Monday, December 30, 2013

New year: new opportunities

The end of one year and the start of another is a classic time to reflect upon one's personal and professional life and one that attorneys should not pass up.

As part of your New Year's resolutions, strive to improve an aspect of your legal or business skills.  Maybe it's time to delve into a new practice area, or start blogging, or try advertising, or network more to get more (or better) types of clients.

Maybe your resolutions are more concrete: raise your rates; lower your uncollectables; even dump a specific case.

Don't let your professional resolutions meet the same goal many personal ones do, though.  Stick at it and next thing you know, you're find you've accomplished your goal.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Change is hard

We know.  Change is hard.  And change when it comes to technology is especially hard.  If you've spent lots of money on a system, or are just comfortable doing what you've always done, the idea of using new technology or a new system may seem scary.

Maybe if you have a local monopoly or market power, like the agency discussed in the article linked above, you can avoid change.  

But for the vast majority, reality has a way of forcing your hand.  Clients, opposing counsel, and even now courts and bar associations require modern technology.  If you don't adapt, your practice will die.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reconsidering your marketing plan

Many attorneys use newsletters as a way to stay in contact with past, current, and potential clients and sources of business.  After all, they are inexpensive, effective (in that it provides an easy avenue to promote your firm and expertise) and different service platforms make managing the delivery of these newsletters easy.

Changes to the way Google delivers newsletters and other promotional materials, then, are an unpleasant development.  And, unfortunately for email marketers, that's just what Google has done (again).

In essence, after already routing much of this correspondence into a spam folder, it now is blocking images in the same, which are essentially, not only for formatting and design purposes, but also as the tags that allow the newsletter to be tracked and metrics to be complied.

For attorneys, the inconvenience is probably less, given that most aren't using their newsletters and other emailed communications as direct solicitations, but nonetheless, it may give you pause if you are considering (but haven't yet implemented) an email marketing campaign.

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Hampshire opinion on legal cloud computing

The New Hampshire Bar Association is the latest state to issue an advisory ethics opinion on the use of cloud-computing by attorneys. And once again, a win for the consensus.

In Ethics Opinion 2012-13/4, the state's ethics committee adopted "the consensus among states that a lawyer may use cloud computing consistent with his or her ethical obligations, as long as the lawyer takes reasonable steps to ensure that sensitive client information remains confidential."

The reasonableness standard has met with approval from the eleven other states that have considered the issue. Drawing upon these opinions, the New Hampshire opinion provides a helpful checklist of issues for an attorney considering the cloud to consider.

Here on Online Legal Software, we are happy to discuss any security concerns you have regarding use of the cloud - put simply, you can trust us with your data. With over 20 years experience serving the legal community as part of CompleteLaw, we understand the unique needs and concerns of attorneys.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Code Week

It's code week!

Lawyers might think that they don't need to learn to code, and to the extent that means they need to be master programmers, that's certainly true, but as LawLytics point out, that doesn't mean some coding isn't useful.

Especially when it comes to HTML (the language used for web-pages and the like) - knowing a little code is a major time and money saver: think of it as analogous to knowing some basic plumbing and construction skills: it's alot easier to spend a few minutes or so swapping out an outlet or fixing some borked code then pay someone else to do it on their schedule, especially early in a firm.

Best of all, the knowledge you gain stays with you and allows you to better evaluate vendors later on.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A weak legal job market...

For the second month in a row, the legal job market lost jobs.

This trend isn't very surprising to most, as cost-controls and poor allocation of lawyers have almost assuredly meant the golden days of the legal profession are at an end and new attorneys can't expect the "old ways" to lead to future success (or, increasingly, even subsistence)

Technology isn't an end-all-be-all solution, but using technology, like cloud-based legal software solutions, can give savvy attorneys a leg up on their competition (and make no mistake, other attorneys are your competition) by allowing them to provide better service at a lower cost; simplifying and standardizing your internal systems and freeing up your time to actually, you know, practice.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Better billing not just smart, but ethical too

The legal ethics forum recently had a piece (referencing a further discussion at Ethics Byte) about block billing.

No doubt, billing is fraught with pitfalls for the unaware (or unprepared). Avoiding these pitfalls is made easier with legal billing software: it can render the task of billing an easier one (and let's be honest: the block bill often exists because of attorney laziness or inability to itemize). By keeping track of time as it is being performed and automating the bill creation process, legal billing software is not just the smart choice, but an ethical one.