Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Branding and Letterhead

Think of traditional law firm letterhead...  Black on white.  Solid blocks of text.  Engraved printing.  Rich, traditional, and strong.  Nothing wrong with it.  Some would say it ain't broke so don't fix it.  I sorta followed this model for a long time -- although long ago I broke away from commercially printed letterhead, and started printing my own through our word processors.

My one adventurous design deviation was to go with three columns in the header.  As you can see in the exemplar below, the first column advertised my personal credentials.  The second gave the law firm name and address block.  The third gave information on satellite offices and internet.  I believe this information is important for marketing purposes, and to demonstrate my credibility to recipients of writings from me (no I don't know why the jpeg below turned the paper gray?).

Recently I began to rethink the importance of letterhead as a marketing tool, and I reassessed the look and impact of our letterhead.  I was motivated initially by Matthew Butterick's book Typography For Lawyers.

Matthew thinks long and hard about how lawyer writings should look. He got me thinking just as hard.  His book also steered me to his website, Typography For Lawyers.  At the website I studied Matthew's letterhead section, and started formulating a new layout for our letterhead.

Next I did a Google search on "typography for lawyers."  That steered me to a fantastic article at (a website that all tech-geek lawyers should love!) entitled DIY Law Firm Letterhead Using Microsoft Word.  Using the step-by-step techniques from the article, and being inspired by samples from other law firms included in the article, I went to work.  Here is what came to life (again, I don't know why the jpeg gray's the paper as we print on clean white paper):

The new design incorporates the logo that is so important to our branding. The logo adds color. The left column includes all the personal bio info for me, and all of the law firm info.  Following Matthew Butterick's rules the left column's gray print makes it less conspicuous than the body of the letter.  At the same time there is contrast with the smoother font of the left column and the traditional font of the main body.  What's really cool is that it is all done in Microsoft Word.  I'm thrilled with the new design.  It has pop while still being classy.  It is a letter and also a marketing tool.  Our letters look great when they are sent via email as pdf's, and they look just as good rolling out of our ink jet printers.  They also sell me and the firm.  I am never afraid to admit that it is always about marketing, and letterhead like this fills the bill.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

To All Our Friends and Followers 

We Wish You A Very Merry, Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do You Need A Conference Room?

Office space is expensive.  The more square feet under your feet, the more money you are paying to the landlord.  Conference room space should be considered optional when you are laying out your
law firm.  A luxury yes.  Mandatory, no.

I have a conference room at my firm.  It has become an extra file room.  Client meetings are held in the attorney's office.  That is a more personal, intimate space.  It is more comfortable for the lawyer.  I believe it also more fruitful for the client.  The client gets a feel for the personality and character of the lawyer.  It is the lawyer sharing a bit if himself or herself.  It is the lawyer letting the client into the inner sanctum. That helps to endear trust and confidence.

What else might a lawyer use a conference room for?  Settlement meetings of course.  But I have never been put out by having a settlement meeting in a lawyer's personal office because a conference room was not available.  Depositions?  Not a problem.  I take them at the court reporter's office -- after selecting a court reporter that provides free conference rooms.

Is a conference room a nice luxury to have?  You bet it is.  Is it essential to your success as a lawyer, or to your credibility?  Absolutely not.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#conferenceroom #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Massive Password Hack

Yet another massive password hack has befallen the social media world.  More than 2,000,000 user passwords were stolen from Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Google.  The huge hack was the product of a virus attacking the sites for the last several months.  More details are provided in a very informative article from CNN.

The obvious response is that you, me, and everyone else should be changing our passwords for all sites.  Have fun!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Outsourcing Those Little Jobs

Ever find yourself needing help with odd jobs and tiresome tasks like translating documents, getting help with search engine optimization, tackling some typing projects.  Want to find an assistant you can hire for a couple of hours at a ridiculously affordable rate. Think your office is not big enough to outsource? Think again.  There is a resource out their called freelancing, that gives you the opportunity to hire professionals from around the world. is a freelancer website.  It is a global job marketplace with a series of tools targeted at businesses that intend to hire and manage remote workers.  oDesk allows clients to create online work teams coordinated and paid through the company's proprietary software and website. (thanks Wikipedia).  Let me give you a couple of examples.  

I had a 20 page pdf discovery document that I wanted converted to Word so I could cut and paste pieces of it into a meet and confer letter.  It would have taken me or my paralegal all day to type that pdf into Word.  There are also software programs I could have bought to do the conversion for me, but I was not interested in making that investment, nor in spending the time doing the conversion with that software.

I went to oDesk and posted the job:  Need typist to convert pdf document into Word document. Within a few minutes experts in such work from around the world had posted responses that they were interested in doing the job.  I ended up hiring a talented professional from Egypt who completed the assignment in two hours at the stunning rate of $2 per hour.

