Monday, April 29, 2013

Ohio ethics opinion on attorney use of text (SMS) messaging

Ohio has yet to specifically address cloud computing in its’ ethical opinions, but recently issued an opinion that demonstrates how attorneys are changing with the times and technology.

Specifically, the Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline held, in opinion 2013-2, that attorneys may solicit potential clients via text message without running afoul of ethical considerations, however, it also set forth conditions (the full text of the opinion is in the link above) in such solicitation that may well render it of little practical use; of course, many would argue that it is of little practical use regardless.

What do you think?

Friday, April 26, 2013

The busy attorney

Although not directed specifically at attorneys, this blog piece over at OpenForum is applicable to most practitioners.

Virtually every attorney will claim to be busy, and most truly are.  Oftentimes, though, this busy-ness isn't directly correlated with success - how much of your busy-ness is time spent spinning your wheels?  We've seen attorney spend hours looking for a misplaced file, or more commonly, the five minutes spent here and there because you're not organized well enough.  It adds up.

Practice management software, like Online Legal Software, can be the solution.  We can help tame the chaos and make simple "busy" into productive time.  Sound interesting?  We've love to show you more.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't be that guy

Kevin O’Keefe recently discussed an issue that is unfortunately common in much lawyer-to-lawyer marketing, spamming.

As O’Keefe explains in detail, whether out of deliberate thought process or just an ignorance of proper internet etiquette, mass posting of material, constantly deluging groups with content of questionable value, and otherwise making a nuisance of yourself is a generally bad idea.

Think about it: most groups on LinkedIn, for example, exist (in theory at least) to foster professional discussion and develop relationships.  These relationships, in time, hopefully lead to a good reputation and referrals from colleagues – similar to real-life bar associations.  You  wouldn't show up at a bar meeting and interrupt other attorneys to hand them your card and a writing sample, would you?  Don’t be that guy on-line either.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Office

Mark Bassingthwaighte, at Solo Practice University, recently had a posting regarding important issues to consider before entering into an agreement with other attorneys on sharing space.

Good points all.  For an attorney starting out, another important to consider is whether you even need an office at all.  After all, keeping overhead low is one of the critical steps in any start-up business and with modern technology, including cloud-based practice management software like OnlineLegal Software, you can practice from anywhere with a laptop and scanner.

That said, it’s not the right choice for everyone.  Some people can’t effectively work from home; and certainly, not all prospective clients would want to meet in a coffee shop or library.  It depends too on your location – rent for a simple office might be inexpensive enough in your region to mitigate the cost – whilst in a big city, the opposite is true.

What do you think?  Does modern technology alleviate the need for a traditional office?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Be wary of strangers

Sadly, scams targeting attorneys are on the rise, and even more sadly, attorneys can make easy targets.  A common one, which we saw ourselves in practice, is a variation on the theme of a company or individual (usually foreign) contacting you for help in collecting a debt against someone (individual or person) in your jurisdiction.

Given that many new client engagements do start with an email or call out of the blue, this isn't too far fetched for most of us, nor, in this era of globalization, is it uncommon for an attorney in one jurisdiction to represent parties in another state or even country.

In this case, however, the scam is a variation of the classic "Nigerian" scam - the potential defendant is in cahoots with the "client" and quickly offers to settle the case, in full, or near in full.  Payment is made via a counterfeit cashier's check (which generally takes the bank weeks to clear, well after making the money available).  If you had sent the client their share, well, you now have a serious problem.

One way to avoid the scam, of course, is not to take clients you don't meet face-to-face; but that's not always practical or advisable.  The better solution is due diligence.  Verify the existence of the people you're dealing with (off-line, ideally).  Be vary of any "corporation" using free e-mail addresses, or who refuse to talk on the phone.  Be suspicious of settlement offers that seem to good to be true, or clients that act a little too eager to pay.  Most of all, trust your gut.  If something feels "wrong" about the situation, better safe than sorry. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A differing view on technology

Above the Law had a recent piece reflecting well, a rather cynical view on the recently-ended ABA TechShow and, it would seem, many other conferences and experts on the "future of law."

We've made the point that for all the talk of "reinventing" law or the latest, greatest tool, most lawyers use (and should use) technology to supplement, not replace.

In fact, that's what we seek to do for our customers.  We're not trying to get you to reinvent how you practice, just make it a little better - hopefully making you some more money and saving you some time in the office to actually enjoy life in the progress.

Is Online Legal Software right for you?  We'd be happy to give you a demo to see.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blogging: Who is your audience?

Solo Practice University makes a good point regarding the use and utility of legal blogs.

Blogging is a great way to present information, have conversations, and of course, improve SEO; but if you, as an attorney, are going to blog with the expectation of obtaining clients, make sure you blog for your audience.

What does this mean?  Well, write at an appropriate level for your audience (remember, you're not writing a law review article); use appropriate keywords (after all, you want those potential clients to find your blog) and write about things your potential clients would find helpful or important in practice, not just in theory.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Start out right with the right software

The ABA's Law Practice Today had a recent piece which is key for newly solo attorneys to take heed of.

It's easy for attorneys just starting out to think that technology and case and practice management software can wait - after all, unless you're starting you firm having left another with a book of business, those first few months can be tough.

In the end, though, this kind of short term thinking can make your practice weaker - you want to start off on the right foot, and that includes having the right systems in place.  Grafting solutions later is universally more painful then doing it right in the beginning - and jury-rigged solutions pieced together from non-legal software and freeware might work when you only have a handful of clients - but you're not going to have a handful of clients forever, are you?

Online Legal Software is the kind of solution that more and more attorneys are finding works for them.  It lets you take advantage of all the benefits of the cloud while still being easy enough to understand without a computer science degree.  Is it right for you?  We'd be happy to have you take a look.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Penny wise can be pound foolish

We recently saw a recent blog post at that was spot on.

It's easy for an attorney, especially a thinly-capitalized solo, to not spend money on things, such as Online Legal Software, that at first blush seem like unneeded expenses.

As the article makes clear, however, this is often false economy.  The money you "save" by not using technology that improves your productivity isn't really saved when you factor in the real cost of time wasted.

Online Legal Software can be part of the solution for many solo and small-firm attorneys.  It can improve your productivity, allow you to better capture your time, and find time you might have otherwise missed.  Is it right for you?  We'd be happy to let you decide for yourself.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Illinois opinions on the ethics of cloud computing

Actually, there are no Illinois opinions on the ethics of cloud computing.

At least it doesn't have any formal opinions.  However, ISBA Ethics Opinion 10-01 (2009) held that use of an off-site network administrator would not violate the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct as long as reasonable efforts are made to protect client confidentiality.

Given analogous facts to use of a third-party cloud computing service, such as Online Legal Software, it is reasonable to think Illinois would adopt the same logic as to cloud-computing (which is also in fact the universal position of all the states that have considered the subject)

Should Illinois come out with an opinion directly on the subject, we'll let you know.