Monthly Archives: April 2010

Developing The Paperless Habit #Techshow

Below are my notes/keystrokes from the Developing the Paperless Habit session at the ABA’s Techshow.  The session was my absolute favorite, with Nerino Petro and Ernie Svenson helping attorneys understand that you can get paperless (if not paper free):

1. You’re leaving a world your familiar with. We know paper. The world of paperless has more options.

2. Psychology involved with going from paper to digital.

3. Key factor in successful transition from paper to digital is training. Can’t stress it enough.

4. As people become more familiar with the process they will accept it more readily.

5. Don’t throw your staff into the deep end of the pool or they will drown.

6. The more people in the office to get digital, the more training you need.

7. Ask yourself: At end of road, where do I want to be?

8. Goal should be to keep your system as simple as possible. Your data accessible from anywhere. The whole point is to be able to access your information from anywhere.

9. Of course, you need to back up all of your information so it is preserved.

10. Back up and sync is the best. So one computer dies its no problem, just use another.

11. When information is digitized, natural disasters like Katrina are not as devastating.

12. Approach: you can make things as complicated as you can. Will it work. Yes. Will it be adopted by your staff? Probably not.

13. Keep digital things digital – if they are already in digital format, keep them that way.

14. Don’t spend the money to print out emails and other digital documents.

15. When you get paper, convert it to digital as soon as you can.

16. Get buy in from staff. They need to know what is in it for them.

17. You’re already managing digital information – email, photos, deposition transcripts. All the stuff you send it out is already digital too.

18. Everyone has two systems – digital and paper.

19. Digital is growing exponentionally.

20. Better to merge the paper into one system. Paper takes up more space; costs more to store; can’t back it up.

21. Not a question of should I become paperless (less paper not devoid of paper) yes, because one system is archaic.

22. Your workflow is not the same as any other firm. Similar, but not same.

23. Incoming stuff gets copied and sent to client and to the file – that’s two copies of every document. That costs money.

24. When digital you scan not copy, send the original to the client and keep the digital copy for your file.

25. At end of case you can give clients copies of all documents for each client (easy to do).

26. Is it ok to only keep copies in digital files? Check with your Ethics Committee for opinions or call and ask.

27. Think: how much does it cost me to have all those filing cabinets – what is the cost for that square footage.

28. Make keeping the paper copies of everything the responsibility of the client. Then give them CD with all pdfs

29. Going paperless can easily help your bottom line.

30. When digitized, you’re not going to have problems of having physical documents – natural disasters and other things that happen to paper.

31. Keep client’s copies forever if you want.

32. You rock to your clients if you keep everything and later they contact you asking for a copy.

33. What about IRS – don’t you have to keep paper copies for IRS? No. Do you think they are keeping all our tax returns on paper?

34. You can keep things digital – receipts, back ups, etc. as long as it is in a form that is reliably retained (backed up), that is under your control – you’re ok.

35. If Best Evidence you have is digital – that will do. All courts are digital too.

36. Tape back ups were inexpensive but also very inefficient. Small offices chose tape because it used to be so expensive to store large quantities of documents.

37. Outgoing documents – instead of scanning, you’re printing to .pdf.

38. What about signature? You have a graphic image for Word or Wordperfect so when you print to pdf it’s already signed

39. The need to affix a signature to the paper is imbedded. Once you create a digital signature, it’s easy to do.

40. Digital skills – training is really important. If you are already emailing, you’ve got a partial skill set. Just attach the document to the email.

41. Friends don’t let friends print out emails.

42. We have electricity and computers- we can make this work for us if we give it a little thought and training.

43. The more you do it the easier it will become as you go along.

44. In house training with someone who knows what they are doing is best but also go to – where the Acrobat information is awesome.

45. What should you do to make it easy for you? If you’re using a computer for scanning, load it up on RAM memory. That will give your computer all the horsepower it needs.

46. Dual monitors are really important if you’re going paperless so you can open and read the pdfs outside of your working file.

47. Rotate the monitor and it will hold a 8.5 x 11 page perfectly.

48. Other tools is a the mouse. Your hand is always on the mouse. Get the best mouse that you can. The things that you touch all the time are what you should improve.

49. You spend so much time using a mouse, you really do need to treat yourself. You can really improve how you work with a better mouse.

