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!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skype Adds Video-over-3G Capabilities to Its IPhone App

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Apple. And Steve saw that it was good. Apple controlled every app installed on its iPhone, sometimes known as the Jesus phone because it was so good. Then, a serpent came into the garden, and its name was Android, and Apple saw that it was time to alter the Word. Not much of an allegory, I know, but it is a holiday week. In fact, Apple and AT&T, at first, barred Skype from its phone; then, it restricted it to WiFi calls. Now, making free Skype calls over 3G networks seems to be a nod to the coming Verizon Wireless iPhone, and it will be a boon for users. Of course, it will still use up wireless minutes for those on a plan, and WiFi will always be better when you have that capability; but, it should be interesting whether Skype can keep up with the increased traffic, given the "software" outages last week.

Please click here for Rick Georges original article.

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Make Sure Your Trust Account Is Properly Insured

Thanks to Nerino Petro for posting a great article on his Compujurist blog account FDIC insurance changes for interest on lawyer trust accounts (IOLTA).

Many US attorneys have started receiving letters from their IOLTA providing banks that the IOLTA accounts no longer receive unlimited FDIC insurance as they had since enactment of the FDIC's Transaction Account Guarantee Program. This change and the reason for the notices is a direct result of the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as IOLTA accounts were not included in the enacting provisions for accounts that received this insurance. Many Wisconsin Attorneys have started to receive letters similar to the following:

December 14, 2010
Dear IOLTA Account Customer,
As you know, the IOLTA account that you currently have with State Bank Financial receives unlimited FDIC insurance protection through December 31, 2010, because our institution is a participant in the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program (TAGP). However, the TAGP program ends after December 31, 2010, therefore your insurance coverage will be changing.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act provisions recently enacted by Congress, beginning January 1, 2011, the account(s) you have with us will no longer be eligible for unlimited deposit insurance coverage. The following notice describes the change in greater detail.
NOTICE OF CHANGES IN TEMPORARY FDIC INSURANCE
COVERAGE FOR TRANSACTION ACCOUNTS
All funds in a “noninterest-bearing transaction account” are insured in full by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from December 31, 2010, through December 31, 2012. This temporary unlimited coverage is in addition to, and separate from, the coverage of at least $250,000 available to depositors under the FDIC’s general deposit insurance rules.
The term “noninterest-bearing transaction account” includes a traditional checking account or demand deposit account on which the insured depository institution pays no interest. It does not include other accounts, such as traditional checking or demand deposit accounts that may earn interest, NOW accounts, money-market deposit accounts, and Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (“IOLTAs”).
For more information about temporary FDIC insurance coverage of transaction accounts, visit www.fdic.gov.
If you have questions regarding the information provided in this letter, or your insurance coverage generally with any account you have with our institution, please do not hesitate to contact your account officer or myself.
Sincerely,
Jane Hostrawser
AVP/Mgr Deposit Operations
State Bank Financial

This question came to light on the State bar of Wisconsin's Practice411 elist last week and today on itsSolo & Small Firm Practice elist. Since I became aware of this action I have undertaken some investigation which has confirmed that this change is due to the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Act.

The original and temporary unlimited increase was put into effect at the beginning of the recent financial crisis under the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program (TGAP). However, under the new Dodd-Frank Act, IOLTA accounts are no longer included under the provision that still provides this coverage for certain accounts as had been the case under TGAP. IOLTA accounts are now back to the $250K limit. There is a movement to have this modified, but until it actually happens the FDIC has to use what has actually been enacted into law and not what some members of Congress are trying to do to amend this. (According to the latest information that our Public Affairs Director, Lisa Roys has obtained, the amendment to re-include IOLTA account s has passed the House, but is holding in the Senate.) I contacted the office of the FDIC Supervisory Counsel Joe DiNuzzo (who has worked on this matter for the FDIC and who is listed as a contact on the document I link to in the next section) and received a voice message back confirming this information. While this affects the unlimited coverage for IOLTAs, it doesn't affect the coverage for IOLTAs at the $250,000 level.

The FDIC and others have made a number of statements (confirmed by different groups including various bar associations) that most IOLTA accounts should be covered up to the maximum allowed of $250K per each client that has funds in an IOLTA account. Here is part of the October 26, 2010 Supplemental Information document from the FDIC website

http://www.fdic.gov/news/board/Nov9no4.pdf , on the page numbered 13 of that document, which provides:

Importantly, under the FDIC's general deposit insurance rules, IOLTAs may qualify for

"pass-though" deposit insurance coverage, so long as the regulatory requirements are

met. 12 CFR Section 330.7. That means each client for whom a law firm holds funds in

an IOL TA may be insured up to $250,000 for his or her funds. In addition, the accrued

interest to which a legal services entity or program is entitled may be separately insured

for $250,000. For example, if a law firm maintains an IOLTA with $250,000 attributable

to Client A, $150,000 to Client B and $75,000 to Client C, and the accrued interest of

$5,000 is payable to a legal services program, the account likely would be fully insured.

If the clients or the legal services entity have other funds at the same IDI, those funds

would be added to their respective ownership interest in the IOL T A for insurance

coverage purposes. But, coverage is available, generally, on a per-client basis; thus, a

generous amount of deposit insurance coverage is available for IOLTAs, absent the

availability of unlimited coverage for IOLTAs under either the TAGP or Section 343

So the only thing that is changing is the reduction from unlimited coverage for any amounts held in an IOLTA to a max of $250K for each client that has funds in a IOLTA account.

I hope this helps to explain why everyone is getting these notices.

Please click here for the original post.

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Wealthier Prospective Clients Going Online

Wondering if the internet can bring wealthier prospects to your practice? The answer is yes. Here is what Carolyn Elefant observes on her Nolo's Legal Marketing Blawg.

Marketing Statistic of the Week: Wealthier Prospects onLine

Here's the first in what will hopefully lead to a series on interesting lawyer marketing statistics or trends. We'll cull the web to uncover stats and trends from other industries, then tell you what the stat means and most importantly, how to use it in your practice.

The statistic: Ninety five percent of households earning over $75,000 use the Internet and cell phones, compared with 70 % of those living in households earning less than $75,000, and 57% in households with incomes of under $30,000.

The source: Pew Internet Reports (November 2010).

What it means: That potentially 95% of clients in households earning over $75,000 are spending at least some part of their time online. As a result, the Internet offers a powerful tool to attract this desirable demographic.

What to do about it: Well, nothing, if you're not interested in making a play for clients who might actually have the means to pay your bill. But if you're tempted by the potential of attracting a better grade of clients (at least financially speaking), for starters, you ought to at least put up a website, educate yourself about SEO and get up to speed on social media. That's a tall order if you haven't done much in the way of online marketing...but if these measures will enable you to attract better prospects, then they're time and money well spent.

Please click here for the original article.

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Speaking Engagements REALLY Work, If You Work At It!

On his Legal Marketing Blog, Tom Kane offers motivational thoughts on public speaking:

Speaking engagements make my top 10 list of best marketing practices. Like writing articles, columns or books, speaking adds the additional advantage of putting you in the same room with potential clients where you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise AND develop an emotional bond with your audience. Moreover, if the seminar or speech is sponsored by a respected organization, you receive instant credibility because of that association.

The benefits of speaking include:

  • A captive audience to connect with and, if your talk is topical and interesting (heaven help us that is not) to attendees;
  • Personally interact, during your speech, and any networking opportunities, with attendees that can help build relationships. and
  • The opportunity to subtlety provide information about your practice and your law firm.

So, what can you do to put yourself in a position to speak to your target audience(s)? You can start with:

  1. Researching organizations that your clients and desired prospects belong to, and contact their conference planning chair to ask to get on their speaking panel on topics relevant to their members and in your area of expertise;
  2. Prepare a top flight presentation, that does not come across as a sales pitch;
  3. Keep your video presentation, whether PowerPoint or otherwise, short sweet and to the point (few words per slide with engaging pictures) as the slides should be a tool not the presentation.

Following your presentation you MUST follow up. Do this by promising to send additional information or respond to questions, if the attendees will provide their email address, business card, or other contact information. And if you obtained contact information from them, send them a handwritten note (preferably), letter, email (last choice), or telephone them about your in-person discussion with them.

Bottom line: speaking engagements are still very effective business development techniques. But you must prepare, present well, and most importantly, follow up.

Please click here for the original article.

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

20 Entrepreneurs Share How They Get Referrals

Dan Janal has a great post on his PR LEADS blog for referral generation:

For my new book on how to get more leads and referrals, I asked my followers for tips. Here are the answers. If you’d like to suggest your ideas, please click this link and I’ll send you a copy of the electronic version of the book — plus you get great publicity!


1. Referrals By Writing Answers To Questions

I answer questions at www.allexperts.com and get at least four new contacts for my contact list every day.
I can show off my expertise and people who would never do a search learn about me and what I offer.
During the seven years that I have been writing for the site I have earned at least two new corporate
contracts a year that I would never have had otherwise.

Thanks to Cynthia Lett of The Lett Group

2. The Power Of Social Networking, Or, How Bad Sinuses Helped Me Land A Board Position

Earlier this year I decided to follow some marketing advice that I read a while back. The article said that our service providers like doctors, dentists, and others don’t know what kind of work we do unless we tell them.

I followed up diligently and looked for my doctors on Facebook, with the intent of connecting with them to request referrals. Much to my surprise, I found the doctor who performed my sinus surgery in 2008.

This person had exactly four friends on Facebook at that time and I actually knew one of them! The man I recognized worked at GE when I was an engineer there in 1984. I contacted this former co-worker via Facebook and received a very enthusiastic response. In fact, he was so enthusiastic that he invited me to join the board of directors for a local nonprofit technology group.

I never thought in all these forty-plus years of having lousy sinuses that my condition would lead to a board position. That is the power of social networking.

Thanks to Monica Johns of Clarity Management Consulting

3. Don’t Spam. Look, Listen, And Read Before You Send.

Journalists and bloggers are overwhelmed with p.r. spam and inappropriate pitches. Alienate one of them, and they can do something worse than ignoring you: they can publish a denunciation that may live forever as one of the first things people find when they search for your name. Before you call, e-mail, or send a message on Twitter to a journalist or blogger, familiarize yourself with what they write about, and how, to make sure your pitch is appropriate. Different journalists and bloggers have different preferences. Look for a “How To Pitch me Page” or the like on their Web site, or instructions on their contact page about how they prefer to be contacted. If there’s nothing explicit, look at their home page and read the last few entries and the category labels in their blog. Beware of purchased or rented media lists or media directories — even the “reputable” ones include inaccurate, unverified information scraped from the Web.

Thanks to Edward Hasbrouck of Hasbrouck.org

4. Consistent Quality Content

Consistently Tweet and post high quality content that your target market needs and values and leads and referrals will follow.

Thanks to Martin Soorjoo of Investor Pitch Clinic LLC

5. Less Is More

Way too many people have very short attention spans. If content does not grab within a short time period (ranging from a few seconds to 2 minutes), the reader exits. So this tip is to make the message meaningful in as few words as possible WITH the opportunity for the reader to ask for more. In addition, make sure images do not dominate the page and hide the content of your message.

Thanks to Richard Oppenheim of gettingyoupastgo.com

6. Stop Wasting Valuable Networking Time

I use HappyGrasshopper.com to automate my relationship marketing. They keep in touch with all the contacts I make that don’t have an obvious direct path to the sale. These are the people I meet at networking events and parties but that don’t really fit on my email newsletter list because they aren’t interested in my products. Once or twice a month, Happy Grasshopper sends them a message from “me”. (My contacts will never know!)

Before reading any further, look at the corner of your desk. Is there a pile of business cards there? No? Check your drawers, pockets or glove box. Those cards belong to the hundreds of people you have smiled for, chatted with, listened to, and vowed to follow up with – BUT DIDN’T – because you don’t have time to stay in touch with people who aren’t likely to buy. Happy Grasshopper does a good job of keeping in touch for me and it’s really inexpensive too – just $19 a month. Hope this helps…

Best,

Dan Stewart

Thanks to Dan Stewart of Happy Grasshopper

7. Use A Service Like Reporter Connection To Get Leads On Fresh Content

I use Reporter Connection as an expert looking for publicity, and also as a journalist looking for experts. I learned a long time ago that the only way to acquire loyal customers on the Internet was to establish trust by consistently publishing quality content. Anyone that has ever kept a blog knows that creating good content for a long period of time can be hard.

I have had great success generating good content by interviewing struggling business owners who have vowed never to quit. And how do I find all those struggling business owners you might ask? I posted a journalist query on Reporter Connection, in which I asked for feedback from people that have succeeded in life and business by vowing to never quit. The query generated over 60 good leads.

Doing the interviews has not only gotten me good and original content, but it has helped me to establish a great relationship with the people I interviewed. I firmly believe that we can only succeed by first helping others.

Thanks to Sara Morgan of Custom Solutions

8. Landing Page Link Love

Instead of having your single Twitter link go to your website home page, or blog home page, send it to a unique landing page. Use a similar approach for FB and LI. Because each site will attract a different potential customer, you can customize your landing page to their unique characteristics and needs. Even better, start split testing to see which landing page for each social media channel gets the best results.

Thanks to Nicole Fende of Small Business Finance Forum

9. Business Networking Program At Church In Sacramento

A friend and I started a Business Networking Program at our church, Spiritual Life Center in Sacramento CA. We meet monthly with each guest sharing information about their business. We are also in the process of developing an on-line directory of all of the business people. We then plan to put together a printed directory so the members of our church look first at the directory when they need services. Marie Wilson, Wellness Coach. Website: www.MarieWilson.Info.