I also had a template document in my forms library that needed to be updated to ensure the cited statutes and case law were still accurate.  I could have spent a few hours doing the work myself, but I was too busy.  I could have had my paralegal do it, but she was too busy.  I could have spent half a day posting to craigslist to get a law student to do it -- but that would have taken too much time, and the cost could have ended up being more than I wanted to pay.

I went to oDesk and posted Lawyer needed to update California legal memo.  This time I let the post stay up for a couple of hours before I checked for responses.  When I did check I had a half dozen expressions of interest.  Three of the lawyers were from India.  One was from the Philippines.  One was from Pakistan.  One was a retired U.S. lawyer living oversees.  All of the lawyers were law school graduates licensed to practice law in their respective countries.  All had at least six years of experience as practicing lawyers.  All had experience doing outsourcing legal work that focused on California law.  The price bids ranged from a low of $11.11 per hour to $20 per hour (for the U.S. lawyer).  I actually hired one of the lawyers from India (at $11.11 per hour).  To my surprise the work product was surprisingly impressive, and done to my satisfaction.

Some folks might argue that hiring workers at such low rates is exploitation.  I disagree.  These professionals are looking for, and need the work.  I presume the pay is comparable to what they can get at home, or else they would not be racing to bid on these jobs.  Also, if I did not have such affordable options, I might not get the projects done.  I see it as a win-win for everybody.

Other sites providing similar services include,, and Elance.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hope For The Mac Lawyer

I love Apple computers.  I have an iPad, an iMac, and and a MacBook Pro.  The iMac is at home, and the MacBook Pro is for road warrioring.  I love them all.  They work so much simpler and better than the Windows computers that we have at the office. Unfortunately we are slaves to Windows at the office because all of the law practice management software that we use only works with Windows.  Therein lies the problem for a lot of Mac lawyers -- software availability.

Slowly but surely that seems to be changing, particularly with the growth of cloud computing. has an article detailing the increasing availability of law practice management software.  While there is still a long, long, long way to go for the Mac lawyer, any hope springs eternal.  Click here for the read.

If you are a Mac lawyer with a software resource to share, please leave a comment.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Creating Real Signatures With Adobe Acrobat Pro XI

The bulk of my communications are dispatched over the internet.  Our utilization of services from the U.S. Postal Service is way down  (really only for service of pleadings that require a proof of service by U.S. Mail).  Almost all of the letters that I write are transmitted to the sender via email as pdf documents.  The only shortcoming I have with this method is the lack of ability to affix a handwritten signature.

What I have been doing is affixing the Adobe authentication signature to my docs.  However that is simply my name in typed text with the adobe security text next to it.  Alternatively I can print out the document, color scan it, and then send it as an email attachment.  That alternative adds two extra steps that are inconsistent with our paperless office.  1.  Printing out the document.  2.  Scanning the document.

Thanks to the new Adobe Acrobat Pro XI and Rob Borstein and his always awesome Acrobat For Legal Professionals blog there is now a solution to my problem.  In XI you can take a webcam picture of your handwritten signature and then incorporate it into your XI settings where it will live permanently, waiting for you to affix it to all of your documents. This is a new feature that I have been waiting for for a long, long time.

An installation tip:  If you download Version XI you will get version 11.0.0.  The Use a webcam option to create your signature is a feature of Version 11.0.5 (and later).  Make sure your install/update to the latest version.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#adobeacrobatpro#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Friday, November 8, 2013

Are You PPC'ing?

You’re not doing PPC?

Lawyers seem to be creatures of habit. They often have difficulty integrating new technology effectively, or taking advantage of the incredible number of useful tools available online today. But the biggest thing I see attorneys losing out on when it comes to technology is advertising.

Television advertising is too expensive and the ROI is difficult to measure. Magazines and newspapers have the same two caveats as TV, and their readership is dying out. So what’s the solution?

Pay-per-click advertising. Whether with Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, or LinkedIn, PPC advertising is one of the most powerful tools your firm can use to bring in new clients.

Basically, you can target people who are searching specifically for the legal services your firm offers, and then show those people ads. The best part? You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. It’s easy to set up a system that turns a click into a paying client.

The biggest issues that divorce lawyers face when looking to get started with PPC are time and money. Learning how to effectively manage PPC ads can be time consuming and expensive, and often discourages lawyers from pursuing it further.

So here’s the solution. My firm has worked to build up a group of divorce and family law firms participating in PPC advertising. By specializing, we are able to make your advertising profitable much faster than any other PPC firm. We use your account so that you can keep all of your data and have as much access as possible. We only accept one firm per market which eliminates any conflict of interest, and we operate on performance-based fees.

If you’re not doing PPC, you’re losing out on lots of high-value clients. If you are doing PPC, but you’re not working with someone who knows divorce law, you’re still probably missing out on the best of what PPC has to offer.

