Thursday, November 2, 2017

How to Market Your Law Firm in Today’s Online World

As new technology emerges and new trends take over, how we market our business changes. You have to keep up in order to stay relevant, and all of the moving pieces should work together seamlessly so you can spend more time focused on generating new clients, and less time trying to string these things together.
So starts a very, very relevant post by Tom Foster over at Attorney@work.com


  • Utilizing client relationship management software
  • Reputation management
  • Lead nurturing
  • Using analytics


True this is an infomercial piece for Tom's company, Foster Web Marketing. The bottom line though is that it is also a tidy and fresh reminder of what we need to think about in our internet marketing worlds.

Please click here to take a read.

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

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

PerfectAudit.com

Do you wrestle with stacks of bank statements for your cases? Are you manually entering transactions from the statements into Excel spreadsheet? Are you begging for a better way? We may have one for you.

Jim Schaefer is a great forensic accountant based in Southern California. His firm, Schaefer & Company, specializes in family law forensics.  Like me, he is also a repaid tech geek. Today I am lucky enough to have Jim guest posting on a new discovery of his for discovery in your cases. Here's Jim to tell you about PerfectAudit.com:

As you know, a direct mechanical tracing is comprised of two parts:  check register and
characterization columns.  Perfect Audit automates the check register portion.  The software incorporates the bank statement formats for bank accounts and credit card statements to provide a pretty good quality OCR result from pdf format.  (Brokerage statements are beyond its scope.)

Picture feeding pdf bank statements into a hopper.  In a day or two you receive a searchable transactions listing that may be downloaded in Microsoft Excel format.  Thus Perfect Audit gives you the check register portion for about 40 cents per pdf page.  (you pay for what you use with no minimum monthly charge).

Before using the Perfect Audit transaction data, you will want to create a running balance column in your check register and check against bank statement balances.  I find that there are a few transactions that are double-entered that are easily corrected.

Perfect Audit really shines when you are searching for the other side of an internal money transfer for wire transfer as there is a search capability on the dollar amount.

One tip is important.  If you provide duplicate bank statements to Perfect Audit, Perfect Audit will give you duplicate entrees in its transaction listings.  Thus it is best to avoid sending duplicate statements to Perfect Audit.

I have seen unfavorable ratings of the software on the web.  My experience differs and has been quite good.  (…and my clients love it when I tell them we are using the latest robotic technology to reduce the cost of their tracing.)  

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tech Is Gonna Help You to Know Your Judge

To this day -- 30 years later -- I remember a story my law school civil procedure professor told us about his first attorney job. 20 years earlier he had been hired by a prominent Wall Street firm. He was assigned to a team for work on an appeal to a U.S. Court of Appeal. For three weeks his only task was to research the lives and histories of the justices assigned to the case. Not just their written opinions, but where they went to school, who they were married to, what their children were about, what kind of food they ate. What size shoe they wore... That level of intel gathering impressed me.  The need to know your judge stuck with me.

I am a firm believer that it is only good lawyering to learn as much as you can about the judge you are litigating in front of. Venture capital and the artificial intelligence world agree with me, and their help is on the way.

Gavelytics is a start-up that focuses on gathering info about, and predicting rulings of, the judges
you are going in front of -- even in simple old family law.

Right now Gavelytics is limited to LA County and Riverside County, but that will change. It is also light on, but not without, family law judges. The user interface is pretty cool. The landing page for each judge includes where they are, who they work with, how you contact them, where they went to school, how they got to the bench. Take a look:

Click the image for a larger look


There's more. Here are some of the Gavelytics tools:

  • Judicial Workload
    • Learn how long it takes to get to trial, the average delay between complaint filing and the initial CMC, and average case length, all compared to the jurisdictional average.
  • Gavelscore
    • Discover whether a judge has ruled more often for plaintiffs or defendants in bench trials. No more guesswork about a judge's most important decisions.
  • Motion Analyzer
    • See how a judge has ruled on 100+ different types of California motions, including summary judgment, demurrers, and motions to compel.
  • Motion Details
    • Compare a judge's motion ruling tendencies to the jurisdictional average, providing crucial context so you can determine if your judge is an outlier–and what to do about it.
  • Learn how often parties make CCP § 170.6 filings against your judge
    • Take advantage of the wisdom of the crowds and see how often other parties paper your judge, all searchable by filing party and case type.
  • See crucial judge ruling and docket speed data in a single dashboard
  • The Judge Summary
    • Takes the most important judicial data points, like tendencies on summary judgment motions, discovery motions and docket speed, and puts them in a simple dashboard for easy reference.

What's it cost? $35 to $65 per month. Not bad. This is a technology that I am going to have to keep my eye on....

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What A Receptionist Should, And Should Not, Say...

Here's an interesting one for you my fellow members of the bar...

I am in the process of negotiating the settlement of a case. As with most cases, it has been a back and forth process. Last week opposing counsel sent me an email with settlement terms. On Monday I called the attorney's office and left a message asking him to call me.  No return call. Yesterday morning I sent an email to the attorney asking him to call me so that we could wrap up the settlement. No return call. Today I called his office again.

The receptionist answered. “Hello. John Harding to speak with _ _ _ please on the _ _ _ matter.”  “Are you calling in response to the last email he sent you?” “I am calling to talk about the entire case.” Then she says, “There is no need for you to talk to him unless you are calling to accept all of the terms of his email.”

Say what? Am I wrong, or is it out of line to be told by an opposing attorney's support staff when I can discuss a case with opposing counsel? Am I wrong to expect opposing counsel to return my call? Only after the receptionist emailed her boss, was I able to schedule a phone call with him for the next day. 

Unbelievable. Then again, maybe I missed something during all those lectures on courtesy and professionalism.... 

I would love some feedback from the audience on this.

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

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How Much of Your Time Do You Bill For?

If you fit the norm, the answer is 2.3 hours per day.

According to an exhaustive study completed by software company Clio, 2.3 hours is the average. The study results, published by Lawyerist.com, assert that "on average, lawyers bill less than 30% of their time. And they only collect on about 20% of their time."

Interesting data. According to the study:
Hours billed—utilization rate—goes up quickly as the firm grows. For solos, it’s about 25%. In firms of 4–7 lawyers, it goes up to about 40%. Above 10 lawyers, the average utilization rate is about 50%. 
So what are lawyers doing with that unbilled time? According to the survey Clio added to its report this year, about half of that time goes to administration. About a third of it goes to business development (marketing) activities.
These numbers make sense to me. I may be doing better than 2.3 hours a day, but it still intrigues, surprises, frustrates me, how much of my time is consumed on tasks other than practicing law. Please click here to read the entire article.

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

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

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

How to Market Your Law Firm in Today’s Online World

As new technology emerges and new trends take over, how we market our business changes. You have to keep up in order to stay relevant, an...