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!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Digital Signatures With Adobe Acrobat

I frequently transmit letters and documents in electronic form as .pdf attachments to e-mail and as fax transmissions straight from my computer (rather than scanning into a fax machine and then transmitting). During this process I utilize Adobe Acrobat and its digital signature tool. What I end up with is my name in big letters, and the a bunch of date, time, official business stuff in little small type automatically inserted by Acrobat. This certainly works to authenticate my signature, but it isn't very personal.

To the rescue comes New Orleans attorney Ernie Svenson. Ernie has posted a great article on personalization of digital signatures with Acrobat. In his article Ernie teaches us to take a digital signature like this:


And he turns it into a signature that looks like this!:



For step by step instructions click here to read the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Going On and Offline in Amicus Small Firm Edition

If you are a laptop user that has Amicus Attorney Small Firm Edition, V, or V+, you can take your Amicus with you when you leave the office. While you are at your office, you can go to Office –> Go Offline. You will have the option of copying your document templates down for use. If you do not use Office –> Go Offline and bring your laptop away from the office, you will still be offline. Click here for the entirety of Craig Bayer's article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blogs, LinkedIn, & Twitter. The Holy Trinity of Online Marketing.

Kevin O'Keefe is one of the pioneers of internet marketing by lawyers. His Prarielaw was one of the first interactive portals for lawyers and legal consumers (and yes, I was there on the electronic prarie interacting). Kevin was also one of the first folks to extol the virtues of blogging as a marketing tool for lawyers. Now, he is in love with Twitter.

In a recent post on his Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog Kevin writes about blogs, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Kevin on blogs:
Blogs? Got to have one. How else can you develop a central place where clients, prospective clients, and the influencers (bloggers, media, and social media hounds) pick up on your passion, philosophy, reasoning, and skill? How do you get seen when people search for info? You think I'm picking a pig in the poke by reading a lawyer profile on a website or Martindale? That's nuts.

Kevin on Twitter:
Twitter? Single biggest learning, brand building, network expanding, and reputation enhancing tool for me this year. Twitter's influence is what took me off this blog so much in the last couple months. Twitter is no longer an experiment for me. . . I'd rather go without my cell phone for a week than Twitter.

Kevin on LinkedIn:
LinkedIn? LinkedIn has won the professional social networking/directory space. The race is over. I get invites from professionals inviting me to join their network elsewhere. Other than LinkedIn and Facebook I ignore them.
This guy makes his living from online marketing. He lives and breaths the stuff. If you are A family law lawyer looking to build your practice, and yet you are having trouble drinking the internet marketing Kool Aid, Kevin's article will give you compelling reasons to climb on board. Please click here to read the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Blog Review: Chuck Newton's Third Wave Lawyer

I just came across a very intriguing blog targeted at technology thoughts for solo lawyers, telecommuters, etc. Chuck Newton's Third Wave Lawyer has some great articles on technology, blogging, marketing, and on and on. I particularly like his "carpet commute" ideas. Where else are you going to get musings on Alvin Toffler, new apostolic reformation, ice cream, and texting. Good stuff. Give a visit by clicking here.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hey You! Lawyer! You Need Adobe Acrobat!

I am a huge fan of Adobe Acrobat. It is the critical software in our paperless office. With the release of Version 9 Adobe has given us an epic product. This industry standard enables me to convert all communications (letters, pleadings, e-mails, and on, and on....) into one stable, universal format. Every piece of paper that comes in or goes out of my office is converted to a pdf, and stored in the electronic file for the related case. This process makes it less necessary (English majors don't attack me!) to walk down the hall to the file room to grab the paper file. With a simple mouse click any and all docs are visible right on my computer monitor. This electronic availability also allows me access to my work when I am at my desk, and when I am away from it. I can drag and drop a matter to my laptop and take it with me, or I can log into the office via remote computing technology and have access to all my files.

In our effort to "go green," we have adopted a policy of not even printing out a paper copy of the correspondence that we transmit to our clients. I write a letter, mail a hard copy to the client, and make a pdf copy for our records. I can foresee a time when I may expand the scope of this policy to include all correspondence (practically speaking there will always be a need to keep hard copies of pleadings and discovery).

But there is more to Acrobat. With its built in Bates numbering tool the software quickly and easily affixes sequential numbering to anything. Imagine the old days when you literally stamped for hours to index a thousand pages of discovery documents. That same task is now completed in seconds with Acrobat. The program also has an easy to use redaction tool. The program can search out particular words, phrases, numbers, in a document and then black them out. Or, you can manually go through a document on your screen, highlight content, and black it out. This is a great tool for redacting social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc.

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, Adobe has identified lawyers as a target market for Acrobat. As such, the company is adding features that lawyers want and use. Adobe likes us, and listens to us! The company also has a blog called Acrobat for Legal Professionals that includes a series of training videos created for lawyers.

