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, Box.net, 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 (themaclawyer.com), Macs In Law (www.macsinlaw.com) 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!

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 amazon@yourlawfirm.com. 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 – windowsxpdeathclock.com – 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.


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Setting up a Blog – Taking the First Step

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a “Legal Geeks” meeting hosted by our local Bar Association, and our topic was blogging. While we drank beer and talked technology, I was surprised at how few attorneys are blogging. Many folks were not sure where to start and I wanted to provide a quick guideline.

After personally setting up a blog, as well as helping clients with their efforts, I would recommend the book Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers by Ernie Svenson for anyone that wants to know more (available through the ABA and iTunes). Ernie makes the process very straightforward and is a great reference when setting up a blog. Unlike Ernie’s example, which uses TypePad.com, I used WordPress.com for my blog as well as the blogs of my clients. It is the most popular platform for blogs and for one main reason – WordPress is easy.

The blog setup is similar to the WordPress.com content management systems (CMS) that many websites use. Those of you who have a little experience modifying websites will be comfortable with the setup. Those of you who are new to WordPress.com, I have provided a few steps below to get you started in the right direction:

  1. Register your domain name. This is the name of your blog – www.nameofyourbloghere.com. You can set up a new domain name for your blog through WordPress.com or if you are already familiar with another registrar (like GoDaddy or Network Solutions), register your new domain there. Here are a couple of hints regarding your new blog:
    1. Separate your blog from your website. You can link to it, but it should be separate from your law firm website.
    2. Use a name that is relevant to your practice or catchy. You can also back into a name by using Google’s keyword search tool and see what related words and phrases rank well in Google.
    3. Use domain forwarding within WordPress.com to forward your domain from WordPress.com to your existing domain if you register your domain at your existing registrar.
  2. Pick a Theme – The themes allow you to select the structure for your blog page.
    1. Choose a theme that can be customized to use your own colors, logo and pictures.
    2. Pick a theme in which you like the location of pictures and text of the blog because they (typically) cannot be changed.
    3. Purchase a theme or use a free theme on WordPress.com. If none of the existing themes work, run a Google search for WordPress themes and you will have many options to choose.
    4. Change themes if you do not like it. Themes can be changed easily and applied to your existing text and pictures.
  3. Start Writing – or Posting (as WordPress calls it)
    1. Use a great title for the blog – Many readers will decide to read your posting based on the title and the title is what shows up in RSS Feeds.
    2. Write on topics interesting to you – If they were interesting to you, they will be interesting to others as well.
    3. Write often – WordPress.com allows readers to subscribe to your blog. Give them something to read at least once a week – more if you can.
  4. Promote your Blog
    1. Link it to your social media sites either automatically (through WordPress.com) or manually.  WordPress.com has links to automatically promote your blog through LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.
    2. Read other people’s blogs – Twitter is a great source for blog ideas and other experts in your practice area.



Blogs are a great tool to show your expertise in an area, keep in touch with existing clients, and market to future clients. It will help you distinguish yourself from your competitors, and increase your visibility online through quality social media content and improved Google rankings.  The positives definitely outweigh the negatives here, so take the time, set up a blog and write, write, write.
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Should I stay or should I go? Legal Technology Conferences

As an attorney, if you have never attended the ABA TechShow in Chicago, it is worth the trip. With more than 50 educational sessions (many for CLE credit) and more than 100 vendors attending, it is a big bang for your buck to get up to speed on technology fast. Whether you would like to know more about hardware (from scanners big and small to the latest in off-cloud storage solutions), software (from legal-specific iPad apps to practice management systems, e-discovery, document assembly, and every type of cloud-based software), or advanced technology tips and tricks (from apps to sites to time saving tools), the ABA TechShow has something for everyone.

Any attorney would benefit from a technology conference and exhibit. Besides earning most of your yearly CLE credit in one shot, you can develop a technology plan that can last for years.

Of course, the ABA TechShow is not the only show out there. A few upcoming legal technology shows include:

  • Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) – April 14-17, 2013 – National Harbor, Maryland
    For more information – http://www.alanet.org/conf/2013/default.html
  • International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) – August 18-22, 2013 – Las Vegas, Nevada
    For more information – http://conference.iltanet.org/
  • NC TechShow on November 1, 2013 – Cary, NC – Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) – More details to come soon.

If your schedule is too packed right now, plan on attending next year and put one on your calendar now so you can schedule around it. The ABA TechShow next year is March 27-29, 2014 in Chicago. Mark your calendars now!

Attend a legal technology conference and exhibit and get excited about technology that will save you and your firm time and money. You will find it is worth the trip.


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ScanSnap: Still the Right Tool for Going Paperless

As a legal technology consultant and small business owner, I run into the same issues as attorneys – too much paper.  I hate paper as much as the next person but it seems to be a necessary evil.  From receipts, to bills, to tax forms, paper still surrounds us, so how can we ever hope to reach the dream of a “paperless office?”

I have been recommending Fujitsu ScanSnap desktop scanners for many years in the quest to eliminate paper and clutter. It is an essential tool for start-up law firms, as well as larger firms who want to begin the process of reducing their paper.  The amount of billable time saved from walking to the large multifunctional printer/copier alone is worth the purchase price.

I use the ScanSnap model S1500 and the solidly built, duplex, color desktop scanner is a workhorse upon installation. Not only is the hardware superior, but the license of Adobe Acrobat Standard that comes as part of the package makes this scanner hard to beat.

I recently had the opportunity to look at the ScanSnap iX500, the latest version of the wireless scanner released from Fujitsu.  While they tout wireless access for the device, it’s not what you think.  My vision was that I could eliminate another wire from my computer to the scanner, but that is not the case.  Instead, it allows you to scan documents directly from your ScanSnap to your mobile device – iPhone,  iPad and Kindle or whatever your chosen flavor would be.  A great option for on-the-go types, but I’ll have to wait for a future release for a shareable ScanSnap.  In the meantime, this new model is one step closer.

I will continue to recommend the ScanSnap scanner in any make or model.  I still haven’t gotten rid of my paper; however, I am working towards the elusive “paperless office” and ScanSnap is still my device of choice.


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Protecting Data on your iDevice

Recently, I received a call from a client that had her smart phone stolen. She left it in a coffee shop and when she returned to the shop, it was gone. It is tough to hear. We all know how much these devices have on them – our home address and phone numbers, all our personal contacts and, for many of us, confidential client information. Luckily for her, she only had her personal email on it. The first question I asked when she told me about the phone was “Does it have a password on it?” Unfortunately, the answer was no.

Smart phone and tablet computers can be a great way to be able to keep up with your mobile lifestyle by providing you quick and easy access to your email, calendars and contacts and everything in between. Whether your preference is an iPhone, iPad, Android device, or any other type of smart phone or tablet, convenience is the key. Along with the ease of use of these devices come risks. The risk of losing of your email, calendar, contacts and more importantly, client confidential information is higher than ever before.

Most people that steal phones are not looking to access the data on them, they are looking to wipe the phone clean and sell it the highest bidder. By taking about 10 seconds to set up a password on a phone, tablet or any mobile device, it can give you piece of mind if your device is ever lost or stolen.

If the likelihood of your device being stolen it is small then consider the scenario that your device may be lost. The latest statistics of 40,000 smart phones being left in taxicabs in New York City is very real. Everyone should find a way to protect yourself and your data. A very simple way to protect your client data if your smart device is ever lost or stolen is a screen password.

Take out whatever device you use for your email (iPad, iPhone, Android smart phone or any other make) out of your pocket or briefcase and turn it on. If you are not prompted for some type of password, I’m talking to you. The password is typically a four digit code or may be a shape to draw with your finger before the Home Screen appears on your phone. For most devices, if the password is entered incorrectly 10 times the information on device will be deleted. This is a very quick and very easy way to protect your client data on mobile devices.

The instructions are below for an iPhone and an iPad. Android devices are protected in a similar fashion:

  • Click the Home button to bring up the main menu
  • Click on Settings
  • In the Settings screen click on General
  • In the General screen click on Passcode Lock
  • This will open the Set Passcode screen. Enter a 4-figure code and re-enter it when prompted
  • You will now be at the Passcode Lock screen. You can change when you are prompted to enter the Passcode. The default setting – Immediately – means you will be asked to enter it as soon as your start using the iPhone. But you can change the setting so that the prompt appears after a certain period of use
  • Press the Home button to return to the main menu.

This setting can protect your client’s confidential data if your device ever falls into someone else’s hands. It will be worth it to you, to your client and to your conscience when you go to bed tonight.