Welcome

Thank you for visiting the Family Law Lawyer Tech & Practice blog. My name is John Harding. I am a family law lawyer practicing in Northern California. Long ago I realized that I could practice law more effectively and more efficiently (i.e., better and easier) by availing myself of the technological tools that are out there. I also learned that a successful law practice requires successful marketing. Hardware and software working together make me a better lawyer, and make my life easier. Marketing helps to bring in the business necessary for professional survival. By this blog I hope to share the tips, tricks, and technology that I have learned about so that others may benefit!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Product Review: Twelvesouth Mac Book Pro case

True story. I was flying out of Istanbul, Turkey the very day that the Trump administration's laptop controls for air travel went into effect. Of course, one of the airports that was subject to the new requirement that laptops had to be checked was Istanbul's Ataturk.

With my arrival at the gate for my Turkish Air flight to San Francisco, my Mac Book Pro was bubble
wrapped, labeled, logged, and then stacked with many others into a hardshell suitcase. Some 15 hours later that suitcase was opened at the luggage carousel in San Francisco, and dozen of laptops spilled onto the floor. I was tired. I was lazy. I grabbed my Mac, opened the lid, powered it on, and saw light. It was alive. Good enough for me. I signed the receipt and headed home.

It was not until the next day that I noticed that the case on my Mac had been cracked, Too late to seek recourse from the airline. But the lesson was learned. Even with bubble wrap, my computer was not able to withstand the rough and tumble world of airline baggage handling.

That flight from Istanbul eventually led to the purchase of a beautiful new Mac Book Pro. I also became more sensitive to the handling of my laptop while in motion. Recommendations led me to the  BookBook Vol. 2 case from twelvesouth. Made of leather, with a crush proof spine, the BookBook is custom made for the Mac Book Pro. As twelvesouth describes it:

BookBook provides six-sided protection with reinforced corners on the outside, while velvety soft, microfiber lines the interior. Zip BookBook closed and now your MacBook is disguised as a vintage book that has been proven to prevent theft. How many other MacBook cases can say that?
Do I like it? Yes I do. The leather is rich. The custom Mac Book Pro fit pleases the German engineer in me. The zippers pull smooth and easy. I am confident in the rigid protection it provides, The $79.95 price isn't ridiculous for what you get.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about
Harding & Associates Family Law.  

#twelvesouth #bookbook #macbookpro #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Sunday, September 3, 2017

AI Is The New Craze!


Artificial intelligence, "AI", seems to be everywhere in the law practice discussion. But what is it? I don't really know? To resolve my lack of clarity I have been looking for the definitive summary. That has been a struggle. Much like the King's new clothes, there is plenty of buzz, but little explanation.

Above The Law is investing lots of virtual ink on the topic, and has become a preferred learning center. One article in particular that I found useful is Sterling Miller's Artificial Intelligence And Its Impact On Legal Technology. As Miller explains, AI is:

[T]eaching computers how to learn, reason, communicate, and make decisions. Cognitive tools are trained vs. programmed — learning how to complete tasks traditionally done by people, where the focus is looking for patterns in data, testing the data, and finding/providing results. Or, as I like to think about it, a research assistant who can sift through the deck and tell you what it found.
Law Technology Today gives us another explanation:
Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to computer software and systems that don’t just do tasks they’ve been programmed for in advance—they actually learn as they go, improving their performance through feedback. These programs can quickly learn to complete data-intensive tasks that were previously relegated to bored and weary humans. By recognizing patterns in the relationships between words or data points, computers learn how to identify relevant information, recognize mistakes, and spot inconsistencies—all faster, and usually better, than humans do.

Okay, I kind of get it. But how is AI utilized by lawyers? That also seems to be a nebulous question. Here's more golden nuggets from Above The Law:
If you’ve used Google to find a song with just a few words from a lyric or searched Netflix to pick out a comedy that’s safe to watch with kids, you have used applied machine learning. Machine learning is an area of artificial intelligence that enables computers to self-learn, without being explicitly programmed, to look for specific pieces of information. 
When lawyers use machine learning for discovery or internal investigations, it’s commonly called technology assisted review (TAR) or predictive coding. Although TAR has been around for a while, lawyers and litigation support professionals still have questions about how to best use it on individual cases.