There are lots of programs on the market that can convert stuff into pdf format. However, for ease of use, robustness, and scope of features, I have not come across anything that matches the superlative Acrobat. There are three versions: Pro Extended, Pro, and Standard. Standard lacks some of the features that will be widely used in a law office, and the Pro Extended version may be more than most of us need? I would suggest the Pro version as the best investment. Yes, the program is expensive (street price of $175.00 at nextag.com; $239.99 at baselinesoftware.com; $429.99 at amazon.com), but worth the investment.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Amicus Mobile

For years and years I have utilized Amicus Attorney as the practice management software in my office. It has often been a love-hate relationship. Gavel & Gown Software, the makers of the product, have long been on the cutting edge. However, in my opinion, they rush releases to market prematurely, and leave their customers to suffer with mountains of bugs and deficits with each new release. Their technical support has also been loathsome. There was an uptick of improvement for a short while last year. However, there seems to be a return of late of the long wait times and annoying process of answering the call just to explain that a call back will be required.

That having been said, I still stick with AA. I have recently implemented Gavel and Gown's Amicus Mobile add-on, and loe and behold I only have good things to say about it. Amicus Mobile is a minature version of the AA product that you install on your smart phone. At this point in time it is only available for the Windows Mobile platform, but there is a rumor that there will be a Blackberry version soon. The product turns your phone into a condensed version of the Amicus Attorney installed on your desktop computer, and it allows for real-time connection to the Amicus server at your office.

So far the application is actually working as promised! If it keeps performing as promised, my efficiency as a raod warrior will go way up. I will be better able to bills for client calls and e-mails completed on my cell phone; and will will have real time case and calendar information at my fingertips.

For example, here's the Amicus blurb on the phone call function:



I'll keep playing with it and report my findings. In the mean time you can get more info by visiting the Amicus web page.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Paperless Office Podcast

Lee Rosen is a North Carolina family law lawyer. He is also a nationally recognized innovator when it comes to family law practice management and marketing. Lee has created a podcast detailing how his office has gone paperless. Instead of reinventing the wheel, let Lee lay your foundation for you. Sit back, listen, and learn from Lee's podcast and presented on his Divorce Discourse blog. Click here for more.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marketing Your Family Law Practice

Grant Griffiths runs a neat little blog called "blog for profit." Today he features a great article entitled Marketing a Professional Service Firm. Written by guest contributor Mark Merenda, it includes basic concepts that we may tend to overlook. For example:
1. Invest in a great image.

Most of your prospective clients are not qualified to judge what you do or how good at it you might be. They don’t have X-ray vision, and will have to judge by other things. Appearances will play a huge role in that. Don’t fight this phenomenon (“What should matter is what a good attorney I am!”) — accept it. Think about the role of appearances in buying a car, or choosing a mate. Pretty important, right? Your business card, your website, your brochure, your suit all send messages about who you are. When a product is invisible (like a professional service), in the eyes of the consumer, the package becomes the product. I am not saying that it isn’t important that you be a good attorney/accountant/financial advisor/whatever. I am saying that it is very important that you look as good as you are.

2. Show up

Woody Allen said 80 percent of success in life is showing up. Your would-be clients are not hanging around in your reception area. They are out there. When people buy professional services, they buy the person providing the service. They don’t the ACME law firm. They buy Jim, the lawyer. In marketing lingo, this is called a “relationship buy.” And the biggest obstacle in any relationship is the first one: I don’t know you. That’s why seminars, speaking opportunities, and networking events are so important. Most people do not consider themselves qualified to judge your abilities as a professional. But everyone considers him- or herself eminently qualified to judge who they like and trust.

3. Build your referral network.

Referred business is the best business. It comes in the door pre-sold with third-party credibility. It has a very low acquisition cost, and psychologically, it’s so much more satisfying to be sought out, than to have to pitch yourself. Also, each professional referral source can send you not one client, but many clients, and not just this year, but for many years. Building a strong referral network can take enormous pressure off your marketing.

The problem is that most professionals build their referral network by happenstance: “I happened to meet this guy down at the courthouse, we happened to have a drink together, now he sends me a client every now and then.”
That’s not the way to go about it. The right way is systematically and continuously.
There are four steps: Define the target universe (who can send me business?); identify the members of the target universe (get a list.); initiate the relationship (break the ice); drip (periodically, everyone in your universe gets something from you).

4. Get all over this Internet thing.

It is difficult to overstate the importance or influence of the Internet revolution. Many scientists believe it to be the fourth most important development in human communication (first being the development of spoken language; second being the development of the alphabet and written language; and third being the invention of the printing press).

That means you must participate in this phenomenon, or be left behind. Recognize that this presents you with a wonderful opportunity to level the playing field with big firms.
What to do?

Have a great website with lots of good content. Write a blog. (Some experts believe there is no need for a “static” website, if you have a good blog.) Practice good search engine optimization. Have a conversion strategy. Try new things like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Read and comment on the blogs of others. Create value and be willing to share.
Please click here to take a look at the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chicken Soup for Divorce

The folks behind the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul book franchise are offering their tips for families of divorce. The publishers contacted me recently to explain their new book. Here is what they had to say:

Attitudes about divorce have changed as it has become more common in our culture: 40 to 50 percent of first marriages today will end in divorce, and about 10 percent of adults are currently divorced and single, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. From divorce parties, to post-breakup getaway packages, to custom-made divorce cakes, filling the needs of divorcees celebrating their split has become a booming cottage industry. But while many modern singles may feel relieved following the dissolution of their marriage, divorce remains a painful, shocking experience for millions of Americans, who still believe in the words "'til death do us part."