This article written by guest author Toby Rosen.  If you’re interested in getting started with PPC advertising, you can check out his website at or email him directly at

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Best Internet Invention Since The Internet

Are you frustrated with those annoying pop-up ads that compromise your internet surfing?  Tired of waiting out those thirty second commercials on so that you can see the video you clicked on. Want to view the internet they way you used to be able to view it -- before it was infected with the plague of paid advertising.  Guess what, you can have the internet the way it was!

Ad Trap is a miracle to behold.  Plug this little device in between your modem and your router and it removes ads from your Internet connection before they reach any of your home devices. Video, music streams and mobile apps and websites, all ad free. AdTrap works with any browser and any device. AdTrap protects your privacy by preventing  websites from tracking and gathering your personal information as you browse.

This thing works!  I bought one.  I am using it.  It is awesome!  I don't know how it works.  I don't care how it works.  All I know is that it works, and I am happy, happy, happy because of it.  At $139 it is a steal. I love it!  What more can I say?  You gotta get one (and no, I am not being compensated for this endorsement).  Click here to get yours.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Friday, October 25, 2013

How About A Pod For You. Creative Shared Office Space For Lawyers.

Office space is expensive.  Renting more space than you need is wasteful.  Establishing satellite or virtual offices can be challenging.  Being a solo working in isolation can be lonely.  A new start up in South San Francisco is trying to meet and beat all these challenges. Thirty33 Legal Suites offers each attorney their own space, they call it a Pod, in a lawyer shared environment.

What is a pod you ask?  Good question.  It is not a cubicle.  It could be considered something more, or something less?  Taking a pointer from the new entrepreneur and start-up incubators popping up all over the place, Thirty33 will rent you a desk, chair, and file cabinet in an open floor plan space.  You get your own not so private space in a larger room shared with other attorneys and their own sort of not so private spaces.  Initially that does not sound so great.  Let me show you an illustration to make it better:

In addition Thirty33 will provide its tenants with a reception area and receptionist present when conferences are scheduled to make sure that all your clients needs are met. Each Pod has a dedicated phone number and the ability to have all calls routed through reception to ensure easy and professional client interactions.  Fiberoptic internet runs to the building, providing for fast and secure internet connection for all attorneys, with wifi and cat6 cables.  There is a dedicated fax machine on the premises to receive all incoming and outgoing faxes 7 days a week 24 hours a day.  Each attorney will have access to their own secure storage that can be locked so that clients can be ensured that their information will be kept private and confidential.  Thirty33 Legal Suites comes equipped with a state of the art multifunction printer that provides color copies and scanning capabilities. Unlimited copies are included in the monthly rent.  Each attorney will be able to provide a business address for all incoming and outgoing mail during regular business hours. Each pod comes with a dedicated parking spot. In addition, clients have access to guest parking making it easy to get to and from their meetings.

Thirty33 also comes with a conference room with capacity for 8 people (use included in the monthly rent, subject to availability).

All of this comes at a price of $750 per month which does not seem all that bad to me, particularly if you are a young lawyer just starting out, or looking for opportunities to collaborate with other lawyers, and cross-refer.

This is innovative thinking and a pioneering concept in the legal profession.  I like it!  I am a bit concerned with client privacy (talking on the phone really sticks out), but not overly so.  That Thirty33 Legal Suites is dedicated to lawyers is great.  The services and amenities appear generous. If the actual product delivers on the sales hype I could see these pods really catching on.

Click her to visit the Pods.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Big Screen TV In My Office

As I wrote earlier, I have installed a 55 inch flat screen television in my office, and I have connected it to my computer.  The results have been better than anticipated.  I use the screen during meetings with my clients.  We review documents on the big screen.  I put our child/spousal support software on the big screen so the client and I can go over the numbers together.  We do the same with property division software and Excel spreadsheets.  I can go over case calendars with the client by showing those calendars on the big screen.  The big screen is great for exhibit review and trial prep by myself, and with the client.  This is compared to our previous process of swiveling my much smaller PC monitor on its stand so the client could see it; or of printing two copies of everything so the client and I could spread everything out on my desk and go over it.

The flat screen makes everything bigger and easier to view.  Being able to use my cursor makes it easier to direct attention to particular content.  It is also more economical and green than printing everything out (yes, over time I do believe there will be a carbon footprint savings).

Prices have, and will continue, to drop dramatically on large, flat screen televisions.  Heck only a few months down the road I can now get a 62" or 70" set for the same price that I paid for the 55".  That is relevant, as experience tells me that you should go with the biggest screen your budget allows.  In my office the client and I sit about ten feet away from the screen.  At that distance 55" is the minimum screen size that will allow comfortable viewing.  Any smaller or farther away and eye strain becomes an issue.

