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.

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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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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...