Monday, June 22, 2015

Things for East Coast Lawyers to remember when working with a Northern California family law attorney

Here in Northern California we family law lawyers like to think of ourselves as more civilized. We love what we do, we do it well, and we do it passionately. You can say the same thing about the myriad traits that define the Nor Cal way of life.

Chris McGinnis over at the Travel Skills Diary published an article recently about eight mistakes business travelers need to avoid making when coming to San Francisco. Chris's observations are easily tweaked to assist lawyers from beyond California when working with a Northern California family law lawyer on a case, or when traveling to Northern California for a case:

1.  We close early on Friday afternoons.  After 2 p.m. on Fridays, when you Easterners close for the weekend at 5 pm, so too do many of us in the Northern California family law bar.  Especially when it’s warm and sunny outside, , wine, cocktail, and beer carts start making the rounds, golf balls are teed up, mountain bikes start rolling, cars start heading for the mountains.  While there are exceptions to this rule, your Nor Cal colleagues are likely to groan if you send out a calendar invite for a 4 p.m. meeting on Friday. Make it at 11 a.m. instead. Better still schedule it on Thursday.

2.  Northern Californians get started early.  As Chris notes, "Don’t be surprised about an early morning start. An 8:30 a.m. meeting is not considered out of order. . . Lunch hour begins promptly at noon, but you will find that locals that head out at 11:30 a.m. or 11:45 a.m. “to beat the crowds.” Expect the same early schedule for dinner meetings, which can and do start as early at 6 p.m. Most restaurants are empty by 9:30 on weekdays and by 10:30 p.m. on weekends." Some courts even get going at 8 a.m.

3.  More good advice from Chris:  "Don’t always rely on taxicabs. The Bay Area is Uber’s home, and it is everywhere in Nor Cal, so download the app and use it if you haven’t already done so and enjoy all the different “flavors” of Uber available, which include the standard town car UberBLACK, private car “citizen driver” UberX (cheaper than taxis), UberSUV, UberXL, and the new UberPOOL where you share a ride with someone else headed in the same direction. Cabs are fine when available, but the industry has been decimated by the likes of Uber and Lyft and their business is down by 65%. The Bay Area is a huge, sprawling place with court houses and downtowns all around.  Public transit does not cover all the stops, and some cities with their own courthouses don't have cab companies. Uber is everywhere.  Make sure you need to rent a car before you rent a car. Northern California airport rental rates are notoriously high, the car rental center are not admired, and downtown hotel parking rates are in the $60 per night range."

4.  We don't got no stinking subway. BART is the regional rapid rail system.  It's like a subway and like a Metro, but not as convenient and pervasive, and a hell of a lot more expensive.  It gets you to the big spots on the map, but still misses most of the Bay Area footprint. Your gonna need to put boots on the ground or rubber wheels on the road to get you to your ultimate destination.  That gets us back to Uber and Lyft.

5.  Don’t forget your layers. We have micro climates in Nor Cal.  It can be foggy, wet, and cold at the coast but sweltering hot and bone dry 15 miles away as the crow flies.  Bring a jacket and prepare to shed it as you move inland.  

6.  Our Courts are Not all in San Francisco.  Northern California is about the same size size as New York and Pennsylvania combined, with Ohio thrown in for good measure. Come join me and about 15 million of my closest friends. Northern California has nine counties that touch the water of the San Francisco Bay, and comprise the metropolitan area commonly referred to as the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, or The Bay. Those counties — San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin – are home to more than 7.1 million people. More than 1 million of those people live in Contra Costa County, more than 1.5 million of those people live in Alameda County, and almost 1.85 million of those people live in Santa Clara County.  Just up the road about an hour from The Bay is the State Capital of Sacramento, and its own metro region with about two million people and half a dozen counties. Each California county has its own Superior Court, and each of those Superior Courts has its own different branches, courthouses, and local rules. In fact, two or three different courthouses spread around each county hearing family law cases is the norm.  The simplicity of one courthouse per county does not apply here.

7. WE ARE NOT L.A.  Los Angeles is 400 miles away from the Bay Area and metro Northern
California (almost as far as Cincinnati and New York). They do things different down there. We like our brothers and sisters in SoCal, but they have their own world.

