Category Archives: Andrea C

Least disruptive billing software question

Sometimes I draft a response to a question or item on Solosez for which I believe I will get booted if I post. In the past, I have simply deleted – opting in favor to remain in the good graces of COTE.

Today, however, I decided that I’m going to stop wasting such content and will post here instead and can direct those from Solosez if they wish to see my response. What I will NOT do is post the identity of the person asking the question. If you are on Solosez, you already know who it is (or can easily figure it out) and if you are not, you should join.*

Today’s question is about billing software:

Q: “I am revisiting my billing software. Specifically, I am looking for what is least disruptive to your workflow. I hate the transition from working on a motion or writing an email, and then using my software to enter time. Is there some AI that integrates with email, one that uses verbal commands or other software that you have found less disruptive for capturing time?”

A: Clients of LegalTypist use their voice to capture time. It is entered where it needs to go based on each client’s workflow. All workflows these days are custom.

FWIW, most clients experience a jump in billables when they start to track contemporaneously via voice. I always recommend billing and other notes be taken immediately after every event – call, meeting, court date… anything significant happening on a case should have a note (although not all notes are billing entries).  When you have a human being on the other end that knows what you need to have done simply because you say something, it’s like AI, only add on  the ability to THINK and ACT upon your words vs. just decipher them.  #analogAI LOL

My preferred billing program for “legal” is Time59. Pricing is right and I do my best to support the other small business owners, like Tracy Griffith (of LawCharge fame) who not only offer  great products, but who know their shit as well as I do mine.

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*What’s Solosez?  An email list of about 3,000 legal peeps (mostly attorneys) who banter back and forth.  It is an active list so I recommend you NOT clog up your domain email but rather sign up using a gmail or other public/free option.  To learn more and join, click here

All About the Flow

Below is an excerpt from a book that Emily, my 17 year old daughter, picked up titled: The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie:

Letting Go of Fear

Picture yourself swimming — floating — peacefully down a gentle stream.  All you need to do is breathe, relax and go with the flow.

Suddenly you become conscious of your situation. Frightened, overwhelmed with “what if’s?” your body tenses. You begin to thrash around, frantically looking for something to grab on to.

You panic so hard you start to go under. Then you remember — you’re working too hard at this. You don’t need to panic. All you need to do is breathe, relax, and go with the flow.  You won’t drown.

Panic is our greatest enemy.

We don’t need to become desperate. If overwhelming problems appear in our life, we need to stop struggling.  We can tread water for a bit, until our equilibrium returns.  Then we can go back to floating peacefully down the gentle stream.  It is our stream. It is a safe stream. Our course has been charted. All is well.

Today, I will relax, breathe, and go with the flow.

I am having the above printed and will be mounting it on the wall by my desk – in direct line of site  — just above and behind my monitor.

I have long called the craziness of modern day digital life not a battle to gain balance, but to control the flow.

I am also constantly reminding myself, clients and colleagues to breathe.

We all get so caught up in the flow, we forget that  there are tools to help.

Just as floats, boats and scuba gear help swimmers control a river, DAFT and other tools are available to help service professionals control the flow of work.

Mostly, however, we forget that we are absolutely in control of how much we allow the digital to invade our lives. All. The. Time.

You can turn it all off (and not miss out on a thing).

In fact, rather than missing out on some digital tidbit of some far away “friend” on Facebook, perhaps you’ll seize that moment to sit with your daughter and ask: “Hey!  What cha reading?” … and, in that ever so beautiful voice, be rewarded with the words above.

Pick a day and turn off the digital. You (and those around you) deserve it.

The flow will still be here when you’re ready to dive on back in <-I’ll even save the Swan float for ya!  Oh. Unless it’s a Sunday – then you can save it for me (I’ll be back Monday morning).

Happy Birthday to me….

Today is my birthday and it is a day that I usually have at least one good, solid cry. I do so not because I’m getting older (although the number is starting to cause pause) … I do so because my father, God rest him, passed on my birthday – now 25 years ago.  No matter how much time elapses, that fact alone makes it a hard day for me to be happy, let alone jubilant.

So I try to focus on what makes me happy today and I find when I help others, I feel much better about myself and more positive in general.

I have tried my best as a Virtual Assistant to help people understand how to keep themselves and their information safe, while on line, for a very long time.

In fact, on my VBA bio page are a ton of links available to presentations, articles, reports and such that I have created over the years.  No email address is necessary to review most of it.

Specifically new to that page in honor of my birthday today is a presentation I gave in 2009 for the OIVAC on Digital Security which I just did my best to cut down to under 20 minutes (but ended up leaving it at 53 minutes).  That’s because it was all such good info!

A little back story: The OIVAC hosts a 3 day virtual convention each May and in 2009 mine was the LAST presentation.  To say that our attendees were exhausted/overwhelmed would be an understatement!  Given I am on the Steering Committee, I knew I had to make my talk relevant and easy to understand.

