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, April 14, 2016

Dropping AbacusLaw

Unfortunately my recent misgivings about AbacusLaw seemed to have been warranted. The sales department recently contacted me to advise that my annual service agreement would be expiring and that renewal would be at at roughly a 100% price increase!  Also quite frustratingly the tech support department has taken a rapid turn for the worse. Four of my last five calls to tech support have been answered by brand new techs who know nothing about the program. My calls have resulted in me sitting and watching the remote sessions as the techs clicked around my computer learning the program, and repeatedly putting me on hold so they could (presumably) receive training from a supervisor. Suffice it to say that in the last two months my customer satisfaction quotient has gone way, way down.

That got me looking for other options.  I called colleagues for recommendations. I skowered the internet. I came up with a list. It included MyCase, CosmoLex, HoudiniEsq, Rocket Matter, Clio, Practice Panther, Perfect Practice, and Firm Central.  All of these are cloud based products, as compared to the AbacusLaw that I am currently running from my own server. Given that maintenance on the AbacusLaw that I have installed on my server would soon cost more than any of the above listed cloud products the time finally seems right to move my practice management to the cloud.

Next I started signing up for trial versions and demos (or at least trying to sign up, as I shall explain).

Clio is a program I have been following for years. I love the interface, and it has rules based calendaring which is a HUGE plus. Unfortunately the on line reviews I found were not encouraging: repeated price increases and abysmal customer and technical support. My call to the sales department did nothing to contradict those reviews. I contacted the sales department to do a little brain picking, and to find out if they have hosted demos, or if I could have a conversation with someone about the product.  I was told they don't do either, and that I should just sign up for the free trial and play around with it for a while. Scratch Clio from the list.

Firm Central is the product Thomson Reuters has released. From what I could see on the website it looked awesome. The reviews I found were also very flattering. I called TR sales. I was told that no questions could be answered overe the phone and that my dedicated sales rep would have to call me. I then asked how I could make that call happen. The telephone sales rep asked for my account information and then put me on hold. I am not kidding here, 5 minutes later he got back on the line, told me he could not figure out who my sales rep was and then suggested I call back later when they were less busy.  Wow! Being determined, I did call back. The second time the telephone sales person took down my number and said my sales rep would give me a call. A week later, still no call. Scratch Firm Central from the list.

CosmoLex, HoudiniEsq, and Perfect Practice all looked like great products, Each was a bit more complicated than I would like, and I just didn't comfortable as I was playing with them. Scratch them from the list.

That left me with live, sales department hosted demos of MyCase, Practice Panther, and Rocket Matter. Each of the demos was great. The sales reps working with me were all top notch. They knew their products, they wanted to help me, and they were each very enthusiastic.  I could have easily settled on any of the three products.

MyCase was my leading contender heading into the demos. I have many friends who swear by it. The company is a real moving and shaker in tech circles. I wanted it to be my winner. Two things eliminated MyCase. First it has also (like AbacusLaw) gone through the merger and acquisition cycle recently. The parent company has also gone public. That usually means dollars before customers while it finds and solidifies itself. I don't need that anxiety. Second the email integration components of the product were lacking. Given that probably 90% of my law firms communications are by email, that was the real deal breaker. Scratch MyCase from the list.

Practice Panther was the real surprise! It is an easy to use, graphically pleasing program that I really liked. I scratched it from the list because, unlike MyCase and Rocket Matter, it does not include document storage as part of its program.  Instead you have to integrate with box, and use it as your storage portal. Criticize me if you will, but I just don't like box. It does not play nice with me. I have repeatedly tried to make it work for me (including while testing Practice Panther) and it just has not worked. Plus I did not fancy the idea of paying for a box subscription in addition to the Practice Panther subscription. Scratch Practice Panther from the list. I will say this though, had it not been for the box issue Practice Panther likely would have been my winner.

That leaves us with Rocket Matter, and that is the company I signed up with.  How is it going? That is for future posts. Stayed tuned....

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, March 20, 2016

My New iPad Pro

I was a HUGE early adopter and fintroduced iPad. It was a revolutionary product and I incorporated it into every facet of my practice. I even tried cases with nothing more than my iPad in hand. Then something inevitable happened: I turned 50 (or was it 49? 48?). Along with that maturation my 20/15 vision became something less than perfect. The age of the cheater reading glasses was upon me. The small screen and the small type of the iPad became a disability. My beloved iPad became an expensive paperweight, banished to the land of misfit tech gadgets, along with countless wired mice, old keyboards, bulky monitors, etc. The iWatch? Forget it! Never an option... My Mac Book Pro, with its 15" retina screen became my one and only mobile device. It never failed me. My Apple Love never waned. Still, I yearned for the days of the keyboard optional tablet with its light weight and thin profile. I needed a large format iPad, but it just didn't exist. I was encouraged when Sony introduced its Digital Paper viewer, but there never ever was a there there for the DP.

Then it happened. The folks at Apple gave the iPad a big dose of growth hormone. The iPad Pro was born! It was all me. Huge 13" retina screen. 128GB of memory. Lightweight. Thin. Holdable. Of course, given it was an Apple, very expensive. I waited a few months, but eventually did succumb to the seductive fruit. I put on my football pads and crashed head first into the frenzied mob at my local Apple store. After pressing more than a grand on to the AMEX I exited the madness with a shiny gray iPad Pro, keyboard, and pen. AWESOME!

