Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thinkin Bout Practice Management Stuff!


If you know me, you know I love practice management systems (what we used to call case management software in pre-cloud days). Some folks still call it "case-management." That's a gross misnomer, cause the stuff does so, so, so much more. Make the mistake of asking me a question on practice management systems and I'll talk to you until your ears bleed (just ask my friend Shane who bought me coffee yesterday morning and then asked....)

Anyway, Aaron George recently written a great article at Lexicata giving an overview of the current big players in case management software. You should check it out. I agree with everything he writes.

Aaron has his own preferences, that you can read about. As for me, I place Clio and Rocket Matter (we use Rocket Matter in our practice) at the top of the heap. CosmoLex and Practice Panther are moving up the mountain with impressive strides. MyCase is an old timer that is still relevant. Abacus and Amicus? Forget about 'em.

There are some other players that Aaron does not mention, but that I will:  HoudiniEsq, Smokeball, LexRex.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's New With Office Telephones ...

Remember this Merlin phone?
I can remember the first telephones I bought for my fledgling law office years ago. It was a Merlin system from AT&T. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world, and at the time it was. Sleek phone sets. Two big hardware boxes hanging in the utility closet. Music on hold, call transfer, do not disturb, voice mail. It rocked! And it was expensive!

We used that Merlin system for decades (heck you can still buy used sets online to this day!). Then newer stuff came out. Stuff that was affordable to buy, and cheaper to use on a monthly basis. We went with an internet telephone system from 8x8. It too had all the latest bells and whistles. On the software side it still does, because that stuff lives and grows in the cloud. The hardware still works just fine but, of course, newer stuff has hit the street since we transitioned six or seven years ago.

Over at Law Technology Today there is a nifty little article on new phone technology. Please click here to check it out, and for a quick read on what is new and great, include free phone technology.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Fringe Benefits of Being a Family Law Lawyer

Family law is an intriguing practice area. As a family law lawyer you must be an expert in multiple areas of substantive law: family, civil procedure, evidence (yes, evidence, if you are good family lawyer!), tax, probate, even criminal. You need to be adept at negotiation. And, you must be a skilled trial lawyer. Poo-poo on those in the legal profession who say family lawyers don't need skills...

Depending on how you craft your practice, you can do a lot of traveling for work, or very little. I have friends around the country who maintain statewide practices. By choice, those folks live out of suitcases. Alternatively there are people like me, who limit their practices to one or two counties, thus avoiding the work-hotel life (though for me, practicing in the commuter hell of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties does present its challenges).

On the plus side, when I do travel for work, it is usually fun travel. As a Fellow in the AAML and the IAFL, there are a plethora of conferences available. Throw in the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, and you can really travel for work and pleasure. And why not?
If your budget allows, work/CLE conferences expand your professional skills, expand your business network, and expand your personal horizons. They are a wonderful distraction from the day to day rigor of practicing law.

Recent work travels have provided a rewarding life balance for me. London, Bahamas, Lisbon, Chicago, Savannah, Tokyo, Stuttgart. That's about 50,000 airplane miles, and three, four weeks of time. But it is professional time mixed with personal time. That is a great combination.

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

As family law lawyers we all work very hard. We need to reward ourselves, and maintain a degree of separation from the emotion of our clients' worlds. Take a breath, step away. Find a conference. State bar associations put on great programs. The ABA puts on great programs. State Chapters of the AAML put on great programs, and you don't have to be an AAML Fellow to attend. In States that have them, certified specialist organizations put on great programs in great locations. Treat yourself!

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Does Anyone Dictate Anything Anymore?

I have watched movies from bygone eras where the boss man speaks into a microphone, then the recording is handed over to his female secretary for typing up. To me these were extra steps that just were not productive, nor did the exercise foster creativity through reflection.

I have never, ever dictated anything (okay, about 15 years ago I tried Dragon Speaking, but it didn't work as well as typing, so I tossed it).  For me, it has always been faster and better to type it up myself. Now that 99% of my written communications are electronic (either as emails or pdf), that practice is even stronger.

Apparently, though, the idea of dictation is not dead. Over at attorney@work, Eric Wangler has a nice little article on the continued viability of dictation. And, it looks like today's dictation platforms are a far cry from those tape recorders of yesteryear. Please click here to read Eric's article.

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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...