Cloud IT For Lawyers

Helping Attorneys Leverage Technology

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10 Legal Tech Tips for Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th has a reputation as a day of bad luck. Let’s change our luck around by heeding some tips that will ward off bad luck on any day.

1. Bates Numbering with Acrobat Pro – Bates Numbering within Acrobat Pro is easy, flexible and allows for changes and updates. The Pro version of Acrobat is required and Bates Numbering is accessible under the Tools menu. Yes, it allows you to choose your own crazy Bates number scheme.

Bates Number

2. Buy a Keyboard For Your Tablet – Tablets are great, but by buying a keyboard to use with the tablet it becomes much more of a business tool. The keyboard can be integrated within the case or carried separately as a Bluetooth device.

3. Update Your LinkedIn Profile – LinkedIn has been around for a while, but have you looked at your LinkedIn profile lately? Take a few minutes to put up a new picture, add more content and update your recent publications. People are using LinkedIn. Are you?

4. Use Paste Special in MS Office Products – If you are tired of pasting data into documents, emails and briefs with incorrect formatting, choose the Paste Special option under the Paste Menu. Choose Unformatted Text to leave the bad formatting behind.

Paste Special

5. Limit Your PowerPoint – PowerPoint slides should not be used as a prompt for the presenter. They need to convey the most important, impactful data in your presentation. By limiting your PowerPoint to simple clear messages, the audience will be listening to you and not reading your PowerPoint.

6. Read the Terms of Service – When engaging in cloud computing, many attorneys assume that the terms of service of one provider are the same as every other. They are not! Be sure to read the terms of service for any provider where you store your client’s confidential data.

7. Get Rid of Your Fax Machine – Many law firms have the (wrong) idea that they need to maintain a physical fax machine in order to send and receive faxes. Just because your client has not moved into the age of electronic faxing does not mean that your firm needs to keep a fax machine sitting in the office. Investigate online fax services or free services can be found with a little research. You can receive and send your faxes electronically and your client can keep their fax machine.

8. Use Virtual Assistants – Today, your assistant does not have to work in the office with you. Consider engaging a virtual assistant for short or long term assignments. They would work just like an assistant in your office. They can do anything from calling clients, to managing calendars, to booking travel, and any other projects that don’t require them to be physically in the office.

9. Backup (and Restore) Your Cloud Data Locally – Tools like Dropbox are a wonderful way to store and share documents. However, this does not relieve the necessity to back up your data. Periodically, copy your data from Dropbox,, Google Drive, SkyDrive (whatever flavor of storage you prefer) to your local backup drive. Test some files to make sure that your backup works in case disaster strikes.

10. Try Voice Recognition Software – Since I can talk faster than I can type, voice recognition software has been a lifesaver for me. If you have tried voice-recognition software in the past and not been pleased with it, give it a try again. The technology has greatly improved over the last few years, and it will be worth the short investment of time.

Good luck on Friday the 13th, and make the most of the day by trying some of these tips.

Can I Use a Mac at Law Firm

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Can I Use a Mac at My Law Office?

(Originally published on April 22, 2014 on Law Technology Today. Read original post here.)

I work with lots of firms that are either starting up or looking to move to the cloud. One question comes up over and over – Can I use a Mac instead of a PC in my firm? The answer is usually YES! However, while the answer may be yes for some attorneys, it’s good to know why the answer might be no for you in particular.

While the majority of law firms are still running in the Windows environment, more people than ever are using Macs in law offices these days.  In the past, Macs could not run the software necessary to operate in a law firm, but cloud-based practice management and time and billing systems have bridged the gap between Macs and PCs. Cloud-based software can be run on Macs and Windows PCs equally, and can be accessed using most major internet browsers.

Let’s consider a few good reasons to move to a Mac:

  1. You have a Mac at home and you are comfortable with the operating system, and saving and downloading files in the Mac OS X environment.
  2. You don’t mind looking for your own answers and doing a little tinkering when the Mac needs to behave in PC world (such as connecting projectors in a Windows-based environment.)
  3. You are tired of being frustrated by technology and want to use a computer that just works, all the time, with very little maintenance.

If you are willing to make the initial investment in time and money, a Mac provides a great return on investment. They are easy to learn, easy to get up and running and inexpensive to maintain. Go for it!

