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!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Live Chat on your Website

Over at Legal Productivity Michael Miceli has an article addressing the idea of including a live chat feature on your website. According to Michael:
Unlike calling in to your office or submitting a contact form on your home page, live chat offers the ability to interact in real time with a prospect. They’re happy because they’re in the hunt for your services, they want instant acknowledgement and you’re interested in booking that consultation appointment. When it comes to lead generation, there’s no time like the present to take action and engage. 
. . .
For those visitors that do not engage, live chat has been shown to reduce your bounce rate (rate of exit directly from the page) and it also helps boost the number of visitors who return to your site for another visit. A good rule of thumb is to engage someone who has been idle on a particular web page, for at least 15 seconds, with a pop-up chat window. These are often accompanied by audible sounds that alert the visitor as well.

I don't disagree with him. He provides more compelling reasons in support of live chat:

By getting the basic information of the visitor, the person fielding your firm’s chat inquires will be able to schedule a consultation, or at least take their information for a follow up call. Assuming your firm is organized and methodical in following up with leads, live chat will likely help boost your monthly total. How much? A study by Forrester Research indicated live chat increases website conversion by 20%.

These are all salient points. I take exception to none of them. I suppose it isn't any more burdensome than the current default of having a staffer screen new business phone calls? Still, questions arise. At what price do we family law lawyers chase new business? If we are engaging in advice chat, the chat portal will have to be staffed by a lawyer. Does a ten second chat create a privileged attorney-client relationship? How does one perform a conflict of interest check? What is the operating cost of having a lawyer man the chat portal? What is the operating cost of having a staffer man the chat portal? Does the solo lawyer want chat messages popping up at random times throughout the day? For chat to meet its purpose, it must be live and instantaneous. You won't be able to hit do not disturb like you do with your phone.

I love the idea of live chat. If I am a large national or regional family law firm sure I could see the value of chat. For a one or two person shop I question the cost/benefit ratio. I would love to receive some comments from folks that have actually implemented live chat. Write in!

Please click here to read Mr. Miceli's original article.

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

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Footnotes, footnotes, where to put your footnotes?

Have you ever put citations in the footnotes of a brief, rather than in the main body? I have. I thought it made the document easier to read, and easier to look at. I even thought it made it a bit easier for the judge to find the footnotes.  Lest you think me crazy, uber legal writer Bryan Garner is also a proponent of citations in footnotes.

Mr. Garner and I would appear to be in the minority. Above the Law has a great footnote story. Allow me to liberally quote from ATL:

Via the Twitter feed of Ross Guberman, a leading expert on legal writing, comes this benchslap from Judge James K. Bredar (D. Md.):
Before addressing the merits of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Court cautions both parties to observe certain rules as to the format of motion papers. First, the parties’ motion papers employed a method of citation of authorities that is not only incompatible with the rules but also a hindrance to the Court’s consideration of the parties’ respective arguments. For documents filed in this Court, the Local Rules neither permit nor require the citation of authorities in footnotes, as opposed to incorporating them into the text of documents. See The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation R. B1.1, at 3 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 20th ed. 2015) (“In non-academic legal documents, such as briefs and opinions, citations generally appear within the text of the document immediately following the propositions they support. Footnotes should only be used in non-academic legal documents when permitted or required by local court rules.”). Second, the former rule requiring attachment to motion papers of unpublished case opinions has been omitted from recent iterations of the Local Rules. A citation to either Westlaw or LEXIS suffices for unpublished opinions. Counsel should familiarize themselves with these rules. Future noncompliant filings will be stricken without prior notice.
Ouch! Who says the Bluebook is dead?
The survey in the ATL story would also indicate that most of us expect our footnotes in the body of the text. Only 31% of the survey respondents support cites in the footnotes.

Please click here for an as usual awesome story from Above the Law!
Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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Friday, August 19, 2016

I have written a lot about the less paper law office. It is a great topic, that is always evolving. With so much of our technology moving to the cloud, the topic is due for an update.

Sam Glover over at Lawyerist.com has posted a very insightful article, will all the latest and greatest

thought provoking ideas for going paper-less.  Of course he writes about scanners, and laptops, and cloud products. He also writes about work flow, and those ideas are very, very helpful. I couldn't write the article better myself so I am enthusiastically directing traffic to Sam's piece. Please click here for a great read.

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

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Lawyers, Old Lawyers. We all Need Technology.

Jeff Bennion is a San Diego trial lawyer. He has contributed a great article to Above The Law advising young lawyers on the need to embrace technology.  While written to new lawyers, Jeff's advice is relevant to all of us at the bar. Ediscovery, trial presentations, practice management are all driven by technology these days. It is not the next wave, it is the now wave and we all have to know it. Jeff's offers some great tips on how to sherten your learning curve.

Please click here to take a look at Jeff's article, and for some good advice.

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

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Here Comes Stanford!

I was surfing the net the other day, well . . . because that's what I do, when I came across something that I found very intriguing. The Legal Design Lab is a project at Stanford University. The Legal Design Lab (formerly the Program for Legal Technology & Design) was founded in fall 2013 to bring designers, lawyers and technologists together to advance legal innovation and access to justice. The folks there run workshops and teach classes on how legal design and technology can be applied to specific problems in the world of law. They create concept designs for new legal products and services, and build them out with agile, design-driven teams. The development projects at LDL are also research-driven, to create results about what works in legal innovation. Their ultimate goal is to build a stronger community around innovation in legal services, and to do this they’ve adopted a core open-source ethic.