I definitely recommend such a set-up!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#bigscreentv #flatscreen #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Working The Room

Do you invest your valuable time going to Chamber of Commerce, Bar Association, Rotary, Trade Group, and other professional meetings?  Are you going to those meetings for the purpose of marketing your law practice, and to create new business for yourself?  If you answer these questions yes, then I have a toolkit for you with advice to make sure you are fully marketing yourself.  Sally Schmidt is President of Schmidt Marketing, Inc., which offers marketing services to law firms.  She has written a great article for the Attorney@work blog with her three golden rules for any marketing activity.

According to Sally marketing success is driven by:
1. Preparation: What is your objective — i.e., why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you hope to accomplish? How can you get ready to take ultimate advantage of the opportunity?
2. Execution: How can you implement the activity so it works to your advantage? How can you present the best possible version of yourself?
3. Follow-up: What can you do once the activity is over? With whom can you follow up? How can you leverage the activity into other things?
Her article is filled with sage advice that you should always be mindful of.  Please click here to read the whole thing.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#networking #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Redbook

Regular readers of this blog know that it is about more than technology (i.e. tech & practice).  I love to write, and I love the art of writing.  Writing is the craft of the lawyer. Despite the fact that it is the bulk of what we do, as a group we don't do it very well.  We get frozen by habit and custom even if that means producing a product that is less than it should be.  Conventions control because it has always been done that way.

Bryan Garner is one of my writing heroes.  A lawyer, he is known first and foremost as the editor of Black's Law Dictionary.  Garner has also taken on the courageous challenge of making lawyers better writers.  To that end he has written a shelf's worth of books, and I own many of them.  My favorite is The Redbook, A Manual On Legal Style (Third Edition, West, 2013).  This 614 page manual is a great tool for making your writing better and contemporary.

Some examples:
The modern trend is toward less capitalization. Sec. 2.1.  
Attest is used as the appropriate verb in the prepositional phrase attest to .  Sec. 12.4.  
A typical affidavit identifies the affiant, attests to the affiant's qualifications for making the statement, and records the affiant's statement of facts or opinion.  It should also include a clear statement of the affiant's purpose, such s to support a motion or to serve as evidence.  Sec. 20.1(c).
The Redbook is not a replacement for The Bluebook or other citation systems.  It is different.  It is about writing.  What is especially exciting about The Redbook is Garner's educating the reader to improvements in writing that are the product of computers and word processors.  For example, "Today, word processors can automatically use the correct curly marks known as smart quotes (" . . . "). There's no excuse for still using the ugly straight quotes, which are typographical blemishes that don't match any font."  Sec. 1.29.  There is even a section on writing better e-mail messages.  Sec. 16.

If you care to improve your writing, The Redbook could be a valuable tool to help you.  Check it out.  Price varies depending on the vendor.  It is available at Amazon, West, and other sites.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#bryangarner #redbook #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Apple Gets Approval For New Mother Ship

Apple is spreading its pioneer wings beyond electronic technology with its new, conversation stimulating headquarters which has just received approval for construction.

On a related note, Harding & Associates Family Law is pleased to announce plans for its new headquarters which, incidentally, will be on a scale to rival that of Apple.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Virtual Law Firm

What thoughts are evoked when I ask you to imagine the traditional law firm?  Does your mind's eye see fancy offices festooned with persian carpets, basking in sunlight coming through big glass windows in a Class A office building?  Perhaps you see a richly paneled office in a converted Victorian house.  Then again maybe you see four walls and simple furnishings within a suite on the ground floor of a suburban professional building.

All of these are familiar images.  However, there is no norm anymore when it comes to the traditional law office.  Nowhere in the practice of law is this footprint changing more than in family law.  With the advent of the internet, video conferencing, and digital documentation the idea of the traditional law firm space is morphing.  The virtual law firm is becoming more and more prevalent. What is it?  Good question.

The virtual law office does away with the traditional notion of rented or owned commercial space
where every attorney has his or her own dedicated office.  Instead lawyers and staff work remotely from their homes (or elsewhere) logging into an office computer server hosted in the cloud or at a physical space smaller than the norm.  The idea of office-less law firms and lawyers has given birth to a whole new lexicon:  virtual lawyering, e-lawyering, free-range lawyers, remote lawyering. . .  Client interaction takes place via telephone, or by email, or by video conferencing.   If lawyer and client need to meet face to face, law firms rent executive suite space (Regus and Pacific Business Centers are two executive suite pioneers) on an hourly basis (the conference room on call).  In other set ups private offices are replaced by cubicles.  The library is eliminated in favor of online books.  One conference room becomes the de facto site for client and firm meetings.

