Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two Step Authentication For Dropbox

If you hadn't heard, Dropbox got hacked recently.  To be more precise hackers found a security vulnerability in the cloud storage service by which they could sneek into and peek around user accounts (so the users got hacked).  In response Dropbox has implemented an optional two step security protocol.The setup however can be a bit tricky. 

Thanks to the folks at for putting a tutorial up.

Click here for the step by step instructions.

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Going Paperless With A Mac

I don't write enough about the Mac in the law office.  There is a simple reason for that:  I don't use a Mac in the office.  I don't use one in the office because my most essential software programs (AbacusLaw, Dissomaster Suite, Attorney's Assistant, Attorney's Briefcase) are not Mac friendly.  I use a Mac at home, and I love it!  Mostly what I do with it is log onto to my office computer remotely, and surf the internet, so the PC only software thing is not a problem.

Well for all of you who are Macophiles this column is for you.  I have forever praised the joys and wonders of the paperless office.  Today I came across an eBook targeted at the paperless Mac office.  Paperless by David Sparks takes the mystery (and fear) out of going paperless with your Apple technology.  To quote from the iTunes listing:
The book includes 32 screencasts, 4 movies, over 26,000 words, and other rich-media assets to turn you into a paperless ninja. The material is accessible to beginners and power users alike with a thorough explanation of all the hardware, software, and workflows necessary to finally conquer paper.

Chapters include:
1. Why Paperless
What is the big deal with paperless and why do so many of us struggle with it?

2. Paperless Overview
Get an idea for the big picture before diving into the nitty-gritty.

3. Capture
Discover how you can capture paper and other digital information with the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. This chapter also demystifies optical character recognition and explains how you can put it to work for you.

4. Process
Learn how to reliably name, index, and store your paperless documents. This chapter also covers your questions about cloud storage and backup.

5. Use
Now that you've created a paperless workflow, learn how to access your paperless documents from anywhere on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. This chapter also explains how to sign digital documents on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

6. David's Paperless Workflow
The author explain his "go-to" applications, hardware, and tricks for managing paperless documents.

7. Appendix
Learn more about Apple Automator, cloud storage, and other helpful resources.

This is the first book in the MacSparky Field Guide Series. This book is a large file (850 MB) and includes over 1.5 hours of video and screencasts. This books runs on all versions of the iPad.

By the way, the eBook format is way cool!  You can only read it on the iPad, but it is cool.  Click here to check it out.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Social Media: What Is It Doing For Me?

Social media can be hard to track as a marketing tool for your practice.  Here is what I know. . .

I am actively engaged with LinkedIn; and am frequently asked to comment about my experiences.  Here is what I can say.

In the three or four years that I have been actively engaging with LinkedIn I have landed two paying clients solely from LinkedIn.  That is clients that found me first, foremost, solely, and directly through my LinkedIn profile. Not overwhelming, but better than nothing.

What I am more impressed with is the traffic that LinkedIn directs to my website.  I am able to review statistics for my website, and at present we are getting one to two viewers per day directly from LinkedIn.  That may seem like a small number, but it really is not a bad return on a free investment.  As a comparison, my Facebook posts do not even average one viewer per week clicking through to our website.

My social media observation?  LinkedIn works modestly.  Facebook, not so much.

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Facebook Book

Lots of colleagues ask me for my thoughts on facebook.  I tell them I engage on it, but that I am not overwhelmed with it. Mine is just one opinion, and the fact that facebook has about a billion members would suggest that it has some cache (eve3n if the stock price continues to wither and advertising revenues on the site dwindle).

Allison Shields publishes the Legal Ease Blog, which I enthusiastically read. She and Dennis Kennedy (another legal blogger whom I enthusiastically follow) have published Facebook In One Hour For Lawyers.  Part of the "One Hour" series from the American Bar Association, this book is sure to offer wonderful insights and tips.

On her blog Allison has this to say:

Law Firm Facebook Pages

WEB_Facebook_OneHour_bigFacebook use continues to rise, and many lawyers are using Facebook in their personal lives to connect with friends and family, but Facebook can be a valuable business building tool, and another way to communicate and engage with colleagues, law firm employees and even clients. One way to do this is by creating a Company Page for your law firm.

What can you do with a Facebook Page for your law firm?

Define Administrator Roles

 In the past, Facebook pages had only one level of administrator, but Facebook has recently created administrator roles, allowing firms to give different levels of permission to different people who have access to the firm's Page. This avoids the problem that arises if only one Page administrator has access to the Page, and that administrator leaves the firm. It also will aid firms who have employees who are interested in contributing to the firm's Facebook presence, but who the firm may not want to have access to all aspects of the 'back end' of the firm's Page.