Okay, we have a vague description of AI. What are some of the actual applications for legal practitioners?  More from Legal Technology Today:
The primary areas where AI is being applied in the law, so far, include the following broad categories: 
  • review of documents for discoverable or otherwise relevant information, generally referred to as technology-assisted review (TAR).
  • legal research through automated searches of a universe of case law and statutes.
  • contract and legal document analysis.
  • proofreading, error correction, and document organization.
There's still plenty to learn, but is is obvious the dialogue has started.  Is it too early for family law lawyers to get on board? Of course not. Large marital estate generate lots of data for divorce. If I am understanding AI, the tools that are developing could be quite useful to us in wrangling all of the information and date more efficiently and effectively. We need to pay attention to this topic as family law practice continues to evolve beyond just the evolving statutes and case law.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#AI #artificial intelligence #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traveling for Work


I love to travel (even it it is for work). It is a topic we have posted on before. Here for instance. And here. Recently I have been doing more business travel (a phase that happens about every 5 years). The uptick has invited me to update my travel tips, that I would now like to share with you.

Flying

When it comes to flying my core beliefs haven't changed. Southwest and Alaska work great for California and Nevada flights. Anything longer than that, and I fully advocate traveling first or business class.

For those California and Nevada flights I have a new option. JetSuiteX. This is a regional airline that uses regional jets. Its current route map includes Concord, San Jose, Burbank, and Las Vegas. What makes JetSuiteX so great. The airports. Check-in is a breeze. The airline recommends you arrive 30 minutes before your flight. You go to their private terminals, check in with  the other dozen or so fliers, then walk to and onto the nearby jet. My closest airport is Concord. My destination airport is Burbank. Both are awesome alternatives to the frustrations of SFO, OAK, and LAX (any day I can avoid LAX is a good day!) The Concord terminal is great because there is free parking right there. Burbank requires a shuttle ride, but since I use Wingz in Southern California, parking is irrelevant. The planes are kewl, the pricing is good, and baggage, drinks, and snacks are complimentary.


Ground Transportation

Speaking of transportation, lots of fresh discoveries. Limos are out. Too expensive, and often times unreliable. I now use Wingz whenever I can. Think of Uber and Lyft, but with better pricing and better drivers. My last two trips have been in a very nice Tesla S.

Luggage

Most of the trips I am making these days, if they require an overnight, are for two or three days. On those short trips I have adopted the carry-on mantra. My carry-on equipment list includes a Travel Pro Magna 2 and an Everki Versa laptop backpack.


I like the Travelpro because of the telescoping handle, the 360 degree spinner, and the folding suit bag.  On to the backpack. Yes, yes, yes I am crazy for briefcases. However, when it comes to airline travel, the Everki really works. It has a luggage strap in the back so that I can drop it over my Travelpro's luggage handle and then just roll along. It is checkpoint friendly, so I don't have to remove devices at security and put them in storage bins, and it has an abundance of felt padding to limit scratching to protect my Mac Book Pro and iPad Pro in the rough and tumble world of air travel. Oh yeah, it also has compartments for smartphones and sunglasses. Note: When it comes to luggage, and every other piece of gear mentioned, online prices are all over the place. Make sure you shop around.

Other Stuff

Here's some other tips. Make sure you travel with a multi-outlet, multi-usb power strip with a 9 foot cord, plenty of chargers and cables, zip lock bags for cords, cables, and dirty laundry. Finally, and this a Great tip: disposable hair net bags to wrap your stinky, street grime infected shoes. You can also wrap the hotel remote and telephone handset in them for a layer of germ protection.


     

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Friday, August 18, 2017

Erin Levine You Are A Star!