It is not just solos that are virtualizing.  The Rosen Law Firm in North Carolina, along with its 14 family law lawyers and staffers has burned its commercial leases, and eliminated full-time office space altogether.  Its people work from their homes and meet with clients at courthouses, or pay as you go conference centers.

Let me speak from personal experience.  Commercial space is expensive.  I own the building in Pleasanton that my law firm is headquartered in.  That does not mean that I am blind to the overhead created by physical space.  We used to have a very nice, very large library/conference room, with a huge ten person conference table.  I got tired of paying hundreds of dollars per month to maintain a paper library.  I cancelled all of our print subscriptions, and converted to online products.  This reduced my library cost by about 60% to 75%.  Then I had all of the space that was no longer needed for library shelving.  I hired two guys with a pick-up truck from the Home Depot parking lot to haul all the books to the dump.  Then we subdivided the library space into a small conference room and an attorney office.  I instantly doubled my usable space. We still had a sufficient meeting space (in family law meetings rarely exceed 4 or 5 people), and I had a lovely new attorney office at my disposal.

For years I have accessed my office computer network remotely from my home and the road, and I have loved the freedom.  It is nice to get away from the office but still be productive.   If I want to spend the day in my lovely home, working in my sweats I can.  I have long made use of associates and contract attorneys who have never even been to my Pleasanton office.  Instead we communicate and collaborate over the internet (via Skype and email).  I have a contract with an executive suite company in Walnut Creek, California so that I can conveniently meet with clients there.  I pay by the hour, and pay only for the space that I actually use.  The offices and conference rooms there are beautiful, clean, and modern.  It also allows me to legitimately list a second office on my letterhead, website, and marketing materials.  The clients don't mind at all. Click here to visit the Walnut Creek office of Harding & Associates Family Law.

Want a few samples?  Here are some links to some nifty virtual law firms and offices:

Sue Boyall
Axiom Law
McIlveen Family Law Firm
Rachel Rodgers

Virtual practice, a great way to expand or streamline and economize your practice.  Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#virtuallawoffice #virtuallawfirm #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyersThe idea of office-less law firms and lawyers has given birth to a whole new lexicon:  virtual lawyering, e-lawyering, free-range lawyers, remote lawyering . . .

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is Twitter Cooling Off?

According to a report at the Boy Genius Report, Twitter's phenomenal popularity may be waning.  The BGR report had Twitter adding only one million new subscribers between the March and June quarters in 2013.  Compare that to the three million it added for the same period the year before.  More startling, "the number of U.S. iPhone owners using Twitter has stalled completely between March and August, moving from 27.2% to 27% over a five-month period."  Moving up on the popularity charts:  Instagram and Snapchat.  Please click here to read the original article.

Certainly don't abandon Twitter.  It still has fantastic numbers.  Start appreciating though that other platforms are gaining ground, and those other platforms may demand a bit more of your attention.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#twitter #instagram #snapchat #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do You Know How Your California Pleadings Should Look?

I love the printed word.  How the word is printed, how it looks, how it appears on the page.  The first impression I get of a piece of legal writing is not what the words say, but how they look on the page.  If a legal writing is visually appealing to me, the content will begin from a position of advantage.

I am not alone in my focus on how the word is printed.  In California we have law that is on point.  Law that controls from the Oregon border to the north to the Mexico border to the south; from the Nevada border to the east to the Pacific Ocean to the west.  Allow me to share the content of this law so that your words and your pleadings will look right under the law.

The law on legal print starts with California Rules of Court, Rule 2.100, et seq.  The rules are absolute, and cannot be modified a local court rules. Rule 2.100.  Your words must be printed on recycled paper.  Rules 1.6, 1.22 and 2.101.  Double sided printing is not allowed.  Rule 2.102.  Your paper must be white, unglazed, unbleached, and at least 20 pound weight. Rule 2.103.

Now for the more fun requirements, at least as defined by my nerdy, tech side.  Your print cannot be smaller than 12 point.  Rule 2.105.  Your font must be Courier, Times New Roman, or Arial (or similar thereto). Rule 2.105.  Your ink must be black or blue-black. Rule 2-106. Your pleadings must have a one inch left margin and a half-inch right margin.  Rule 2.107.  Your pleadings must be one and one-half spaced or double-spaced, except for descriptions of real property, footnotes and quotations which can be single-spaced.  Rule 2.108.  Each page of your pleading must be numbered consecutively at the bottom of the page.  Rule 2.109.  At the bottom of each page of your pleading, directly below the page number, you must include a footer that contains the title of the paper (examples: "Complaint," "Memorandum of Points and Authorities") or some clear and concise abbreviation.  The footer must be at least 10-point type.  Rule 2.110.  What's great about all of this, is that our computers make it a snap to be in compliance.  Just get in the habit of defaulting all of your docs to these requirements.  Voila!