50. Back up systems are a MUST for paperless. No brainer. It’s a professional responsibility.

51. Get back up off line, on line… your accounting, your time and billing, those core documents if you were wiped out – you could use to rebuild your business.

52. External hard drives – swap them out and take one home with you. If you’re whole community is taken out – that’s where off site back up comes into place.

53. You must test your back up. If you don’t test the back ups you don’t know if the system works. Not a whole restore but a test folder and document. Test.

54. Constant steady improvement is the best method. This isn’t going to happen overnight. Learn from, then get scanner and start.

55. Don’t think you can do this overnight. People will get frustrated.

56. Improving memory is very important as scanning is memory intensive. You don’t want to slow down.

57. Scanner is important. Anyone who is scanning should have a desktop scanner by their PC. Fujitsu scanners just work. One button is all you need. Only $400 and comes with Adobe – so you can start.

58. For large scanning – digital copy centers do really well at large amounts of paper. Canon has really nice scanner.

59. 15 pages a minute or faster or the process will not work with you. You will become frustrated with the length of time it takes to scan.

60. Once you become more digital centric you can capture other information digitally – LiveScribe pulse pen. Really useful for client interviews.

Previous posts from other Techshow sessions:

Creating Your Online Presence with Carolyn Elefant and Niki Black; and

Computing in the Cloud by David Bilinsky and Matt Kesner.

Introduction to Cloud Computing #Techshow

Below are the keystrokes I captured while attending Introduction to Cloud Computing with David Bilinsky and Matt Kesner on day 2 of #Techshow:

1.    What is the cloud?  Moving the application from the machine that you have on your desk/office to someone else’s server.
2.    What are the benefits of cloud computing?  The cloud is evolving.  Cloud is kept up to date re: security and upgrades so better service offering.
3.    Overall lower cost because you don’t have to buy all the equipment to run the infrastructure
4.    Greater scalability as your firm grows/shrinks no license issues.  There are definitely more predictable cost.  There is generally a monthly charge.
5.    While the up front cost may be lower, you may not be able to scale down.
6.    Most work through your browser.
7.    Not less IT staff – it just shifts.  Smaller firms will need to hire IT staff because cloud computing has lots of knotty problems.
8.    There is a fragmentation.
9. will get you numbers for live help.
10.    Cloud vendors contracts are one sided, don’t promise update and most don’t deliver high up time.  Most go down.
11.    You will be more on the cloud next year.
12.    Drawbacks are bandwidth can get expensive. Internet kinda works like a hose.  You need to get a certain flow for it work.
13.    Cloud requires more and more of that flow from your firm to the cloud and that can get expensive.
14.    Interconnection with other systems is much harder than traditional software.
15.    Cloud is a series of different paths that don’t necessarily converge.
16.    Complexity different in not greater than managing in house data.
17.    What are the ethical concerns?  Law has not caught up with technology.
18.    No standards yet for cloud.  Not around long enough.
19.    No general understanding of how things go together into the cloud.
20.    Where is your data?  Ethics are hard.
21.    Privacy laws affect you if your cloud provider is outside the US.
22.    Amazon will not tell you where your data is.
23.    Cloud is moving way ahead of the ethics curve.
24.    Impact of Internet technology on the delivery of legal services, both globally and within the US ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission.
25.    How can I ethically store client files on the internet?  According to State Bar of Arizona:
26.    “The client files would be accessible only through a SSL server, which encodes documents making it difficult for third parties to intercept or read them”.
27.    “The lawyer would assign unique randomly generated alpha numeric names.”
28.    Arizona went on to say that it is also important that lawyers recognize their own competence limitations regarding security measures and take the necessary time and energy to become competent or alternatively consult available experts.
29.    If you’re on the cloud, you’re in every jurisdiction how do you not trip up of unauthorized practice of law?
30.    Do you need to obtain permissions from different bar associations?
31.    Dual layer website – so first section is informational only.  Only those who are clients, or necessary step to reach out to you so that you can evaluate as to whether or not you’ll take on that client get access to the second layer of your website.
32.    Conflicts can arise as your talking to lots of people on the web.  Be aware that there is the danger of advising both parties.
33.    Good client intake/screening process.
34.    Privacy legislation.  Regulate the collection, creation, duration and retention of information including cookies, IP addresses and other personal information.
35.    Is a client entitled to know how long something is retained.  How do they opt out?
36.    What happens if privacy is breached – based on your jurisdiction.
37.    Ethics rules photographs, video clips, LLP notifications, client endorsements, areas of specialty or particular claimed expertise, any expectation as to the future results, lawyer rates – all regulated.
38.    How do you find out the rules in your jurisdiction.  Start with your State Bar website. Google “legal ethics” and there are blogs and real live books.
39.    There are other statues regarding privacy depending on the type of information you are collecting from your clients.
40.    Carefully read the contract for the cloud services.  Some don’t guarantee privacy for the information you are storing.  If you have regulations like HIPAA, you really do need to read the TOS to make sure you are taking reasonable steps.
41.    Copyright is an issue when putting information on the cloud.
42.    Client identification rules are cropping up re: money laundering/fraud.  Know thy client.  Clients are not face to face.
43.    Be careful when you contacted over the web – some are crooks.  Law firms are the fastest growing industry for fraud.
44.    Need a good disclaimer for your website.
45.    Website should be crystal clear that there is no client/attorney agreement until there is something signed by the client.  Instead of click through, better to have downloaded pdf they need to return.
46.    What happens if the cloud provider goes out of business or changes their business.
47.    Big issue – cloud will have your data and your applications – what happens if there is an outage?
48.    When you buy software and install it, if vendor ran out of business, you can still run it.  You can go to back ups if your data gets corrupt.  With a cloud provider, you’re stuck with the cloud provider.
49.    Data in transit; data at rest; data during computation – encryption.  As lawyers we need to keep secrets so we need to take all three forms data can be in into consideration.
50.    Data at rest encryption is easy; data in transit is easy to encrypt; data in computation encryption is not really possible to do today.
51.    Cloud will be dominant.  Will take over.  Have never seen so much invested in cloud.
52.    Know where your data is and try to keep it in the US. ? SO IMPORTANT!
53.    Understand security risks if its your key data such as documents/email.  Make sure they are duplicated somewhere else.
54.    Pros: more predictable costs and makes IT a utility.
55.    Although tons of risks, cloud will still be dominant.
56.    Have key information with multiple vendors; have your software with different vendors.
57.    Understand lack of integration; and ethical concerns.