Divorce lawyer Erin Levine is a friend. She also reads this blog. I know the latter to be true because, as a friend, she tells me that she reads this blog. On top of all that, Erin is now an internet star.  No, I am not talking about her new legal start-up, Hello Divorce. I am talking about her appearance on Lawyerist.com.

Erin's Desk!
(Didn't know if she would be happy with me putting a picture of here here?)
Lawyerist.com is one of my favorite blogs. Lots of great lawyer stuff. One of my favorite sections of the blog is its How Lawyers Work feature. Each week Lawyerist has an interview with a lawyer about his or her work space, and the technology he or she uses.  Fun stuff (with pictures).

Guess what? This week Erin is the featured star in How Lawyers Work. Yahoo!!!! Click here to check her out! Erin, when next we meet I shall bow to your celebrityness!! Way to Go!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#lawyerist #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Are You Happy?

According to a survey conducted by the State Bar of Texas, most of us lawyers are satisfied with our jobs.  11,000 lawyers were surveyed, and a slim 13.5% said they were dissatisfied with being a lawyer. That's pretty good.

I know I complain about the biz, but at the end of the day I would say I am satisfied with my chosen career. I get to do intellectually challenging work. I am a member of a learned trade. I get to work in comfortable physical spaces. I earn a decent living. What more can you ask for?  Well, I guess if I were to stick to the Caddyshack mantra, I could hold out for total consciousness....

Above The Law has a lot more info on the survey. Please click here for the whole story.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#happylawyer #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Joys of a Home Office

Da Bear.
Therapist, Centurion,
Expert Witness on the issue of napping,
Counter Surfer
First off, I am a firm believer in the traditional brick and mortar law office. For me it is important to have a place dedicated to work and my law practice. I can control the environment. I make it louder or quieter. It is secure, and private. It gets me closer to my co-workers. Also, I firmly believe family law clients expect an office (rather than a coffee shop or a public library). I believe a physical office is an important component of a lawyer's credibility and reputation. Other lawyers will argue contra, but for me a professional office is a must.

That having been side, I also have a wonderful home office that I use a lot. Being able to get away from my traditional office can be a real refresher. There is also a sense of comfort and satisfaction in being able to work from home in sweats and a t-shirt -- while still being able to be productive. Having the dogs running around can also be very therapeutic.




So, how do I make it work?

Below is a picture of my home office. I think it is pretty nice.



Big secret: I am writing this post from that very desk.  Could have just as easily been my law office desk. Who could have known?

What's really nice about my home office?
  • That wall of bookshelves in the back is what makes it. Plenty of storage to keep the space clutter-free. Also pleasing on the eye.
  • I have a Google Home device on the shelves to the right (a thank you gift for serving as President of the Northern California Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers) so I can listen to music, check the weather, check traffic, etc.).
    • Jazz makes life so much better!
  • The windows let in light and fresh air.
    • Take a deep breatttthhhhhh....

What's functional about my home office?
  • The desk provides a large work surface.
    • I love the wood. My wife hates it because I bought it a Cost Plus.
  • There is a full-size, all-in-one, wireless printer/scanner/copier on the shelves to the left.
    • Can't tell you how many times I have had to print something before leaving for court.
      • Make sure you have plenty of extra paper and toner. That stuff tends to run out at the worst times.
  • I have a Mac (with its Giant screen) installed on an Ergotron adjustable platform. With it I can have a stand-up computer when I want it, or I can drop it down to desk level.
  • Google Wi-Fi allows for connectivity of everything
    • So nice not having a web of tangled wires laying around


