How to Create Free eSignatures in Four Simple Steps

If you have followed my blog in the past, you know how big an advocate I am for reducing the amount of paper law firms use. Some like to call it the “paperless” office, a title that I do like, but some feel that it just isn’t representative of reality. Law firms simply aren’t in a position to go “paperless.” Regardless the terminology, there are several essential components to a successful paperless – or less paper – law firm. In my opinion, the lynchpin of your paperless strategy is electronic signatures. Without them, your firm will be doomed to a veritable no-man’s-land of printing anything out that needs to be signed. So you need one, we agree. Now, how do you get one? So for really important documents, there are expensive “digital signature” solutions, but lawyers don’t need that kind of security for every day documents. Hell, even most pleadings and discovery documents require no more added security than you’d have with a signature stamp at your desk. But getting a legit-looking signature into electronic format hasn’t always been a very easy thing to do. And even if you manage to get an image of your signature that doesn’t have an annoying background to go with it, the was no true universal place to use it. Until now. Allow me to introduce your free electronic signature solution: Adobe Reader DC. Here is how you can create an electronic signature to use on any PDF document that needs to be signed, without spending any money, and it takes about a minute to do. How to Create a Free eSignature in... read more

The Best VPN Technology to Secure Your Confidential Data

In my post last week, I posed this question: Aside from your law firm’s office firewall and VPN system, do you need to have a personal VPN on your computers and mobile devices. Helpfully, I then told you YES!! So, in the interest of being helpful, I’ve written this post on how to determine the best VPN technology for you, and I’ve gone ahead and included a review of some of the best VPN solutions on the market. So, without further ado: How to Choose the Best VPN for You? Go ahead, ask if you’re going to need one. The answer is yes, yes you do. So now it becomes a question of what type. First, do you need an enterprise level VPN? Your law firm probably does, and you might even want a more serious VPN option for your home network if you do a lot of work there as well. The benefit to those types of VPN is that they protect your connections with your office server, and also go a long way to protecting your web browsing while you’re using the same router. For these, the available solutions are myriad, and a little too varied and purpose-specific for me to discuss in great detail here. I’d strongly recommend speaking to your IT people/contractor about this. Second, do you need personal VPN technology? Once you’re outside of your office environment, you’ll no longer be protected by your office’s VPN. So, if you use your laptop, tablet, or smartphone both for personal web browsing/email and to connect to your office network, then you absolutely need to have VPN technology... read more

How to Use Evernote to Make Business Cards Useful Again

Welcome to the first episode in my new video series Tech Tools & Tips, offering some simple technology solutions to life’s little inconveniences. Using video demonstrations of some of my favorite technology tools, I’m going to show you how easy it is to improve your practice through the technology you already own. On today’s menu: business cards. Business Cards – so useful, but so useless! Today, I’m tackling an issue that I’ve had for quite a while: what the hell do I do with all of the business cards that I’m handed at events. They disappear SO FAST! Plus, the ones I have tend to be of little value when I’m digging them out of my bag or my desk several months later. So I needed a way to save the information on those business cards, and in a timely fashion. It turns out that the key is to use Evernote. 1) So, in short, this is all you have to do when someone hands you a business card:Take a picture of the card – a good one, because sometimes the text isn’t that easy to read. (While Evernote does have a spot for front and back photos, it’s not designed for you to take them both right away, like FullContact is.) 2) Save the image in Evernote as a “Business Card” – as opposed to a photo or a document. Wait while Evernote converts the business card into a contact. This takes seconds. While it does that Evernote also checks to see if the person is on LinkedIn. If they are, the person’s LinkedIn information, including photo, are added to... read more

6 Simple Reasons You Need to Use a VPN

One of the most important things that we do as lawyers is to protect. We protect our clients from the harms of others, from the government, from competitors. We frequently protect our clients from themselves. Unfortunately, based on recent surveys, we don’t usually consider our own actions to be much of a threat to our clients, or we’d be doing more to protect our clients from us. Well, we’re certainly not harboring ill intentions – that’s part of the problem. We have an ethical duty to protect our clients, and more specifically, the confidential information that they entrust us with. What’s one thing you could do, today, to dramatically improve the protection you give to your client’s confidential information? Start using a VPN on your computer and mobile devices. Immediately. What is a VPN? A VPN is a “Virtual Private Network.” In its most basic form, a VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between your computer or device and the server owned or operated (or in some cases merely rented) by your VPN. The effect of this connection is that it’s as if you were accessing the internet from the location of your VPN’s server. Between your actual computer and the VPN server, the traffic is encrypted, so nobody can see what information is being passed along the connection. In Howard Hawk movie-parlance, it’s basically like switching cabs to avoid being followed. VPNs are an important security tool for pretty much anyone who uses the internet today, but much more important for anyone who regularly traffic in protected or confidential information. (No, that wasn’t a subtle hint!) Do You... read more

