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, March 30, 2012

Great Little Known Features of iPad and iPhone

I just came across an article written by Brian Malcolm for law.com highlighting features of iOS 5.1 that I had no idea existed. For example, did you know that your device can read your email messages out loud, and for which you don't need an extra app? The feature is called VoiceOver, and it is already on your device. Want to project your device screen to a TV or projector? You can do that with mirroring. There's lots more.

Brian's article, while written for lawyers, is beneficial for anyone with an iPhone or iPad. It covers features pre-loaded on the devices, apps he likes, and accessories he likes.

This is a great article with great features that I was completely unaware of. Please click here to check it out!

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

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More On My Stand-Up Desk

Too Much Sitting Is Bad For You. US News.com ran an article yesterday about the health woes of sitting. According to the research featured in the article "[t]hose who spend 11 or more hours a day sitting are 40 percent more likely to die over the next three years regardless of how physically active they are otherwise . . . ."

Citing a study published in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the USN article mentions that "[s]everal workplaces in Australia are testing sit-stand work stations . . . a generally well-received initiative that may be a future option for other offices. "Try ways to break up your sitting and add in more standing or walking where possible," said study author Hidde van der Ploeg, a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney.

This takes me back to an article I wrote in October on this blog about the stand-up desk that I use at my office. As I mentioned then, I have used a stand-up desk for years, and I love it.




Please click here to read the original sitting article.

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My Thoughts On My New iPad

Friends and frequent visitors know that I love the iPad. I carry case files to court with it. I have all the California codes, case law, and reference materials that I need on it. I annotate pdf documents with it. I take notes on it. For me the device is a godsend. Last week I received my new iPad 2+. I have posted earlier on all the hardcore tech reviews for this latest model, so we won't go there again. Instead I will stick with the simple stuff.

First, the setup. It went like a dream. I backed my old iPad up on iTunes. Then I plugged the new one in to iTunes and did a restore. In about ten minutes it was all done, and everything worked perfectly.

Second, the retina display. This is the big marketing hero for the new iPad. Did I notice a difference? Yes, the screen is clearer. Did it take my breath away? Not really. Nice, but I am not speechless about it. I could have survived with the old screen.

Third, the speed of the machine. This new iPad has a beefier processor. The increased processor power translates into a noticeably quicker computer. Apps open faster, and run faster. A very nice improvement.

Fourth, the wireless data connection. OK, this is where I am really, really, thrilled! My first iPad had AT&T data service. As with everything AT&T it sucked. Signal strength was abysmal. 3G was never on line. Data transmission speeds reminded me of my old telephone modem. Clearly inadequate technology for road warriors.

This time around I went with the Verizon data plan. I am very impressed. I am getting 4G reception just about everywhere that I go, and that 4G is blazing fast! I don't have technical reports for you, but my simple eye test suggests that the 4G easily competes with the wi-fi for upload and download speeds. I have already made effective use of the data plan at the courthouse. Right now I have the 1GB plan that costs $20 per month. I'll let you know if that is enough, or if I have to bulk up with more GBs?

A side note here: In my opinion wi-fi alone is not enough if you want to be a truly mobile lawyer with your iPad. I use mine in court A LOT. Many of our courthouses in the San Francisco Bay Area do not provide free wi-fi. Without the data plan, I am out of luck. That data connectivity is essential to my successful mobile lawyering.

Fourth, the camera. My original iPad did not have a camera, and I did not miss it. I was not expecting to gain any real benefit from the camera in my new iPad. Lo and behold, it is proving to be a nice feature. I have used it to take fun photos. I am also starting to implement it as a document scanner. Something that I had not thought about before my purchase.

Do I love my new iPad? Yes I do. Was it expensive? Yes it was. Do I feel guilty? Absolutely not. The iPad is a business investment for me. It helps me do my job better. Plus, it is a nice toy to play with. The fact of the matter is that Apple does things right. The machine is stable and reliable. For features and service I am more than willing to pay the extra bucks. I cannot afford to buy cheap.

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

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Customizing Your Acrobat X Interface

If you are not using Acrobat in your practice, you should be. Bates numbering, document storage, indexing, searching, annotating, it does it all. If you are using Acrobat, but not reading Rick Borstein's Acrobat For Legal Professionals blog, you should be.

Rick's latest post provides step by step instructions on how to customize your Acrobat interface so that you have all of those frequently used tools conveniently available in icon form.

Please click here for the article.


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

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Technology

I am crazy for technology. It makes me a better lawyer. It makes it easier for me to practice law. It allows me to do a better job for my clients. You would be hard pressed to find a family law firm that has embraced technology to a fuller extent than Harding & Associates. Colleagues are always asking me which technologies we utilize at our law firm, so here's a sampling:





Our system set starts with the hardware. We have lots of computers. Servers, PCs, notebooks, iPads. We have super sized monitors, and multiple monitor configurations.









