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!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Which Social Media Platforms Are Important For Lawyers?

"Conversationprism" by Brian Solis and JESS3 - http://www.theconversationprism.com/. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Conversationprism.jpeg#/media/File:Conversationprism.jpeg
I sat down with my 18 year old daughter this weekend to discuss social media.  The options left me dizzy: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, the list goes on and on. Those are just the ones that are hot for teenagers and twenty-somethings.  I decided to investigate further.

I installed the Instagram app on my iPhone, created an account, and within two minutes I had four followers!  Pretty impressive. I went deeper and learned that the function of the app is to communicate with others by posting photos. I posted a photo of my dog. I got no responses, replies, whatever? I decided posting photos of my dog was not a productive means of marketing my family law practice. I deleted the app from my phone.

My experiment begged the question: which social media options are relevant to me and the marketing of my law practice?  The consensus among law firm marketing experts is that LinkedIn is the best.  Attorneyatwork.com asked the experts at the Legal Marketing Association. Each of the three experts said that LinkedIn wins. Facebook was also popular. So too was SlideShare, a service that allows you to uploads presentations, PowerPoints, etc., for the world to view. You can view the discussion by clicking here.

I had another question.  Before we get to which social media platform is best, I must ask if socia media works at all as an effective tool for marketing a law practice. The experts seem to think so.  I am not so sure, but because there is a chance it might work, I am going to do it.

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

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's A Small World After All!

A fun war story about practicing family law in the internet age.  Today I went around the world to negotiate a settlement.

This past Friday opposing counsel sent me a settlement proposal by email from her San Francisco office before leaving to spend a month in Asia.  I then forwarded that proposal to my client who is vacationing in Maui.  This morning my client and I used the collaborative tools in Adobe Acrobat to dissect the proposals and to develop our counter points. Next I drafted a response letter in Microsoft Word and sent the Word file to my client for review. He used the collaborative/track changes tools in Word to make his desired modifications to the letter, and sent the file back to me. We also talked on the phone (the weather was quite nice in Maui!).  After reviewing and approving the modifications from my client I converted the letter into a pdf document, affixed my electronic signature, and sent the letter via email to opposing counsel, so that she can download it, and work on it while in Asia.  I cc'ed my client on the email, and also uploaded a copy of the letter to his online document repository so that he could always find a copy of it.

Ten years ago things were not this easy. Shows you how technology can improve the practice of law. Also reminds us though that if we are not careful with how we manage technology it can take over our lives, and make the office inescapable.

To avoid having worldwide 24/7 availability eat me alive I have attorney-client communication rules that I educate my clients to before they hire me. I also explain these same rules to opposing counsel, for whom they have equal application.

  1. I communicate during office hours. That scope extends to phone calls and emails. 
  2. I only work on weekends in emergencies. 
  3. My client or opposing counsel going on vacation is not an emergency (I do relax this rule a bit if I am going on, or coming back from a trip).

These rules help maintain peace and order. They only work if you lay them out at the get go, and they only retain their efficacy if you have the discipline to stick with them.

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, August 4, 2015

2015 Best Apps List

The Cyber Advocate has released its list of the best apps for 2015. Complete with iOS and Android app reviews, the Cyber Advocate list brings a lot of solid info for those of us looking to expand our app collections. The list is not focused on lawyers, but then again sometimes it is good to stray beyond the lines and have a little fun.  The new Star Wars app for instance? It is 4th on the Cyber Advocate list.

Check out the complete list by clicking here.

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

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Legal Productivity Blog

Legal Productivity is a great blog sponsored by Rocket Matter. It is one of my regular stops when I am looking for new practice management thoughts and ideas. It is one of those blogs that revitalizes you and renews your excitement as a lawyer. If you are a technology wonk it has even greater attraction. The break out topic headers for the blog say it at:  Get Organized, Market Your Practice, Make Money, Leverage Technology, Go Mobile. Isn't that hitting the practice management nail write on the head?

