Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LinkedIn Tips

Followers of this blog know that I derive great entertainment value from LinkedIn.  I like the way the site looks and works.  It is fun to scan the profiles of other professionals, and to follow the discussions of certain groups.  Does it, or will it create business for me?  I am not so sure.  I think it has potential, but no measurable success so far.  None the less, it still is fun, so I go with it.

At the Social Media Examiner blog Jeff Korhan has posted 10 LinkedIn Tips for Building Your Business.Some of Jeff's tips include (1) using appropriate keywords and phrases in your heading and title (2) mirroring your online and offline business networks within LinkedIn, (3) tagging your skills and expertise, (4) adding video to your profile to make it come alive, and (5) tagging and filtering connections to organize and build relationships.  There are step by step how to instructions, and helpful videos demonstrating the hows and whys.  If you want to roll up your sleeves and get dirty building your LinkedIn profile, this is a great instructional tool.  Please click her for Jeff's original article.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

AAML Negotiation Seminar in July

The 2012 AAML Negotiation Seminar is scheduled for July 13th and 14th, 2012 in Chicago.

Harvard Law School Negotiation Program, the preeminent executive negotiation training institution in the world, has agreed again to co-sponsor the AAML Negotiation Seminar. Harvard will send two of their nationally recognized experts in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution to teach this seminar:

More info available on the AAML website.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Symposium A Success

The Northern California Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers hosted its 36th Annual Symposium May 18 through 20, 2012.  I had the privilege of being the Chair for this year's event.  It was a rousing success.  200 lawyers, and roughly 100 of their spouses, partners, and guests gathered at the Silverado Resort in Napa for a beautiful, warm weekend of fellowship, friendship, and legal learning  (their may have been a bit of wine tasting and food noshing thrown in for good measure).

We had the special privilege this year of being joined by the AAML National Executive Committee, in town for its planning meeting.  Planning and pulling off the Symposium was a ton of work.  It is in my rear view mirror now, and while I am still tired, I am feeling good!

Be sure to visit the Chapter's website for information on next year's Symposium.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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Friday, May 11, 2012

WordPerfect - It's Alive!

The first word processor that I used as a baby lawyer was WordPerfect.  I loved it.  The interface was clean.  The functions were easy to understand and remember.  It was stable.  Then the company got caught up in the high tech explosion of the 90's.  Expansion and mergers reduced WordPerfect to a battered shell of its once reliable self.  Compounding the problems, Microsoft was vigorously marketing Word.

Eventually the dilution of the WordPerfect product and the predominance of Word in the user world force me to switch.  It was painful, and I still harken back to my first love . . .WordPerfect.

Guess what?  WordPerfect is still around.  It is actually a suite of products, like Microsoft Office, and it is looking good and getting better.  Here are some of the features:
  • WordPerfect® X6 word processor
  • Quattro Pro® X6 spreadsheet program
  • Presentations™ X6slideshow creator
  • Corel® WordPerfect® Lightning™ digital notebook
  • Corel® PDF Fusion™ PDF creator
  • Core®l Perfect Authority Table of Authorities creator
  • WordPerfect® OfficeReady® pre-made templates
  • Mozilla® Firefox® web browser
  • Nuance® PaperPort® 12 SE PDF manager
  • Mozilla® Thunderbird® integrated email
  • BrainStorm training videos
  • NEW! WinZip® file compression utility
  • NEW! WinZip® Courier™ email compression utility
  • NEW! ZipSend™ file sharing web service
  • NEW! VideoStudio® Essentials video editor

There is a legal version crafted just for us lawyers.  It includes a table of authorities generator, redaction tools, and my old favorite, the "reveal codes" feature.

The list price for the suite is $379.99.  It is not an option for me because our firm infrastructure is too intertwined with office.  But for a solo or small firm starting from scratch, WP looks to once again be a viable option.  Click here to visit the WP website.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Going To Court With Less Paper

Tomorrow I will be going to court to argue a motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The question has been well briefed by both sides.  All of the information the court should require is contained within the thirty or so pages that have been filed.  I will be carrying that paper with me to court.  But do I need more?  The entire case file fills a couple of 4-inch binders.  If I wanted to take the entire file I could, but I would need at least one rolling briefcase, and I would still have to carry additional materials in hand.