The stars of our technology systems are the software programs. Without the software, the hardware does no good. Our software starts with Windows. Also from Microsoft, we make extensive use of Office, including Word, Outlook, and Excel. Power Point gets occasional use.







Date books, tickler systems, rolodexes, file cabinets, paper time sheets, message slips, are all a thing of the past. We manage our entire practice electronically with Abacus Law practice management software.








Adobe Acrobat Professional is our power platform, and what drives our paperless practice. We scan our paper to .pdf format. We review ad annotate records in Acrobat. We index and Bates stamp records with Acrobat. We text search exhibits with Acrobat.






One of the ways we are innovating with new technology systems is through mindmapping. Our software in that regard is Mindjet MindManager.






For legal research we use the desktop and mobile versions of Westlaw Next, and Attorney Briefcase software.






To calculate child support and spousal support, and to analyze property division in our cases we utilize Dissomaster and Propertizer.




Drafting of settlement documents, no problem with the Lawgic software that we use.





Forms, forms, forms. You have to use them if you are going to practice family law in California. When we prepare forms we use the best forms software available: Essential Forms from Essential Publishers.




Distance is irrelevant in our practice thanks to our ability to remote, or distance, compute with GoToMyPc.



There you have the big hitters in our technology line-up. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. I'll be happy to answer them.

Oh yeah, Apps? We've got a bunch of them, but we'll save them for another post.

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

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Friday, March 16, 2012

LinkedIn In One Hour For Lawyers

The American Bar Association sells a great series of "In One Hour" books. They are are ridiculously over-priced (as is everything about the ABA). But if you can get past the extortionist cost, the books really are good.

The latest in the series is LinkedIn In One Hour For Lawyers. Written by Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields, I am sure it will be packed with practical, useful information. Please click here to check it out.

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

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Calculating Deadlines

We have used case management software in our practice for decades. Amongst the countless benefits of the technology is the ability to calculate deadlines. For example, when discovery responses are due; the deadline to file responsive pleadings with the court; etc., etc.

Currently we are using AbacusLaw in our practice. It has its own integrated date calculator. So, as an example. When I propound a set of interrogatories: I select the case file in Abacus. I select the event from a list in the program. In this example it would be Date interrogatories mailed. When I hit enter the program inserts that event into my calendar, along with the date the service is effective, and the date that responses are due from the other side. The entries are also tagged to the particular case. This technology certainly beats the old tickler way of doing things, when you would get out a calendar, count days on your fingers and toes, and then write the dates and events into your paper calendar.

Now there is an intriguing app available for Apple products to help you calculate those dates. DocketLaw changes the game by putting accurate, rules-based, docket calculation and calendaring right within your smart phone, tablet or browser. Affordable monthly pricing and up-to-date coverage in over 300 courts in over 30 states, gives you the flexibility to purchase only the states and courts you practice in. Get started immediately without any annual contracts, IT hassles, or hidden fees.

Here is what the DocketLaw website tells us:

Features
Checklist Rules-based deadline calculations.
Checklist Jurisdiction specific and federal holidays.
Checklist Manage your docket from anywhere.
Checklist Easy sign-up & only the courts you need.

Click here for the original DocketLaw company line.

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

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creating A LinkedIn Company Page

I am a big proponent of LinkedIn. Having had a profile on the site for a couple of years, I am becoming more and more impressed with the professional visibility that it creates for me. I like the sophisticated audience it attracts. Now there is a new generation of LinkedIn profiles -- the Company Page. But what is it? What does it do? Do I need one? How do I get one?

For me personal marketing (i.e., selling me rather than my law firm) is the key. My law firm has a brand plan in place; but it still all boils down to getting the names and personalities of our people out there to legal consumers. I am on the fence regarding the true value of creating a company page for a small service business like ours. Nonetheless, I am going to do the research and find out if this is something I need?

Our friends at Social Media Examiner answer these questions and more in a very helpful article, 5 Tips for Using the New LinkedIn Company Page.

There is also a follow-up article entitled 4 Tips for Creating Your LinkedIn Company Page for those of you who are ready to jump in to the deep end of the pool.

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


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Friday, March 2, 2012

iPad4Lawyers

I just found Tom Mighell's iPad 4 Lawyers blog. I don't know how it could have taken me so long. Tom's blog is great. I love the look. More importantly, the content is great. Tom is a techno guy, so he really knows his stuff. His product reviews are insightful, detailed, and relevant to us lawyers (Tom is also the author of the ABA book iPad In One Hour For Lawyers). If you are an iPadding lawyer you must check it out. Click here for a visit.

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

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Windows 8

Previews of Widows 8 are hitting the street. In a surprise to me, the new operating systems is actually getting good reviews. The most comprehensive that I have read so far comes Wired.com.

Reviewer Christina Bonnington gives high marks to 8's touchscreen capabilities, picture password, and user customization. The big thought is that 8 is trying look and feel more like the iPad. Please click here for the entire article. Other reviewers are also laying praise on the internet interface. You can also check out Microsoft's advertorial page.

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

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