In case you were wondering, these rules do not apply to Judicial Council forms.  Rule 2.119.  They get to look any way the Judicial Council decides they should look.  That is also why you can get away with smaller than 12-point type to make content fit on the form.

There are also all kinds of rules relating to binding, hole punching, etc. within the same chapter of the rules.  Take a look, are bet there are some requirements that you never thought of?

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Client Loyalty Teleseminar is presenting a FREE teleseminar:  10 Secrets to Developing Client Loyalty.  The teleseminar will be held on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 Pacific).  Get tips to improve your client's
  1. Overall satisfaction of doing business with your law firm
  2. Willingness to build a relationship with you and your company
  3. Willingness to be a repeat client
  4. Willingness to recommend you to others
  5. Reluctance to switch to another law firm
Click here to learn more and to register.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Automating Date and Deadline Calendaring

Allow me to take you back in time. . .  On your desk sits a black plastic box about the size of a quarter loaf of bread.  In that box are tabbed dividers numbered 1 through 30.  They are for the thirty days in a month.  In fact there are twelves sets of those thirty dividers, one for each month of the year.  Next to that box is a stack of pre-printed duplicate forms.  The forms help you to keep track of deadlines.  They are called "ticklers."  When a new deadline needs to be calendared you fill in one of the forms.  You include the date you are  filling in the form.  The name of the case.  The event to be completed, and the date by which it must be completed.  One of the duplicates goes in that box behind the divider for the day and month that is your deadline.  Another duplicate goes into the file for the matter.  To ensure redundancy you also write the deadline down in your calendar book.  You may also give a duplicate to your assistant so she can write the deadline on her or his paper calendar.  Another duplicate may be inserted into the day divider for 5, 7, 15 days before the deadline.  Each day you open the box and see what is due that day.  You also see what is due tomorrow, next week, next month, etc., etc.  As you finish each project by its deadline you check the completed box on all the forms, and put a line or a check through the deadline or to-do on your calendar.

Is this (or something similarly paper based and laborious) how you keep track of your deadlines?  Well, you are not alone.  In fact, this paper based system is probably the default method for the majority of us family law lawyers.  In fact, you may not even be aware that there is a computer based alternative.

Rules based calendaring is computerized and allows you to abandon the paper tickler process.  In the process your deadline calendaring becomes faster, easier, and more accurate.  Isn't that what we want from our practice and our technology?  You betcha!

I first became aware of rules based calendaring about fifteen years ago when I started using Amicus Attorney in my practice.  At that time Amicus had an add-on from a company called Compulaw.  It worked brilliantly!  Let me give you an example.  I would receive a set of interrogatories in the mail.  I would open the particular case in Amicus, then select the rules calendaring module.  Then I would select today's date and check the box for interrogatories having been served upon me.  The software would then insert that event in my calendar for the case.  It would also calendar the date that the answers to the interrogatories were due.  Even more, it would insert a reminder into my calendar for five days before the deadline.  The dates would appear in my calendar and be crossed indexed to the history for the case.  To boot, the dates are are calculated and calendared to comply with California's statutory deadlines automatically.  No looking up the CCP deadline, no day counting.  All that work done in  matter of seconds with only five or six clicks of the mouse.  This functionality took my breath away.  It still does today.  What a time saver.  And the computer calculates the dates far more accurately and reliably than I ever did with my fingers and toes.  I no longer use Amicus Attorney.  I switched to AbacusLaw about five years ago.  When I made the switch I considered many practice management systems.  I chose AbacusLaw because it too had rules based calendaring.  I will never utilize practice or case management software unless it has rules based calendaring.  In fact I would consider any practice management software that does not have rules based calendaring to be incomplete.

The technology behind computerized calendaring is not simple.  There is a ton of programming behind it.  And there is more than just simple procedural savvy required to complete that programming.  California has hundreds of different calendaring events, think discovery deadlines, minimum days to serve a motion before the hearing, time to respond to a complaint or petition, and on, and on.  The right event has to be identified.  The the right dates for the right event have to be calculated.  Those dates then have to be inserted into the calendar and tied to the to-dos for the case.  The investment behind the creation of such a tool is not insignificant.  When the technology works right it epitomizes the essence of technology in the practice of law.

If you have not considered adopting rules based calendaring in your practice, you should.  I know that AbacusLaw has it because I use it every day.  Compulaw is now called Aderant Compulaw, but it is still in business calculating deadlines.  I don't know if Amicus Attorney still has rules based calendaring now that it no longer has a partnership with Compulaw?  Other practice and case management products are developing rules calendaring features, although not as quickly as they are developing other features.  At the very least most practice management software systems have some type of feature that allows you to abandon the paper tickler.  It is a question of whether the system does all of the work for you?  Practice management software vendors, to do your job fully, you MUST include rules based calendaring.  Please, please, please.