I pondered … how was I going to make “Digital Security” something 100’s of worldwide Virtual Assistants would be able to stay awake and digest … and it hit me — what else?!  FOOD! <g>

So head over to my VBA Bio page click to play or right click to download and have a listen to Digital Security 101.

It’s been a long time since I reviewed this particular talk, and it’s FULL of practical, useful information that may just stop you from doing something that compromises your equipment or the security of the files and information entrusted to you.

If you work at a law firm, while you’re at the  Virtual Bar Association – join! It’s free and that can be your bday gift to me! 😉

P.S. {hugs} to @carolynelefant cuz today is her anniversay

 

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Hall v. Hall (as a cartoon)

Below is fellow Solosezzer, large plant printed shirt wearing, lives and works in the US Virgin Islands, fellow Andy (ok I’m Ande but it’s close enough) … in the matter Hall v. Hall before the US Supreme Court.

I had the pleasure of meeting Andy at my first TechShow in Chicago wayyy back and we’ve remained connected, for the most part, through Solosez.   I don’t think I know anyone who has argued before the Supreme Court before and I think it’s totally cool that I can brag that I do now AND look at how it’s presented by @SCOTUStoons

 

Whoo hoo and congrats to Andy for not only a great argument, but slam dunkin it at the Supreme Court with a 9-0 decision.  Quite a win for not just the Supreme Court, but this particular Supreme Court AND what a win for every solo who’s ever dreamed of really making a difference in the law (while working from a far off tropical isle)!

 

My ABA TechShow 2018 Story

Long time readers know of my annual trek to Chicago to attend the ABA’s TechShow and the huge amount of time and effort I would put forth each year to get as many of you as possible to attend with me on a LegalTypist SuperPass.  See here, here, here, here and here

Through the years, the LT SuperPass is responsible for just around 140 attendees.  I am proud to know that the LT Superpass brought the first law school educators, peeps from as far away as Europe, and several LT SuperPassers would go on to be tapped to BOD positions.

It’s been mentioned that after I spoke at the event in 2013, I stopped attending and while I would still do LT SuperPass, my heart was just not in it.  Not many of you know why I kept only a virtual presence after finally reaching what was, for me, quite a personal achievement of being tapped to speak at ABA TechShow in 2013.

In a nutshell, after accomplishing what I thought would never happen and while riding the wave of my personal success and triumph over public speaking – I was shoved down a rabbit hole from which it took years to recover.  I share not the details of what happened, nor the “official” follow up, as they truly do not matter.  What I have finally come to realize is that I gave weak men with no honour far more credit (and power) than they deserve.

Those who know the details of my journey applaud my return in spite of past circumstances.  Me? I’m sorry it took me so long.  I truly missed being around all my legal geeky peeps and seeing the latest and greatest.  Not to mention learning that one little thing that makes my keyboarding and use of Microsoft products that much less painful!

So here it is, my ABA TechShow 2018 Journey:

Getting There

As I had in years past, I planned a meet up for the night before, but Mother Nature had other plans and was adamant that I miss the eve of TechShow.  When you have a fear of flying and the forces of nature ground ALL planes on your day of travel – you simply accept, grab the next possible flight and contact all you were hoping to meet that night to make arrangements for another time.

That’s one thing about TechShow: while you are in a constrained physical location with all those you are connected to on line – if you don’t PLAN to meet, chances are you just might not and you think on the plane home: Dang it! I never got to meet so and so (ahem @inspiredcat)

Sadly, not only did I have to cancel my own meet up, but the weather glitch meant I was unable to attend the other functions on Wednesday, including the Legal XX Symposium – where I would have had opportunity to cross paths with many of the women in legal tech. To learn more about this event, click here.

As for getting me to Chicago after the storm … fortunately, I was able to catch a noon flight out of LGA and so was in Chicago in time for dinner. The weather, while cold, it was quite sunny on Thursday.

Cab ride from Midway. #almostthere

The New To Me Venue

 

Chicago Hyatt Regency Lobby (bottom) and Big Bar (top)

Chicago Hyatt Regency Lobby Lounge and Big Bar (top)

ABA TechShow 2018 returned to the Chicago Hyatt Regency “on Wacker”. This was a venue it had utilized to host the show before my time. Every TechShow I had attended until now was hosted at the Hilton, across from the Lake and Millennial Park and within easy walking distance to, well, almost everything one wishes to do, see, or taste while in Chicago.  It’s hard NOT to go out when you see all going on around you at the Hilton.  By comparison, the view out my window at the Hyatt looked down on highways/byways and I saw no people at all.

Along with being a far more walk about Chicago friendly location, I also preferred the Hilton for the layout of educational to exhibit – a quick run down the stairs to go ask someone something before your next meeting and that included the ABA’s Concierge or a vendor.  Very easy access to your room too if you needed to drop something off or get a little work done.