Recently divorced from her husband of 27 years, Chicken Soup for the Soul® co-founder Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen knows all too well the life-changing effects of divorce. As editor of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery (Chicken Soup for the Soul, October 2008, 978-1-935096-21-4, $14.95), Hansen shares her personal story, along with tales of others who have divorced and emerged stronger, healthier and even happier.

"[My ex-husband] and I still love each other, but it has morphed into something other than a husband/wife kind of love," Patty writes in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery. "We share a history and our children, so we will always be connected in a way. I admire his energy and his dedication to making the world a better place. I know [he] cares for me -- after all, I am the mother of his children and someone that he can depend on if he needs me. We just don't belong together anymore."

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery shares stories of real men and women who each experienced their own, unique version of divorce. Like the Hansens, some found a way to remain friends with former spouses, while others were able to finally find their true selves in single life.
"Through my divorce, I learned to become the person I was meant to be," writes contributor Catherine Graham. "I went on a journey, deep into my soul and met the me who I had left behind so many years ago. I realized I am beautiful, capable of love and of giving love in effortless amounts."

In Divorce and Recovery, you'll read about:

• How author Marcy Darin and her ex-husband decided to switch residences twice a month, rather than shuttling their children back and forth
• Author Laurie Perry's "Cheat Sheet of Grief" for helping a loved one in a dark, post-divorce period
• How author Steve Hern and his wife remained committed to each other's happiness, even after their marriage had ended
• How author Melinda L. Wentzel learned to trust again after divorce, and find love again

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery (Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Patty Hansen) released October 7, 2008. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, publishes all the latest titles in the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series which are distributed through Simon and Schuster, Inc. Since 1993, books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have sold over 112 million copies, with titles translated into over 40 languages. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing also licenses the right to use its famous trademark to high quality licensees through IMG, the world's premier licensing agent. The company is currently implementing a plan to expand into all media, is working with TV networks on several TV shows and is developing a major Internet presence dedicated to life improvement, emotional support and inspiration. In 2007, USA Today named Chicken Soup for the Soul one of the five most memorable and impactful books in the last quarter century. For more information visit: www.chickensoup.com.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Acrobat Training Videos Available Online

Adobe Acrobat is a wonderful product for lawyers, and getting better all the time thanks to the fact that Adobe has identified the legal profession as a target market. In our office we have moved heavily toward the idea of the paperless office, and Acrobat is the critical component of the plan. All documents in and out of our office are converted using Acrobat into .pdf format and then saved electronically. We also used Acrobat to apply "bates" numbers to documents, and to create settlement packages, and other documents combining text and graphics.

The Adobe Corporation has created a blog entitled "Acrobat for Legal Professionals." It is chock full of tips and tricks, including a series of self-help training videos that I am frequently viewing. You can check them out too, by clicking here.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Building Trust to Earn Clients

From the Grow My Law Firm blog:

In order to do business with anyone - trust must first exist on some level.

The more someone trusts you, the less resistance they have to purchase from you. Think of it like a scale– when you keep adding to trust in one pan, the beam is going to tip the pan representing buyer resistance.

So, how do you develop this trust thing?

The best way to gain trust is to first listen.

But it isn’t quite that straight forward. Let me explain.

How can anyone begin to trust you if they haven’t heard you? You need to speak to be heard. But, what will you say? You can only begin to have an interested audience when you can speak about meaningful solutions. But wait! What solutions? You cannot have a solution until you fully understand your audiences’ problems.

The answer, therefore, is that to fully understand your client’s problems you must first listen to them.

Simple, right?

Ask your best clients questions about what their pains are. What keeps them up at night? What can your practice possibly do to alleviate any or all of those problems? What have you done in the past that solved or prevented enormous problems or consequences to your clients? Write them down. Start a list and create numerous Problem/Solution scenarios.

By the way, I mentioned your “best clients” for a reason. You do want more clients just like them, right?

After you have created a sizable list, take a few of your best cases and turn them into a story. It’s okay to embellish them to make it more interesting. The purpose here is to develop a story that illustrates a Problem/Solution situation.

The story sets up the problem, and the solution is what the characters should have done or what you did to create a solution for the story’s characters to live their lives “happily ever after.” Make your stories interesting. Illustrate the pain so the listener feels it too. Make it human and add a little humor where you can. Then practice telling your stories.

Whatever you do, don’t try to memorize them. Just remember them like you would any story. Sure, they’ll change a little each time, but that’s OK.

By being able to tell your stories, you’ll be much more comfortable in front of every group. The more you tell them, the better the stories will get and the more comfortable you’ll become telling them.

String three or four of these stories together and you’ll have an entertaining “talk” that you can give to every group in town, which includes your potential best clients.