Then there is the technology that really brings it all together.
  • Telephone.
    • At my brick and mortar office we have a VOIP telephone system from 8x8. 8x8 also has a virtual office app for smartphones, and virtual office software you can install on your c computer. I have it installed on my iPhone, my Mac, my Mac Book Pro. With the app I can forward office calls to my iPhone and computers. I can retrieve office voice mails from my other devices. The iPhone connects to the wi-fi network so that spotty cell coverage is a non-issue when making and receiving calls. No one on the other end of a phone call could ever guess I was not in the office.
      • Our 8x8 service also includes faxing, although faxes have pretty much gone the way of the Do-Do bird.
  • Mac Book Pro. Goes with me everywhere. Sitting on the desk at home it gives me a valuable second computer and monitor. Also gives me a change of scenery if I want to move away from the Mac.
    • Actually typing this blog post on it.
  • If I want a third computer or a third monitor, out comes the iPad Pro with keyboard.
  • Legal pad. Yep, there it is on the desk next to my laptop. 
    • Still gotta be able to jot things down...
  • The Cloud. Our law firm is almost entirely Cloud based. As such, I can work anywhere I have internet. Our Cloud system includes:
    • Office 365 for so, so, so much:
      • Multiple-platforms means full functionality on desktop computers, laptop computers, iPads, iPhones . . . . Anywhere, and on any device I've got:
        • Word
        • Excel
        • Outlook
          • A huge advantage being able to send, retrieve, and index emails from anywhere
        • Sharepoint. An online repository for all client files.
          • Like taking the office file cabinets with me wherever I go. Again, a huge advantage.
    • Rocket Matter
      • Simply the best practice management system out there! On every device I have all my contacts, cases, calendars, billing, documents and records. The list goes on and on....
    • Skype for direct, real-time communication with office colleagues. 
      • It's the modern intercom with video.
      • And, it is included with our Office 365 subscription.
    • LogMeIn. Occasionally I will need to get on my desktop PC at my law office. LogMeIn let's that happen.
Virtual lawyering, home lawyering, remote lawyering, satellite lawyering, smart lawyering . . .  Call it what you want, a home office can be a real treat! With a couple of exceptions, it can be a duplicate of your regular office, Mine is pretty fancy. It can just as easily be a folding chair and table and a laptop in the corner of an apartment (or even less). Change is good. A home office is a great change of pace for me.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Friday, July 28, 2017

And The Best New Laptop Is?

PC Magazine has release its list of best laptop computers for 2017. And the winner is?

At an average street price of $265, the Acer Chromebook 14!

Here's what PCMag has to say about Chromebooks in general:

These power-efficient systems are made primarily to surf the Internet using Chrome OS. Small in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose, and wide of vision, Chrome OS is essentially the Google Chrome browser running on hardware specs that would be considered "tight" for a Windows PC. System memory is typically a lean 2-4GB, and local storage is commonly limited to 16GB of flash memory (though you will see systems with 32-64GB). But that's certainly enough to get on to the Internet, where cloud services like Google Drive store your files.
A primary benefit of Chrome OS is that it is relatively immune to the malware plaguing Windows systems, because you're not running Windows programs at all. Chrome OS updates also take seconds, rather than the minutes and hours you'll wait on macOS and Windows. If you spend more than 90 percent of your computer time in a Web browser, you should have no trouble using a chromebook as your primary PC.

As for the Acer:

The Acer Chromebook 14$264.99 at Amazon has an expansive 14-inch screen that's easier on the eyes and likely to serve a wider audience. Add to this sturdy all-metal construction, almost 12 hours of battery life, a full HD screen, and above all that competitive price, and you have our top recommendation for chromebooks.
Acer photo


If you are looking for a more robust machine, PCMag says the HP Spectre x360 13, with a street price of $1200, is the one to choose.

The original HP Spectre x360 was a hit when it debuted back in 2015, and we liked the 2016 model even more. It's back again this year, keeping much of what we love, but adding a refined design and a super sharp 4K touch screen. In addition to the UHD display, the latest HP Spectre x360 13 (starts at $1,199; $1,599 as tested) packs USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, plenty of fast SSD storage, and a chic new color scheme. Given the upgrades to what was already our top choice for high-end convertible laptops, the 2017 model is an easy Editors' Choice pick.
HP photo

I just got me the new Mac Book Pro, which I love. It is also a PCMag Editor's Choice. But of course, it also the highest price laptop on the list.

MacBook Pro CNET photo


Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers