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, August 27, 2010

Google Calls Through GMail

A VoIP option for Google Voice has been rumored for quite some time now. There was even that leaked desktop client that showed up on TechCrunch a while back to show that Google was working on it. Today’s announcement isn’t precisely a Google Voice VoIP desktop client, but it is certainly close.

Google today has announced that any Gmail user will be able to call any phone right from the Gmail. The feature is free in the US and Canada for the moment, and will continue that way for “at least the rest of the year.” Calls to other countries will be really cheap, with many countries’ rates as low as 2 cents per minute.


Gmail Google Voice

For those who have Google Voice, that number will be the number showed when placing a call from Gmail. There is even a way to receive calls to your Google Voice number through Gmail. This might be the closest we’ll ever come to getting a Google Voice VoIP client. As it stands, it is a nice thing to have, but it would be nice to have a dedicated desktop client that can do the same thing for those of us who don’t keep Gmail open at all times.

As with all Google features, this will be rolled out over the next few days. The feature will show up as “Call Phones” when it does appear. If you want to use it, you will have to install the voice and video plug-in if you haven’t already, though it’s likely that most people already have. The feature won’t be available to Google Apps accounts, though Google promises it is working on getting it to more users soon.

Please click here for the original article as posted by Shawn Ingram on gadgetell.com.

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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Send Hard Paper Mail From Anywhere In The World!

Think of this... You are sitting on the lanai of the condominium you have rented in Kaanapali, Maui. You are enjoying your morning cup of Kona coffee, while reading the paper that the concierge delivered to your front door. The grass of the resort golf course is cut close against the concrete edge of your patio. You follow the swath of green to the ocean less that a quarter of a mile away. Off to the side a sprinkler runs, with soothing metronome pace. The air is still and warm. The setting is calm and peaceful. You are relaxing. Life is good.

Out of necessity you call the office and check your voice mail. You return a couple of the calls. One is a new client, with a case that can prove very lucrative to you. She is ready to sign a contract and get a retainer check to you. Primacy is everything! You don't want to wait a week until you are back in the office to mail her the paperwork. What do you do?

Not to worry, there is a easy solution....

Jay Fleishman is a real innovator when it comes to practicing law remotely and when it comes to operating a virtual law office. He is also a tireless promoter of technology to make your law practice work better. I am a passionate fan of his posts on his Legal Practice Pro blog. Here is how Jay solves our snail mail quandary:
One of the problems I have encountered when trying to work remotely is being unable to send traditional paper mail. Jay has identified the tools to solve this problem. Here is his great article on a great internet resource called SnailMailr.com.

Everything’s online these days. My email’s here, my files are scanned and accessible here, even my faxes come to me by email. The circle, however, is incomplete.

Some days you need to send out a piece of paper through the old-fashioned US Postal Service.

Well, maybe not. There’s this cool service called SnailMailr.com. The premise is so gloriously simple I nearly broke out into cheers when I heard about it. You type in a return address, then type in your recipient’s address. Once done you can either type a message for inclusion or (glory glory!) upload a PDF for them to print in 4-color (that’s full color, folks). Pay $0.99 for up to two pages (including the postage stamp) via Amazon’s payment mechanism and you’re all set.
This isn’t a substitute for serving litigation-related documents (but you already use CertificateOfService.com, right? RIGHT?), nor is it a really good idea for mass mailing needs. But for the times when paper mail is the only option, this may be a winner.

For example, you’re on vacation and speak with a new client. You need to get out a retainer agreement but the client doesn’t have email – or doesn’t have a printer so he or she can sign the document. With SnailMailr you just upload the PDF and it gets mailed. You go back to drinks with umbrellas on the beach, client gets the retainer for signature, and the world is good.

Sure it’s $0.99 to send out two pages, but it includes all the grunt work involved with sending out mail (print it, fold it, lick the envelope, affix the stamp, get to the mailbox) and it’s full color. Not a bad price overall, I think.

Please click here for Jay's original article.

By the way, I have used SnailMailr myself, and it is great!

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More iPhone Adventures

My iPhone 4 is now fully integrated into my life. Despite AT&T, I love my new phone. The biggest adventure to date has been e-mail.

I have an e-mail address for my law practice: jharding@hardinglaw.com. Initially I thought utilizing that address through my iPhone would be as simple as it had been with my Blackberry. I was wrong. I set up forwarding of messages to the phone. I got the messages, but I could not reply to any of them. Something about my iPhone not being able to log on to my server. I scoured the message boards on the internet and learned this is a known issue with the iPhone. The simplest way to work around it is to create a Google Mail account and then program your office e-mail to auto forward all of your incoming e-mails to that GMail address. In turn you then program the GMail account so that a cc of all your outgoing e-mail messages from you iPhone is sent to your office e-mail address. I also added a canned signature to my outgoing iPhone messages explaining the message was being sent from my iPhone and asking that the recipient respond to my regular hardinglaw.com address. That took care of sending and receiving office e-mails on the iPhone.

Now on to synching the iPhone with my office computer. First, a bit of background is in order. Our office runs Abacus Law as our office system. Previously I could connect my Blackberry via USB cable to my computer and synchronize the phone to Abacus via that Companion Link software (that acted as the intermediate platform for Abacus and my Blackberry).

One of the reasons I switched to the iPhone was "push" technology. I wanted synchronization to happen over the air, rather than by wiring up at the office. I have succeeded, but with a bit of effort.

First I had to reconfigure Abacus and Companion Link so that all of the contacts and calendar events in Abacus would synchronize with Microsoft Outlook on my PC (Step 1). Next I had to purchase and create a Apple Mobile Me account ($99 per year). Mobile Me is a cloud platform where you can host your contacts, calendar, to-do's, files, etc. - think of it as Apple's version of Outlook hosted by Apple out on the internet. I then set up Outlook on my PC to synchronize my Outlook contacts and calendar with my contacts and calendar folders in my Mobile Me account (Step 2). Finally, I set up my iPhone to synchronize its contacts and calendars with my Mobile Me account (Step 3).

Now, with the "push" feature enabled on my iPhone it automatically and in the background stays synched with Mobile Me. Mobile Me automatically and in the background stays synched with Outlook on my PC. And Outlook on my PC stays automatically and in the background synched with Abacus on my PC. A half a day to learn and set up, but now everything works brilliantly!

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

A Primer On Cloud Computing

Cloud computing seems to be all the rage these days. But what is it? In my last post I introduced you to Seth Azria, Esq., and his offsitelawcenter blog. Today I can going to share with you a great educational piece that Seth has written about cloud computing.

Cloud Apps can Stand Alone

With powerful applications running in the Cloud, we can now do most of the things traditionally associated with a desktop machine on a website. The "Cloud" is just equipment and software run by someone else that we can use or rent. Check out the "PowerPoint" slideshow.

I suppose the classic example is writing a letter using Word or WordPerfect. Now, it is possible to write, edit, share, print, download, and store letters without any software, except a web browser. And we can write that letter from any computer with an Internet connection. Google Docs is an example of a web-based suite of productivity software. Adobe has Acrobat.com and Buzzword.

While web applications are not typically as feature rich as a desktop program they do have most of the features that most people use most of the time. For example, I use Google Docs - bundled into the Google Apps suite- to compose nearly all of my documents and return to Word if I need complex formatting, tables of contents, tables of authorities, etc.

What the Cloud applications may lack in traditional features they more than make up for in features never before known. Sharing and collaboration is quite extraordinary in Google Docs where both people can work on the same document simultaneously and see revision in real time. That's two people working on the same document- not two people looking at two copies of the same document that later must be reconciled.

With Acrobat through Acrobat.com you can distribute a PDF to multiple people for review an see there comments roll in in real time. Another example is the Cloud Computing presentation posted on the Cloud page of this site- it was very easy to create and post that "PowerPoint" sideshow using Google Docs.

With Cloud Applications generally, you also never have to update software because the service provider handles that centrally and for all users. Your data is always available from any computer with a web browser and a connection to the Internet. And as many "Cloud" services have desktop clients for use on a particular machine the on-line version also acts like a backup. A client is a program installed on a computer designed specially to work with a particular service. Outlook is probably the most famous email client, TweetDeck is likely the most famous Twitter client. More on email clients.

With data stored in the cloud and accessible through powerful web applications, it is like having your computer with you all the time. Even if you leave it at home or run it over with a bus. It is liberating and the raises all sorts of possibilities.

Web based applications have become so robust that I often prefer using them to the desktop clients and programs. For example, I often use my hosted GMail account and calendar directly through a web browser. While I could run them through iCal or Mac Mail, viewing and composing directly through the website I don't miss much.

I installed Google Notifier for alerts on incoming mail. But even that is redundant, because both my iPhone and iPad beep when new mail arrives. One email triggers 3 beeps, just like a reminder for an appointment triggers an independent reminder on the iMac, MacBook, iPhone, and iPad. And that brings me to second point about how the "Cloud" bridges data across machines.

The Cloud Bridges Data Between Devises

In a very short time, technology has come a very long way.

The Cloud has elevated professional flexibility through technology to an entirely different level.

Cloud Apps and services have destroyed the concept of location specific data. The problem of having left the file on the office computer is not a problem any longer- just as having all email available all the time via a smart phone has become SOP, so too is it a range of other types of data.

Data stored anywhere can be everywhere and anywhere automatically.

For example, It is now easy and simple to have precisely the same contact list, email account, and calendar on a smart phone, work computer, home computer, and have a usable copy on-line. Apple's MobileMe will do all this, as will Google Apps- and for prices that do not even approach a cup of coffee a day.

It is also not difficult to have todo lists (e.g. todo for iPad, iPhone, toododle.com), notes (e.g. Evernote for iPad, iPad, adn Desktop) and entire file structures in the GBs sync accross machines. (e.g. Dropdox for iPad, iPhone, and Mac).

In all the examples above, every change made anywhere is reflected everywhere else, instantly and automatically. A few years ago with MobileMe, I thought it was cool to have a contact added on my phone just appear on my office computer almost instantly and without doing anything. Now the same principle applies to nearly everything.

We are now in the era of having our data wherever and whenever we need it. And we can do it without technical expertise or large IT budget. That's perhaps the biggest news, using and setting this stuff up is simple.

Technology changes too quickly and is too complicated? Yes and no. The first condition has largely solved the second. Just under my watch in the last five years, I have noticed a dramatic increase in functionality with a decrease in complexity to match.

Easy, simple, and sometimes even free tech can have big impact on how you work and how you have to work.

Give this stuff a try, you may like it and you may like it so much that you start to write about it. If you get stuck, you can Google your problem, use the Help centers included in practically everything, or just come back to the OSLC and ask by commenting any post.

Please click here for the original article.

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

Off Site LawTechCenter

While surfing the web this morning I came across a web site from Seth Azria, Esq., that picks up on the same theme as Family Law Lawyer Tech & Practice. Seth's site is Off Site LawTech Center. It is filled with great technology articles, until a section dedicated to the iPad. Check it out!

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

It Is Always About The Schmooze

I use up a lot of bandwidth writing about marketing. It is all important information. However, no marketing technique will ever be mare valuable to a professional practice then the schmooze, i.e., the good old fashioned personal relationship building. After all, referrals are still the best way to generate business.

On his personal branding blog Dan Schwabel recently posted an interview with Mark Jeffries. The interview reiterates the importance of personal relationships, and the schmooze!

Today, I spoke to Mark Jeffries, who former Merrill Lynch Stockbroker, turned speaker and author of The Art of Business Seduction: A 30-Day Plan to Get Noticed, Get Promoted and Get Ahead. In this interview, Mark talks about how he’s branded himself, the connection between business and dating, some job search secrets, and more.

How is business seduction like relationship seduction?

There is a remarkable similarity between business and dating. Whether it’s at a bar in front of someone we want or in a boardroom in front of a client we need – We win people over, we spark their interest, we earn their trust and often, when it goes well, we end up getting exactly what we want! Great business and social relationships are built through trusted connections (friends of friends) Social proof (When other people talk about how great you) and the promise of something special followed (most importantly) by delivering more than was expected. Continuing to make your life-partner happy makes for a great relationship – the same is true in business. Just because you have won the deal does not mean that you stop re-winning the business.

How can you get an edge in the job market, stand out, and achieve success?

The new ABC in the job market is no longer Always Be Closing, it is Always BE Connecting. Spend much less time writing and re-writing your resume and much more time getting out and about, putting yourself on the radar and allowing people to see the value and the benefit of what you do. Remember when you explain your potential to people, it should ALWAYS be in relation to THEM. How would they be better off by using you more, giving you the job or handing you the promotion. Be seen, be present, be involved. Whether its online or in-person, the more people see that you are part of what is happening, the more they want you around. It’s the safety that comes from familiarity. Don’t go quiet on your network. Instead grow and nurture your contacts, put yourself on their radar and become a ‘connected-communicator’.

What tips do you have someone who has trouble getting attention from employers or bosses?

Many people feel somewhat invisible at work. It’s important to create a bolder more memorable and positive presence, but not to show off or draw attention for the wrong reasons. The Art of Business Seduction often involves, a subtle tease before the bigger sell. So try this. Write an e-mail on a Sunday night direct to your boss or client, teasing up some cool information that you have discovered. (you are going to need to find something vaguely interesting and practical!!) Do not reveal what this is, but instead announce that you will share it with him ‘tomorrow’.

Using this approach, he is now waiting for you to come over and spill it!! Here’s the win though, regardless of whether he likes or dislikes what you have found, you are showing yourself to be committed to the business and actively (on a Sunday) seem to be generating ideas. Another technique revolves around being close to the clients. If you are in a client-centric business, build good relationships with those clients and instantly elevate your position back at base. The more people can see that the clients find you ‘indispensable’ the more ‘indispensable’ you will be!

Can you explain your four-step process L-WAR?

Great business is all about giving people real confidence in your abilities and your potential. To have people want you rather than you constantly pushing yourself. Actively Listening and Watching (L W) before you do anything gives you a great chance to understand their needs before you say or do a thing. The simple act of taking your time before making your case is a key discipline that will instantly add value to what you are about to say.

Anticipating and reacting are the two actions needed to close this “Square of influence” around your target. Anticipating is all about putting yourself in their shoes. If you were that boss right now, what would you be thinking, feeling, concerned or excited about? With the right information and some smart thinking, you will know exactly what they would want to discuss next and you simply react by saying it first. This fills your target with instant confidence about your abilities because you seem to be “on their page”!

The common-sense skills of listening watching then anticipating and reacting (A R) immediately put you ahead of the competition. These skills are a basic start position – not a replacement for what comes next – great communication, smart soft skills and the new ABC, Always Be Connecting.

How did you become “The Business Seducer”?

Seduction is not confined to the bedroom – it is the way that we should all approach business. The reason is that it puts other people first, makes them happy and in a positive, yet indirect way, gets you what you want as well. It is a far more thoughtful method for conducting business, to get your message across and to encourage people to want you in their world.

I found that when I took the time to truly understand my clients, to go above and beyond their expectations, I earned their trust, respect and loyalty. I discovered that they started to check if I was available first before they even planned events. My involvement whether as a speaker of moderator or coach had added more value than my competitors had been able to deliver.

This was business seduction – I set out to make the client see that I was an excellent investment, that I had their best interests at heart and that they could trust me to deliver on all their objectives. I am proud of the connection I have with my clients and I know it works because they now ‘sell’ me to their contacts and colleagues. There is no greater affirmation that that!!

——–
Mark Jeffries
, former Merrill Lynch Stockbroker, has become a trusted advisor and communications consultant to some of the world’s largest and most successful corporations, agencies, accounting and law firms. He’s the author of The Art of Business Seduction: A 30-Day Plan to Get Noticed, Get Promoted and Get Ahead (Wiley). As a keynote speaker and executive coach, Mark has built a business addressing professional conferences and coaching top business executives, lawyers and politicians. His top clients include Ernst & Young, Microsoft, IBM, Boeing, Royal Bank of Canada and HSBC. As a leader in the field of Strategic Communication and Soft Skills, Mark’s advice is widely sought in the corporate world as well as on TV and radio. Mark is a regular contributor on NBC’s Today Show, CNBC, BBC News, Sky News and Fox Business. He self-published a book in 2008 called What’s up with your handshake?: Using the Secrets of Strategic Communication and Soft Skills to Win.

Please click here for the original post.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5 Blogging Goals

Do you blog to market your practice? To be successful in that regard you must have some plan of action, without a plan your blog is a ship without a rudder, and you are never going to hit your target. Grant Griffiths runs a great blog called Blog For Profit. Recently he posted an action plan for success in blogging. Here are his 5 blogging actions:

action.jpg

  1. Posting Frequency: Perhaps one of the most overlooked and most important actions bloggers need to do is to remember to post regularly to their blogs. If I had my wish, every business that is blogging, would post daily. However, I know this is not possible. You need to pick a weekly schedule which works for you. Whether that is daily or 2 to 3 times a week. The important thing to do is to pick a frequency of posting and stick to it. What you need to remember is your readers are going to come to expect some type of frequency. And once you establish this, you need to stick with it.

    If there is one area that might just affect your blogs success more than another, it just might be consistent posting. Set a schedule, stick to it and you will be well on your way to reaching those blogging goals.

  2. Blog Design and Brand: Have you considered if your blog’s design and layout will help or hurt you as you strive to reach those blogging benchmarks you have set for yourself? This might just be the summer you need to get that new design done. Whether you decide to hire a firm to do this for you or you look at getting a new theme, take a step back and look at your blog. Even better yet, ask some of those individuals you trust to give you an opinion of your blog’s design and layout. Is it easy on the eye and easy to read? By getting a fresh set of eyes to look at your blog, you will get a clearer picture of whether you need to get that redesign ASAP.Additionally, is this a good time to not only get a new design, do you need to get a whole new brand. If a new design is in order, now is the best time to get a new, fresh brand. Get something unique to you and what you are trying to project to your target audience. Does the blog’s appearance match up to what you are trying to project with your business? If not, get it done and get it done before the end of February so you can hit the road running.

    If you are struggling with the whole process of hiring a designer, get Michael Martine’s great book, How to Start a Business Website and Hire a Web Designer.

  3. F.L.E.E.: Ask yourself if you are doing those activities you need to be doing which will make your blog successful. Revisit our ongoing series on Building a Successful Blog. Re-evaluate whether you are following the F.L.E.E. process of blogging.
    • Find the conversations
    • Listen to the conversation
    • Engage in the conversation
    • Enpower or Eable your readers to get involved in the conversation too

    Make sure you are doing all of those activities and providing the means for your readers to do the same. The F.L.E.E. actions will help you get your blog noticed too, which is also important to your blog’s success.

  4. Start a Newsletter: If you are not using an opt-in on your blog to build a mailing list, do it. And in the process, start a newsletter to provide additional information to your target audience. You need to make sure you are providing value to your readers. Value that will keep them coming back for more. Additionally, setting up and starting to collect a mailing list is a great way to build a list of people who know and follow you. A list you can even market to and best of all, they actually expect you to. One of the best tools I have found for setting up and sending out an email newsletter is MailChimp. MailChimp is very cost effective and it works great.
  5. Use Social Media: I started to use twitter roughly 6 months ago. And I can honestly say my traffic to this blog has more than doubled. In fact, twitter is now the top referrer of traffic, even before Google. Don’t overlook the effectiveness of social media tools like twitter. Twitter is certainly one of the tools you can use to grow your blog and get just one more step closer to meeting those blogging goals you have set. You should also be looking at the other social media tools like, FaceBook and LinkedIn. Neither of these take a huge amount of your time and you can even take advantage of the tools they offer to streamline your efforts. You can feed your blog post to both of them. Which will expand your sphere of influence even more. Not only that, you can set up a “group” or a specific page to promote your blog and your business. Social media is a powerful tool, use it.

These are just some of the actions you can take to make sure you blog reaches the goals you have set for it. If you have others you are using or know of others, please leave a comment with your suggestions. Lets keep the conversation going and lets all make sure we reach our blogging goals.

Please click here for Grant's original article.

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