Write articles and incorporate your stories. Compile more and more until you have a book’s worth.

Here are a few benefits to using speaking engagements as part of your marketing efforts.

* You will stand out from the crowd and all of the marketplace noise by having interesting stories with solutions that you can personally provide

* It’s a much better way to leverage your time, so you can stop wasting your valuable cash on unproductive activities like cold-calls, meaningless brochures, or ads no one will ever see

* Speaking before groups is easy to do, inexpensive, and you develop rapport directly with prospective clients, all while providing an entertaining and educational talk

* When you connect with various audience members, there is always a possibility they may refer you to someone they know who can use your services

* You’ll feel proud to market this way because it’s all about giving of yourself and being available to help with your services rather than try to sell them

Please click here to view the piece.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leasing Technology

Is Leasing a Viable Option?

Back in the last recession after the “dot com” bust, leasing enjoyed some popularity for a while. Until recently, it has been fairly dormant. In the last several weeks, however, I have been getting calls from leasing companies that want to push their services.

The concept behind leasing is familiar from automobiles, but works a little differently for law firms. A leasing company typically “leases” the entire cost of hardware, software AND CONSULTING SERVICES for a period ranging from 24 to 48 months. At the end of that time, you have a buyout that ranges from 1% to Fair Market Value (although what the “fair market value” is of 3 year old consulting services is something of a mystery to me). Depending on the terms, you may or may not get a tax writeoff (check with your accountant – generally a 1% buyout may not count).

In return for what amounts to a 10-20% premium compared with the cost of purchasing up front, you get a fixed low monthly payment over the period of the lease, and of course the premium is also spread over the length of the lease. This can provide firms with a way of continuing to move forward even during a recession.

Click here to see the original article by John Heckman on his Does It Compute? blog.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's All About the Client!

In his article entitled An Increased Focus on Improving Client Satisfaction Is Your Formula for Success, Jim Calloway writes:

So, who is the most important person in your office?

In a large firm, this question may invoke thoughts of the founding partner or managing partner. The staff in the solo practitioner’s office may believe the most important person to be the lawyer, while the lawyer may think of the office manager or the employee who makes sure that the bills go out each month. The new lawyer, brimming with confidence and excitement about law practice, may think (but, hopefully, would not say) “it’s me.”

But no matter what size of law firm is involved, the most important people are the clients. For without the clients, there really is no private law practice. (Yes, I know that many of you reading this column immediately answered this question correctly.)

During the recent New Lawyer Experience program, I discussed with those setting up new law practices how important it is for clients to be satisfied with how they are treated by the lawyer and the lawyer’s office, even if they may not be satisfied with the result in their legal matter. After all, in litigation, for example, there are winners and losers. Hopefully all law firm personnel understand that a commitment to excellent client service and communication is an integral part of operations of the successful 21st century law firm.

But there’s a bit more involved than just doing great work and having great client communications. Generally speaking, we are satisfied when our expectations are met and dissatisfied when our expectations are violated.

So with every new engagement, some time should be devoted to ascertaining both the client’s expectations with the substantive legal work at hand and making sure that the client has reasonable expectations about the process and the law firm’s methods of operations. It is certainly no secret that some legal matters take some time to complete. The client should understand after the initial engagement what a reasonable time frame is and what types of contingencies might cause that time frame to be even longer.

There are more gold nuggets in the remainder of the article. Please click here for the entire read.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pick An E-Mail Program: The Google/Thunderbird/Outlook Throwdown

Lifehacker.com has a nice review of the Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft e-mail programs. Click here to take a peek.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marketing Needs to Continue After Landing a Client

As odd as it may seem, the chase and the capture of a new client ends marketing for some professionals. They get so caught up with gaining a new client that they forget that marketing does not end with obtaining a new matter, it is only the beginning.

Since marketing is everything you do as a lawyer, how you handle the relationship after you land the new matter will really determine your long term success. Client relationships are what marketing and business development it is all about. Focusing on building those relationships is extremely important. And that should happen from Day One.

Click here for all of the article by Tom Kane on his Legal Marketing Blog.com

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Getting Clients To Pay Their Bills

Most would hope that their law practices are for-profit businesses. The tool by which we get paid is the bill that we send to our clients. Here is how Ed Poll sees it in an article that he has written for the ABA's Law Practice Management Section. Ed observes:
You've sent your bill to the client. It's been several weeks and they haven't paid yet but there's no reason to be concerned. After all, if there were a problem, wouldn't they tell you so by now?

The answer, regrettably and often inevitably, is "no." If you defined your payment terms up front in your letter of engagement with the client, and the client has not lived up to those terms, it's symptomatic of a deeper communications problem. My book, Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice, notes that there are five reasons why clients fail to pay their bills:

  • They didn't get your bill/statement
  • They didn't understand your billing and/or what you did for them and/or the value to them of what you did for them
  • They didn't ask you to do what you billed them for
  • Their cash flow is temporarily interrupted, despite the best of their intentions to pay you quickly
  • Their business has gone "south" and they can't afford to pay you.