8.  Think Wine not Whine.  Hardball ain't our style. Our wine-ing comes from a bottle.  With liquid gold being made in Napa, Sonoma, the Livermore Valley, the Foothills, the Mendocina Coast, and the Central Coast of Monterey County and Paso Robles we tend to take the edge off of family law. With eight ABA law schools (Stanford, Berkeley, Hastings, Santa Clara, University of San Francisco, Golden Gate, UC Davis, and University of Pacific, McGeorge) we've got plenty of smart folks taking the oath and doing the law thing, we just don't need to be obnoxious about it. Even our Ivy Leaguers are laid back.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ever Wonder Where Your Website Is Listed?

I got an unsolicited e-mail (i.e., SPAM) today from a some guy (I won't bother to name him or his company). Here's what he wrote:
Good afternoon,  
I was just looking at your site, and I have a number of clients within our network looking for injury lawyer in California. I DO NOT work as a lead broker, referral agency, or pay-per click advertising service. I'm simply looking to direct my clients to a relevant site when they're looking for an attorney.  
Your site looks like it could make a strong fit for them. I am looking to work with a lawyer today, therefore give me a call as soon as possible. 
Thanks in advance.
Here's the problem:  I don't practice personal injury law! Frustrated that my time had been wasted I wrote the guy back:
Apparently you did not look at my site too hard. If you had you would know that I am a family law attorney, and not a personal injury lawyer.  Bad demonstration of preparation and professionalism…
Not willing to leave well enough alone, he writes me back:
Actually your website and law practice is listed in the largest directory online, as a personal injury lawyer. Take a look here:

Therefore I assumed you practice injury law as well. It seems the bad preparation and professionalism is on your part, listing your website in a practice area directory that you don't practice law.
I clicked on the link. It does go to an index/listing site for personal injury law firms.  He was kind of correct. There is a firm listed by the name of Harding & Harding.  That is a firm that I was partner in more than 15 years ago.  My firm is Harding & Associates Family Law. Intriguingly when then think click on that link it takes you to my current law firm web site. All you see there is family law, family law, family law.  Not word one regarding personal injury.

Pretty insulting stuff from a guy trying to sell to me. Why would I buy services from someone who does not do their homework, gets their facts wrong, and then tells me I am wrong when I am not? I wouldn't, particularly given that I am not a personal injury lawyer, which is the segment that he is trying to sell to. Another point to consider: even though I am not a personal injury lawyer, I have friends who are, and who would be intrigued by such an approach. . . .

Besides how not to sell services, there is another lesson to be learned here. It is a good idea to inventory your online presence once in a while to look for mistakes -- like a link to my family law law firm being on an index for personal injury firms. For that reminder I must actually thank Mr. Bad Salesman.

P.S. How much ya wanna bet the guy is gonna feel compelled to comment on this post, by which he will identify himself rather than staying anonymous?

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What Tasks Can Most Answering Services Handle?

An answering service is like an outsourced receptionist. You route your phone number to a call center where receptionists answer calls like a member of your business. They can forward the call to you or one of your employees, take messages and even answer some questions about your business, like your location and office hours.

Now, you might be wonder is that it? A real receptionist in my office could do a lot more, like schedule appointments, take orders and accept credit cards. The reality is many answering services can do these things. You just have to find the right one and spend a little more time personalizing your order.

Answering services plans are flexible. You can route calls to them all the time, just on nights and weekends, or just when your office phone line is busy. They’re also flexible in the features you can add. MAP Communications, for example, can schedule appointments as an upgrade from their standard service. With the “scripted” service, receptionists will login to your Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar or Appointment Quest account and use it to schedule appointments. You can also write call scripts for receptionists to answer more complicated questions, such as what services you offer, what your policies are on payment and refunds, etc.

If you use any other web-based programs, such as a CRM or HelpDesk, MAP Communication’s receptionists can likely login and use it. There is an extra fee, however, to cover the cost of training since all employees will have to learn how to use it.

On that note, you don’t want to go overboard with the number of tasks. The key to success with an answering service is to keep your instructions simple. Because many of these services are large call centers, it’ll be a common occurrence that somebody is answering for your business for the first time. If your instructions are lengthy and/or confusing, you can expect there to be some fumbling on the phone. Make sure your instructions are as clear as possible and try to keep them limited to one page.

About the Author:

Jeremy Marsan is a staff writer for Fit Small Business. He specializes in reviewing software and technology applications for small business.