Thanks to Marie Wilson of Wilson Enterprises, Inc.

10. Getting Leads By Participating In Forums

Only respond when you can add something new to the conversation. When you leave a comment, lead with your strength. For example, if you have new research findings, use those in your answer. If you’re good at diagnosing a problem, start there. Result: you’ll be known for something specific, instead of just being smart. Folks there will then know how to refer (or work with you.) There’s a difference between being helpful and showing your brand.

Thanks to Vickie Sullivan of Sullivan Speaker Services Inc.

11. Anchor Your Keywords For More Traffic To Your Website.

The best tip I learned from Barbara Rozgonyi was to use your main keyword phrase within the headline and body of a press release. If you create an anchor link for that phrase that links back to your website, it increases the traffic to your site for that keyword phrase.

Gail Doby, ASID, is a Business Shortcut. She helps busy Interior Designers build a more profit and passion-filled business. Gail is an NCIDQ certified designer with more than 20 years of experience in estate home construction and renovation.

Thanks to Gail Doby of Design Success University

12. Find The Pain; Create Customer Gain!

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter provide search capabilities that let you zero in on the topic(s) in which you are an expert. Use these tools to narrow the field, then review the results returned. Look for conversations where you can help a person with a question or who may have a problem creating pain for them/their business. Then, give your best help without selling.

When you respond in ways that acknowledge their pain and provide viable solutions [without selling], your professional expertise and generosity speak for you. Louder than any marketing message you might send.

The more you do this, the more your reputation for being a go-to person on that subject will spread. For every person who asks a question on LinkedIn for example, hundreds have the same question and just haven’t asked it yet. You can answer those questions. Similarly, you can reply to others’ questions on Twitter and Facebook in a helpful way. Answer once and post it on all 3 sites for even more coverage!

Thanks to Linda Lopeke of SMARTSTART

13. Join A Cause And Help Others

Think about how good you feel when you’re able to help another person or be part of something bigger than yourself. Get referrals by inviting people into a mission of service. You can ask members of your “tribe” to help you help others by identifying those who could benefit from your content. For example, my new Pain Stompers system helps people make a positive difference when someone they care about is in pain–whether physical, emotional or financial pain. At the end of the blog posts, press releases or newsletter articles– with social media links– I say, “Do you know anyone trying to figure out the best way to help? Please forward this post to them and invite them to my site for more.”

Thanks to Vicki Rackner of Www.DrVickiRackner.com

14. Dive In!

You won’t get results from LinkedIn by sitting on the edge of the pool. Join as many LinkedIn groups that fit your target audience. Then become an active participant in discussions. Start discussions that will be of interest to your audience, and give you a chance to share your expertise. Always give value. People will get to know your face, and you will be perceived as a valuable resource. Wouldn’t you rather do business with someone you know? Dive in and put LinkedIn to work for you!

Thanks to Pam Alexandra of Positive Action Coaching

15. Include More Than The Simple Facts For Your Twitter Profile

Want to have lots of Twitter followers? I have almost 24,000. Make sure your profile includes your photo to show you are a real person. Also what do you want the reader steps to take with you and your business? Tell them. My profile includes my name, location (important) and website and I say, “Communications Expert, Author, Information Marketer, Publisher. I love to help writers. Let me know how I can help YOU!” I’m inviting direct interaction. Plus I use TweetAdder as an affordable twitter-building tool: http://budurl.com/wtwadd It is easy to use and automates much of the drudgery of it.

Thanks to Terry Whalin of terrywhalin.com

16. Gain Topic Mastery Through A Targeted LinkedIn Group

Creating a LinkedIn Group on your specific area of expertise can work dramatically to bring attention to your business — whether on a local or global level. Start discussions on a variety of related topics and be sure to recognize and acknowledge new members and respondents. I encourage them to add their expertise or ask questions to the group to generate interaction. The more targeted your group name, the more likely you’ll attract serious hot prospects or JV partners for future ventures. Be sure to respond to the discussions and actively contribute your insights to the group. Through my Child-Centered Divorce LinkedIn group I’ve made many new business connections, new partners to collaborate with and sold new trainings as well as products — around the world. This is easy 24-hour marketing that works to the degree that YOU work it!

Thanks to Rosalind Sedacca of Child-Centered Divorce

17. Catching Your Clients Comments Before They Leave!

I think the best way to use the internet is by making your blog accessible for your clients. I will be starting a blog available right in my office for clients to comment on after their massage. They will more likely refer people to the site as well as visit themselves when they have writtten something personal.

Thanks to Ethelyn Hinrichs of AhhSpaMassage

18. Getting More From Each Of Your Leads

While most businesses focus on getting more leads, and let’s face it that’s a major way to grow your business, most overlook a simple strategy that can increase your profits without increasing the size of your customer-base.

The more focused your niche, and the more closely-tailored your products are to that niche, the more money you can charge. Let me give you a highly simplified example:

Marketing Guide: $9.00
Marketing Guide for Realtors: $29.00
Marketing Guide for Vacation Residence Realtors: $129.00
Marketing Guide for Beach Front Vacation Residence Realtors: $329.00
Marketing Guide for Miami Beach Front Vacation Residence Realtors: $929.00

You get the idea. This concept can be applied to any marketing niche you care to name and it is the secret to attracting more customers who are looking for exactly what you’re selling, and who are prepared to pay a high price fro what you have on offer.

Thanks to Patricia Skinner of ISpeakSEO

19. Listen To Your Audience

One of the best ways to use social media is to LISTEN to your audience. Instead of telling others to check out your latest blog post or visit your website, it’s more effective to build a relationship first. Compliment someone on their article or ask them a question about their website.

I did this and it led to my Exit Planning column on AllBusiness.com. Feel free to take a look at my articles in the Exit Planning section or visit my website on www.ExitPlanPros.com/blog for timely information on how to grow and exit your business.

-Gary T Brooks

GaryTBrooks@ExitPlanPros.com

www.ExitPlanPros.com/blog

GROW your business while PLANNING your exit.

Thanks to Gary Brooks of Exit Plan Pros

20. Using The Facebook Notes Feature To Generate Unexpected Referrals

One specific strategy we use to generate referrals is by taking advantage of facebook’s notes feature. Using notes allows us to automatically feature actionable content on our wall (speaking opportunities). This kind of content encourages our “fans” to check back often to see if an opportunity is right for them. If they decide to dig deeper they will find that a membership is required to submit an application. What we’ve discovered is that even if the speaker is not a good fit for a job opportunity we’re announcing, our fans will often refer a colleague who may be a better fit to check out the details. These referrals have led to new customers we might not have had otherwise. How to: On your fan page go to the “notes” section (located at the top and sometimes hidden from plain view). You will then see an option to “edit import settings.” All you have to do is enter in your rss feed and click save. You can see this in action at http://www.facebook.com/SpeakerMatch.

Thanks to Paul Ellul of SpeakerMatch


Please click here to read the original article.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Using Acrobat instead of Powerpoint?