Always Communicate

In times of recession, the last two of these reasons are to some extent beyond a lawyer's control. Even so, if there is a problem with a client's ability to pay, good communication can uncover it by learning about and being more sensitive to the needs and conditions of clients. None of this requires constant calls or elaborate questionnaires. Simply meet clients over coffee and ask, "How are you doing? Did you understand my bill? Is there an issue that concerns you? Is there something I can help you with?" Given this opportunity clients will provide you with honest answers. And if there's a problem, it's better to know sooner and come up with a solution than to keep haggling over an unpaid bill.

The first three reasons for unpaid bills also involve communication issues, but of a different kind. They reflect the fact that, although the main purpose of a bill is to secure the client's payment, there is a secondary purpose that lawyers often miss: to leave the client with a favorable impression of the services he or she received. In other words, the bill is another tool for client communication. An effective bill is one that speaks clearly and directly to clients about how you as a lawyer have improved their lives.
This is a vital article for an issue that is vital to the success of our practices. Click here to take a look at everything Ed has to say.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lexis Nexis Software Upgrades Getting Bad Grades

With thanks to John Heckman and his Does It Compute? blog we getting the following heads-up about problems with software updates from Lexis Nexis:
When Time Matters SR3 was released, a major problem was immediately discovered: SR3 broke TM Connect. A “fixed” dll was immediately posted, but anybody who updated via the “approved” method didn’t know that.

Other problems were also noticed: clicking on a hyperlink in the Messenger crashed the Messenger (but not the program). Problems with html display of email that existed in SR2 were not fixed. Various other problems in SR2 were also not fixed. This is to the point where the semi-official CIC listserv is recommending to wait on installation for SR3a (which will no doubt be out shortly). And in fact, as of yesterday afternoon, SR3 seems to have been pulled from the Time Matters download site which, under the circumstances, seems like a smart move.

Nor is this limited to Time Matters. Most people never even noticed that there was a PCLaw release 9.20e, because it was pulled so quickly and rapidly gave way to 9.20f. And the soon-to-be-released PCLaw 9.30a reportedly has massive bugs with credit card processing and links to other products. Normally, during the beta phase, testers are notified of bugs or things that are not ready (that is part of the beta process). In this case, however, LexisNexis apparently was aware of the bugs but didn’t warn anybody.

The major issue here is not which bugs did or didn’t get fixed, but the fact that versions are released without proper Quality Control. This is obviously a function of having to “rush out” a release before it is ready. Given that the new product manager for Time Matters comes from a quality control background the conclusion can only be that development and QC are no longer in charge of developing and releasing the product.

This trend by LexisNexis underscores the old adage that you should never install a new release immediately. But now you have to extend this to “never install a new service pack immediately.” The only other product where this is accepted wisdom is with Microsoft service packs, which are notorious for breaking things.
Click here to see John's original article.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, October 20, 2008

LinkedIn For Lawyer Marketing

Kevin O'Keefe gives a big thumbs up to the social networking site LinkedIn. According to O'Keefe:
Consumers of professional services, whether corporate executives, small business owners or consumers, look to LinkedIn, the grand daddy of professional directories. If they don't know of LinkedIn, just googling your name and lawyer is apt to pull up your LinkedIn profile.
Click here to read his entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Digsby To The Rescue!

I've got a business e-mail account, a Yahoo e-mail account, a GMail account, a Yahoo Messenger account, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account.... I could spend all day just signing in and out of all of them. Fortunately I have found a solution. Rather than leaving numerous browser windows open, I now run Digsby!

Digsby is a FREE download that makes all of my e-mail, messenger, and social networking accounts available through one clean, easy interface. It lets me know when I have new mail and messages, allows me to preview the messages, and allow me to click through to the various services. Give it a try, I have found it makes things a whole lot easier. Click here to visit Digsby.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Social Networking: My Space, Your Space, We All Have Face Space

On line social networking is the latest craze in the marketing world. MySpace, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc., etc. Are they right for us lawyers? According to an article on Law.com, maybe yes, maybe no. For example, MySpace. No good for lawyers. Facebook. Good for lawyers. Click here to read the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Develop Relationships As Part Of Your Marketing

On his LawMarketing Blog Larry Bodine reminds us that relationships are the foundation of a healthy referral network.

"Lawyers need to meet people to generate business and to retain clients, according to author Ari Kaplan. He suggests lawyers join a sports league, the chamber of commerce, and hook up with law school classmates.

Start with those you have already met and have them introduce you to their friends, recommends Elizabeth “BetiaynTursi, the founder of Tursi Law Marketing Management. “I have gotten business from friends with whom I went to elementary school,” she notes." Click here for more.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm Not Crazy For Not Understanding Twitter!

On his Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog Kevin O'Keefe offers the following words that are comforting to me:

You've heard about other lawyers and marketing professionals using Twitter. You think they've lost their mind when they tell you they find Twitter an effective networking and communications tool. You've tried Twitter. You're convinced others have lost their mind, 'Twitter is the dumbest thing ever.'