The Best of ABA TECHSHOW 2016: Rocket Matter’s Redesign

Special Guest: Larry Port Download this Episode: Download Audio As one of the original cloud-based law practice management systems, Rocket Matter has helped to pave the way for a significant number of legal technology companies and startups, particularly those targeting solo and small firms. However, being one of the first means that everyone gets the chance to learn from your successes and your failures before you get to. One of the biggest problems for Rocket Matter: its user interface (“UI”) was designed for an era where our computer screens were very different than they are now. As you can see, the original layout was designed for the 4:3 standard screens of last decade. If you wanted to take advantage of the widescreen layout (or just be able to read the information on your screen), the result was to provide an extremely limited field of view. Additionally, the old interface actually provided considerable difficulty for Rocket Matter’s designers to implement many of the updates and fixes that they wanted, due to it’s increasingly outdated framework. So instead of a facelift or simple cosmetic changes, Larry Port describes the process as “tearing the whole thing down.” Rocket Matter’s UI Overhaul Starting with the user interface, Rocket Matter set out to make their system easier to use. Starting with the look, they appear to have taken my advice and decided that the interface aesthetic originally given to their iPad app would be applied to the entire system. I certainly approve! Moreover, they took advantage of the teardown to make the entire system much more user friendly and accessible. Now using the full width of... read more

The Best of ABA TECHSHOW 2016: The Expo Hall

Part 1 of a three-part series describing my experience at ABA TECHSHOW 2016. This year was my first time at ABA TECHSHOW, and I certainly came away incredibly impressed. The organizers did a great job of putting together an event that provided benefit for attorneys of all levels of technology sophistication – not an easy task when you’ve got tech savvy attorneys speaking and non-tech savvy attorneys looking for CLE credit! However, one of the most impressive aspects was the massive amount of small-firm oriented legal technology companies who set up shop in the ABA TECHSHOW Expo Hall. Many of them even saved some big announcements or products to coincide with TECHSHOW. So, from announcements, to demonstrations, from not fighting to… not fighting, and, of course, puppies… here is my edition of the Best of ABA TECHSHOW 2016: The Expo Hall. To get a sense of how immense the expo hall was, I decided to take a little walking tour on Periscope. I’ve smoothed out the footage a little for the video below: The Best Announcements and Releases from the Expo Hall  at ABA TECHSHOW 2016: 1. Rocket Matter announces Complete User Interface Redesign In what was apparently amazing timing, Rocket Matter began the week of ABA TECHSHOW by announcing that it was launching its new User Interface. They completely rebuilt the UI to be easier on the eyes, and much more intuitive. Featuring a left-sided menu bar, lightbox windows for adding new information (without navigating away from the prior screen), and a whole host of upgrades that you can check out in my video review of the updates with... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – March 2016

Download this Episode: Download Audio Spring has sprung… unless you live in the northeast, where it’s apparently shrunk back into its cave, awaiting better weather. Regardless, with the flipping of the calendar page we go from March to April, as the most exciting month in sports – March – gives way to the sleepy, almost punch-drunk beginning of baseball. March was fun in other ways too, most notably for ABA TECHSHOW. I was honored to join Jeff Richardson of iPhone JD, Tom Mighell and Natalie Kelly. It was a great time and a well-received presentation: Take a moment to appreciate the clean slide design & easy animations in the #ABATECHSHOW iOS/Android Apps session. — Randall A. Juip (@rajuip) March 19, 2016 Excited to see how VR might help law students practice for trial classes or moot court in the future. #ABATECHSHOW — Will Harrelson (@willharrelson) March 19, 2016 Anyway, enough about my month, here are my best new apps for lawyers released in March 2016: Multi-Platform: Multi-platform apps begin at the (1:48) mark of the podcast. ProtonMail by Proton Technologies, AG, free (iOS, Android). Even before the Apple v. FBI issue brought the security of mobile devices to the top of the news cycle, this year’s ABA TECHSHOW was already planning on making sure that security and encryption were front and center. As it should – we lawyers have an ethical duty to preserve our clients’ confidential information, and encryption is one of the best ways to do so. However, one of the things that has been roundly lamented is the lack of a good email client containing end-to-end encryption.... read more

See You at ABA TECHSHOW 2016?

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 30th annual ABA Techshow in Chicago. It’ll be my first time at the event, and I’m honored to have been asked to speak on two different panels. However, as much as I’m looking forward to those presentations, I’m really looking forward to everything the event has to offer, and I’m hoping to see you there. I want to encourage anyone who will be in attendance to check out my two sessions. The first, Beyond Baby Steps: Technology Infrastructure, is part of the Shingles: Starting Up/Starting Over track, is at 11:00 on Thursday, March 17th (Happy St. Patrick’s Day! ). Rochelle Washington of the D.C. Bar will join me to talk about the important technology questions facing startup solo and small law firms. In the second session, on Saturday March 19 at 10:15, I’ll be joining Jeff Richardson of iPhone J.D. fame and Tom Mighell, noted author (iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, The Lawyers Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies, etc.) and co-host of the Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network, and we’ll be discussing some of the best mobile apps for lawyers. It will be a lot of fun. However, there are a number of other things I’m really looking forward to, and would strongly recommend for anyone either on the fence about attending or who will be in the Chicago area: ABA Techshow Keynote: Cindy Cohn As the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Ms. Cohn is on the front lines of some of the most critical privacy and security battles of our time. I’ve heard Ms. Cohn before, and I... read more
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