Friday, December 30, 2016

Lawyers Must Know Technology

As we head into 2017 you must acknowledge technology is not an option in your law practice. It is also not optional that you know technology as a practicing lawyer. Think about it for a minute... How can you create an effective discovery plan in your divorces cases if you don't know about online banking and online finance programs like Quickbooks? How can you effectively adjudicate all the issues n your case if you don't know how to find all the facts? How can you cost effectively deliver legal services if you are not computer savvy? How are you going to communicate with your clients if you don't use email?

If you think you don't need to know technology, then you don't know about practicing law. nowadays. Technology wisdom is no longer on the horizon. It is under our feet, on our desks, in our heads. It has been here since yesterday, and you need to embrace it and know it now!

If you don't believe me, then pay attention to the state bars. They are compelling you to know technology. The State Bar of Florida has amended its CLE rules so that they now require three hours per cycle of technology training. Given how pervasive tech it is in our world, it is only a matter of time before all state bars with have similar rules.

Also pay attention to your malpractice carriers. Those risk management brochures they send you are now filled with warnings compelling us to learn about and implement technology. Malpractice applications now include technology questions.

In your divorce practice do you request data from the opposing parties computer? Are you researching social media use by the opposing party? Do your requests for job search logs include data from job websites? No. Why not? Here is my suggestion for your list of 2017 resolutions:  Start thinking about, using, and investigating technology in your practice. It is not just about word processing anymore...

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Hytech Lawyer

The Hytech Lawyer
is a nice blog published by Columbia, South Carolina trial lawyer Bill Latham. According to Bill the blog/website is:
Generally focused on technology and its implications for  the practice of law.   The subject matter of the blog runs the gamut from cutting edge law practice technology, to the impact of technology on the legal profession.  Finally, we address data security, data breach and privacy issues.   In a nutshell– the intersection of law and technology.
Take a look. You will find hardware and software review, tips fore making better use of software, Bill's thoughts on legal tech, and excellent articles on data security.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

The New Mac Book Pro

I carry an iPad Pro for most of my mobile work. It gives me internet access, and I can download client files and take them to court with me. The Apple Pen also also lets me to take notes. However, when I anticipate a need for heavy duty computing, or when I know that I will be needing Windows software programs, I go with my 15 inch Mac Book Pro.

My Mac is my favorite computing platform. The retina display gives a large, clear, crisp view. There is no shortage of horsepower. I have Parallels installed on it so that I can run Windows programs (like DissoMaster). It just plains works!

Well, for all you Mac fans the big day is here. For the first time in four years Apple has put the Mac Book through a major redesign. It is now thinner, lighter and more powerful. It has a bigger touchpad. The screen is redesigned. The speakers are redesigned. The battery life is longer. There is now a small touch pad screen above th keyboard, that replaces function keys. This is a major upgrade and it looks like a great machine. has a nice preview.

Of course, you get what you pay for. And the superior Apple product comes with the usual exhorbinant Apple price tag. The 15" version starts at $2399!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A High Tech Hotel Desk

I am sure many of you road warriors can commiserate with my blah when it comes to working from a hotel room. The physical space is usually nice enough. Alas it's not home, and it's not the office... It is never just right. It is what it is though, and we must make do with what we've got.

I found myself in an East Coast hotel room recently, desperately needing to get some work done. The hotel I was staying in was an absolutely beautiful historic building just restored to the tune of about $60,000,000. What was interesting was that my room had no desk in it. That was going to be a challenge when I went about setting up my mobile office.

What to do? What to do? As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention. After some MacGyver like thinking I came up with a solution, and I am now thrilled to introduce to you the high tech, height adjustable, folding road warrior inspired Iron Desk:

The Iron Desk
Tell me that isn't cutting edge.  Stable. Comfortable. And you can iron your shirts while getting your law work done.  The Iron Desk is available at a hotel near you!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Stand-Up Desks Are Now Smart Desks

I started to write about stand-up desks more than five years ago. I have been using a stand-up desk for around ten years. Here is my original. Just some laminate boards bolted to the wall.

The Uplift motorized

My how things have changed. It has been almost two years since I last wrote about stand-up desks. Their popularity continues to increase. I was recently in the chambers of a judge who was using a Varidesk!  Stand-ups have also become pretty high tech. Now they are not even called stand up desks. They are Smart Desks.  

Last week while visiting a colleague at his office I saw that he had changed his main workspace to an Uplift height adjustable desk. The lift level is adjustable on the Uplift, and it is motorized, which is pretty cool. Many other manufacturers also have motorized lifts, and desk that you can hand crank up and down.

Harman Kardon on the Evodesk
There are plenty of new choices in this growing area of office furniture. Evodesk lets you build your own, and you can even add a Harman Kardon sound system!

Autonomous is selling basic desk starting at $250.

Smartdesks have become a major industry! They are design pieces. They are incredibly high tech. Take a look at some of the stuff you can get:





Then again, for your old school folks there is still my grand Amish built stand-up desk.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interesting Stats on Referrals to the Blog

I was checking out the stats for the viewers that are coming to this blog.  I learned some interesting stuff.

44% of the visitors to this blog click through from Google. Not so surprising.

17% are clicking through from my Facebook posts. That is surprising in two way. It shows me that people are actually paying attention to my Facebook posts, and that Facebook is a legitimate generator of traffic for my blog. Good news for Facebook.