From one of our fan favorites, Ernie Svenson and his PDF for Lawyers blog, comes another winner. Using Acrobat for presentations rather than Powerpoint. Here is what Ernie writes:

Most people would never imagine that they could use Acrobat to do presentations like the ones created in Powerpoint. And many of the few who could imagine such a thing might ask "Why would I want to?" Let me address both questions, starting with the second one first.

Obviously, those of you who are adept at creating elaborate Powerpoint presentations with internal builds and clever transitions aren't going to switch to Acrobat to do a presentation. But if all you want to do is show a series of slides in sequence, with simple transitions, then listen up.

The first step is to create a PDF document with the things you want to display in order, page-by-page. Once you have your display pages sequenced inside of one PDF, the next part is easy. If you want to set transitions between the pages, select the following menu choices ADVANCED > DOCUMENT PROCESSING > PAGE TRANSITIONS (depicted in the screenshot below).

SnagIT 1

You have choices for how quickly each transition will take (slow, medium, or fast). You can also set it up so that the pages transition automatically after a set number of seconds, and that the slideshow will only apply to a certain range of pages (see the dialogue box below).

Set Transitions

Once you've got the transitions set to your liking, you just open the PDF and then select VIEW > FULL SCREEN MODE (or choose the shortcut: CONTROL + L on a PC, or COMMAND + L on a Mac). That's it. Dead simple to set up and use.

So, now other than simplicity why would you do this? First of all, there are less compatibility problems if you're going to be showing the slides on a computer that's not yours. Many seminar organizers will require attendees to send in their slides beforehand, and then load them into the computer being used to project so that the speakers can just walk up and do their thing. More than once I've seen speakers aghast that their carefully crafted Powerpoint slides were somehow mangled, and the fonts changed into garish text. This wouldn't happen if you used a PDF file.

Ah, but you say "What if the seminar presenters don't have Acrobat on their computer?" Well, that would be a problem. But if they have Adobe Reader then you could use that. Since the Reader program is free to download, just make it a point to tell them to load that on the computer and you'll be good to go.
And, lastly, I should point out that while you can't do builds within a slide, you can embed a movie file if you want (see example below).

Long Boring Contract - TEST.pdf

You have to use the "multimedia" tool in Acrobat which will take the movie file, convert to Flash, and then embed it. When you get to that slide you just have to click on the "Play" icon and the movie will play. You can then proceed on to the next slide.

I've even been able to use wireless remotes to advance slides on my Mac computer; but I can't vouch for how this works on Windows computers so test it before your talk and see if that works for you.

Please click here for the original article.

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

AT&T Is The Worst Carrier In The U.S. According To Consumer Reports

I have an iPhone, that I love! My Carrier is AT&T, which I hate! AT&T's coverage stinks. The community that I live and work in used to have two AT&T cell towers. Two years ago one crashed down during a severe winter storm. AT&T never bothered to replace it. Now half of our city suffers with 1 bar or less of AT&T coverage.

I am not alone in my frustration (and yes I am also befuddled at why a quality conscious company like Apple would ever partner with a service provider as crappy as AT&T -- Steve Jobs what were you thinking, despite the money they paid you?) Consumer Reports as placed AT&T dead last in just about every rating category.

Among the top carriers in the U.S., AT&T is the worst by a healthy margin. The news comes from this year’s Consumer Reports reader survey, which ranks Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile along with some regional carriers. Verizon Wireless was ranked as the nation’s top major carrier, though its score of 74 positions it in the No. 2 spot overall behind U.S. Cellular. Readers were asked to grade each carrier on several criteria including value, voice service quality, data service quality and customer support. The ratings were on a scale of “Worse” to “Better,” with three increments in between. AT&T received the lowest possible rating of “Worse” in eight out of nine categories, managing too eke out a next-to-lowest rating for SMS service quality. In response to the survey, AT&T had this to say:

We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors. Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent – the equivalent of just one call in a thousand – of the industry leader.

Smartphones were also ranked in the same issue of Consumer Reports, and all but one of the top devices in the country are powered by Android. In fact each of the four variants of Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone received top honors, either solely (Sprint’s Epic 4G, T-Mobile’s Vibrant) or as part of a tie — the Fascinate tied the Motorola DROID X for the No. 1 spot on Verizon Wireless, and Captivate tied the Apple iPhone 4 on AT&T.

Please click here for Zach Epstein's original article at Boy Genius Report.

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

Dialer One (Android) - Lawyer Time Saver

From Rick Georges at the FutureLawyer blog we learn about a time saving contact finder/dialer for Android users.

Dialer One (Android). Dialerone We lawyers spend a lot of time on the phone. We also spend a lot of time mobile. Put those together, and the actual phone functions of the smart phone become the most important part of our mobile computing experience. So, if you use the mobile phone app that comes with your Android phone, you are constantly annoyed by the hoops you have to go through to find a particular contact. First, you have to click the phone icon. Then, you have to click or say Search. Then, you have to start typing the characters that begin the first or last name. Or, you have to start scrolling with A, and, sometime later, much later, you will get to Joe Zanzibar. Ugh. Well, another Russian programmer has come to the rescue, with a T9 clone called Dialer One. It puts your most common contacts on screen, and includes a phone style keyboard, with letters on the keys. Just start tapping keys with the letters you need. You know the drill. 3 taps on the 1 key for a C, and so forth. Now, you will spend a lot less time looking for that contact number.

Please click here for the original article.

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

More iPad Apps for Lawyers

Here is Part 2 of Josh Barrett's Table Legal blog article on iPad apps for lawyers (by the way, if you have an iPad you should be a regular reader of Josh's blog. Great Stuff!)

This is the second installment in my multi-part series about basic apps to turn your iPad into a serviceable work machine. We aren’t tackling special needs here, just the basics. Last time we considered file storage and access. This time we’re looking at apps to help with the stock in trade for many lawyers: writing.

Writing. Lets get one thing out of the way right now: Microsoft Word isn’t a writing tool, it is a formatting tool. When you need to write – and I mean seriously get words out of your head and down on paper (or into electrons) – any “features” not having solely to do with the act of writing are just distractions. The tools in today’s post are just about writing. Everything captured with these apps can be pasted into a Word doc when the time comes for formatting. Until then, use these apps to crank out the words.

Since you are writing on your iPad, it probably means you are from behind your desktop: coffee shop, park, hotel, conference room, whatever. In all likelihood, what you draft on the iPad isn’t the version being sent to the client or filed in court.

There are lots of great apps coming out in is area, but four top my recommended list. Right now the app getting the most use on my iPad is PlainText (iTunes link). In fact, I’m drafting is post in PlainText right now. PlainText is a basic text editor that works with Dropbox (I told you to get Dropbox). The interface is clean and straightforward: files on the left third and drafting window on the right two-thirds. The drafting window can be expanded fill the screen eliminating everything but your text. The interface has an appealing ivory color – like high quality linen paper – which is easier on the eyes than a white background. All your files are stored in your Dropbox for later use. Plaintext also works with TextExpander (iTunes link) (which I’ve talked about before). Best of all, PlainText is absolutely free.

A close second to PlainText is Simplenote (iTunes link). Rather than syncing files with Dropbox, Simplenote syncs with a web service giving you to access your files from from any browser. Simplenote contains a number of other features including the ability to send text directly out of the app in an email, tagging, versioning, and search. Have cases or statutesnyou use frequently? Paste each into a separate text files so you can search across them easily. The really distinguishing feature of Simplenote is the ability to share files with others for simultaneous collaboration via the web. Simple note also works with TextExpander. The Simplenote app and web service are both free.

Elements

Two other Dropbox based sync options worth considering. Many people like Second Gear Software’s Elements (iTunes link). Elements has more features than PlainText (including search) but does not have the collaboration tools like Simplenote. One distinguishing feature of Elements is the ability to preview Markdown text and HTML (which is probably meaningless except for those few lawyers that need to write for the web). Elements is $4.99.

Writer

Writer

A new app in this area for me is Information Architects Writer (iTunes link). Writer is another Dropbox sync text editor with a few unique features. Writer probably does the best job of all the apps I’ve listed here in terms of creating the best environment for writing. What you notice immediately when using the app is a beautiful monospaced font that was custom created and optimized for use on the iPad. While most everything printed in the legal world is in some variant of Times Roman, such fonts do not perform well on screen (after a few hours in front of a screen with a well designed font, you will see what a difference it can make). Writer also offers a focus mode that blurs out all but the last few lines of text so you are not distracted and drawn backwards into your previous work. The final notable feature about Writer is an extra row of buttons added to the iPad’s virtual keyboard. These extra keys facilitate navigation and certain frequently used punctuation marks. Writer is $4.99.

I currently have all of these apps on my iPad. The app getting the most use for drafting (first versions of correspondence, contracts) is Writer. The interface, font and focus mode are all helpful to my writing process. When I write for this blog, I like the ability to preview my HTML or markdown, so Elements is great for its ability to preview that type of formatting. I’ve used a 37Signals Writeboard for my other collaborative drafting projects, but I plan to try this feature in Simplenote next time I have an opportunity. I use PlainText for note taking in client meetings. In these situations, I’m more in transcription mode than drafting mode, rarely even looking at the screen. So, the minimal feature set of PlainText is appropriate in this case.

Those are my writing recommendations for a lawyer on the iPad. Next time I’ll be looking at calculators. Fascinating stuff, I know, but Apple didn’t include a calculator with the iPad and there are times where even lawyers need to add things up.

Please click here for the original article.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab sales top 1 million units


Less than two months after the Galaxy Tab first became available, Samsung announced that global sales of its Android tablet have surpassed the 1 million mark. The South Korea-based company has increased its 2010 sales projections to 1.5 million units as a result. Just over two weeks ago, reports emerged that Samsung had sold 600,000 Galaxy Tab units, which means sales have picked up ahead of the holidays. The Android-powered Galaxy Tab features a 7-inch touchscreen display, a 1GHz Hummingbird processor and dual cameras; and it is currently sold by 120 carriers in 64 countries.

Please click here for the original Boy Genius Report article.

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Try Out Android Before You Buy - For Tinkerers Only

Android or iPhone? How about you give Android a test drive to find out? Thanks to Richard M. "Rick" Georges, at his FutureLawyer blog, for this post.

Youwave.com. This is an interesting idea. Suppose you want to know what all the Android fuss is about; but, you don't want to buy a new smart phone and find that you don't like it. What to do? This company has created a downloadable virtual Android machine that you can load on your Windows desktop. The version isn't Froyo, (it runs as Android 2.1.1), and you can't download stuff from the Android Market, but there are plenty of sites available to download and try the Android versions of many apps. If you like it, you are now familiar with the OS, and can focus your buying decision on the phone's form factor, or manufacturer, or wireless provider. For example, I am a Verizon Wireless Droid and Droid X user. I also have an HTC Incredible on Big Red. However, there are dozens of Android choices out there, and the Android tablets are finally here. This is Alpha software, so don't expect a finished product. However, it will give you a real look and feel at what Android is about.

Please click here to read the original article.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rocket Matter Now Integrates With Dropbox

Rocket Matter®, legal practice management and time and billing solution for small to mid-sized law firms, today announces integration with Dropbox, a popular Internet document backup service.

Rocket Matter users can associate matters with Dropbox folders, allowing them to view documents associated with a given client case. Because Dropbox synchronizes with the user’s local file system, no file uploading is necessary. Users can leverage the massive amounts of documents they currently maintain with Dropbox and easily access them through Rocket Matter’s web interface.

“We’ve found Dropbox to be immensely popular in the attorney small office community,” says Larry Port, the company’s CEO and Co-Founder. “At a recent conference devoted to legal technology, nearly 80% of the participants discussed using Dropbox and it was mentioned in almost every presentation. We feel Rocket Matter integration will make their lives even more productive.”

In addition to Dropbox integration, Rocket Matter also added matter-level user permissions based on requests from some of their larger firms. Now, each matter can be viewed by everyone in the firm, only the matter creator, or specified individuals.

“Some of our larger customers require the ability to protect information on a matter-by-matter basis,” explains Ariel Jatib, Rocket Matter’s Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder. “Our initial permissions capability revolved around role, such as access to billable information, which is fine for smaller firms. But when a law firm has fifty people, then more data isolation is required.”

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Monday, November 29, 2010

BGR Breaks It Down: How to use AirPrint with any Printer

From Boy Genius Report and Zach Epstein | Nov 29th, 2010 at 09:20AM

Apple’s latest iOS update finally adds AirPrint to iOS devices, bringing wireless printing capabilities to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in order to use AirPrint, you need a compatible printer. Since very few printers are compatible at this point in time, odds are pretty good that yours isn’t one of them. Don’t worry, though — that’s where hobbyist hackers come in.

If you own a Mac [update for Windows PCs added below] and a printer, you can use AirPrint. In fact, your printer doesn’t even have to be wireless. A simple new hack using an OS X app dubbed AirPrint Hacktivator will enable printing via AirPrint for nearly anyone in a matter of minutes. Hit the jump for a guide that will get you up and running in no time.

1. Download the latest version of AirPrint Hacktivator
2. Unzip the AirPrint Hacktivator to your desktop or Applications folder, then run it
3. Slide the toggle switch in the app to ON, then enter your administrator password when prompted
4. Click OK to confirm
5. Now, go to System Preferences -> Print & Fax
6. Click the minus symbol to remove your printer, then add it back and check the box share it on your network (see video below for instructions)

You’re now ready to use AirPrint from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later. Just remember that your Mac must be on and connected to your network in order for your hacktivated AirPrint to work.

UPDATE: BGR reader Andre just sent us an email to let us know that German blog Macerkopf has an app that will let Windows users hack their PCs to enable AirPrint as well. Check out the translated post for more details and make sure you download the English version of the hack if you want to get in on the action.

Please click here for the original article.

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Schawbel on Branding

Here are Dan Schawbel's latest thoughts on branding

Entrepreneurs need branding advice more than ever before. I recently wrote a very popular article for Entrepreneur Magazine that received over eight hundred shares on social networks. It was an introduction to personal branding specifically for entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs focus on building their corporate brands, and forget about their own. The issue with this is that if you neglect to build your personal brand, and your company fails like most companies do (in the first two years), then you die with it. In order to increase your long-term success rate as an entrepreneur, you need to focus on four types of brands: yourself, your company, your concept, and your community. By thinking about all of these types of brands, you will start to realize how they are all interconnected, and that each can support one another.

1. Yourself

What are you an expert in? What do you want to be known for? Entrepreneurs need to align their brand with that of their company. For instance, I'm a personal branding expert, and my company specializes in helping individuals achieve career success through personal branding. It's a fairly obvious connection that makes sense to my audience. This also works if you're into personal finance, or human resources, or if you're a doctor, lawyer, or any other type of profession. By building your personal brand as the go-to expert in your industry, it will be much easier for you to promote your company. An expert can be interviewed by radio, TV, magazines, blogs, etc, but a company can't be interviewed. A corporate spokesperson is extremely important because the media, and your customers, want to hear your story and opinions.

2. Your company

As an individual, you can't scale, but your company can. By getting your name out there, you have the opportunity to cite your company's name. When you're on TV, you can use your company to identify who you are. For example "Dan Schawbel, Founder of Millennial Branding." The more your company gets recognized, or just cited, in the media the more brand awareness it will have. Your company, whether you have two or two hundred employees, can scale because your employees can become evangelists and spread your corporate gospel to a global audience using the internet.

3. Your concept

If you want to grow your business, as well as yourself as an expert in your industry, then you need to build your concept. By developing primary demand for your offerings, you will become more successful in the long-term. If more people understand and enjoy the concept of personal branding, it will help both myself and my company survive and thrive. If you're in an industry where the concept has been around forever, then try and take a different approach than your competitors to create a brand new concept that you can own, but share. A well-known concept will help the top experts in that field more than anyone else, so it's critical that you position yourself as the leader.

4. Your community

Your community is a group of people that support you and your company. There's also an obvious connection between your community and your concept because the community is gathering together to talk about and spread your concept to more people. You need to activate members in your community, and engage with them, in order to keep your concept in the spotlight, and therefore your company, and yourself. You have to feed your community content and interact with them if you want them to remain because there are too many other choices that could divert their attention now
Please click here for the original article.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nerino on Dropbox

Dropbox is a great program. It allows you to sync your files online and across your computers automatically.
  • 2GB of online storage for free, with up to 100GB available to paying customers.
  • Sync files of any size or type.
  • Sync Windows, Mac, and Linux computers.
  • Automatically syncs when new files or
    changes are detected.

Nerino Petro has posted is thoughts regarding Dropbox.

I’m a big fan of Dropbox and wrote about this terrific tool in my recent post Dropbox: Have you Got Yours? With consummate timing, the folks at Makeuseof.com posted an article entitled The First Unofficial Guide to Dropbox , making available for free download or online reading, Matt Smith’s Using the Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Manual ebook.

Using the Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Manual is full of helpful How To’s, tips and tricks in its 30+ pages covering Dropbox free and paid plans to file syncing; file sharing and online backup as well as advanced tips and tricks. For example, did you know that you can use Dropbox to keep data for a program that you have on multiple computers in sync? I hadn't thought of this, but in Chapter 7: Advanced Dropbox Tips, Matt explains:
Syncing documents, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Dropbox isn’t picky about
what it syncs. Stick a file in Dropbox and zam! – it’s instantly sent to your other
devices. This includes files like bookmarks, calendar databases and email
databases.
In effect, you can use Dropbox to sync client software that relies on a local file to
store information. Any software that has the capability to export or import the
information used by the software can take advantage of Dropbox. This includes
browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer, calendar applications, financial
applications and much more. Taking advantage of this functionality can make it
much easier to keep software installed on different computers in sync. Just change
your software’s settings so that such information is stored in the Dropbox and you’re good to go.

This guide is a great adjunct to your use of Dropbox and more than worth the low, low price of free

Please click here for the original article.

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7 Inch Tablet Deals Are Busting Out Everywhere!


Here's another one for you. The Maylong M-150 7" tablet is available at Walgreens for $99. Yes I said Walgreen, and yes I said $99!

M-150 Universe Tablet PC Features:
  • Google Android Operating System
  • 7 inches LCD color touch-screen
  • Full Internet browsing capability
  • Experience YouTube at your fingertips
  • Pre-loaded e-Book reader
  • Built-in digital picture viewer application with all features of a Digital Picture Frame
  • Easy access to emails
  • Included digital music, video player
  • Download and install custom Android Applications,including Facebook, games and more.
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$200 Tablet On Sale Now!

Velocity Micro has released its cruz tablet. A 7 inch color screen, Android operating system, 512 MB of RAM, wi-fi, SD card support, touch screen, mini-USB, with a list price of $299.

Is it a powerhouse tablet? No way. But if you are looking to make the jump to a tablet, and you don't want to shell out oodles of money, the cruz might be a good option.

Here is the exciting news, right now tigerdirect.com is selling it for $199!


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HP Slate 500 Forecasts Upped

The good news for HP, if a new rumor has any basis in reality, is that it apparently smashed its HP Slate 500 sales goals. The bad news is those expectations were seemingly quite low. HP’s Slate 500, which launched less than one month ago, is now backordered on the company’s website. According to rumors, HP had a limited run of 5,000 units ahead of launch last month. It then went on to sell a reported 9,000 units. Of course 9,000 units pales in comparison to sales of Apple’s iPad, the tablet by which all others are measured (regardless of how ridiculous comparisons might be). Last quarter, Apple sold over 46,000 iPads each day. On the other hand, selling 9,000 units of a product that sits squarely in a market that doesn’t yet exist is pretty impressive. The need for business tablets — much like the need for consumer tablets — is a need that manufacturers are doing their best to invent. The increasing flood of tablet offerings suggests they may succeed, and HP’s small victory so far with the Slate 500 certainly bodes well.

Please click here for the original article from engadget.com

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Free Adobe Acroqat X eSeminar

Sign up for Rick Borstein's free one hour Legal eSeminar where he will show you the top new features of Acrobat X!.

Become an Acrobat Wizard image.
Welcome to the next generation of Acrobat Dynamic PDF. Adobe Acrobat X can help legal professionals the power to turn unrealistic deadlines into realistic deadlines.

Acrobat X Top New Features eSeminar

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November 16
10AM PST


(Opens in new window)

Join Adobe experts for a demonstration of the top new features of Acrobat X Pro for legal professionals to . . .

See the new, easier-to-use interface

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See enhanced Redaction capabilities that save time and improve productivity

Automate, standardize, and share multistep tasks for PDF production— using the new Action Wizard.

Easily and quickly capture search information by saving Search Results to a file.

Plus! Get a sneak peak at new, free Actions designed for legal professionals!

Register Today!



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Oklahoma Bar Journal Gives You Great Collection of Legal Technology Articles

Jim Calloway writes a law practice tips blog. He is also the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association's Management Assistance Program. The Oklahoma Bar Association, in turn, is at the forefront in providing its member with law practice management education, and spreading the word on technology in law practice.

The November 2010 Oklahoma Bar Journal has a Law Office Management and Technology theme and we're happy to share them with you whether you are a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association or not. So pass along this link to someone you think might be interested and settle in for a lengthy session if you decided to read them all.

In order that they are included in our publication:

Surely there is something interesting in this group of articles for every practicing lawyer. I encourage you to read them all and pass this post along to others who will enjoy them.

Please click here for the original article.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Create an App Tips From Carolyn Elefant

Create an App in a Snap

Since my previous posts on mobile devices, they've continued to gain traction. Just last week, Forbes Magazine reported that a recent Pew study found that 85 percent of all American adults own a cell phone. Moreover, consumers are using phones for a variety of new purposes. A Pew Report released October 19, 2010, found the following:

  • 7% of cell owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 29% of cell owners ages 18-29 have done such searches.
  • 9% of cell owners have software applications or "apps" on their phones that help them track or manage their health. Some 15% of those ages 18-29 have such apps.

Just as consumers are beginning to use phones to organize and locate health or medical information, it is only a matter of time before they eventually turn to their phones for legal information as well. The question is, will your firm be ready?

I previously posted some tips about how lawyers could prepare themselves for a mobile-era, including optimizing websites for viewing on cell phones, adopting video which can be viewed fairly easily on a phone and even developing law firm apps. Well now, there are more options than ever to develop an app for your firm, ranging from do-it-yourself to hiring a developer.

These new advancements mean that apps aren't just for big firms. In fact, Mashable lays out more than a dozen different options for app development targeted specifically at small firms.

On the DIY end, options include Google's recent App Inventor, which creates apps for Android, or Appbreeder.com, a web-based platform for developing iphone apps.

Read, Write, Web offers thirteen more DIY options, coding skills not required. One app that immediately caught my attention is Ebook app which will convert ebooks into phone apps.

For lawyers who lack the patience, or want to commission a more ambitious app, outsourcing is an option. Mashable recommends Odesk or elance as a source for finding app developers, as well as companies like TheyMakeApps.com which is a mobile app development agency.

One option that none of these sites have mentioned is for lawyers to collaborate on an basic app which could be adapted to their specific markets and branded with their firm name. For example, five different bankruptcy firms (presumably non-competitors) could pool their resources to develop a bankruptcy "means test" app and then "brand" the app with their respective logos. This approach would enable firms to share the cost of development and save money.

So maybe it's time to get busy and develop an app for your firm. Even though there isn't necessarily "an app for that," there are plenty of other options.

Please click here for Carolyn's original post.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PracticeSmarter Blog Review

Judd Kessler is a lawyer. He is an entrepreneur, who owns AbacusLaw, the practice management software company. And he pilots a Cessna Citation, which is really cool (Judd I am always available to do some pro bono passengering for you!). For our purposes today he is the publisher of the PracticeSmarter blog. Sure, the blog is a marketing tool for his AbacusLaw software. But Judd also publishes very useful practice management, software, and lifestyle articles targeted at lawyers.

Check it out by clicking here!

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Social Media For Lawyers

Wondering how to implement social media into your law practice? Flustered by facebook? Tweaked by twitter? Lost with LinkedIn? Dennis Kennedy is a lawyer and one the legal world's preeminent technologists. If it is happening for lawyers in the software, hardware, or internet worlds Dennis knows about it, and explains it. On his blog, DennisKennedy.com, he recently shared his thoughts on social media:

I gave a presentation recently on Social Media and Legal Ethics to a great audience at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. I’ve given a half-dozen presentations on this topic (often with Mike Downey covering the ethics part) over the last year – to Indiana lawyers, to law students, to young lawyers, to corporate counsel, to estate planning lawyers and to the staff at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.

As I drove home after the presentation, I started thinking about lawyers and social media, the changes I’ve seen as I’ve presented on this topic, and how my approach to talking about this topic differs from much of what I’ve seen about how this topic is presented. I thought it might be fun to share my observations and reflections at this point.

1. Interest Level. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of hands that go up when I ask who in the audience is actually using social media services. My experience largely reflects what I’ve read and surveys show. Most lawyers using social networking or social media tools primarily use LinkedIn. Facebook has always come in second place, but the gap between LinkedIn use and Facebook use is decreasing rapidly. The growth in Facebook users in my informal surveys has been dramatic in the last year. Twitter usage lags well behind, and there seems to be more hesitancy and fear of Twitter usage than of any of the other tools. In part, that’s due to lack of understanding how Twitter works and what the potential benefits might be. Alas, there have usually only been one or two bloggers in my audiences. This might be an unpopular (and definitely unscientific) assessment, but my sense is that most of the individual lawyers who really want to do blogs have already tried it. I think firms are still looking at and trying blogs – that’s a good thing – and there are still opportunities to create new blogs that could be successful, but the energy and growth seems to be in other places. For example, if I were thinking about starting a blog in 2010, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t do something in Facebook rather than write a separate blog.

2. The Traditional Approach. When I present on this topic, I definitely do not take a traditional approach – more about what I do later. In fact, I tell my audiences that upfront. The traditional approach, and I’ve seen too much of it myself, goes like this: Social media is new, it’s scary, it’s risky, and it raises lots of questions for which we have no answers. In fact, the only thing the audience can possibly do to protect itself from the scary risks and dangers is to have a social media policy prepared by the law firm of the lawyer doing the speaking. If you think I’m joking, you should see how people nod their heads and laugh when I say exactly this during my presentation as I contrast what I’m about to do. By the way, this same approach was taken on the risks of blogging when blogging first started, and on websites before that, and email before that.

3. My Approach. I really think my approach is better, but I’m interested in your feedback, and I’m continuing to evolve what I do. My basic premise is that lawyers can spot issues and balance risks, but they need a solid understanding of how people use social media tools to do so. I spend most of the time in my presentations showing actual screenshots and explaining how and why people use these tools. The fact that I’ve been experimenting with many social media tools for a long time also helps. No matter how knowledgeable you might be, it undermines your credibility with an audience if it seems like you are new to using social media or, worse yet, that you don’t use it at all. I once attended a social media legal presentation where the presenter actually said, “I’m sure you all know more about using social media than I do.” I honestly don’t remember what he said after that because I tuned him out. What I’ve found is that once lawyers understand the basic use of the social media tools, they can spot the issues and risks very easily and will often point out issues and potential solutions that I hadn’t considered. By the way, this approach is comparable to how I presented about electronic discovery years ago.

