5 Don’ts For Any Cloud Based Player

I have been “in the cloud” since adopting Onebox for my company’s virtual pbx a dozen or so years ago.  In fact, I found the “cloud” to have so many advantages over hosting my own solutions, I took LegalTypist 100% digital after finding a secure tech I could configure and use with attorney client work product<- that was about 2004.

Jump forward a decade and there’s cloud-based any and everything!  The problem with that is – for lawyers and their work product especially – are all those cloud solutions aware of your ethical obligations to maintain confidentiality? What about your duty not to inadvertently disclose <-do they even KNOW about that one?!

You may think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I’ve spoken with CEO’s who think that by putting the word “legal” in front of “project management” you somehow end up with a “solution” that is secure enough for attorney client work product or that will actually work for lawyers and law firms. Certainly over the past decade, I’ve beta’d enough tech to spot when users are not the focus and marketing and sales are far ahead of a reliable and stable product.

So let me share with you now my top 5 Don’ts For Any Cloud Based Player:

  • Don’t listen to any tech company looking to help you become independent of your obligation to understand the most basic information about the location, access and use of your client’s data, and the files you need to run your practice.  At a minimum, ask where the servers physically reside; who has access to them and who is available to help you when there is an issue.
  • Don’t listen to any tech company looking to help you outsource your IT.  They are no more “IT” guys than they are legal project managers (or even remotely familiar with how things get done in a law firm).  Having a relative who works for a law firm is not really the standard I want to see from a company entrusted with my clients’ practices.  If an attorney who has had a successful practice is not somewhere on the corporate team, be especially wary and up your BS meter when the IT *cough* sales people start “helping” you.
  • Don’t click “OK” or “I Agree” until you READ the FULL Terms of Service. Period.  Don’t “skim” them. I don’t care who you know who is an attorney who says s/he uses it. Doesn’t matter what anyone else does – you have to read (and understand) the full TOS for yourself.  If and when you do hit “I Agree” – make sure to print the TOS to pdf or paper and put in a folder for future reference.  Many companies change their “on line” TOS, so you really do need a physical copy of what you actually agreed to.
  • Don’t sign up for a whole year because it is cheaper and you think you’ll be more committed. You won’t! You’ll just be out more money for a product you may or may not use (or which may or may not work for you and your firm). The reality is that these are all legal tech start-ups and may not be here in a year!  They also may not do what you are lead to believe when you sign up. Or perhaps it can, but you have to pay for and populate a third party add on or hire a consultant first.  The point is, always get a 30 or 60 day free trial before you buy into anything and actually test it during the free period to see what YOU can get it to do without investing more than a few hours of your time.
  • Don’t have only one way to connect to the internet. When your data, files and client information ONLY RESIDE in the cloud – and you can’t get a connection – then what? Sit around and do nothing until you get service back? No! Use an alternate method to connect to the web – even a dial up or your cell phone is better than nothing.

Does the above mean that a cloud application is NOT for you. No. But you do need to be aware of your options and the risks involved when migrating business functions and/or client data to the cloud.

You also need to be aware of when you are being sold – and it is just as true for attorneys as anyone else – if it sounds too good to be true, chances are, it is.

No piece of technology or shiny object will magically give you back hours every week or get the paying work done and out the door.  The fact is, many make simple processes far more complex and time consuming than the average solo needs; and a few require you to pay and incorporate third party products or hire on consultants in order to make their tech actually do that which you were told it would when you were sold.

For a more comprehensive review of 9 of the practice management solutions available, here is a link to the most downloaded report on LegalTypist.com:  The Sorry State of Legal Practice Management Software <-downloaded over 15,000 times!

Written in 2014 by attorney-geek, Avi Frisch, you would think in 3 years the companies listed would have corrected the issues raised. Nope. Avi tested again at the end of 2016 – and everything appears to remain the same.

Network, network, network

As a Virtual Assistant, I get to meet so many people. Well, maybe “meet” is the wrong word. I get to connect and communicate with many people – most of whom I will never meet face to face.  I work remotely, my clients are remote, my network of qualified Digital Assistants are all remote – and the work gets done and, more importantly, everyone is happy.

Most of the time, I don’t even speak with a client again after they have signed on – unless there is a problem or they wish to upgrade or add services within their workflow  (or the occasional “Hi, how ya doin'” type of call, of course).Given this set of circumstances, many would say I’ve got it made. I have recurring, steady work from a growing pool of clients who never really need “me”.

However, any successful business owner will tell you – you can NEVER stop trying to find and connect with people. Bringing in new business is the lifeblood of any business.

Networking is obviously what I need to keep my name and my business in front of as many people as possible. In today’s day and age, networking takes on two forms: on and off line networking.

My off line networking includes annual trips to LTNY and #ABATECHSHOW

For on line networking I am a member of many sites: twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, along with the list serv maintained by the ABA known as Solosez.

However, there has always seemed to be something lacking for those who work in legal to truly connect outside of just a list serv.

So I made a place:

LOGO

Go join:  http://www.virtualbarassociation.com The only requirement for membership is that you are actively employed at a law firm. Already loaded are 6 podcasts relevant to working on and through the web and everyone also gets a free copy of my ebook, along with copies of the reports and other goodies – like discounts!

But that’s not all!

Every month there is an educational webinar – March 28th is Vik Rajan covering Websites 101 where you will learn a lot more than just the difference between a website and a blog.  He even taught me a thing or two!!

These monthly webinars are called Lunch-N-Learn’s and are free to every VBA member; or if you can’t attend live, all Lunch-N-Learns are recorded and made available for any time download from the Member’s Only area.

I could go on and on … but just join: http://www.virtualbarassociation.com so we can all connect, learn and laugh and most importantly #dolawbetter

Through the Years #ABATECHSHOW Edition

I missed TechShow this year and was reminiscing with a colleague. As I was going through my files, I came across a lot of pix so threw together this collage of some of my favorite images/peeps:

Here are most of my ABATECHSHOW posts, including the most popular – all the 60 sites in 60 minutes in one spot:

2013:  The Wrap Up Part 1

2012:  ABATECHSHOW – Why go?

2011:  ABA Techshow – Q. What’s Going On? A. LOTS!!

2010:  Techshow Update Day 1

2010:  TechShow Update – the wrap up

60 Sites in 60 Minutes 2000-2016 #ABATECHSHOW