Zero traffic from Yahoo and Zero traffic from Bing. That surprised me, and really reinforced to me that Google really is the Dominant search engine.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Live Chat on your Website

Over at Legal Productivity Michael Miceli has an article addressing the idea of including a live chat feature on your website. According to Michael:
Unlike calling in to your office or submitting a contact form on your home page, live chat offers the ability to interact in real time with a prospect. They’re happy because they’re in the hunt for your services, they want instant acknowledgement and you’re interested in booking that consultation appointment. When it comes to lead generation, there’s no time like the present to take action and engage. 
. . .
For those visitors that do not engage, live chat has been shown to reduce your bounce rate (rate of exit directly from the page) and it also helps boost the number of visitors who return to your site for another visit. A good rule of thumb is to engage someone who has been idle on a particular web page, for at least 15 seconds, with a pop-up chat window. These are often accompanied by audible sounds that alert the visitor as well.

I don't disagree with him. He provides more compelling reasons in support of live chat:

By getting the basic information of the visitor, the person fielding your firm’s chat inquires will be able to schedule a consultation, or at least take their information for a follow up call. Assuming your firm is organized and methodical in following up with leads, live chat will likely help boost your monthly total. How much? A study by Forrester Research indicated live chat increases website conversion by 20%.

These are all salient points. I take exception to none of them. I suppose it isn't any more burdensome than the current default of having a staffer screen new business phone calls? Still, questions arise. At what price do we family law lawyers chase new business? If we are engaging in advice chat, the chat portal will have to be staffed by a lawyer. Does a ten second chat create a privileged attorney-client relationship? How does one perform a conflict of interest check? What is the operating cost of having a lawyer man the chat portal? What is the operating cost of having a staffer man the chat portal? Does the solo lawyer want chat messages popping up at random times throughout the day? For chat to meet its purpose, it must be live and instantaneous. You won't be able to hit do not disturb like you do with your phone.

I love the idea of live chat. If I am a large national or regional family law firm sure I could see the value of chat. For a one or two person shop I question the cost/benefit ratio. I would love to receive some comments from folks that have actually implemented live chat. Write in!

Please click here to read Mr. Miceli's original article.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Footnotes, footnotes, where to put your footnotes?

Have you ever put citations in the footnotes of a brief, rather than in the main body? I have. I thought it made the document easier to read, and easier to look at. I even thought it made it a bit easier for the judge to find the footnotes.  Lest you think me crazy, uber legal writer Bryan Garner is also a proponent of citations in footnotes.

Mr. Garner and I would appear to be in the minority. Above the Law has a great footnote story. Allow me to liberally quote from ATL:

Via the Twitter feed of Ross Guberman, a leading expert on legal writing, comes this benchslap from Judge James K. Bredar (D. Md.):
Before addressing the merits of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Court cautions both parties to observe certain rules as to the format of motion papers. First, the parties’ motion papers employed a method of citation of authorities that is not only incompatible with the rules but also a hindrance to the Court’s consideration of the parties’ respective arguments. For documents filed in this Court, the Local Rules neither permit nor require the citation of authorities in footnotes, as opposed to incorporating them into the text of documents. See The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation R. B1.1, at 3 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 20th ed. 2015) (“In non-academic legal documents, such as briefs and opinions, citations generally appear within the text of the document immediately following the propositions they support. Footnotes should only be used in non-academic legal documents when permitted or required by local court rules.”). Second, the former rule requiring attachment to motion papers of unpublished case opinions has been omitted from recent iterations of the Local Rules. A citation to either Westlaw or LEXIS suffices for unpublished opinions. Counsel should familiarize themselves with these rules. Future noncompliant filings will be stricken without prior notice.
Ouch! Who says the Bluebook is dead?
The survey in the ATL story would also indicate that most of us expect our footnotes in the body of the text. Only 31% of the survey respondents support cites in the footnotes.

Please click here for an as usual awesome story from Above the Law!
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Friday, August 19, 2016

I have written a lot about the less paper law office. It is a great topic, that is always evolving. With so much of our technology moving to the cloud, the topic is due for an update.

Sam Glover over at has posted a very insightful article, will all the latest and greatest

thought provoking ideas for going paper-less.  Of course he writes about scanners, and laptops, and cloud products. He also writes about work flow, and those ideas are very, very helpful. I couldn't write the article better myself so I am enthusiastically directing traffic to Sam's piece. Please click here for a great read.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Lawyers, Old Lawyers. We all Need Technology.

Jeff Bennion is a San Diego trial lawyer. He has contributed a great article to Above The Law advising young lawyers on the need to embrace technology.  While written to new lawyers, Jeff's advice is relevant to all of us at the bar. Ediscovery, trial presentations, practice management are all driven by technology these days. It is not the next wave, it is the now wave and we all have to know it. Jeff's offers some great tips on how to sherten your learning curve.

Please click here to take a look at Jeff's article, and for some good advice.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Here Comes Stanford!

I was surfing the net the other day, well . . . because that's what I do, when I came across something that I found very intriguing. The Legal Design Lab is a project at Stanford University. The Legal Design Lab (formerly the Program for Legal Technology & Design) was founded in fall 2013 to bring designers, lawyers and technologists together to advance legal innovation and access to justice. The folks there run workshops and teach classes on how legal design and technology can be applied to specific problems in the world of law. They create concept designs for new legal products and services, and build them out with agile, design-driven teams. The development projects at LDL are also research-driven, to create results about what works in legal innovation. Their ultimate goal is to build a stronger community around innovation in legal services, and to do this they’ve adopted a core open-source ethic.