But what if I the judge asks me a question that goes beyond those briefs?  What if I need to make reference to some of the case law I cited. What if the judge cannot find one of the underlying docs I have asked him to take judicial notice of in the court file?  Shouldn't I have everything with me in its bulky paper form?  My answer is no, I don't need the entire paper case.  Instead I will put it on my iPad, and carry it to court with me.  What are the steps to make it happen?  Glad you asked!

First a bit of background.  Our practice is digitized.  Every piece of paper that comes in on a case, or goes out on a case is converted into a pdf document.  Everything that could be in the paper file is in the matter's electronic file.  For tomorrow's hearing I simply copy the matter's electronic file (right click the mouse, select "copy").  Then I open my Dropbox account from the icon on the desktop of my office computer.  I create a file in Dropbox, then I paste the electronic file into that folder (right click mouse, select "paste").  In a couple of minutes the file is transferred to Dropbox.

Next I get on my iPad, and open my PDF Expert app.  You have lots of choices here, Evernote, iAnnotate, etc., etc.  I use PDF Expert as my tried and true favorite.  I access my Dropbox account from within PDF Expert, go to Edit, and then select the file that I just copied.  Then I click "Download" in PDF Expert.  In a few brief moments the entire matter file is downloaded to my iPad, available at my finger tips.

I have the entire matter on my iPad.  Not only that, but I also have all of the California Codes.  I have access to every published California opinion thanks to my Westlaw Next account.  I have the app for Attorney Briefcase, my favorite family law research product.  I have it all, in a format barely bigger than a comic book.  Not bad!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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Friday, May 4, 2012

A Week In The Life Of A Self-Employed Lawyer

So you want to have your own family law practice?  I say yes to you!  There is always room for more good lawyers.  However, be careful what you ask for.  While the benefits definitely do outweigh the burdens, being your own boss is not always easy or sexy.  Practicing law, marketing a practice, and running a business requires lots of time, energy, and investment.  Here is how I spent my last week.

Friday.  I was supposed to spend the day preparing final paperwork for a muli-day trial scheduled to start in a week. Fortunately the case settled yesterday afternoon.  Thus this day was freed up for past due administrative tasks, including getting the bills out.  With the trial avoided, I am spared having to work on the weekend. The morning also brought an email from London letting me know that I had been granted Fellowship in the prestigious International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers ( This invitation only group is comprised of the best family law lawyers from around the world. The Fellowship is a rare honor and will foster networking relationships with colleagues around the globe.  It will dove tail nicely with my Fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (, another elite invitation only professional society that lets me collaborate with the best of the best in the U.S. family law bar.

Monday.  The work day morning starts at 8 a.m with a networking breakfast with two of my colleagues from Pro Visors, a networking group that I am affiliated with.  Once a month my local Pro Visors group meets from 7a.m. to 9 a.m.  At the end of that meeting the members are paired into groups of three for a follow-up breakfast or lunch that allows for a more personal meet and great.  This month's "troika" -- as Pro Visors has labelled these follow-up meetings -- helps me to introduce my practice to a real estate transaction lawyer and a tax lawyer.

Back at the office I spend a few minutes writing a post to my California Divorce Blawg. Our firm has an active internet presence.  We have an outstanding website ( with an abundance of content relevant to potential consumers of family law services. The blog is a vital component of our website.   Of course, the website also includes the usual law firm resume and personnel profiles, but its greater emphasis is on education about family law and divorce.  New material is added on a regular basis, including frequent blog posts, to keep the site near the topic of the search engine rankings.

I work through a couple of client meetings, and get some letters out.  At 3 p.m. I hop in my car and drive to the Oakland airport, where I catch a flight to Orange County.  I spend Monday night at the Orange County Hyatt preparing for a continuing legal education program that I will speaking at Tuesday.

Tuesday.  By 8 a.m. I am in a conference room, ready to begin a four hour introduction to divorce class.  Twenty-six attendees, 20 of whom are watching via a live internet video feed.  At 1 p.m. I am in a cab back to John Wayne Airport.  My United Club membership comes in handy, as I can spend a couple of hours in a comfortable lounge checking voice mail, returning calls, checking and replying to emails, and reading some pleadings that have been scanned at the office and emailed to me.  By 7 p.m. I am back home.