Whereas at the Hyatt, just to get to the TS conference space, you had to cross the massive lobby, take 2 escalators down, travel a long hallway and around a corner.  The traveling continued if you had a question for a vendor — for THAT you had to go across the Educational floor and take another, even longer escalator down (so long it had no stairs) and then through the tiny door in the wall of glass at the bottom to enter the exhibit space. (bit confused as to why the glass wall… does it rain in their sub sub sub basement?)

ANYWAY, on the other side of the glass doors was the entrance to the exhibit hall.  Oddly, they had a vendor in the spot I would have used to highlight participants of the Start Up Alley, the Women of LegalTech and/or placed the LPM books <- so people have something to buy and read on the 3 escalator journey to their rooms! ;)~

Getting past the the entrance, the rest of the Exhibit Hall was really quite lovely. The flow and booth size made the space feel not at all as cramped as the entrance.    About the only suggestion for improvement would be to group the techs a bit better. Otherwise, I thought the expo space was absolutely fabulous and much nicer than in year’s past.

As for your room – East Tower at the Hyatt was not so bad as it was just an additional elevator ride after crossing the massive lobby when you emerged from the conference space.  However, if you were in the West Tower — keep walking! My TechShow partner in crime Ed C. was in the West Tower and we noted he walked over 3.5 miles in 1 day <-all without going outside!

Me and Edward F. Cunningham, Esq.

In fact, the only time I left the hotel was to get in an Uber with the gang to go out to dinner.  Virtual waves and many thanks to the hosts of Thursday’s dinner: Nerino and Bryan (Stalker) S, along with fellow diners Andrea G, Ivan H, Alan F, and Julie T <-aka @ThinkPinkLaw

 

The Content

I have been advocating a people centric approach to everything, including trade shows and educational events, for as long as I have been a Virtual Assistant. See, It’s Not All About the Tech – People Are Part of the Process and Virtual Bar Association

This year’s TechShow, from an educational perspective, remained solid, sprinkled with a few duds. The mixing of experts with co-presenters from sponsored companies did not appear to be a problem, although the two dud presentations I attended, needed an actual expert.

That TechShow teaches tech, not just talks about it, is the reason I recommend it to those in the practice of law. You will pick up at least one new way of doing something to make your life easier.

Who did I enjoy? Of course, any of the Affinity speakers is already so comfortable with their topic, it’s usually a very interactive and fun session to attend. I personally enjoyed Paul U’s session on Time Management and I heard numerous kudos for Barron‘s sessions as well. From the more geeky peeps, props go out to Sharon N and John S; Lincoln M, Brett B  and Tom M.

From the 60 Tips, I was elated to see a slide that said Virtual Assistant by Debbie F, but disappointed in the recommendation of freelance crowdsourcing sites for those in the room to search for a VA.  Oh well, there’s always next year <-a phrase I have been telling myself since the first 60 sites session I attended over a decade ago! 😉

One item I wanted to mention was the Lunch n Learn hosted by The Form Tool and presented by Bob C. First off, I was blown away by the new product he announced: Aurora. If you know The Form Tool – you understand how it takes data and fills it in the right spot. Now picture this, instead of you entering specific data – the data is collected from a webpage. So your form is hosted and the data can be provided from anywhere. *mind blown*

I really expect to see great things from Bob and this company as the concept and use of Aurora spreads!

Along with learning of pioneering technology such as Aurora, I also enjoy catching up with the new and exciting and a few of the solid players in legal technology on the exhibit hall floor.   Here’s a few shots I took during one of my walkabouts:

Finally … the People

Everyone knows I go to TechShow for the people and this year was no different! I was so happy to connect in real life and for real hugs with Christy B, Alan F, Andrea G, Ed C, Mark H, Chris H and the rest of the VBA’s MeetnGeekers.

While touring the exhibit hall, it was great to see Ian from LitSoftware, Diana from CallRuby (she even brought a box of chocolates “in case” I showed up xoxo), Kim from RocketMatter, Sam G from Lawyerist, Christopher A, Nancy D. and Natalie K. along with Ivey of PerfectIt and Lecia of GetFactBox.

Jim C and I crossed paths at the escalators; Jared C, Brett B, Britt L Catherine R and Heidi A outside the sessions and I even caught Marc U on his way to the airport.

I also enjoyed meeting many of the VBA’s #LadiesofLegaltech — their stories are so different, yet so strangely the same.  Keep an eye out for future posts highlighting these wonderful women and their determined spirits!

So, after a 5 year hiatus, my return to ABA TechShow was, as imagined, quite a trip! From reconnecting in real life with those I had done my best to be a known, liked and respected professional, to meeting up with the new and fabulous including all the #LadiesofLegaltech — definitely the PEOPLE are still the best part of TechShow!

Oh. And Ed. My shadow. We text almost every day, have met for lunch and plan to continue to do so … but he said he won’t be back for another 3 years. We’ll see about that Ed! <g>

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Christy Burke’s guest article for Legal IT Insider: http://ow.ly/jXWu30j1E0T