Recent posts have included:

A Simple Daily Routine to Maximize Productivity
Communication and Collaboration Apps for Law Firms
Lawyers: What To Do If You Are Not Getting Paid
Anatomy of the 21st Century Lawyer [Infographic]
Law Firm Branding or Individual Attorney Branding?

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

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Need Help Finding Case Management Software

Our options are increasing for case management (what I call practice management) software.

The software landscape that started with Time Matters and then grew to include Amicus Attorney and AbacusLaw now has dozens of choices, and the list is growing every day. Where to go for information?

Capterra.com has a great index/reviews, frequently updated, of practice management software.

The ABA maintains a handy reference chart

Software Insider also has a review site, although it is not as comprehensive as the others.

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

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

Monday, June 22, 2015

Things for East Coast Lawyers to remember when working with a Northern California family law attorney

Here in Northern California we family law lawyers like to think of ourselves as more civilized. We love what we do, we do it well, and we do it passionately. You can say the same thing about the myriad traits that define the Nor Cal way of life.

Chris McGinnis over at the Travel Skills Diary published an article recently about eight mistakes business travelers need to avoid making when coming to San Francisco. Chris's observations are easily tweaked to assist lawyers from beyond California when working with a Northern California family law lawyer on a case, or when traveling to Northern California for a case:

1.  We close early on Friday afternoons.  After 2 p.m. on Fridays, when you Easterners close for the weekend at 5 pm, so too do many of us in the Northern California family law bar.  Especially when it’s warm and sunny outside, , wine, cocktail, and beer carts start making the rounds, golf balls are teed up, mountain bikes start rolling, cars start heading for the mountains.  While there are exceptions to this rule, your Nor Cal colleagues are likely to groan if you send out a calendar invite for a 4 p.m. meeting on Friday. Make it at 11 a.m. instead. Better still schedule it on Thursday.

2.  Northern Californians get started early.  As Chris notes, "Don’t be surprised about an early morning start. An 8:30 a.m. meeting is not considered out of order. . . Lunch hour begins promptly at noon, but you will find that locals that head out at 11:30 a.m. or 11:45 a.m. “to beat the crowds.” Expect the same early schedule for dinner meetings, which can and do start as early at 6 p.m. Most restaurants are empty by 9:30 on weekdays and by 10:30 p.m. on weekends." Some courts even get going at 8 a.m.

3.  More good advice from Chris:  "Don’t always rely on taxicabs. The Bay Area is Uber’s home, and it is everywhere in Nor Cal, so download the app and use it if you haven’t already done so and enjoy all the different “flavors” of Uber available, which include the standard town car UberBLACK, private car “citizen driver” UberX (cheaper than taxis), UberSUV, UberXL, and the new UberPOOL where you share a ride with someone else headed in the same direction. Cabs are fine when available, but the industry has been decimated by the likes of Uber and Lyft and their business is down by 65%. The Bay Area is a huge, sprawling place with court houses and downtowns all around.  Public transit does not cover all the stops, and some cities with their own courthouses don't have cab companies. Uber is everywhere.  Make sure you need to rent a car before you rent a car. Northern California airport rental rates are notoriously high, the car rental center are not admired, and downtown hotel parking rates are in the $60 per night range."

4.  We don't got no stinking subway. BART is the regional rapid rail system.  It's like a subway and like a Metro, but not as convenient and pervasive, and a hell of a lot more expensive.  It gets you to the big spots on the map, but still misses most of the Bay Area footprint. Your gonna need to put boots on the ground or rubber wheels on the road to get you to your ultimate destination.  That gets us back to Uber and Lyft.

5.  Don’t forget your layers. We have micro climates in Nor Cal.  It can be foggy, wet, and cold at the coast but sweltering hot and bone dry 15 miles away as the crow flies.  Bring a jacket and prepare to shed it as you move inland.  

