Friday, June 29, 2012

Skype in the Law Office

I have an accountant that I work with who is even more high tech than me.  His office is at one end of the state, and mine is at the other end.  We teleconference frequently on our cases.  Recently we conducted our first video conference, and it really added to the experience.  Telephones are a great tool, but I feel communication is more effective when you can see the other person's face.

That got me thinking about communications within our law office.  Rather than pick up the phone and intercom my colleagues I usually walk to that person's office for a fact to face.  My colleagues, on the other hand, are apparently not as motivated to look at me.  They either yell across the hall or call me.

We have now installed Skype on everyone's computer, and we have installed high-def webcams at everyone's desk.  Right now it is as much a novelty as anything else, but it is also impressive technology.  Picture quality is great, sound is great, convenience is great.  Plus, it is fun to click a button and have a video call with a colleague.

There is more.  I have Skype installed on my iPad, and I can now engage in video chats with my colleagues wherever I am.  A  wi-fi connection is not required.  The regular data connection also works great.  Finally, I have installed a webcam on my home office computer so that when I am working from home, face time is possible with everyone at the office.

Skype also allows for text messaging.  It is the complete office intercom system.  As our clients catch on to the technology I can also see having video conferences with them.  Further, as a family law firm we can use our system to educate our clients about Skype for virtual visitation, which is becoming more and more popular.

Of course cost is always an issue.  The high-def web cams?  Less than $75 each.  Skype?  Free!  A minor investment for impressive technology and functionality.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers Now Available as iBook

I am shamefully cutting and pasting the text below from Dennis Kennedy's blog.  I am assuming he won't mind since I am advertising his book for him:

Allison Shields and I are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response we gotten to our book, LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers. A big thank you to everyone who has purchased the book.
I’m pleased to announce that the book is now available as an iBook in the iTunes store. The price of the iBook is $17.99, a nice discount from the price of the traditional paperback version.
Allison and I have also started a LinkedIn Group in connection with the book (and the upcoming Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers book that we anticipate being published in August) called “Social Networking for Lawyers. Please consider joining the group to continue the conversation about the use of LinkedIn by lawyers.

We have been (welcomely) surprised by the interest by law firms in using the book as part of their internal LinkedIn training efforts. If your firm might be interested in exploring that route, we can help you get in touch with ABA Publishing about volume discounts. And, if you are an ABA Law Practice Management Section member (and, if you read this blog, you should be), it looks like there’s still a great discount available on the paperback version for LPM members.
iBook link
Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First off, a disclaimer.  I do not like Microsoft.  I think the company creates software that is just good enough to function at a bare minimum.  It releases products prematurely, and before the bugs and kinks are worked out.  It provides terrible support.  Unfortunately for most lawyers it is the only game in town, so we live with it.

Now Microsoft has announced its new line of tablet computers.  Called the Surface, this piece of hardware is Microsoft's competitor to the iPad.  Price point has not been published yet.

Here is what the Microsoft website says about the line:

Advances in Industrial Design
Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface represents a unique vision for the seamless expression of entertainment and creativity. Extensive investment in industrial design and real user experience includes the following highlights:
  • Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.
  • VaporMg: The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.
  • Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.
  • Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.
An Amazing Windows Experience
Two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro. From the fast and fluid interface, to the ease of connecting you to the people, information and apps that users care about most, Surface will be a premium way to experience all that Windows has to offer. Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.

Do I think it will work as advertised?  Of course not.  Will Microsoft sell a bunch of them?  Surely.  If anyone out there buys one please write us with your thoughts.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Lawyers Free To Blog!

 Horace Hunter is a criminal defense lawyer in Virginia.  He is also a blogger.  Unfortunately the State Bar of Virginia did not the reasonableness of such conduct, and it disciplined Hunter over his criminal law blog where he wrote about cases he had handled and other criminal-law issues.  To legal bloggers this ruling had a chilling effect.

Hunter appealed the discipline, and he has been vindicated.  As reported by Robert Ambrogi on his LawSites blog:
In a decision last week, the Portsmouth Circuit Court sided with Hunter, overturning the finding of misconduct under Rule 1.6, which governs confidentiality of client information. The court concluded that the finding violated the First Amendment.

The court did uphold one aspect of the disciplinary committee’s conclusion. It said that Hunter should have included a disclaimer on his website warning that results could vary in others’ cases. It upheld a public admonition for this violation and ordered him to add the disclaimer to his site.
Please click here for Robert's article.  Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Planning For Trial

A trial is a project.  It involves multiple steps, at prescribed times.  There are checklists, and deadlines, and collateral choices.  As lawyers we tend to pigeon hole what we do, and look at it as unique.  When it comes to trial, we get a bit paranoid, and refuse to think out of the box.  Sometimes that is appropriate.  Other times it is not. 

