad Men came to an end. The final episode, set in November 1970, ended with a classic ad for Coca-Cola. (And everybody dies. Oh, spoiler alert!) That ad came 10 years before I did, but I immediately knew that the ad was Coca-Cola. It was easy, Coke is one of the most recognizable brands out there. Whether it’s the spot from Mad Men, the “Mean Joe” ad, or the Coca-Cola Polar Bears, you know it’s a Coke ad. So when one of your prospective clients sees your ad, or your law firm’s logo, what do they think? If you don’t have a brand – and I’m talking about more than just a logo – they probably don’t think much. So what is a brand? More importantly, how can you create a powerful brand for your law firm? Your Brand Transcends Basic Advertising As I mentioned before, a brand is more than a logo. A lot more. Your logo may be the visual cornerstone of your brand, but without all the other elements, it’s just a storefront. It can be memorable and interesting, but if a prospective client sees it, but has no idea of what to expect inside, it’s highly unlikely they’ll walk in the door. That lawyers mistake the two shouldn’t be too difficult to understand. Considering we’ve only had the right to advertise since 1977 (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona), our beginning of true advertising happened almost a decade after the Golden Age depicted in Mad Men ended. Yet today, amid increasing competition... read more

From Word-of-Mouth to the Web: The Online Referral Chain [Guest Post]

This is a guest post by Stephan Roussan, the founder of ICVM Group. “I don’t need to update my website, because all of my business comes from referrals.”   This is one of the most common excuses for having an outdated or neglected website – or for lacking one altogether. But in today’s online world, it’s a risky stance that will cost you future business. Personal referrals and word-of-mouth may have been enough to sustain a law practice in the past, but that is quickly changing. With little exception, the first thing potential clients do is visit your website to learn more about you – even if they first heard about you from a friend. The Modern Referral Chain Requires An Online Presence With legal fees today, fewer are the clients who will simply take someone else’s word for it and hire you without further due diligence. Given the financial investment required, and what may be at stake in the outcome of the matter, online research has moved front and center in the evaluation process. If the general population today isn’t willing to buy a toaster without reading a host of online reviews, they will certainly not be hiring lawyers without similar scrutiny. If you’re still not convinced, don’t forget that there are also other audiences who may be frequenting your website. Opposing counsel, bar association peers, potential recruits, firm alumni and members of the media are all routine visitors of law firm websites. It’s in your best interest to have it reflect the level of your expertise. Word-Of-Mouth Is Necessary, but Not Sufficient, for an Effective Referral Network The... read more

Defeating the Robots: How Lawyers Avoid Becoming Obsolete

Special Guest – Joshua Lenon Download this Episode: Download Audio The Robots Are Coming Joshua Lenon is the “Attorney-in-Residence” at Clio, one of the leading cloud-based legal practice management platforms. As a practicing attorney, fresh out of law school, Joshua was frustrated by how unprepared he felt for the practice of law. As he described it, everything was four times harder than it needed to be. Joining Clio has given him the opportunity to help address that problem. As the only practicing attorney working for Clio, Joshua is in a unique position to provide advice, assistance, and troubleshooting for all different areas of Clio’s business. Apart from translating legal needs into “tech speak,” he acts as the educational lead for outreach programs like the Legal Hacking movement. At the forefront of legal technology, Joshua has a different perspective on the future of legal services, so I asked him about being replaced by robots: Will Lawyers Be Replaced By Robots? A recent story on NPR’s Planet Money decided to take research from a recent journal article on computerization and find out what certain jobs’ chances are of being automated. The authors of the original report score a variety of jobs based on 9 different categories, but found that four were the most important: Do you need to come up with clever solutions? Are you required to personally help others? Does your job require you to squeeze into small spaces? Does your job require negotiation? Based on lawyers (apparently) needing to be clever, frequently negotiating, and refusing to squeeze into small spaces, there’s only a 3% of the job being given... read more

Ignoring eDiscovery? The Internet of Things Will End Your Career

There are a lot of reasons to hate eDiscovery, I suppose. Personally, I don’t truly understand the attorneys who avoid it like the plague. You’re never going to understand it if you don’t do it, and you’re giving up on a lot of potentially important information by refusing to use it. On the other hand, I kind of get it. This isn’t the law you were trained to practice (or some other similar BS). To you, adding eDiscovery makes everything in your case one layer more difficult. The problem with that position is that it’s not just annoying, it’s downright ignorant. First, I don’t care that eDiscovery isn’t something you started your practice with. For many of you, neither were computers. You use them now though, so what’s the problem? Second, there’s a reason why it adds a new layer of information – because we’re now keeping that information! But here’s the biggest thing – if you’re unwilling to engage in eDiscovery, you’re going to be completely unable to perform your role as an attorney. Why? The Internet of Things, that’s why. What is the Internet of Things? There have been far too many excellent descriptions of the internet of things for me to really get into it here (and I just don’t feel like writing this post until 5AM tomorrow morning). I’ve linked to a couple of them, so if you’re really curious, check them out. As a summary, though, the Internet of Things is essentially what it sounds like: your things, connected to the internet. An example? Your Nest Thermostat, which tracks your heat and air conditioning use, and... read more
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