Rules based calendaring.  Please check it out, you owe it to yourself and to your practice management.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#rulesbasedcalendaring #ticklerfile #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mobile Websites

Do you have a website or blog for your practice?  If you do you have likely heard of the latest rage, which is sites optimized for viewing on mobile devices.  Beware the snake oil salesman!  It is true that  website and blog viewing on mobile devices is way up.  You want folks to be able to view your sites on their devices. That does not mean that you have to go out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a second site designed just for mobile devices.  The web design sales folks will tell you that you do.  I am here to tell you that you don't.  In many instances the push for sites designed specially for mobile devices is just a marketing ploy.

But how do you know?  First off, look at your website or blog on a mobile device.  How does it look?  Can you read it?  Can you see the graphics.  If the answers are yes and yes, your site is already mobile ready. What most mobile website designers do is simply remove the graphics from your site, strip it down to nothing more than an textual outline, and then sell it as something special for mobile devices.  You could end up paying more for less.

Need to assess your site even deeper? Identify the software used to create your website or blog.  Chances are it is already designed to accomplish the cross-over between desktop devices and mobile devices.  I write this Family Law Layer Tech & Practice blog utilizing Google's Blogger software.

If you are reading this on a pc or mac, it looks different than it does if you are looking at it on a smartphone. The smartphone version you see to the right is more stripped down. Content is king, rather than graphics, on the smartphone version so that it can load quickly.

Compare the mobile version to the full-blown computer version you see below. More pictures, more graphics.  More sophisticated layout.

Want to know what I do to make this happen?  Absolutely nothing! The Blogger software does it all for me.  It creates two blogs.  I go to my dashboard and post a new entry and that is it.  Blogger shows readers one version for computers (with all the bells and whistles) and another version for smartphone readers.  I have nothing to do with it!

Same thing with the website for my law firm.  That site is built on the WordPress platform.  Whether you are viewing it on a computer or a mobile device, you are going to see the same thing. The only difference is that the initial view on a smartphone is going to be smaller than the view on a computer.  Spread two fingers on your smartphone screen and the images zooms so that you can see them up close.  All of the major design software products accomplish the same cross-over.  No second website to create or maintain.  No duplicate cost. No loss of presence or impact.

If you want to increase your web design expenses by building a special mobile site, go for it.  Just don't do it because a salesman tell you that you have to.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Hashtags, #, are the symbols you see all over social media.  Conceived by facebook a hastag consists of one or more words or phrases, typically at the end of a social media post. The characters in a hashtag are typed without spaces and preceded by a #, for example: “familylawtechnology.”  A hastag is a method of indexing key words, phrases, and ideas.  On facebook every hastag has its own url.  It becomes a header on the message.  Your hastags will help with facebook optimization and indexing.  Hastags are starting to gain relevance for other platforms, and they will eventually help with search engine optimization, and phrase searches by readers beyond facenook.

If you are blogging, you should be utilizing hastags.  It really is quite simple.  Identify the keywords in your posts.  Put a # before each one.  If the keywords form a phrase, remove the spaces between the word and put a # at the beginning of the spaceless phrase.  As examples:  #lawyer   #familylaw  #californiadivorcelawyer.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cloud Computing? What's That?

The Cloud is hot these days.  Everything is moving to the cloud.  OK, fine.  But what is cloud computing? Software vendor MyCase has created a slide show to help explain this booming technology. Of course the slide show is a marketing tool for the MyCase software. Nonetheless, it is well done, and helps to understand the cloud so I am willing to extend the marketing advantage to MyCase in exchange for the education provided by the slide show.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#thecloud #cloudcomputing #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Friday, August 23, 2013

Go Away And They Will Come

Last week things were dead around the office.  I got maybe five pieces of mail all week, and it was all junk mail.  The phone was not ringing.  The email box was empty.  I could have taken the week off and gone fishing.  Monday of this week I left town to move my son into his freshman dorm at college (Go Syracuse!). We had a great time, even though my son was constantly thumb glued to his iPhone and iPad.

It's Friday morning and I am now back in the office.  Surprise, surprise I have more than 50 messages in my email box.  There are a dozen voice mail messages waiting for me. I have so much mail I cannot see my desk.  I have a stack of exhibits dropped off by a client.  Two new motions were sent to me while I was away. Where was all this stuff last week?

I have a personal policy of turning off the office when I go away.  Unlike my son, I did not need to be connected 24/7.  I did Skype my paralegal yesterday, but that was because I was sitting at the airport for a four hour layover, and I was bored out of my gourd.  I am not one of those workaholics who takes the office on vacation.  Still, my experience this morning demonstrates how important it is to have a system in place for when you are away from the office.  All of this activity cannot be ignored.  Systems are the key.