Why shouldn't there be an easier way to plan for a trial?  Guess what, there is.  It is called project planning.  It has been part of the business world vernacular forever.  There are business school classes on the subject.  Countless books have been written about it.  Lecturers and consultants make their living off of it.  There are valuable tools and techniques out there that we can use, if we just get a bit more flexible with our thinking.  We lawyers do not always have to operate with proprietary focus?  We don't always have to reinvent the wheel.  How about we take some of the established business world project planning wisdom and let it help us make our trial planning easier?  Don't call it a trial.  Call it a project.  Then benefit from all the project planning help that is out there.

I have just come across an iPad app that impresses. OmniPlan is designed to help you visualize, maintain, and simplify your projects. Break down tasks, optimize the required resources, and monitor your entire plan—all at a glance. Collaborate with your colleagues and share every detail, update a calendar with your days off, or mix and match. Accept and reject changes one-by-one or all in one go. OmniPlan provides features like Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, and milestones to let you manage all of your activities. OmniPlan helps you manage projects that are as simple or complex as you need them to be—without the complexity.

For an app this app ain't cheap:  $49.95.  Even if you don't buy it, check it out to see how project planning can be applied to trial planning.  It does a lot of great stuff!   If you are intrigued, but don't want to spend that kind of money there are plenty of other apps out there; and other project planning software; and books; and articles.  Just substitute the word "project" with the word "trial," and you have a whole arsenal of tools at your disposal.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pinterest For Lawyers

Pinterest seems to be the latest social media craze.  That leads to question #1:  What is it?  According to Wikipedia
Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, 're-pin' images to their own collections and/or 'like' photos. Pinterest's mission is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting" via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Pinterest allows its users to share 'pins' on both Twitter and Facebook, which allows users to share and interact with a broad community. Founded by Ben Silbermann, of West Des Moines, Iowa, the site is managed by Cold Brew Labs and funded by a small group of entrepreneurs and inventors. It is one of the “fastest growing social services in the world. . . .
Pinterest users can upload, save, sort and manage images, known as pins, and other media content (ie. videos) through collections known as pinboards. Pinboards are generally themed so that pins can easily be organized, categorized and discovered by other users. Pinterest acts as a personalized media platform, whereby your own content as well as anyone else's uploaded pins can be browsed on the main page. Users can then save their favourite pins to one of their own boards using the “Pin It” button. Content can also be found outside of Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the “Pin It” button which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser.
Okay, fine.  Question #2.  What can it do for lawyers?  Matthew Hickey at the Sociable Lawyer Blog offers this:
Because Pinterest is almost entirely visual, it isn’t an intuitive fit for legal marketing. Still, if you are creative, there are ways to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website or to generally promote your practice. As with any other form of social media, the best place to start is by engaging with the social network on its own terms. Create a few boards for pinning images that interest you. For example, if you are a foodie, start pinning recipes that interest you. If you enjoy music, pin images of your favorite bands or albums. Maybe you are looking for inspiration to remodel your home or are in the market for a new dining room table: pin images that look like products you’d want for your home. The odds of being followed by others are much higher if you are an active and contributing member of the network.
While you’re enjoying all that Pinterest has to offer, you might as well create a board for legal topics. If you already have a law blog (which you should) be sure to start thinking creatively about the images you use for your posts. When you create a new post, pin the images in the post to your law board on Pinterest. It’ll only take you a few seconds. And while you are at it, take a few seconds to think about the description for your image, being sure to include as many relevant keywords as you can in the description (but also try to make the description sound natural since people may be reluctant to repin your image otherwise). If you have an interesting portrait or images on your office website, you can pin those images too with descriptions like “Attorney blogger and entertainment lawyer specializing in drafting music industry contracts and startup formations.” You may find it worthwhile to create images that contain messages directly within the image. Ultimately, the value of your image on Pinterest will come down to how exciting the image itself is. In other words, I wouldn’t waste my time with that boring stock image of scales or a gavel if I were you.
Still a bit unclear?  I understand.  I am not on pinterest myself, but I do hear the chatter.  Question #3.  What next? If you want to investigate further Jason Miles over at the Social Media Examiner blog has written 5 Ways To Tell if Pinterest is Right For Your Business.  Hi instructions might allow you to translate your law practice into pictures pinned to the pinterest corkboard. 

At this point in time, it's not working for me.  Doesn't mean I won't keep my eye on it.  Right now though, I am not seeing the marketing value for my law practice.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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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...