View insights

It is often difficult to determine whether your social media and other efforts are reaching the audience you would like them to reach, or if your are engaging your audience. Facebook administrators (depending on the Role they have been assigned) have the ability to see 'insights' that show how many people your Page is reaching on a weekly basis, and how many people are "talking about this" or engaging with your content by liking, commenting or sharing it with others.
In addition to these 'big picture' stats, page administrators can see how many people have been reached with an individual post. For each post, you can find out:
Reach: The number of people who have seen your post (within the first 28 days after the post was published)
Engaged Users: The number of people who have actually clicked on your post (within the first 28 days after the post was published)
Talking about this: The number of people who have liked, commented, shared, responded to an event or answered a question you posed in an update (within the first 28 days after the post was published
Virality: The percentage of people who have engaged with the post in any of the ways mentioned in 'talking about this' above, out of the number of people who have seen the post.
Schedule posts
Another relatively new feature of Facebook pages is the ability to schedule posts in advance. This means firms can create a number of posts about newsworthy issues, firm happenings or events all at once, but schedule them to post in the future. Since batching or 'chunking' similar work together is one of the best ways to be productive, this can help firms to ensure that their message is getting seen by their connections and colleagues - or to their employees - without needing to constantly go back to update the Page. This allows the Page administrators to concentrate on engaging with others by spending only a few minutes a day on Facebook, with one weekly time set aside for creating updates.
 Offer Valuable Information to Your Audience
With Facebook's "apps" or "tabs," you can create calls to action. For example, if you offer free information or downloads from your website, such as a personal injury guide, FAQs on divorce in your state, a guide to the court system, etc., you can direct Facebook visitors to your website by creating a custom App. Upload an appropriate image and a link that directs visitors to a landing page you designate.

Use Your Timeline Effectively:

  • Create Milestones, which are to Pages what Life Events are to personal Profiles. Milestones are designated with a flag icon and are the full width of the page (843 x 403 pixels), rather than the smaller size of regular posts (520 pixels wide). A Milestone must include a title, but it can also include other details. Mergers, office moves, and the addition of a new partner are events you might want to include as Milestones.
  • Star stories to expand the post to widescreen and make it more prominent.
  • Pin a post to the top of your Timeline for up to a week—after that, it returns to its chronological place in the Timeline.
  • Backdate posts for special events in the life of your firm that occurred before you started your Page. 
Want more tips on what lawyers can do with Facebook - both as individuals and with law firm Pages? Take a look at Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers, my latest book with co-author Dennis Kennedy, now available for pre-order, with a 15% discount.
I'd love to hear how you and your firm are using Facebook, too! Leave a comment and let me know.

Please click here for Allison's original post.  To learn more about facebook buy her book, and visit her blog.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Lawyers Need To Be Tech Savvy

The ABA House of Delegates approved changes to the ABA's model ethics rules "to acknowledge that information is stored digitally as well as in paper files, clients communicate electronically as well as by phone calls, and email isn’t the only method of electronic communications."

According to the post on,:
[T[he technology-related amendments go further, requiring lawyers to keep current on more than just changes in the law. Lawyers also have a duty to keep abreast of the benefits and risks associated with technology, according to new commentary language added to Rule 1.1 on the duty to provide competent representation. Click here (PDF) to see all of the amendments added to all of the model rules at this year's annual meeting.
These changes reflect the increasing prevalence of technology in law practice, and the emerging techologies that we all must keep pace with.  Please click here for the original article from

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Advance Sheets Free Online

When I started as a lawyer our firm had a very nice law library.  Every couple of weeks a paperback book would arrive in the mail.  That book was a collection of all of the published appellate court opinions issued since the preceding book was mailed out.  We referred to these books as the "advance sheets."  Several times a year all of the cases in the advance sheets were re-printed in hard bound, leather volumes that then took their place of privilege in our library.  These hardbound copies were referred to as the "official reports" or "the case law."

I am now able to identify several problems with this timeless process. 1.  All those books require physical space for their storage.  Bookshelves and library floor space are expensive.  2.  A physical library requires maintenance.  Books have to be organized and indexed.  Advance sheets have to be rotated, and thrown out when they are replaced by hardbound volumes,  3.  Only one person can read each book at a time.  If two people need a case from the same book?  The second person waits.  4.  All those books were ridiculously expensive.  The publishers made a killing!  You needed the advance sheets so that you could stay current on the latest law.  You needed the hardbound volumes, because you needed the law.

Fortunately technology has evolved to the point that a physical law library is really a waste of space and money for most law firms.  Every California statute and every California appellate opinion is now available on line.  There are free options, and there are subscription options.  Regardless, the cost has come way down from the paper days, and the convenience has gone way up.

There is still a time lag though as appellate opinions are released, and until they get online with some commercial providers.  Also those advance sheets that showed up every several weeks were a convenient way to stay abreast of the latest case law.  They were the place you knew where to look for the latest law.  You just grabbed the d\advance sheet and read.  Where can we turn now?  Why the internet of course.

The Judicial Council of California/Administrative Office of the Courts' California Courts website is now the web based publisher of the advance sheets.  All published, and unpublished (i.e. not citeable as authority, but valuable nonetheless) opinions, hit the CC website first.  And guess what, they are right there for your review for FREE!

Want to do a daily review of new cases affecting your practice, go to the CC website and read away.  Click here to visit the site.

The site keeps the opinions online for 120 days.  Conveniently, the opinions released in the preceding 100 hours have their own screen.  There is no indexing by type of law, i.e., family law, probate, criminal, etc.  However, with a bit of practice it becomes fairly easy to find the family law cases.  Here are a couple of tips, look for the cases that have "Marriage of" in the title.  That's a pretty good indication that it is a dissolution action.  Also look for cases where the last names of the parties are the same (i.e., Smith v. Smith, or Hansen v. Hansen).  Also look for cases with surname names rather than corporate names.  The case of Wesson v. Peterson is more likely to be a family law case than is Xerox v. IBM, or Greenberg v. Form Motor Co.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Office Phone Systems

For two decades we ran our office with a reliable phone system from Nortel Networks.  The system included an big, impressive phone switching box, and another big, impressive box that housed the voice mail system.  Both hung from the wall in our junk room.  At every desk sat a handsome Nortel desk set filled with fun buttons to push.  The system was very expensive, and worked very well.  We could call out, people could call us, we had voice mail, etc., etc. (although I never quite got the hang of transferring calls or making conference calls).  You needed to be a computer programmer to make any adjustments to the system, but that was the price for technology. 

The Nortel hardware cost thousands of dollars.  The hardware was supported by four voice land lines, and one fax land line, for which we paid the phone company a hefty check each month.  On average our phone bill (including long distance) was running $300 to $500 per month.

With time, the system began to wear down.  Handsets started losing their connection.  Buttons on the desk sets didn't always click.  Voice mail messages began disappearing.  I had heard of VOIP technology as the latest, greatest thing in telephones.  I did not know much about it other than the fact that you make phone calls over the internet via your computers internet connection, rather than over phone company landlines.  I was already paying for internet service, so a new VOIP system would not add to my internet cost.  However, I might be able to eliminate my bill from AT&T.

After some light research I called a company named 8x8.  I spoke with a very helpful sales guy named Jonny Manik.  He explained he could sell me a phone for each person in the office for about a hundred bucks.  Then for $45 per person per month we could have unlimited local and long distance calling.  On top of that we would have efaxing capability, and call recording.  The system would support computer chatting amongst all the people in the office.  We would each be able to forward calls to different telephone (our cell phones for example).  We could keep our advertised phone number, and cancel all the AT&T landlines.  All we would have to do is plug the phones into the back of each person's computer, and we would be off and running.  Are you kidding me?  I would have all of those features, and be able to reduce our monthly phone bill by at least 66%!

I jumped at the hook.  A few days later the slick Polycom telephones arrived.  We spent about a half hour on the phone with 8x8 tech support, and lo and behold Jonny's promises were realized!  The system works great.  Sound quality is perfect.  There are more bells and whistles then I think I will ever be able to use.  The learning curve is modest.  We can send faxes right from our computer rather than walking down the hall to a fax machine, and we received faxes right at our computers, rather than walking down the hall to the fax machine.  Plus, I have severed all ties with the more expensive AT&T. 

We have no regrets.  The new system works brilliantly.  If you are looking to make a change, get touch with Jonny at 8x8.  Remind him that I am supposed to get a $100 credit for every referral!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

eFax Software

Our fax machine is part of a business hub copier, scanner, fax unit.  Wouldn't you know it, the fax part of it went down this week.  We are still trying to figure out what the problem is?  Phone line is live.  We can receive faxes.  Unfortunately we cannot send anything out.  When you lose the function, you appreciate how much you actually use it.