If you're like me, looking at the Twitter interface and trying to make sense of that madness, it's easy to reach those conclusions. It was only after going to the well on Twitter for the 3rd or 4th time and using a Twitter application (think Firefox as a browser for the Internet or Outlook for email), that Twitter started to make sense.

After trying other Twitter applications, Geeklawyer, a London Barrister, turned me onto TweetDeck. TweetDeck rocks.

With TweetDeck, Twitter has become one of the most effective networking, PR, and reputation building tools at my disposal. I am generating significant new work for LexBlog via 'small talk' exchanges on Twitter. Small talk about personal affairs. Small talk about business. And small talk passing on stories I see (social media).

Click here for the entire post.

As for me, well I think Kevin is a pretty smart guy. So I am going to take his office and give TweetDeck a try, because I still haven't figured out the value of twitter in marketing my practice.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Portland Law Firm Gets 400% increase in Web Traffic

From Larry Bodine's Law Marketing Blog:

The law firm Gilroy & Napoli multiplied traffic from target clients to their website nine times by using a combination of search engine optimization and paid search marketing using Google Adwords.

More importantly, the firm received an increase of almost 400% in the total number of visitors who converted into a lead during the five-month campaign.

The firm employed sophisticated online techniques that any law firm could use, to make certain its top 10 most important search terms appeared on the first page of search results on Google. As a result, the firm enjoyed the massive increase in traffic and the higher conversion of visitors into leads.

Click here for the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Check Out my Twitter Gadget

OK, I made the plunge. I created a twitter account. I still have no real idea what twitter is, or what it does. All I know is that everyone is talking about it (including lawyer/propeller heads). Apparently it is non-stop texting, kind of like what my adolescent kids do with all their friends via cell phone? Apparently, instead or working, I am supposed to spend all day watching the dozens of messages that pass through my account?

If you take a look at the bottom of this blog, you will see that my twittering has even evolved to the point that I have added a twitter gadget here. I am led to believe that for all those twitter fans out there this is a cool addition, that allows a summary look at my twitter world. I really would like to learn more about twitter, and how it helps lawyers. Comments, instructions, advice are enthusiastically invited!

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Client Trust Accounts And Bank Stability

On his LawBizBlog Ed Poll delivers some great information about attorney-client trust funds accounts ("IOLTAs"). Lawyers who hold money in trust on behalf of their clients (for example, retainers, house sale proceeds, etc.) can find themselves at the mercy of the financial system. Here is what Ed has to say:

The State Bar of California recent answered several questions about the FDIC and clients' trust accounts. While their comments relate to California lawyers, their comments are instructive for all lawyers with clients' trust accounts. Caveat: Check your jurisdiction's rules and regulations, including those of both the bar and the banking associations.

In general, the insured limit for a single depositor is now $250,000. The title of the account and the social security number on the account are factors used to determine if we're dealing with one depositor with multiple accounts or multiple depositors.

If you i.) have an IOLTA account (not all clients' trust accounts are IOLTA), and ii) the title of your account discloses that it is a trust account for clients, and further iii) keep trust account records in good faith and in the regular course of business, clients funds are separately insured to the maximum amount permitted by FDIC. In other words, you don't have to split the account into smaller segments just because the entire trust account exceeds the cap. Where your client has an account in the same banking institution where you have your trust account, however, the combined amount of his/her funds and the funds allocated from your trust account will be considered for protection, not each account separately. Discussion with your clients about this now very sensitive issue is suggested.

Another caveat requiring the attorney to be careful in selecting the deposit institution: Although FDIC may cover the account, delays in retrieving funds may cause severe hardship for your client(s). One such hardship might be the inability to finance a merger, or close a transaction, etc. Though the principal amount will be recovered, economic consequences to your client may be severe...and there may be repercussions for attorneys by way of claims of negligent management of client money. Lawyers Beware!

This is great information for lawyers and their clients. Thank you for posting it Ed. For the original article please click here to visit LawBizBlog.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Twitter? What's Twitter.

Here is what Steve Matthews has to say about Twitter on his Stem law firm web strategy blog.

Have you heard of Twitter yet? Perhaps not. And hopefully not, as this post is intended to explain one of the latest web-tools on our collective horizon.

What you should know is this: Politicians in the current US election are levering it, news outlets like CNN & Canada’s CBC are offering headlines that can be mixed into your reading stream, and companies like Southwest airlines are using it to interact with customers & take feedback.

It’s widely considered the fastest growing tool of web influence, and will at some point have a trickle down effect for the legal industry.

Giving you a finite definition of Twitter is tricky. It’s use varies greatly, and depends a lot on the individual user. Technically, Twitter is considered a micro-blogging tool. It’s just like regular blogging, but with one significant rule change. After logging in, you are faced with the question “What are you doing?”, and just like a blog you can share exactly what you’re doing, feeling, thinking, reading - but all in less than 140 characters of entry space.

In terms of the options available for legal web marketing, Twitter - or micro-blogging tools generally - is the shortest method of discourse we’ve seen to date. If e-books & web-distribution of publications are at the longer discourse level, and regular blogs are sitting somewhere in the middle, then Twitter obviously at the far end (short-end?) of our continuum.