How about this for an idea: The Court Messaging Project is an open-source initiative to build an out-of-the-box tool for any court or legal services group to send automated messages to their clients.  The overarching goal of the project is to make the court system more navigable and to improve people’s sense of procedural justice — that legal system is fair, comprehensible, and user-friendly.

Or this: Navocado is small team of lawyers, developers, and designers abuilding a new set of interactive, user-friendly guides & tools to navigate the complexities of the legal system. They will connect legal experts with lay people, helping them communicate about what legal options are open and how to pursue them.  This will help lay people navigate and resolve legal problems, either with a trained advocate or on their own. Instead of long documents saved in PDFs, they are creating guides to legal processes that are interactive, tech-enabled, and user-friendly.

That is all very cool stuff. If you are at all familiar with Stanford University you already appreciate that they do some pretty cool stuff there. The Stanford Prison Experiment, the Internet, Google, Cisco Systems, Yahoo, Trader Joe's, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Snapchat, Andrew Luck all have ties to Stanford.

I am pretty excited that those big Stanford brains are working on making the legal system better. There is going to be some cool stuff coming out of Palo Alto for us lawyerists.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

From London

The Peacock Room at Farrer & Co.
As a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers I enjoy the privilege of associating with the finest family law lawyers from around the world. From those associations genuine friendships have evolved. Case in point: last week I traveled to London (truly one of the world’s greatest cities). While there my friend Simon Bruce and his colleagues at Farrer & Co. hosted a fabulous lunch for us. Set in the firm’s magnificent Peacock Room, it was a remarkable day! Also joining us were Farrer & Co. partners Claire Gordon and Caroline Holley. Of course Simon proudly gave us a full tour of the firm’s impressive facilities. The firm was founded in 1701, and its beautiful headquarters date back to the 1680s! Not too many law firms can boast of a guest book with a signature from Queen Elizabeth. Farrer & Co. can!
The red brick facade of Farrer & Co.

As if our friends from Farrer were not good enough, Simon also graciously asked other IAFL Fellows and good friends Henry Hood and John Nicholson to join us. What a fabulous day! I cannot thank my London colleagues enough for taking time out of their busy schedules to network and talk shop for an afternoon. It is such collegiality that makes me so very proud to be a member of the bar.
John Harding

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Updated Thoughts On Cloud Computing

I have always been a staunch advocate for the idea of buying software and installing it in your office, and a skeptic of the idea of cloud computing. I thought cloud software was renting software, and that added to the cost, allowed the software vendors to hold the customers hostage, and subjected data to security vulnerabilities. I am starting to change my mind.

Cost. The cost for software will always be there. Software companies, like all businesses, exist to make a profit. My fear that cloud software systems could exploit the customer is still a real concern but not anything that can be avoided even if you have a server based system. I do believe the price point for cloud software is higher than purchased software. Regardless, it is going to cost you money. As I learned recently with the corporate changes at AbacusLaw, what that company did was triple its support rates, support that you have to have to keep the software that you bought running. To make sure you buy their new stuff, Microsoft just stops supporting older products, period. That is similar types of exploitation.The cost of keeping software is just a cost of doing business.

Security. I was fearful that the target sites for my cloud computing would not be secure enough to keep out hackers. Well folks, there is no such thing as an impervious computer system, be it server-based or in the cloud. Right now, somewhere there is some teenage kid, or some foreign government agent trying to hack in to my system and yours. Given the bank grade security that exists on all reputable cloud providers, you are probably safer in the cloud these days then you are out of it.

Convenience. This is the big life changer for me. Now that our law library and practice management system are 100% cloud based I have been reborn. I have zero software maintenance. No updates to install. No bugs to rectify. Maintenance happens who knows where in the middle of the night, with no meddling from me. I just show up at work and stuff works. Awesome.

Innovation. I am finding that improvements and innovations are constantly rolling out on our cloud products. Rather than focusing on one huge annual upgrade, vendors can constantly tweak their products and make them better. Heck, a new weekly feature that is bug free is a whole lot better than the annual beta testers, and subsequent patches, that I am used to getting.

Timeliness. Because products and information can be updated instantly cloud software is fresher. No longer do I have to wait for an annual CD with all the year's cases on it. I get them online the same day that they are published by the official reports (sometimes even faster than that)!

Platform Blind.  Because my cloud software is accessed through a browser, it does not matter what kind of computer I am using. Be it a Mac, a PC, an iPad, a Google Chrome or Android device, it all works the same. We have always run PCs at the office because our software compelled it. At home I run Mac products because they are better. Now it makes little difference.

Mobility. All I need is the internet, and Boom I am working. No internet you say? Okay, no new issue there. My old way of doing things was to use remote computing software (GoToMyPC or LogMeIn) to access my office computer and run the software on it. For that to happen I still needed the internet.

I am diggin the cloud, and I bet you will too!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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

Friday, July 1, 2016

How About a Laptop for $220!

Whenever a new client comes in the door I tell him or her to go out and buy a cheap laptop to use to process their divorce and to create a new email account for our communications. Despite the fact that they are paying me hundreds of dollars per hour, they balk at the cost of a laptop, even though a good one can be had for less than $500. Heck, through tomorrow Amazon will sell you one for $220!