The good old days are back. My IPP has re-relegated the yellow legal pads to the storage room. Case files are once again traveling with me in digital, rather than paper, form. Entire case files go to court with me, rather then a selection of most relevant docs in one or two binders. Was doing the same thing with my Mac Book Pro, but now in  less cumbersome, more efficient, faster and easier process that is the IPP.

I'm giving my IPP 5 Stars!

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, March 7, 2016

A Website For Support Payments

Supportpay.com is a pretty nifty web portal that assists parents with their child support obligations. As the folks at Supportpay.com explain it, child support is not just a single monthly payment but also a broad collection of shared expenses. Parents must continually manage, communicate and negotiate over child related expenses. The entire process is complex, time consuming and very stressful. Supportpay seeks to eliminate child support conflict and enable collaboration with an easy to use online application, providing both parents transparency while saving time & money. Parents can now spend less time managing child support and more time focused on raising happy, healthy children.

Sounds pretty good to me! Here's how it works:

There is a free version, a Premium version at $14.99 per month, and a Lawyer version at $19.99 per month (discounts available if you pay for a year in advance). At the Premium level you get the ability to enter transactions from your mobile device or computer; attach receipts; historical tracking; scheduling of base support; wage assignment tracking; and dispute items.  The Lawyer version gets you that plus certified documents for court filings and Certified reports for taxes; and a back door for the lawyer to go in and review (without being able to make changes).

I would love to hear from folks that are using the service!  Send in your comments!

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

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

LegalTech Is Coming To San Francisco

For legal technophiles LegalTech is a big deal. Along with the ABA Techshow it is one of the Big Two events in legal technology.

This year's San Francisco event will be June 13 and 14. The venue will be the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

How about these topics:

  • Corporate Legal Operations
  • Advanced IT
  • Compliance, Risk and FCPA
  • What’s Next for eDiscovery?
  • Predictive coding and data analytics/Robots
  • Strategies to Reduce Total Cost of Review
  • Meet the 2016 In-House and Litigation Department of the Year Winners: How Technology Impacts Success
  • Information Governance
  • Government Investigations and High Stakes Litigation
  • Law Firm Practice Management
  • Cybersecurity for Corporate and Outside Counsel
    • Responding to data breaches
    • Best practices for protecting law firm client data
  • The Impact of the FRCP Amendments on eDiscovery and Litigation
  • Strategies Post the EU Safe Harbor Ruling
  • Litigation Funding

  • For those of us with just a passing fancy for technology and for most family law practitioners, LegalTech is probably too much graduate level stuff, particularly for the whopping ticket price ranging from $725 for a one day pass to $1295 for full access.

    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, February 21, 2016

    I Just Switched To LogMeIn

    I have been remote computing for more than 20 years. Having the ability to operate my office computer 24/7 from anywhere in the world (or at least anywhere that I have internet connectivity or a cell phone signal) is a huge quality of life and quality of practice benefit. I have spread the word on remote computing in articles and presentations for decades. For many of those 20 years my service of choice has been GoToMyPC. I have always loved it, and enthusiastically endorsed it.

    Recently the performance of my GoToMyPC account has been deteriorating. Connections have been slow, interruptions have been frequent. Disconnections have been happening with shocking frequency. The problems were significant enough that I began testing other options. Microsoft Windows has its own resident remote desktop feature. I quickly eliminated it because it will not work with the multiple monitors I have on my office computer. Also, I wanted an app that was Mac friendly (rather than having to run it exclusively through the Parallels Windows virtualization software that I have on my Mac). I tried Splashtop. It was okay, but not great. The refresh rate lagged, and the screen resolution was fuzzy.

    Next I tried LogMeIn. I was familiar with the product, having used it on a trial basis when it first came out years ago. At that time it was inferior to GoToMyPC, so I moved away from it. My how it has improved. I gave it a hearty test drive this weekend. I appreciate the improved layout of the program. It connects fast. It runs fast and steady. It's smooth. The screen resolution is sharper than any of the competitors. It looks good. It has a multi-screen feature. For me it runs better than the other options I have tried, particularly on my Mac. The Pro version for two computers runs $149 per year. That price is nominal relative to the convenience and utility the service provides. I have made the switch to LogMeIn.

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

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

    Saturday, February 20, 2016

    IAML Is Now The IAFL

    The International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers was formed in 1986 to improve the practice of law and administration of justice in the area of divorce and family law throughout the world.  In 2015 the IAML Board of Governors agreed that the Academy's name should changed  to the International Academy of Family Lawyers, since this is a more appropriate, up-to-date and accurate description of what we are. The transition has been completed in 2016.

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

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

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    Evernote Alternatives

    I love Evernote. I use it everyday. Unfortunately there are concerning rumors out there. Funding is down. Revenue is down. Longevity is in question. If you are looking for an alternative, they exist.

    Lawyerist.com has a great article on other products you may wish to consider.  Click here to check it out.

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

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