At the beginning of the year, we like to make resolutions that will guide us through the year to a happier and more organized New Year. Rather than making resolutions that will end sooner rather than later, let’s resolve to move forward rather than backward as far as technology is concerned. I propose 10 technology resolutions to start 2013 off right:
- Update your website – Your website is the marketing tool for you and your firm that is always on and works while you are sleeping. Take the initiative and update your attorney profile as well as practice areas with up to date information including your accomplishments and recognitions from 2012. In smaller firms, take a look at your website from your (potential) client’s point of view. Does it provide the information that your clients need – both present and future? What information could you provide to clients about your firm, yourself or your practice areas that might be helpful to them? Are there some newer practice areas that you would like expand? Spend some time updating your site so even repeat visitors will notice a difference.
- Update Social Media – As much as some attorneys would like to deny the power of Social Media, it is here to stay. Embrace your LinkedIn/Google+/Facebook profile. Add a picture and some of your past employment and accomplishments or task your staff to update it on your behalf. LinkedIn profiles do very well in Google searches and Google+’s influence will only move it up in the rankings. If someone searches your name, the LinkedIn/Google+ profile may be the first one to appear. Make sure your first impression is a good one.
- Google Yourself – Speaking of searches, don’t forget to Google yourself as well. You need to know what results appear when you search your name. This is the same search that other attorneys and potential clients will do to find you. You might discover that your Google ranking or your firm’s ranking is not as high as you had hoped it would be. (Side note to call the website folks and find out what you can do.) You also might discover some other searches out there like Avvo.com and Yelp.com have (good and bad) information about you. Claim those profiles as well since the information is out there – it might as well be good information.
- Clean out your files – The beginning of the year is a great time to clean out your files. Even if you made the vow to “Go Paperless in 2012” and you are still drowning in paper, make the vow again. Every piece of paper that is scanned now is one less piece of paper that has to be stored for seven years and destroyed thereafter. With online storage prices so low and some places are giving space away (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon, Skydrive and so on), the space is there. Arm yourself with a desktop scanner like a ScanSnap and the process is (almost) easy.
- Get Social – Even if the idea of going to a networking event makes you cringe, make your own networking events. Take your referral sources to lunch or coffee and ask them for referrals. Take your clients to lunch and find out how you can help them. It is great to be social, but be social with a purpose.
- Go to CLEs early – It is the beginning of 2013 and your CLEs are lacking again. Take advantage of CLEs early in the year or sign up for them now and make your schedule around them. I recently attended an iPad CLE that gave me some great time saving apps while sitting at my desk. (See tip #7). Lawyers Mutual has some great upcoming CLEs in various locations around the state. Check out the schedule here: http://www.lawyersmutualnc.com/cle-schedule
- Buy an iPad – iPads are here to stay and the legal community has thankfully embraced this new technology. With apps to track mileage, key time and to take notes on depositions, the million-plus apps in the Apple App Store will entice and overwhelm you. By attending like the iPad one, it can arm you with the right apps for the right job. Have an upcoming trial? Consider running your trial software from an iPad using the Trialpad App.
- Encrypt your Dropbox account – We all know that Dropbox is a great tool for storing files but the files stored in Dropbox are not encrypted. This means that they could be read by others if the files were lost or stolen. Layer encryption software like Viivo or TrueCrypt on top of Dropbox to make your data unreadable by anyone but you. It’s the right way to secure data in Dropbox for your clients and for you.
- Consider the Cloud – The Cloud is the new buzz word for storing your data on the internet. Ethically, attorneys in North Carolina can use Cloud-based services as long as “reasonable care” is taken to protect your data. If your firm is considering moving data into the Cloud (or already has data in the Cloud), read the Terms of Service associated with your data provider. From Google to Clio to Netdocuments and Bill4Time, understanding and accepting the Terms of Service is vital. Attorneys cannot put their heads in the sand and plead, “I don’t understand the technology”. If you are using the Cloud for documents, billing, practice management or email, you need to make sure you know and understand the implications of that decision.
- Stay Current with your Operating System –After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP. If you still are using Windows XP (and so many firms are), make plans now to upgrade to at least Windows 7 (preferably Professional) before then. There is lots of talk of Windows 8 with touch screen tablets as laptop replacements. Truthfully, it is neat, and different, and somewhat confusing even for the most experienced user, so prepare for a learning curve. More importantly isn’t an upgrade to Windows 8, it is the End of Life of Windows XP. Either way, you don’t want to be making these decisions this time next year when time is running out.
The beginning of the year is a good time to begin some habits that will last a lifetime – or at least until
February December. Take a little time to make some big changes that will help you and your firm throughout the year. Happy 2013!