The Acer Chrome

  • Comes with an Intel Celeron Dual-Core 3205U 1.5 GHz Processor (Broadwell micro-architecture)
  • Can open/edit MS Office files using free embedded QuickOffice editor or Google Docs, and can download Microsoft Office Online (an online version of Microsoft Office) for free. Cannot install standard MS Office software.
  • 16 GB Solid-State Drive (SSD); No CD or DVD drive
  • 15.6-Inch Screen, Intel HD Graphics
  • Chrome, 9-hour battery life

The price until tomorrow:  $219.99 with free shipping. That is a killer deal!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thank You for the Therapy

Thank you to the two readers of this blog who called me in response to yesterday's post, and referring me to their merchant services providers.  I appreciate the contact and the therapy.

Here's what's funny, one of those friends told me I should open a merchant account with Intuit.  That's funny because, as I mentioned briefly in yesterday's post, I have an Intuit merchant account.  It works great! For some mad reason I made the decision to move away from it!

Thank you also to the kinds folks who emailed me privately offering their sympathies.  Clearly folks are interested, and lots of family law lawyers are still mystified by the idea of receiving credit card payments, so here is my daily update.

I also want to thank Larry Port, the CEO of Rocket Matter.  He reached out, apologized profusely for all the problems, and promised they would be fixed. How many of you have ever received a personal reach out from the Big Boss at a software company?  Not too many, I am sure.  Now I am thinking Bill Gates is going to get in touch about my Windows issues.  Anyway, I appreciate Larry's reassurances, and I believe him.  In fact, if you make it to the end of this post, you will see that things may be improving.  In the meantime our travails do give me a divine comedy of content here!

The curtain lifts, the music rises from the orchestra pit. The players are in place. Act 2 begins:

When I arrived at the office today I found some emails from Forte. Yesterday I explained that I had never heard of Forte, but they apparently have something to do with TouchSuite? The emails requested that I log into my virtual terminal and complete its setup.  I did not know what a virtual terminal was?  I did not know I had a virtual terminal? I did not know that I have a Forte account? Why did I not know? Because no one from TouchSuite has ever educated me to any of these facts.

Anyway, I followed the links to setup my Forte something or other.  Of course, the links did not work. So I called Forte customer service.  After being on hold for 20 minutes I finally got a human being. In the spirit of full disclosure she was very, very nice, and very, very helpful. We solved the log in problem by clearing the cache on my browser, and got the accounts set up.

I then asked her what Forte was (probably should have asked that question first)? She explained to me that Forte was my merchant service provider.  That's interesting. I thought TouchSuite was my merchant service provider? No, she explained, TouchSuite is just a sales company; they sold our service to you.  Hmmnn. How do you like them apples....

Anyway, she also explained that we had just set up a virtual terminal so that I could process client payments via Forte's website.  Cool I thought, then I look at the details on the screen and saw that it was for echecks, but not credit cards.

I asked her
"How do I process credit cards?
She politely told me "You can't. Your account is not set up for credit cards."
"How can I add credit cards" I asked?
"You have to call TouchSuite."

Aargh. Not the answer I wanted.  Anyway, back to our conversation:

"While I have you on the line, I am curious how much in dollar amounts can I run each transaction for?"
"$7000" she answered.
"$7,000?  When I had my initial conversation with TouchSuite weeks ago I told them my ordinary minimum transaction would be $10,000 and that some transactions could run as high as $30,0000 to $50,000!"

Be reminded the women I am talking is an absolute saint. Very patient and very helpful (thank God).

"I am sorry Mr. Harding, if you want to run more than $7,000 we are going to have to send you an application to see if we can get your limit increased, or you might want to call TouchSuite.  Here is the name of your sales rep at TouchSuite that we have listed for your account . . . ."

"Thank you" I said, "I will give TouchSuite a call."

Next I called TouchSuite, ran through the phone tree and as usual got a voicemail box. I left her a message. In all the times that I have called TouchSuite no human being has ever answered the phone.

Next I called RocketMatter to talk the to service rep who has been assigned to me to try and solve this disaster. Got his voicemail and left a message.

So, where are we? (1) I can now apparently process echecks by logging into my Forte account. (2) I cannot process echecks through my Rocket Matter time and billing.  (2) I cannot accept credit card payments period. (3) Whether it would be an echeck or a credit card, it can only be for $7,000 when my ordinary minimum transaction is $10,000.  (4) As usual no one is answering the phone at TouchSuite. (5) Waiting for a call back from Rocket Matter. (6) Bills are supposed to go out tomorrow, but there is no way for the clients to pay them.

Rocket Matter to the rescue!  There is a guy at Rocket Matter support by the name of Michael. Love the guy. Drinks the same happy/helpful juice that is poured into the cups of all the support folks at RM. He knows his stuff, and when he doesn't know something he goes to working figuring it out.  I whined and moaned. Michael listened. Then he came up with solutions.

We think Forte is only responsible for processing echecks. Michael and I did a test. I billed myself a dollar, and then paid for it with an echeck. We have to wait a couple days for the check to post. If it does, we are as good as gold on the echeck side.

We think TouchSuite actually does run the credit card side of things, and is not in fact just a sales force for Forte. I met with a client today who is a sales director for one of the world's biggest credit card procssing companies.  She agrees with Michael on this point, and that TouchSuite is actually, and Forte is not actually, processing the credit cards. Michael is going to reach out to TouchSuite to confirm. Assuming this is all accurate, we will then be good as gold on the credit card side!

So, things are looking up!  I can tell you this, once we do get the system working as designed it will be BRILLIANT!  It will be a huge, huge, huge step up from Abacus Accounting. I really am quite excited!