However, be sure that you are not making the decision for the wrong reasons.  Consider these common misconceptions about moving to a Mac:

  1. “I have an iPad and iPhone so I thought I’d get a Mac because they’ll work the same way. “
    1. Reality Check –iPads and iPhones are a great introduction to the Mac OS X, but the interface and functionality are different. The Mac is not an iPad with a keyboard. It is a powerful computer with an operating system that can take time to get used to.
  2. “My kids have a Mac (or my friend has a Mac) and they say it’s really easy and I should set up my office based on a Mac.”
    1. Reality Check – The Mac environment is easy as long as you take some time to learn how it works. If you are starting a new firm and are still trying to figure out how Quickbooks works, you may not want to add another level of complication.
  3. “Anyone can learn how to use a Mac!”
    1. Reality Check – You are never too old to learn. But, if you are not willing to learn something new, maybe you should stick with something that you know.

Several other items to consider about Macs in law offices today:

  1.  Mac-based law firms typically require less investment in IT after the initial purchase.
  2. If there is an essential tool in your software toolbox for your firm (Best Case for Bankruptcy firms or SoftPro for Real Estate firms), confirm that the software will work in a Mac environment.
  3. Macs have the ability to operate a session of Windows on the Mac. If one program that you require is only available on a Windows environment, a system like Parallels or VMWare Fusion can allow you to access a Windows environment on the Mac.
  4. There are great resources available for attorneys in Mac environments that were not even around five years ago. Resources like The Mac Lawyer (, Macs In Law ( and groups like MILO (Macs in Law Offices) are great ways to get up to speed with Macs in law fast.

After considering these options, you can decide if a Mac is the right choice for you. However, if you believe that a Mac is right for you, you will not be disappointed.   After the initial learning curve with the operating system, you will find that Macs are stable, workhorse machines that run well for years and need little support and maintenance. As the saying goes, “Once you go Mac, you will never go back!”

Good luck!

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When You Leave Big Law – What To Take and What to Leave Behind

(Originally published on March 4, 2014 on Law Technology Today. Read original post here.)

Starting your own firm is an exciting endeavor.  No longer will you be restricted by the rules and processes of your Big Law firm.  There are so many decisions to be made like new email addresses and websites, internet service providers, document storage options, logos, marketing opportunities, social media…. The to-do list can seem endless.

But before you leave the comforts of Big Law, there are a few items that you might want to consider taking with you. While Big Law may have been confining, it also provided many of the creature comforts that you need to consider as you are embarking on this new adventure. They include:

  • Documents – In many instances, your documents may have existed in a firm-wide server-based document management system. While such a system was great in a large firm for finding documents, such as system might not be ideal in a smaller firm. Take what documents you can, with the approval of your firm, and make sure they are in a format that can be used in a small office. The export of documents in a folder and subfolder structure with clients and matters, and document types, is fine. Ensure that the names of the documents that are exported for you are correct and not some gobbledygook name from the document management system that you no longer have access to.
  • Contacts and calendars – Hopefully, you have the ability to take your existing contact list and calendar with you as you move away from your old firm. If you know the system that you would like to use in your new firm, be sure that your contacts and calendars are exported in that format. For most people, one of the following two options will work:
    • CSV (comma separated values) – The .csv files are easily imported into cloud-based systems.
    • PST (Outlook data file) – The.pst files are easily imported into Microsoft Outlook.

If you are not sure of the system you will be using in your new firm, ask if you can have your data in both formats so you do not limit your opportunities.

  • Templates and “Go-Bys” – Most attorneys do not creating every document from scratch but often use go-bys and templates to create documents from Motions to Briefs. If you can, again with the approval of your firm, copy these standard documents and templates that you will use to create your new documents. Everyone has those favorite documents that you use over and over. These documents are an essential tool for your new practice.
  • Pictures and biography information – In addition to creating a new firm, you will be creating a new website as well. Photos are essential piece of your new website and if you have good photos from your old firm that you can take with you that will assist with your new website. In addition, many attorneys include their biography information on their websites as well. Before that information is taken off of your old firm site, be sure you have a copy of that information for your new site. You will most likely be updating it (and hopefully getting some new pictures as well), but it is nice to know the information that was on your old site and not have to start from scratch.