How about this for an idea: The Court Messaging Project is an open-source initiative to build an out-of-the-box tool for any court or legal services group to send automated messages to their clients.  The overarching goal of the project is to make the court system more navigable and to improve people’s sense of procedural justice — that legal system is fair, comprehensible, and user-friendly.

Or this: Navocado is small team of lawyers, developers, and designers abuilding a new set of interactive, user-friendly guides & tools to navigate the complexities of the legal system. They will connect legal experts with lay people, helping them communicate about what legal options are open and how to pursue them.  This will help lay people navigate and resolve legal problems, either with a trained advocate or on their own. Instead of long documents saved in PDFs, they are creating guides to legal processes that are interactive, tech-enabled, and user-friendly.

That is all very cool stuff. If you are at all familiar with Stanford University you already appreciate that they do some pretty cool stuff there. The Stanford Prison Experiment, the Internet, Google, Cisco Systems, Yahoo, Trader Joe's, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Snapchat, Andrew Luck all have ties to Stanford.

I am pretty excited that those big Stanford brains are working on making the legal system better. There is going to be some cool stuff coming out of Palo Alto for us lawyerists.

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

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

From London

The Peacock Room at Farrer & Co.
As a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers I enjoy the privilege of associating with the finest family law lawyers from around the world. From those associations genuine friendships have evolved. Case in point: last week I traveled to London (truly one of the world’s greatest cities). While there my friend Simon Bruce and his colleagues at Farrer & Co. hosted a fabulous lunch for us. Set in the firm’s magnificent Peacock Room, it was a remarkable day! Also joining us were Farrer & Co. partners Claire Gordon and Caroline Holley. Of course Simon proudly gave us a full tour of the firm’s impressive facilities. The firm was founded in 1701, and its beautiful headquarters date back to the 1680s! Not too many law firms can boast of a guest book with a signature from Queen Elizabeth. Farrer & Co. can!
The red brick facade of Farrer & Co.

As if our friends from Farrer were not good enough, Simon also graciously asked other IAFL Fellows and good friends Henry Hood and John Nicholson to join us. What a fabulous day! I cannot thank my London colleagues enough for taking time out of their busy schedules to network and talk shop for an afternoon. It is such collegiality that makes me so very proud to be a member of the bar.
John Harding

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Updated Thoughts On Cloud Computing

I have always been a staunch advocate for the idea of buying software and installing it in your office, and a skeptic of the idea of cloud computing. I thought cloud software was renting software, and that added to the cost, allowed the software vendors to hold the customers hostage, and subjected data to security vulnerabilities. I am starting to change my mind.

Cost. The cost for software will always be there. Software companies, like all businesses, exist to make a profit. My fear that cloud software systems could exploit the customer is still a real concern but not anything that can be avoided even if you have a server based system. I do believe the price point for cloud software is higher than purchased software. Regardless, it is going to cost you money. As I learned recently with the corporate changes at AbacusLaw, what that company did was triple its support rates, support that you have to have to keep the software that you bought running. To make sure you buy their new stuff, Microsoft just stops supporting older products, period. That is similar types of exploitation.The cost of keeping software is just a cost of doing business.

Security. I was fearful that the target sites for my cloud computing would not be secure enough to keep out hackers. Well folks, there is no such thing as an impervious computer system, be it server-based or in the cloud. Right now, somewhere there is some teenage kid, or some foreign government agent trying to hack in to my system and yours. Given the bank grade security that exists on all reputable cloud providers, you are probably safer in the cloud these days then you are out of it.

Convenience. This is the big life changer for me. Now that our law library and practice management system are 100% cloud based I have been reborn. I have zero software maintenance. No updates to install. No bugs to rectify. Maintenance happens who knows where in the middle of the night, with no meddling from me. I just show up at work and stuff works. Awesome.

Innovation. I am finding that improvements and innovations are constantly rolling out on our cloud products. Rather than focusing on one huge annual upgrade, vendors can constantly tweak their products and make them better. Heck, a new weekly feature that is bug free is a whole lot better than the annual beta testers, and subsequent patches, that I am used to getting.

Timeliness. Because products and information can be updated instantly cloud software is fresher. No longer do I have to wait for an annual CD with all the year's cases on it. I get them online the same day that they are published by the official reports (sometimes even faster than that)!

Platform Blind.  Because my cloud software is accessed through a browser, it does not matter what kind of computer I am using. Be it a Mac, a PC, an iPad, a Google Chrome or Android device, it all works the same. We have always run PCs at the office because our software compelled it. At home I run Mac products because they are better. Now it makes little difference.

Mobility. All I need is the internet, and Boom I am working. No internet you say? Okay, no new issue there. My old way of doing things was to use remote computing software (GoToMyPC or LogMeIn) to access my office computer and run the software on it. For that to happen I still needed the internet.

I am diggin the cloud, and I bet you will too!

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

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