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#RocketMatter #TouchSuite #merchantaccount #creditcards #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Rocket Matter Winning Streak Has Run Out

I had previously written about how thrilled I was with the time and billing features of Rocket Matter. That excitement was based on the one invoice that I had sent to one client, and that appeared to have been processed effortlessly. Ooops. It seems that I was a bit premature with my enthusiasm.

When I received the sales pitch from Rocket Matter ("RM"), great emphasis was placed on the Rocket Pay component of the system. Rocket Pay is what we might otherwise call a merchant account. You use it so that the clients/customers can pay you with credit cards. As described to me by the RM sales folks, my clients would get an email invoice. In that invoice there would be a link the clients could click on so that they could pay their invoices with a credit card or an echeck (echecks is a newish for me and my clients, and very exciting feature). Awesome. It would all be done under one roof, and I could then close my current merchant account with Intuit/QuickBooks.

In concept the process is great. In actual implementation and operation, Not So Greattttt.....

Turns out that RM has a partner company that handles the merchant services side of Rocket Pay. Partnering is quite common. I partner in my practice all the time. I use contract attorneys. I use a subpoena service to obtain records. RM is a technology partner. Unfortunately for Rocket Pay that technology partner, a company called TouchSuite, is where the problem starts and continues. I had not actually surveyed that first client that I wrote about before I posted my earlier review. Turns out she first tried to pay her bill with a credit card. The card was repeatedly rejected by Rocket Pay. So, she (we thought) then paid by echeck. I saw the payment posted in RM, and started doing my happy dance.

After a couple of weeks my client got back to me. The money she had "Paid" for her bill had not been withdrawn from her checking account. She was finding the delay distracting. Did I mention she is a lawyer? And she was questioning the efficiency of the new software system that I had been touting to all my clients. Something along the lines of my clients would never put up with such a horrible system... Can you say Unhappy Client?

I got on the phone with RM technical support. As always the tech support folks at RM were fantastic. They started working with me immediately to find out what was going wrong. With similar immediacy, we learned the problem sourced back to TouchSuite. Turns out the ability to actually pay by echeck Does Not Exist!  All the buttons are in place, the link works, but the actual system to make it happen has not been implemented by TouchSuite! The payment was credited to the client in RM, but the money will never appear in my bank account! How do you like that for partner communications. RM is selling a product that its merchant services partner does not even provide! And I am working for clients for free!

Not questioning why, but simply committing to fixing it (as any great customer service company would, and as I have promised my disgruntled client) the folks at RM started working on a fix. Still don't have an answer on how we undo the client payment that will never be received, but the folks at RM will figure that out. Unfortunately any complete fix will require the involvement of TouchSuite, and here is where I am at with them.

When I starting installing RM I went through the merchant services application process with TouchSuite. Mind you I have been through this twice before with other merchant accounts. The last time was with Intuit, and it took ten minutes. The application process with TouchSuite was overwhelming. It spread out over days. I thought I was applying for access to Fort Knox, the White House, and the Vatican all in one. Eventually, or so I thought, the application process was completed and approved. I was wrong!

From what I understand now TouchSuite failed to timely process the application at its end. Apparently there is some other company called Forte that receives the application and processes it further? So, I got to repeat the application process. TouchSuite did fill in most of the information on the application for me so that all I had to do was sign it.  Guess what? They filled in the application wrong, and it was again rejected by Forte!

It looks like we are now on Round 3 of submitting stuff TouchSuite and then to Forte. I got to spend the better part of yesterday trying to re-apply only to have processing links fail, emails sending me to non-existent destinations, one person at TouchSuite having me do one thing while another person at TouchSuite was having me do something else... What the heck, it doesn't matter. The alternative would be me working on client matters that I will never get paid for....

Where are we right now?  Who knows? We have been testing RM for two, three months now. We closed out all of our Abacus Accounting matters yesterday, and were intending to go 100% live with RM this week. The plan was to send out our first full set of RM bills to all of our clients on July 1. Does not look like that is going to happen. I wonder if my mortgage company will give me extra time to pay my bill when I tell them my TouchSuite dilemna?

By the way, I still have plenty of love for the tech support folks at RM. Absolutely extraordinary! If I did not know that they were working over the top to make things right I would have jettisoned the whole system yesterday. I will say this, I have never been more impressed by a technology company's tech support than I am with RM.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rocket Matter Switch Over

Happy Invoicing Days Are Here Thanks To Rocket Matter!!!
If you have been following along you know that we are transitioning to Rocket Matter as our law practice management software (LPMS). This is our first time going to the cloud with our LPMS. Our previous installations of Amicus Attorney and AbacusLaw were on our own server. For the past few weeks a legal assistant has been furiously migrating our 20 years of data over from Abacuslaw. All of the contacts have been merged, and now it is time to work on matter data. The migration will require two months of full-time work so it is a huge consumption of time and resources. If Rocket Matter (RM) turns out to be planning to sell itself like so many other legal technology companies I am going to be very, very, very frustrated!!!

A couple of new cases have come in since we went live with RM, and I have been managing those in both Abacus and RM, as sort of a soft opening. So far I am impressed. The RM interface if visually pleasing, and I am loving the access anywhere I can get on the Internet. There are some some shortcomings. AbacusLaw is a much more sophisticated and evolved product. AbacusLaw has pre-installed templates for specific practices (such as family law, personal injury, criminal defense). It has rules based calendaring. It handles email integration better, with seamless attachment of emails to cases. It has very efficient document merging and mail merge. In Rocket Matter several extra steps are required to associates emails with cases. There are no practice templates. Document merging seems to be in its infancy. However, RM is always growing, and the development teams is receptive to new ideas so I would expect that it is only going to get better and better.