Click here for all of Steve's educational piece on Twitter.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Online Marketing Must Stay Sharp in Recessionary Times

The recession is now. There, I said it even if the Feds won't. We are in a recession! Family law lawyers are not immune from economic slowdowns. eMarketingandCommerce.com posts an article the premise of which is online marketing is more important in these tough times, and reminding how important it is to keep your web content up to date, and that you must make special adjustments to your practice management. The article is directed at the investment community, but is equally applicable to legal professionals. It includes great tips on maintaining your online presence, managing your marketing budget, investing for the long term. Lots of shiny nuggets in this piece. Click here for the whole read.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Thank You for that Referral - Last Year"

Legal marketer Tom Kane shares his thoughts on the importance of thanking you referral sources. This is a task that many of us get lazy on. Tom's writing reminds us how vital it us to acknowledge those that send business our way, and so that those referrals will keep on coming. Click here to read this useful post.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Online Meeting Scheduler

My family law practice includes divorce mediation. My paralegal handles all scheduling and administrative contacts with the parties (to facilitate my neutrality). Yesterday I was reviewing the e-mails for a particular mediation file and saw a chain of twenty e-mails within the last week between the parties and my paralegal. Why? She was trying to schedule our next mediation session. One party would be available on a proposed date, but I wouldn't, etc., etc.

Well lo and behold, today I have found a solution. When Is Good is a free, online meeting scheduler. Each person selects their available dates and times, and the program finds the commonly available date. Pretty slick. Check it out. It is a real gold nugget! Click here to visit whenisgood.net.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Zotero: A Nice Add-On For Firefox Users

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself.

Features
Automatic capture of citation information from web pages
Storage of PDFs, files, images, links, and whole web pages
Flexible notetaking with autosave
Fast, as-you-type search through your materials
Playlist-like library organization, including saved searches (smart collections) and tags
Platform for new forms of digital research that can be extended with other web tools and services
Runs right in your web browser
Formatted citation export (over 1100 styles and growing)
Free and open source
Integration with Microsoft Word and OpenOffice
Integration with WordPress and other blogging software
Remote library backup
Advanced search and data mining tools
Access your library from anywhere via the web
Wide variety of import/export options

Vist the Zotero website to learn more.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You Should Be Reading Law Technology News

For my techie friends, even those with just a passing fancy, Law Technology News is a must read! This magazine is flush with product reviews, product release news, interviews with tech savvy lawyers and law firm technologists, and feature articles on technology trends and techniques. This really is a great publication, and I look forward to every issue. The publisher also maintains a snazzy website that includes re-prints of the the magazine's articles, and subscription information for the paper magazine. Click here to visit the LTN website.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Creating More Traffice For Your Website

Websites are great, provided people are reading them. You have invested a lot of time, energy, and money into your on-line presence. To expect a return, people have to read what you have created. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing provides a great article on getting the search engines to steer traffic your way. Included are summary instructions for submitting to Google (and its new Submit Center), Yahoo. You Tube, etc., etc. This is a must read! Click here for the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Frustrated With How Long It Takes Your Computer to Boot?

Anyone running a computer on the Windows platform knows ow horribly long it takes their machine to start up. In his FutureLawyer blog lawyer/techie Rick Georges gives some tips of tweaking your msconfig to speed things up. Click here to read his tips.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Are You Headed For A Lawyer Meltdown?

Lawyer and practice consultant Allison Shields offers a good article tuning you in to the signs of burn out and stress in law practice. She also gives practical tips on how to turn things around. Click here for a good read.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Should Lawyers Be Making Investments in Technology During These Tough Economic Times?

Times are tough, no doubt about it. With the sour economy many of us are sitting on the fence regarding the purchase of new technology for our practices. Is it right to stay in hold mold? Tech guru Dennis Kennedy shares his thoughts, which may help sway you to yea or nay. Check out his article by clicking here.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Webinars

John Jantsch is someone I will mention often. He runs Duct Tape Marketing, which is targeted at small business owners. I am in the middle of reading his book, and will eventually have a review. John also publishes the Duct Tape Marketing Blog, which is well known and highly regarded.

Today on his blog John discusses webinars. With webcams and the internet, the technology allows face to face meetings via the internet. As John argues, with the price of gas going up, and the time that is required to travel, this emerging technology is gaining in value. Click here to read the entire post.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To All My Apple Mac Friends

My office operates on the Windows platform. Not saying that is good or bad, just saying that's how it is. I do have an abundance of friends who do use the Mac in their offices. So as not to ignore all my Appleish colleagues, I will try to add content relevant to the Mac when I run across it. Case in point, by chance today I found a web page Apple has dedicated to the legal trade. Click here to take a look.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More on the Tablet

Two days of off and on work, and I have the new Fujitsu T5010 tablet computer just about ready to go. I am going with the OpenOffice suite of software rather than Microsoft Office. The big reason is because OpenOffice is free! It is also just about fully compatible with MO. I don't plan on doing any heavy word processing or number crunching. For the most part I will be doing on the fly modifications to Word or Excel documents, and for that OpenOffice is more than suitable.

In my office we pursue the idea of the paperless office. More on that in another post. Every piece of paper in or out is converted to an electronic .pdf file. That, in turn, is a big reason for the tablet. Whenever I go to court, a deposition, a client meeting out of the office, I copy all of the documents for the matter onto the tablet. Instead of wheeling boxes of files to and fro, everything is just a click away. I have always loved Adobe Acrobat Professional, and it is still the default product in our office for creating and viewing pdf files. With the new tablet though I am trying a new piece of pdf software. It is called Bluebeam PDF Revu. The cool thing about this software is that it is written for tablet computers. Not only does it create pdfs, and allow you to view pdf files, it also lets you mark them up. Use your tablet pen to highlight here, circle there, write a note, draw an arrow. Really cool stuff that you cannot do in Acrobat (or at least I don't know how to do easily in Acrobat). And at $149 it is much more affordable than Acrobat Pro.

I let you know how things go.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

New Marketing Magazine for Lawyers

Just received my second issue of The Rainmaker Advisor. It is a new magazine published by Stephen Fairley, who also runs The Rainmaker Institute, a marketing firm that targets lawyers. I do enjoy the magazine. It delivers good articles, in a convenient, easy to read format. This month's issue includes the following articles: Discover the Power of a Mastermind Group, 7 Powerful Tools for Following Up with Prospects and Referral Sources, How to Position Yourself as a Leading Expert in Your Area.... This month's issue also includes an interview with famous personal injury lawyer John Bisnar.

I like The Rainmaker Advisor, I really do. At the same time, the magazine is ridiculously expensive. $39.95 per issue issue! The articles that I have read have not provided me with any information that I could not have found for free elsewhere on the internet. That is an important qualification. I am always surfing the internet, mining articles on marketing. I can find the articles without the magazine. Others may not be so inclined?

I am going to pay for a third issue, and then likely save the money. If the cost sits right with you, the magazine can do miles of leg work for you. Like so many products sold to lawyers (books, CLE classes, dues in professional organizations such as the American Bar Association), the magazine is way over priced. That is just part of being in a captive audience; and it makes the expense relative. Cost aside, I will say that The Rainmaker Advisor is a great resource.

Click here to check out the magazine's slick webfomercial.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Great Family Law Firm Book!

While the ABA is hot on my mind, I wanted to mention one of the best books that I have ever read concerning the creation and operation of a family law firm. How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice is written by Mississippi family law lawyer Mark Chinn, and published by the ABA (Family Law Section). I have read this book cover to cover more than once. It is a jewel! You can get more information by following this link to the ABA store. I endorse it whole heartedly.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

ABA Law Practice Management Section

The American Bar Association is a wealth of family law, practice management, and technology resources. I have found it's Law Practice Management Section to be a real find. The section's Law Practice magazine is on my list of invaluable reads. The section sponsors the ABA's highly touted Techshow. The section's website is a harvest of information on practice management and technology. Consider some of the topics on the web site right now: Clearing Up Software Myths for Attorneys, Capturing More Time ... And Keeping Your Clients Happy While Doing It, Effective Law Firm Administrations Depends Upon Connecting With Others . . . . It goes on and on.

I will admit that everything about the ABA is expensive (membership for lawyers in practice 10 years or more is $399 per year) ! Then again, everything marketed to lawyers is over priced. Relatively speaking, the investment in the ABA's LPM section is about as good a value as you are going to find, with annual dues at . Annual section dues are $50. Right now the ABA has a $40 section membership discount promotion going on.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tablet PC's

A Tablet PC is a notebook or slate-shaped mobile computer, equipped with a touchscreen or graphics tablet/screen hybrid technology which allows the user to operate the computer with a stylus or digital pen, or a fingertip, instead of a keyboard or mouse.

The form factor offers a more mobile way to interact with a computer. Tablet PCs are often used where normal notebooks are impractical or unwieldy, or do not provide the needed functionality.

The term "Tablet PC" was coined by Microsoft in a Keynote Address by Bill Gates at the 2001 Comdex conference. The more general term is Pen computer or Pen computing. Tablet PC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tablet_PC&oldid=238063852 (last visited Sep. 17, 2008).

I am on my second tablet pc. I love the concept. Portability. Being able to take notes electronically. Using a touch screen to navigate rather than a mouse. All great stuff. Plus a very high "wow" factor. What I am learning though, is that manufacturers make a difference. My first tablet was made by Motion Computing. Nothing but problems. Big delivery delay. Terrible customer support. A slow running machine that came at a very high price! Will never buy another motion.

Recently I took delivery on my second tablet. This beauty is a Fujitsu Lifebook T5010. Awesome. Runs fast, looks great. My motion tablet is a pure tablet. In other words if you want to use a mechanical keyboard, you have to attach it as an external device. The cd-rom, another external device. The Fujitsu is a "convertible." It looks like a notebook computer, but the screen hinges and swivels so that it morphes into a tablet.

With time, prices are coming down. The Fujitsu didn't even cost me half as much as the Motion.

All keep posting as I get to know Fuji.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.