4. A Framework. As I was writing a standard disclaimer to give at the beginning of one of my presentations, I wrote: “I’m Dennis Kennedy. I’m here today speaking personally and not on behalf of my employer or any other entity. And this presentation is for educational purposes, and should not be considered legal advice.” Hey, it’s a disclaimer. I was thinking about ways to either make it shorter or to jazz it up, when I saw that there were three components to that disclaimer – identity, role, purpose – and that getting those components right were an essential theme in social media. More important, confusion and lack of congruity in those three components causes most problems. The funny thing is that now I give that disclaimer as my opening, and I sometimes get some chuckles because it seems so like what lawyers do. Then I explain the three components and how they work, and it seems like I immediately get everyone’s attention and give them a framework for understanding the rest of the talk.

5. The Social Media Matrix. I don’t think lawyers make enough use of the matrix or quadrant charts most business people use regularly. I had this crazy idea last year that I wanted to create a one page chart that explained all of social media. Well, here’s my latest version and it seems to work for presentation purposes. Again, I want to give an audience a simple framework to help them understand the practical aspects and benefits of social media.

Social Media Matrix

6. Questions. I like using a lot of screenshots and showing what I actually do and telling about what I’ve done right and wrong. As people see and understand how these tools work, they want to ask questions. Often, I can see the light bulbs going on as people realize that they are only using LinkedIn in a small fraction of the ways they could or that Twitter could be extremely valuable even if they never tweet. As a speaker, it’s difficult not to take the questions as they arise and, at the same time, it’s easy to get into an open discussion with the audience. My presentation is structured in a way where I can go with the flow, but I can tell you that presenting on social media in a short time (say 25 minutes) is incredibly difficult and requires major editing work before and during your presentation.

7. Practical tips. It’s easy to get laughs talking about all the dumb things lawyers and others have already done while using social media. However, we’re all starting to hear the same stories over and over. I like to use instead some hands-on practical tips. In the last presentation, I took five minutes and used a series of screenshots to show exactly how to change your Facebook privacy settings, what settings I actually use and why, and some of the considerations to think about when making those decisions. I thought I won the audience over when I explained to them exactly how to block Farmville updates from their Facebook friends. You decide – would you rather hear about social media policies or learn how to block Farmville updates? Exactly.

8. Simplification. I actually take some time to explain Web 2.0 and the read/write web, in a non-technical way, because I think it helps people understand how social media works. But, I keep it simple. I also simplify my examples of social media, but also show people the range of social media tools (which seem to be growing all the time) rather than overload them with details on each. I always end by saying that people need to try a few tools, focus on one or two, and find what best fits you. In general, the social media tools that I like will not be the same ones other people like because I am a writer and a content producer. I agree with most of the lawyers I talk to – I don’t have any idea how they would use Twitter. Giving permission to the audience to try just one or two and that it’s OK if they feel something doesn’t work for them really seems to help them with the topic.

9. Action Steps. Social media policies are a good thing, and the speaker’s firm might even do a great job of preparing them, but a presentation that ends with a call to action to hire the speaker’s firm to prepare a policy is an infomercial rather than an educational presentation. All lawyers get this part of it. It doesn’t take any convincing, but they want to know the hows and not the whys. I actually don’t even talk about social media policies because it seems so obvious, but I do point people, in my handout, to useful resources on social media issues. That’s what I would want – guide me to where I can learn what I need to learn. I end with four practical action steps for people to try when they leave the presentation:

  • Pick one social media to try or to delve more deeply into (and gradually experiment until you find one that “fits”).
  • Create clean lines between personal and professional identities.
  • The learning process is always consume first (listen, learn, understand the community and the medium), then produce.
  • Monitor Twitter Search to get a sense of how people use Twitter.

10. What Can I Learn? I’ve learned new things every time I’ve presented on social media. There’s a lot that I don’t know, and there’s so much growth and change in social media that I’m not sure anyone can stay on top of it. By sharing what I know, I feel like I’m helping others explore and learn new things that maybe they’ll share with me. More than any other topic I’ve presented on, social media presentations really seem to lead to an exchange of ideas and opportunities for continued conversation.

11. The Secret of Social Media. I hope this doesn’t get me kicked out of the blogger guild, but I do reveal the true secret of blogging and social media in each of my presentations. It’s not about ROI and stuff like that, The secret is that it’s really fun and you meet the greatest people. And that’s enough – everything else is gravy.

In a way, I’m just thinking out loud and trying to capture some of these reflections. Hope you find them useful. Let me know.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

Presumptuous Computing – Podcast

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Tom Mighell and I have recorded another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast and it’s now available on the Legal Talk Network and on iTunes, with an RSS feed here. The episode is called “Presumptuous Computing: But I Didn’t Ask for That” (show notes here), and it’s sponsored by Clio. A special thank you to readers of this blog who listen to the podcast – consider trying out an episode or becoming a regular subscriber through iTunes or our RSS feed.

Here’s the episode (#39) description:

You go to Google and find the new “instant search” feature has been turned on for you. You upgrade a program and find that all of your personalized settings have been reset to the program defaults. Facebook changes privacy settings. Twitter surprises you with a new interface. Why do technology companies seem to think that they can make these changes for us? In this episode, co-hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the idea of “presumptuous computing,” the rise and implications of this phenomenon, and what you can do to keep pace and protect yourself.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post called “Presumptuous Computing – A Trend to Reverse,” in which I argued that too many software vendors were acting like they knew best about what we wanted and generally not acting like good guests on our computers. I had a whole laundy list of irritating examples, from Windows updates to iTunes.

Fast forward three years. While some things have gotten somewhat better (like Windows updates), there’s a whole new generation of programs and web-based services that annoyingly make changes to the user interface, default settings and other features without telling us, let alone giving us any choice.

Tom and I revisit the topic and our general annoyance with the practice and the attitude that “vendor knows best” that too often seems to underlie it. We cover a long list of examples – Google Instant, Google Buzz, Facebook privacy settings, iTunes. The trend simply hasn’t reversed.

We also talk about some practical ways to protect yourself and take better control of your our computer. As Tom says, “Read. Be Smart. Don’t Assume.”

In our Q&A segment, Tom and I answer a couple of questions about the the results from a couple of questions on the use of collaboration tools from the 2010 Inside Legal / ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey and specualte on trends in collaboration tools in law firms.

We end the podcast with our Parting Shots – practical tips you can use right away. Tom likes two iPhone/iPad apps for marking up PDFsSignit! and iAnnotate. I recommend Olivia Mitchell’s blog post The Seven Types fo Presentations to Avoid.

Give our new episode a listen and let me know what you think. Show notes for the podcast are here. And try some of the back episodes as well. You can also now follow the podcast on Twitter at @tkmreport.

Please click here for Dennis' article.

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