Rocket Matter is not without its superior qualities, and I am discovering new ones every day.  One
area where RM is clearly Superior is in billing. RM allows brilliant customization of invoices. Along with its partner Touch Suite it provides great merchant service accounting so that your clients can pay their invoices with a credit card or echeck as soon as they receive the invoice via their email. RM then posts the payments and manages evergreen retainer replenishment. The technology is stunning, and way better than anything else that I have ever encountered -- Way, Way, Way Better!

I also like the iPad app that comes with RM (something AbacusLaw did not have). And I was able to easily set up an iCal link on my iPhone so that I now have RM's calendar linked to my phone. Unfortunately, as it appears, iCal does not support two-way integration. If that is true, then RM will need to up its game re smartphone linking.

Next I need to figure out how to link contacts between RM and my iPhone.  I suspect a call to the very patient folks at tech support will be forthcoming.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Huge Legal Software Merger

Big news from the law practice management software world.  Abacus Law has acquired Amicus Attorney.  That's right, the two biggest providers are now One.

Way back when Amicus Attorney was founded by Toronto lawyer Ron Collins, and Abacus Law was founded by San Diego lawyer Judd Kessler. They are now in the rear view mirror as Wall Street takes over law practice management.  Heck, "Law" does not even appear in the name of the new company!

Here is the email I received from the New, Combined Abacus Data Systems:

Dear John

It is our pleasure to share some exciting news with you!  

For over two decades AbacusLaw and Amicus Attorney have stood together in the legal space as the pinnacles of case management solutions. Today, we are delighted to announce that Amicus Attorney will become an integrated part of the Abacus family. 

With our combined technology and expertise we will continue to expand our Best in Class practice automation solutions powered by compliance-ready, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) workspaces designed to eliminate capital expenditure and the burdens associated with IT management.

Our Clients are at the center of everything we do! We will continue to offer and support all products and services. Our commitment to YOU is to consistently raise the bar and provide you with the most comprehensive, fully managed, legal technology solutions that cater to the success of your practice in today’s highly digitalized world.

As always, we thank you for your continued patronage and remain at your service.

Click here to read the full Press Release

Warm regards,

Alessandra Lezama

On to the Press Release:

Abacus Data Systems and Amicus Attorney Join Forces to Transform Practice Automation
Two of Legal Tech Industry’s Most Influential Players Together Deliver One-Stop-Shop Legal Technology Solutions
SAN DIEGO, CA, May 17, 2016 -- Abacus Data Systems, Inc. (Abacus), the premier provider of fully managed legal technology solutions, today announced that Amicus Attorney® (Amicus), one of the world’s leading practice management solution for lawyers, will become an integrated part of the Abacus family.  
Abacus and Amicus serve hundreds of thousands of attorneys in the US and around the world. By combining their collective technology and expertise, the newly integrated group will deliver the widest range of Best in Class practice management, time, billing and accounting applications powered by compliance-ready, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) workspaces designed to eliminate capital expenditure and the burdens associated with IT management. 
“We’re proud of Amicus’ strong innovation history and the extraordinary work of the Amicus team to provide award winning practice management software,” said Alessandra Lezama, CEO of Abacus. “This transaction is the culmination of those efforts and the logical next step for Abacus. In joining forces with Amicus, our customers, employees, and stockholders will benefit from being part of a more diversified industry leader with significantly greater market opportunities. Our combination creates a more influential industry player with a commitment to product innovation and integration, which is key to the success of legal professionals in today’s highly digitalized world that has redefined the practice of law.”
Amicus’ CEO Ron Collins stated, “For over two decades Amicus and Abacus have stood together in the legal space as the pinnacles of case management solutions and superior customer service, and now together, this group will create synergies that will bring even greater benefits to attorneys all over the world.”
Abacus recently announced a majority investment of Providence Growth Equity and the opening of its new Headquarters in La Jolla, California adding more than 50 new technology positions. The integration of Abacus and Amicus reflects their commitment to the fast-paced technological evolution of the legal market and to providing unparalleled resources in support of its customers’ ever-changing practice automation needs.
“Both companies will continue to offer all products and services with no changes made to either company’s staff or management team,” explained Lezama. “The joint strengths and values of both our companies equal a superior breed of service provider and will benefit our customers, partners, and employees across the board. We are proud to welcome Amicus’ talented team into the Abacus family,” Lezama concluded.
About Abacus Data Systems, Inc.
Abacus Data Systems is the provider of the first to market case management, time billing and accounting software designed to easily automate law practice operations, ensure best possible outcomes, and increase profitability. In 2014 Abacus launched Abacus Private Cloud, a compliance ready, Turn-Key Desktop-as-a-Service solution (DaaS) to help attorneys bridge the gap to private cloud environments that guarantee security and ultimate performance to help legal professionals and others alike quickly build and grow their practice successfully.
Founded in 1983, Abacus has over 250,000 clients worldwide, is headquartered in San Diego, California, and operates three fully redundant data center footprints in the United States specifically engineered to host and safeguard sensitive data for professionals. Robust security and compliance policies, including two-factor authentication, five tiers of physical, network and data security and information handling and data privacy protocols in accordance with NIST standards ensure a safe and compliant environment for even the most confidential data. Please call 1-800-726-3339 or visit to learn more.
About Amicus Attorney 
Amicus Attorney is practice management software that works the way lawyers do. It’s an easy, lawyer-friendly solution that serves as the hub of a law practice. Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Toronto, Amicus is made by Gavel & Gown Software. Tens of thousands of law firms worldwide use Amicus Attorney. Gavel & Gown's numerous achievements are recognized through the success of its customers and through its alliances with key strategic partners. As a measure of this phenomenal success, Amicus Attorney has won more than 30 prominent industry awards, has been endorsed by major law societies and has been recognized by independent surveys as one of the most widely used practice management software in the USA. For more information, please call (800) 472-2289 or visit
About Providence Equity 
Providence Equity Partners is the world’s leading global private equity firm focused on equity investments in media, communications, education, and information companies. The firm manages funds with over $40 billion in commitments and has invested in more than 140 companies globally since its inception in 1989. Providence is headquartered in Providence, RI and also has offices in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Delhi. Visit for more information.
- See more at:

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Let the Migration Begin

It has been a while since my last post. I have been very busy working for clients, moving kids home from college for the summer, unsuccessfully training Bear the chocolate lab, and so on. Also consuming a lot of my time is our firm's implementation of Rocket Matter as our new practice management software platform.

First let me say this. The people at Rocket Matter have been first rate. My colleagues and I have been burning up the phone lines to the tech support department, and in every instance the technicians at the other end of the line have been pleasant, knowledgeable, and able to solve our problems.  Absolutely top notch! Kudos RM!

Less pleasant has been the physical experience of migrating our data from AbacusLaw into Rocket Matter. That is not a criticism of RM, it is just a fact of moving twenty years of data from one software platform to another. In my experience, having transitioned from Amicus Attorney to AbacusLaw, and now to Rocket Matter, the process just is not seamless. Every product is different, and while there is some degree of fluidity to the exercise, there is no clean and easy way to migrate the data. Success is contingent on rolling up your sleeves and pounding away at the keyboard and mouse for days and days to move and reconcile all of the data from one product to another.

That is where we are at in our process. We have imported more that 2500 contacts into RM, but then each of those individual contacts has to be opened up and corrected manually. As an example, salutations do not move over from AbacusLaw to Rocket matter. That has to be fixed one contact at a time. While addresses and phone numbers do move from AL to RM they do not automatically reconcile as home or business addresses, and they don't categorize as home, business, or mobile phone numbers. We are having to go into each contact and manually make those corrections.

The same goes for cases. We are moving almost 700 matters from AL to RM. The title of the case moves over just fine. The names of the parties do not move over cleanly. We are going to have to go through each matter one by one to designate who the client is, who the opposing party is, who the opposing attorney is, etc., etc. The process will take months to complete. No need to be frustrated by it. It is a necessary evil that we have to work through.

Of those 700 cases, roughly 50 are pending matters. Our migration is focusing on getting all of the contact cards cleaned up first. We need to get all names properly updated and indexed so that we can stay on top of conflicts, and to stay current with our lines of communications with people. For the matters we are focused on indexing the cases as open or closed. For the matters that are not pending we are associating the client name to the matter, and then closing them. That will leave us with just the pending matters on the opened matters screen. We will next perfect those pending matters by finalizing the associated contacts and related data.

After all of that work we will start thinking about the other invaluable features of RM such as time and billing and work flow. In all honesty, at this point I can say very little about those other features because we are not at a place where it makes any practical sense to try and utilize them.

I do have to bring some tough love to the table. So far I am very happy with Rocket Matter. My only frustration is the lack of support for the product beyond calling tech support.  The latest version of Rocket Matter is the Atlas version. There are significant layout and programming differences between Atlas and its predecessor. Unfortunately RM has yet to produce and put online any real library of video tutorials for Atlas, there is limited user manual documentation, and only an infantile FAQ space on the RM tech support page. Unlike AbacusLaw, a lot of the functionality, design and workflow processes are left to the customer.  RM relies on the old marketing hook and says they sell a product that is highly customizable.  I do not want customizaable. I want a product that is out of the box ready to go for my family law practice. RM does not offer that. Fine enough, I made that sacrifice when I made the choice to move to RM (none of the other programs I considered were any better). If I am going to have to do my own programming RM you at least have to give me a full slate of manuals, guides, and tutorials under the heading Rocket Matter for Dummies! Stay tuned for more venting from me on these issues. . . .

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dropping AbacusLaw

Unfortunately my recent misgivings about AbacusLaw seemed to have been warranted. The sales department recently contacted me to advise that my annual service agreement would be expiring and that renewal would be at at roughly a 100% price increase!  Also quite frustratingly the tech support department has taken a rapid turn for the worse. Four of my last five calls to tech support have been answered by brand new techs who know nothing about the program. My calls have resulted in me sitting and watching the remote sessions as the techs clicked around my computer learning the program, and repeatedly putting me on hold so they could (presumably) receive training from a supervisor. Suffice it to say that in the last two months my customer satisfaction quotient has gone way, way down.

That got me looking for other options.  I called colleagues for recommendations. I skowered the internet. I came up with a list. It included MyCase, CosmoLex, HoudiniEsq, Rocket Matter, Clio, Practice Panther, Perfect Practice, and Firm Central.  All of these are cloud based products, as compared to the AbacusLaw that I am currently running from my own server. Given that maintenance on the AbacusLaw that I have installed on my server would soon cost more than any of the above listed cloud products the time finally seems right to move my practice management to the cloud.

Next I started signing up for trial versions and demos (or at least trying to sign up, as I shall explain).