I am fortunate enough to have a very talented paralegal working with me.  When I am away she checks my voice mail for me.  She opens, reviews, and runs the snail mail through the scanner.  If a problem arises she can get in touch with me, and we deal with it.  She knows that it has to be a real emergency!

What if you are not as fortunate as me, and you don't have an assistant you can rely upon?  Can you still survive?  Yes you can.

1.   Get the word out.  This is really the most important thing you can do.  In advance of your trip let your clients and your opposing counsel know that you will be away.  They will understand, and they will appreciate knowing in advance why you will not be available.

2.   Set your email auto responder.  More and more, email is becoming the default communications channel. Program an auto responder in your email program so that each message coming into your inbox gets an automated response letting the sender know that you will be away from the office.  Don't go to the trouble of being too specific.  Bad guys and girls don't need to know that you will be traveling to Australia for the next two weeks and your house will be sitting empty for them to burgle.  I still check my email once a day while I am away as a troubleshooting technique.  Rarely if ever do I come across something that cannot hold until my return to the office.

3.   Change your voice mail message.  Create a specific voice mail message letting callers know that you will be away from the office.  Again, don't go to the trouble of being too specific.  Bad guys and girls don't need to know that you will be traveling to Australia for the next two weeks and your house will be sitting empty for them to burgle.

4.   If your jurisdiction recognizes such a tool, send out notices of unavailability of counsel to create a formal record of your unavailability.

5.   The snail mail will be an issue.  You cannot have a stranger open while you are away because of confidentiality issues.  It may just have to sit there until your return.  Alternatively, you can hire a friend, a retired legal secretary, or a trusted someone looking for a little extra cash to come in to your office and open the mail.  Then they can send you an email summarizing what they see.  If you share office space, and the other attorney has a secretary, ask that person to go through the mail.  Make sure you have that the person you have going through your mail signs a confidentiality agreement, and make sure you have explained the importance of confidentiality to him or her.

6.   Find a cover lawyer.  Make arrangements with one of your buddies to be on stand by just in case.  All of us lawyers love our time away.  Covering for one another is part of the collegiality of the profession.  Just make sure that the person you call upon is not presently opposing you in any cases -- that could create conflict of interest problems.  If you encounter the rare instance of needing to make an emergency court appearance, or an ex parte application has to be responded to, you will be covered.  A point of order. Assure that friend/lawyer in advance that you are not expecting charity work, and that he or she will be fully compensated for any coverage work done on your behalf.  Even if you have to pay for that work out of your own pocket, do it.  It is only fair, and it will facilitate future repeat performances.

7.  Go on your trip, and enjoy yourself.  You deserved, and you need the break.  Your clients and your cases will be okay while you are away.

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#vacation #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't Rush To Install Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 will soon hit the street.  Take my advice people, don't be in a rush to install it.  Remember John's new software mantra:  Software companies generate revenue by selling product.  New revenue is generated by new products.  To maximize revenue software companies must release new products, whether the product is ready to be released or not.

Microsoft is the master of selling premature software. Remember Vista?  Still regretting installing ME? When Microsoft's revenues go soft, they release a new version of Windows.  Usually the first release is buggier than an ant larvae sandwich, and has more holes than a sponge.

Microsoft marketed 8.0 as revolutionary.  Just as it had marketed every preceding generation of Windows product.  Most of us bought into the hype -- as we always do -- because we are ever optimistic that dreams will come true. . . When people actually started using 8.0, it proved be to be no big deal.  It did prove to be buggy and unstable.  Windows 8.1 is simply the patch for all of the problems that have so far been identified in 8.0.  8.1 is the version that should have been released first.  Instead, as is Microsoft practice, 8.0 hit the street and Microsoft then let the paying customer do the beta testing.  Enough problems have been identified to release 8.1, but it too will be buggy, and crashy.  It will be better than 8.0, but far from perfect.  Let the person to your left and the person to your right do the beta testing of 8.1 for a few months.  The service pack for 8.1 will then be released, and at that point you should be able to install a relatively stable product.

The only thing you have to watch out for is the possibility of Microsoft puling a switch-a-roo, and starting to charge for the 8.1x upgrade.  That I cannot help you with.

If you are running Windows 7, stay with it.  Let at least a couple of month pass so that Microsoft can de-bug 8.1 before you consider paying for the upgrade.  Better yet, wait for the next generation Windows product. Again, in my opinion, Microsoft has an alternating momentum pattern.  Think back:  Windows 95, not so good. Windows 98, a big improvement.  Windows ME, garbage.  Windows XP, good stuff. Vista, garbage. Windows 7, not bad.  Windows 8, let's wait for the next big release.  See the alternating pattern?

Windows is going to force 7.0 users to upgrade when it eventually stops supporting 7.0.  That is when I will upgrade.  I see nothing in 8.0, or 8.1 that I really need.

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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...