6.  Our Courts are Not all in San Francisco.  Northern California is about the same size size as New York and Pennsylvania combined, with Ohio thrown in for good measure. Come join me and about 15 million of my closest friends. Northern California has nine counties that touch the water of the San Francisco Bay, and comprise the metropolitan area commonly referred to as the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, or The Bay. Those counties — San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin – are home to more than 7.1 million people. More than 1 million of those people live in Contra Costa County, more than 1.5 million of those people live in Alameda County, and almost 1.85 million of those people live in Santa Clara County.  Just up the road about an hour from The Bay is the State Capital of Sacramento, and its own metro region with about two million people and half a dozen counties. Each California county has its own Superior Court, and each of those Superior Courts has its own different branches, courthouses, and local rules. In fact, two or three different courthouses spread around each county hearing family law cases is the norm.  The simplicity of one courthouse per county does not apply here.

7. WE ARE NOT L.A.  Los Angeles is 400 miles away from the Bay Area and metro Northern
California (almost as far as Cincinnati and New York). They do things different down there. We like our brothers and sisters in SoCal, but they have their own world.

8.  Think Wine not Whine.  Hardball ain't our style. Our wine-ing comes from a bottle.  With liquid gold being made in Napa, Sonoma, the Livermore Valley, the Foothills, the Mendocina Coast, and the Central Coast of Monterey County and Paso Robles we tend to take the edge off of family law. With eight ABA law schools (Stanford, Berkeley, Hastings, Santa Clara, University of San Francisco, Golden Gate, UC Davis, and University of Pacific, McGeorge) we've got plenty of smart folks taking the oath and doing the law thing, we just don't need to be obnoxious about it. Even our Ivy Leaguers are laid back.

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, June 18, 2015

Ever Wonder Where Your Website Is Listed?

I got an unsolicited e-mail (i.e., SPAM) today from a some guy (I won't bother to name him or his company). Here's what he wrote:
Good afternoon,  
I was just looking at your site, and I have a number of clients within our network looking for injury lawyer in California. I DO NOT work as a lead broker, referral agency, or pay-per click advertising service. I'm simply looking to direct my clients to a relevant site when they're looking for an attorney.  
Your site looks like it could make a strong fit for them. I am looking to work with a lawyer today, therefore give me a call as soon as possible. 
Thanks in advance.
Here's the problem:  I don't practice personal injury law! Frustrated that my time had been wasted I wrote the guy back:
Apparently you did not look at my site too hard. If you had you would know that I am a family law attorney, and not a personal injury lawyer.  Bad demonstration of preparation and professionalism…
Not willing to leave well enough alone, he writes me back:
Actually your website and law practice is listed in the largest directory online, as a personal injury lawyer. Take a look here: http://www.dmoz.org/Society/Law/Services/Lawyers_and_Law_Firms/Personal_Injury/North_America/United_States/California/

Therefore I assumed you practice injury law as well. It seems the bad preparation and professionalism is on your part, listing your website in a practice area directory that you don't practice law.
I clicked on the link. It does go to an index/listing site for personal injury law firms.  He was kind of correct. There is a firm listed by the name of Harding & Harding.  That is a firm that I was partner in more than 15 years ago.  My firm is Harding & Associates Family Law. Intriguingly when then think click on that link it takes you to my current law firm web site. All you see there is family law, family law, family law.  Not word one regarding personal injury.

Pretty insulting stuff from a guy trying to sell to me. Why would I buy services from someone who does not do their homework, gets their facts wrong, and then tells me I am wrong when I am not? I wouldn't, particularly given that I am not a personal injury lawyer, which is the segment that he is trying to sell to. Another point to consider: even though I am not a personal injury lawyer, I have friends who are, and who would be intrigued by such an approach. . . .

Besides how not to sell services, there is another lesson to be learned here. It is a good idea to inventory your online presence once in a while to look for mistakes -- like a link to my family law law firm being on an index for personal injury firms. For that reminder I must actually thank Mr. Bad Salesman.

P.S. How much ya wanna bet the guy is gonna feel compelled to comment on this post, by which he will identify himself rather than staying anonymous?

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

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