Clio is a program I have been following for years. I love the interface, and it has rules based calendaring which is a HUGE plus. Unfortunately the on line reviews I found were not encouraging: repeated price increases and abysmal customer and technical support. My call to the sales department did nothing to contradict those reviews. I contacted the sales department to do a little brain picking, and to find out if they have hosted demos, or if I could have a conversation with someone about the product.  I was told they don't do either, and that I should just sign up for the free trial and play around with it for a while. Scratch Clio from the list.

Firm Central is the product Thomson Reuters has released. From what I could see on the website it looked awesome. The reviews I found were also very flattering. I called TR sales. I was told that no questions could be answered overe the phone and that my dedicated sales rep would have to call me. I then asked how I could make that call happen. The telephone sales rep asked for my account information and then put me on hold. I am not kidding here, 5 minutes later he got back on the line, told me he could not figure out who my sales rep was and then suggested I call back later when they were less busy.  Wow! Being determined, I did call back. The second time the telephone sales person took down my number and said my sales rep would give me a call. A week later, still no call. Scratch Firm Central from the list.

CosmoLex, HoudiniEsq, and Perfect Practice all looked like great products, Each was a bit more complicated than I would like, and I just didn't comfortable as I was playing with them. Scratch them from the list.

That left me with live, sales department hosted demos of MyCase, Practice Panther, and Rocket Matter. Each of the demos was great. The sales reps working with me were all top notch. They knew their products, they wanted to help me, and they were each very enthusiastic.  I could have easily settled on any of the three products.

MyCase was my leading contender heading into the demos. I have many friends who swear by it. The company is a real moving and shaker in tech circles. I wanted it to be my winner. Two things eliminated MyCase. First it has also (like AbacusLaw) gone through the merger and acquisition cycle recently. The parent company has also gone public. That usually means dollars before customers while it finds and solidifies itself. I don't need that anxiety. Second the email integration components of the product were lacking. Given that probably 90% of my law firms communications are by email, that was the real deal breaker. Scratch MyCase from the list.

Practice Panther was the real surprise! It is an easy to use, graphically pleasing program that I really liked. I scratched it from the list because, unlike MyCase and Rocket Matter, it does not include document storage as part of its program.  Instead you have to integrate with box, and use it as your storage portal. Criticize me if you will, but I just don't like box. It does not play nice with me. I have repeatedly tried to make it work for me (including while testing Practice Panther) and it just has not worked. Plus I did not fancy the idea of paying for a box subscription in addition to the Practice Panther subscription. Scratch Practice Panther from the list. I will say this though, had it not been for the box issue Practice Panther likely would have been my winner.

That leaves us with Rocket Matter, and that is the company I signed up with.  How is it going? That is for future posts. Stayed tuned....

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

My New iPad Pro

I was a HUGE early adopter and fintroduced iPad. It was a revolutionary product and I incorporated it into every facet of my practice. I even tried cases with nothing more than my iPad in hand. Then something inevitable happened: I turned 50 (or was it 49? 48?). Along with that maturation my 20/15 vision became something less than perfect. The age of the cheater reading glasses was upon me. The small screen and the small type of the iPad became a disability. My beloved iPad became an expensive paperweight, banished to the land of misfit tech gadgets, along with countless wired mice, old keyboards, bulky monitors, etc. The iWatch? Forget it! Never an option... My Mac Book Pro, with its 15" retina screen became my one and only mobile device. It never failed me. My Apple Love never waned. Still, I yearned for the days of the keyboard optional tablet with its light weight and thin profile. I needed a large format iPad, but it just didn't exist. I was encouraged when Sony introduced its Digital Paper viewer, but there never ever was a there there for the DP.

Then it happened. The folks at Apple gave the iPad a big dose of growth hormone. The iPad Pro was born! It was all me. Huge 13" retina screen. 128GB of memory. Lightweight. Thin. Holdable. Of course, given it was an Apple, very expensive. I waited a few months, but eventually did succumb to the seductive fruit. I put on my football pads and crashed head first into the frenzied mob at my local Apple store. After pressing more than a grand on to the AMEX I exited the madness with a shiny gray iPad Pro, keyboard, and pen. AWESOME!

The good old days are back. My IPP has re-relegated the yellow legal pads to the storage room. Case files are once again traveling with me in digital, rather than paper, form. Entire case files go to court with me, rather then a selection of most relevant docs in one or two binders. Was doing the same thing with my Mac Book Pro, but now in  less cumbersome, more efficient, faster and easier process that is the IPP.

I'm giving my IPP 5 Stars!

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Monday, March 7, 2016

A Website For Support Payments is a pretty nifty web portal that assists parents with their child support obligations. As the folks at explain it, child support is not just a single monthly payment but also a broad collection of shared expenses. Parents must continually manage, communicate and negotiate over child related expenses. The entire process is complex, time consuming and very stressful. Supportpay seeks to eliminate child support conflict and enable collaboration with an easy to use online application, providing both parents transparency while saving time & money. Parents can now spend less time managing child support and more time focused on raising happy, healthy children.

Sounds pretty good to me! Here's how it works:

There is a free version, a Premium version at $14.99 per month, and a Lawyer version at $19.99 per month (discounts available if you pay for a year in advance). At the Premium level you get the ability to enter transactions from your mobile device or computer; attach receipts; historical tracking; scheduling of base support; wage assignment tracking; and dispute items.  The Lawyer version gets you that plus certified documents for court filings and Certified reports for taxes; and a back door for the lawyer to go in and review (without being able to make changes).

I would love to hear from folks that are using the service!  Send in your comments!

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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...