Wednesday.  In the office by 7:30 a.m.  Task number one is to surf the web for technology stuff that I can post to this FLLTP blog.  Finding nothing I write a post from scratch.  I also post to the blog.  Then it is on to meeting with clients, dealing with paperwork, managing phone calls and emails. etc., etc.  At 4:30 p.m. it is back to the Oakland Airport to catch a flight to Burbank.  I spend the night at the Pasadena Hilton preparing for another continuing legal education program that I will be speaking at Thursday.

Thursday.  By 8 a.m. I am once again in a conference room, ready to begin a four hour introduction to divorce class.  Twenty-five attendees this time, and all in person.  Makes for a much more energetic program.   I am able to getting on an earlier flight, and am back home by 5.   I check my email one last time, and then take a look at a new iPad app.  The vendor has sent me a message asking me what I think?  I mark it as possible content for FLLTP.

Friday.  In the office by 7:30.  Go through the mail that I have neglected all week.  Review and respond to emails.  Spend some time on LinkedIn responding to connection requests, and surveying the posts for the groups that I belong to.  I also go to the California Court’s website to review the newly released appellate opinions (which I do daily to insure I am current on the latest case law).  Then I take a break, and make a cup of green tea.  During my tea break I post to the Hardinglaw blog, and finish writing this piece for FLLTP.  A lawyer calls with a referral.  We discuss the case and schedule a time to talk to the new client.  The rest of the day will be spent paying bills, preparing a law and motion reply, and thanking my lucky stars that the trial that was supposed to start today is now off calendar.

Next week.  The Monday previously set for trial have been filled with new meetings.  I can also use the time to give extra preparation to a trial that starts the following week.  I have two other court appearances next week, and I have to get a brief done for another trial upcoming in June. On Wednesday evening I will be playing in a 9 hole twilight golf tourney, which will give me an opportunity to meet some new people.  Of course, I will also be reading the appellate opinions as they hit the internet each day, posting to the blogs, going out to lunch for good old fashioned schmooze marketing, and doing whatever else it takes to run a successful business/practice.

Come on along, it's a fantastic voyage!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012


A lot of the work that we do as family law lawyers in California includes completing pre-printed, fill in the blank forms.  A lot of the challenges in this particular work have been eliminated with the advent of commercial software products.

I was speaking at a CLE program this week, and was asked by one of the attendees why I use Essential Forms rather than ProDoc?  I gave an honest answer, in two parts.  First I have always found Essential Forms to be affordable  ($599 and up to start, then $295 per year to maintain) and reliable, so I have never made a change.  Second, I didn't know anything about ProDoc.

That, or course, drove me to the ProDoc website to take a look.  Here is what I learned.

1.  ProDoc is a West (Thomson Reuters) product.

2.  It has versions for several states, and several practice areas for each state.

2.  There is a California module.  It includes all of the California Judicial Council forms, and all local county forms (those cost extra in Essential Forms). As a sub-set, there is a California family law module.

3.  ProDoc is a subscription service.  If I am reading the website right, it costs $156 per month.

3.  In addition to the Judicial Council forms Pro Docs includes a library of other document templates, such as motions, marital settlement agreements.  According to the ProDoc website ProDoc:
  • Allows you to customize forms groups that can be accessed and filled out simultaneously to save time [same as Essential Forms]
  • Automatically populates client and case information, merges data, and more [same as Essential Forms]
  • Contains virtually every form you need for a family law matter in a single integrated volume [same as Essential Forms]
  • Features a timesaving integrated system - enter client/case data once per case and generate multiple documents from that data [same as Essential Forms]
  • Helps you avoid embarrassing errors in your documents, including mismatched pronouns and leftover clauses from other documents.
Unfortunately that is all that I can tell you.  The website does not include any screen shots, sample docs, or reviews from users.  I can answer the original question better now tough.  I use Essential Forms because it is cheaper than ProDoc I think?), it is reliable, and I have never seen ProDoc in action so I know very little about it.

If there are any ProDoc users out there who want to chime in, I would love to hear from you.  Please send me your thoughts!.

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Solo nets Supreme Court win!

I know this has nothing to do with technology, but I think it is pretty cool. Andrew Simpson is a sole practitioner in the U.S. Virgin Is...