Coincidentally, I just received a press release from eFax, an online fax service provider touting its service.  I have actually been contemplating such a service for some time, but I am not fully understanding how it works.  Perhaps the answers lie in this release.  Admittedly this is blatant advertising from the provider.  That does not mean that it is automatically inaccurate.  Here we go:

The halls of justice are increasingly being taken to the streets as legal professionals use cloud computing and mobile solutions to un-tether from the traditional law office. According to the 2012 survey from the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center, 38 percent of lawyers have already migrated to laptops as primary computers. And with today’s feature-heavy, app-ready tablets and smartphones, legal professionals may no longer even need a laptop to conduct business on the fly.

eFax®, a provider of online fax services since 1996 and a brand of j2 Global, Inc. (NASDAQGS: JCOM), understands the critical business needs of on-the-go legal professionals and provides the ability to send, receive and manage faxes from anywhere. According to the 2012 National Study of Employers, 77 percent of companies surveyed allow or encourage flextime and nearly 66 percent let employees sometimes work from home. While working remotely, it is essential for legal professionals to have access to critical documents and the ability to receive and respond to communications from multiple devices.

“Using eFax, I’m able to stay on top of developments in legal matters from my smartphone anywhere in the world, any time” said Scott Brenner, Esq. “Since I’m constantly working on the go at client offices and remote locations, I’ve found that eFax is an indispensable tool. It enables me the important convenience of sending and receiving critical documents and correspondences from my mobile device and tablet when I’m working away from my office.”

eFax has many features and benefits that eliminate the paper chase for busy law professionals and help them work efficiently while on-the-go:

·         Freedom and flexibility — The eFax Mobile Apps enable legal professionals to send a fax of any photo from their iPhone or other smartphone. The simplicity of point, shoot and fax allows busy legal professionals to send critical documents to clients, staff, counsel or even the court, whether or not they are in the office. Learn more about the eFax mobile app for iPhone in this YouTube video.

·         Easing the burden of e-discovery — Complying with e-discovery requests can be time-consuming and costly for busy lawyers. eFax incorporates search tools into faxed documents, allowing a proactive approach to managing information to handle any potential e-discovery requests. Lawyers can search for faxes using names, topics or other keywords to find a specific document or group of documents. Tags can also be used to support a records classification scheme so that documents are retained or properly disposed of according to policy. Learn more about how to tag and search faxes in this YouTube video.

·         Eliminating document disorder — The paperless office is a reality with eFax. Rather than carting around large boxes of files of critical documents, eFax offers legal professionals unlimited lifetime storage and securely archives faxed documents online. Documents, which can be digitally stored on secure file servers, can be retrieved at anytime from anywhere.

·         Confidential and secure — eFax Secure encrypts faxes and stores them as a TIFF or PDF in a secure inbox. eFax improves the privacy of critical documents from lawyers’ clients by eliminating the risks inherent in having confidential faxed documents sitting next to a traditional fax machine.

·         Signed, sealed and sent — Time is money and in today’s environment there is no room for waste. eFax eliminates the need to print, sign and scan documents by providing digitized signature capabilities. Client engagement letters, contracts, or other documents that need a signature, can be faxed to a user’s eFax account where a digitized signature can be added in a snap from a computer, tablet or smartphone. The approved document can then be sent along via email or fax. Learn more about how to use eFax digitized signatures in this video.

With eFax, busy legal professionals are able to easily send, receive and access critical documents on demand. eFax supports the move to a paperless office with time and resource-efficient features that make it easy to store and access documents. For a free trial of eFax please visit

The eFax branded service is a pioneer in the fax business, with a string of technology and business firsts dating back to 1996. Individuals and small businesses can learn more about sending and receiving faxes online at For medium to large businesses with 10 to 10,000 employees or high volume faxing needs, more information is available at

For more information please visit the eFax blog at or watch these videos on the eFax YouTube channel. To listen to a Podcast interview with Scott Brenner, Esq. go to

About eFax
eFax is a brand and registered trademark of j2 Global, Inc. (NASDAQGS: JCOM) and is online at

About j2 Global
Founded in 1995, j2 Global, Inc. provides cloud services to individuals and businesses around the world. j2 Global's network spans 49 countries on six continents. The Company offers Internet fax, voice and email solutions. j2 Global markets its services principally under the brand names eFax®, Onebox®, eVoice®, FuseMail®, Campaigner®, KeepItSafe® and CampaignerCRM.
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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...