Please visit for more information about John Harding

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

There's A New i Operating System Coming

Apple has begun rolling out iOS 9, the latest version of its operating system for iPhones, iPads . . . As usual the release is prompting great debate. If I were to grade that debate I would say it leans toward the positive. Of course there are always the pundits. This time the critics are saying there isn't any real innovation in the release. That instead it is copying heavily from Android. I don't seee that as anything to be critical off.  OK sure, maybe the new features don't turn water to wine, and ducks to geese, but there are improvement over the previous version.
More importantly there aren't any real criticisms of the performance and function of the new iOS. I take that as a real positive when compared to the blatant beta testing that we suffer through everytime Microsoft releases a new  Windows product.
And it is not as if the new Version 9 is without new stuff.  Consider the new features favored by Zach Epstein over at BGR:
Major Siri improvements 
Siri was dramatically improved in iOS 8, but Siri will be turbo-charged in iOS 9. Most importantly, Apple has added new “Proactive Assistant” features to Siri in iOS 9. This means that like Google Now, Siri will proactively serve up information and perform functions without any action taken by the user. 
For example, Siri’s new Proactive Assistant features will recommend people to contact based on upcoming meetings and apps to open based on the time of the day and your previous usage patterns. App recommendations will appear on the bottom left of the lock screen and also in iOS 9’s new Spotlight search page.Siri also understands context now. So if you’re looking at an email you can open Siri and say, “remind me about this later,” and Siri will create a reminder that opens the appropriate email. 
Proactive Assistant will also automatically add invitations and events to your calendar, which is a nice addition. You’ll also get Google Now-like features such as notifications that you need to leave to arrive at a meeting on time, based on traffic conditions. 
Unlike Google Now, however, all of the data analysis needed to facilitate these features happens on the device — no data is stored on Apple servers and nothing is shared with third parties. 
Apple Pay enhancements 
First up, the 50 million people out there with Discover cards will finally be able to add them to Apple Pay. Big brands like Trader Joe’s and Baskin Robbins will begin accepting Apple Pay this year as well. More importantly, Apple is working with Square to launch a new Apple Pay-compatible card reader that can be used by small businesses. 
Pinterest will also be adding buyable pins, which will let iOS users with the Pinterest app buy items from directly within the app.Where iOS 9 is concerned, Apple is adding support for store credit cards, rewards cards and membership cards. That means you won’t have to carry a separate rewards card or give your phone number to cashiers. Since Passbook functions as a more complete wallet now, it has been renamed to Wallet in iOS 9. 
Big updates to Apple’s iOS apps 
Notes now has a toolbar and built-in check list support. Beyond that, camera and camera roll access has been added to the app, as has drawing support. You can also add links to a note using a new share sheet entry. iCloud will also sync everything across all of your iOS and Mac devices.Where Apple’s Maps app is concerned, Apple has finally added new maps and associated information for public transit. The Maps app will route using all available modes of public transportation. Apple’s app also gives specific walking directions inside of bus and train stations, which is pretty incredible. Transit features will be available in 10 cities to start.Apple also unveiled a new application called News. The new app personalizes news content from a wide range of sources, and it presents content in a great interactive user interface. Publishers will have to customize their content to take advantage of all the features News offers. 
iPad multitasking and more 
There are several iPad-specific updates in iOS 9. For example, there’s a new shortcuts section in the keyboard that provides quick access to things like copy/paste features. Beyond that, touching the keyboard with two fingers at a time transforms it into a giant trackpad so users can move the cursor without leaving the typing position. 
The biggest update is definitely the iPad multitasking update in iOS 9. There’s a great new app switcher interface, and then the “slide over” feature allows users to slide new apps onto the screen, and “split view” allows users to display multiple apps on the screen and the same time and work in both.There’s also a fantastic picture-in-picture feature that lets you display a thumbnail of a video on top of whatever app you’re in. 
Low Power Mode 
This new feature will extend battery life by up to three hours when enabled. It’s similar to offerings from Samsung and HTC, but not quite as extreme. It does limit some functionality, but all core features are still acceptable.

Am I gonna install it? You betcha!  Just have to sit back and for for the little Apple Elves to let me know that it is ready and waiting for me.
Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law
#Apple #iphone #ios #ios9 #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

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...