Now that we have talked about the information to take with you, let’s talk about what not to take. The prospect of creating a new firm is exciting, but if you’ve been practicing for 20 years, Big Law is all you know. Now that your new firm will be small and nimble, try to break the preconceived notions of how law firms work. Consider some of the Big Law ideas to leave behind:

  • Paper and Electronic Files – If your old firm was a paper monster, consider using tools like a ScanSnap iX500 scanner to move your firm toward a paperless office. Did your old firm pay thousands a month for off-site storage as a result of this paper monster? Make plans now on how to keep (or not keep) those paper files so you don’t suffer the same expense down the road.
  • Client Numbering – Was your old firm bogged down in six digit client and matter numbers that no one could remember? Consider a client numbering or naming strategy that will work for your new firm and establish procedures for this system to accommodate growth. Do you need six digits for client number? Probably not to start off, but a sound numbering or name strategy is essential for organization.
  • Time Entry – If you had someone else entering your time, is that an option for your new firm? If not, consider easily accessible tools on iPhones and iPads (like the iTimekeep app or to enter your own time easily. These options may not have been as cost-effective in a larger firm, but they can be the key to accurately capturing time in a small firm.
  • Virtual Services – If you used internal transcription services, consider using voice recognition software (like Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12) or a virtual transcription or digital dictation service. If you need an assistant, consider hiring a virtual assistant to start rather than a physical assistant.
  • Hourly rates – Were your hourly rates so high to compensate for the Big Law overhead? Leave the big firm overhead behind and lower your hourly rate accordingly. Consider flat fees and alternative fee arrangements for clients interested in alternative billing arrangements that big firms were reluctant to offer.

It is a huge transition to move from Big Law to a solo or small practice, and thinking ahead can ease the difficulty inherent in the process. But, by utilizing your Big Law experience, bringing with you some tools that will help in the transition and leaving the Big Law processes behind, your new firm will flourish. Best of luck to you in this new adventure!

Think Strategically

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Think Strategically About Your Resolutions

(Originally published on January 13, 2014 on Law Technology Today. Read original post here.)

Think Strategic About Your Resolutions

Happy New Year! The beginning of the year is a time for your firm to resolve to make some changes and stick with them throughout this year – unlike that gym membership. Consider the following five firm resolutions for the New Year:

  1.  Change your passwords: Recent data security compromises at stores like Target and other security breaches involving simple passwords should compel you to update your debit card PIN numbers and change your usernames and passwords from your old standbys. Many of the security breaches will try to take advantage of those folks that use the same username with the same password over and over again. Consider using email aliases for your account name so for your Amazon account, your username (and corresponding email address) would be Keep track of all of these accounts and passwords with a password saving program and not a sticky on your desk or under your keyboard (you know who I’m talking about).
  2. Go paperless: A paperless office can be a steep goal if you are surrounded by paper as you read this, but now is the time to start. Start scanning everything on your desk and utilize a great desktop scanner like the ScanSnap Xi500 (about $410 on Amazon) and the job will not be as hard as you think. From there, for every open and active physical case that you touch (save closed and inactive files for a later date), see what documents can be scanned and converted into an electronic case file. If you produce more paper, come up with a plan to make that paper go away (check out #3 below). By creating a paperless workflow, the paper will decrease in your electronic files will increase.
  3. Create and document workflows: Going hand in hand with your paperless office resolution is a way to organize your electronic files so your firm (and you) can find everything. Utilize practice management and document management systems to help you too. From snail mail to electronic mail, create and document the workflow for all of the documents coming into your firm and include where are they stored, how are they scanned, who they are distributed to and where the documents should end up. When new employees start and they are properly trained in your standard document procedures, the firm benefits by increasing efficiency of even new employees. Engage your staff in helping produce this documentation since they touch so many of these documents. By creating and documenting workflows for your firm, it will help you stick with your paperless resolution and ensure success for two resolutions at the same time.
  4. Update your website: If your clients do not recognize you from your website pictures, it is time to update your website. Your website is the first point of contact with potential clients. Put your best foot forward this year and make sure that your content and pictures are updated, accurate and best represent your firm. Look at your website from the clients’ point of view and engage others to look at it critically to see what can be improved and updated. Not all the work has to be done at once, but an updated look and feel to a site is essential for new clients looking at your site for the first time. Plan to include videos in your website to increase your rankings on Google. They can be produced with a video camera that you have in house or even from many cell phones. Don’t wait and think you need a video production studio to produce your videos. Get them out there!
  5. Update your hardware: The expiration for Windows XP is fast approaching. There is even a Windows XP Death Clock out there – – to help you count down the days until Windows XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft. (It is April 18, 2014.) Update your old Windows XP machines, before this date, to at least Windows 7 Professional. You can still order Windows 7 from the major hardware carriers like Dell and Lenovo. Don’t wait until April to get rid of you Windows XP machines; it will be a target for hackers the day after the support ends.

By thinking strategically and resolving to look at each of these areas within your firm, your firm will benefit throughout the year and beyond. Wishing you all the best in 2014.