Creating Your Online Presence #Techshow

Below is the keystrokes that I captured when listening to Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black during their session at ABA Techshow 2010 entitled Creating Your Online Presence:

1. Social media is useless without goals.

2. Don’t let fear stop you from having an open mind re: social media.

3. Different social media sites serve different purposes.

4. Can be used as an information gathering tool. To network with other attorneys and get referrals. Use it to connect with your clients.

5. LinkedIn has groups – you can post topics for discussion; announce things your firm is doing.

6. Groups provide an inexpensive way to network with lots of different people.

7. LinkedIn tends to be professionally oriented – businesses, small companies; not your general consumer.

8. Sometimes the mobile application is easier to navigate than the full site.

9. Avvo is an on line lawyer directory that is growing, getting funding.

10. Avvo will have profile on you whether or not you claim it.

11. Lists bare bones info – name, address and disciplinary actions against you.

12. Need to claim your profile and you start to input the more detailed information.

13. Have area where you can add speeches, awards you received, etc.

14. Avvo gets a lot of traffic – and when you add information you get higher ranking and show higher in their site.

15. Avvo – put in bar association information; any committee; articles; Martindale Hubble ratings.

16. If you have four practice areas – make your specialty the one on top.

17. You will get inquiries from Avvo.

18. People who find you on line tend to contact you via email or on line.  Some will call.

19. South Carolina Bar has issues with Avvo. Check with your Bar Association before filing in your Avvo profile.

20. Justia is lawyer listing site. Gives karma points. Provide free content and showcases your legal skills. Higher search results.

21. Blogs help you produce, publish and redistribute information. Blogs help you with SEO, attract media.

22. If you don’t like to write – blogs may not be the social media tool for you. Blogging gets lots of exposure. You need to add content to make it valuable.

23. If you have passion for a topic; and a passion for writing – create a blog. If you don’t have passion or don’t like to write there are other ways to create content (or connect).

24. Nothing more sad than a blog that has three posts and then left at that.

25. Use on line sites to archive your documents and point your profiles to those documents (which are keyword rich).

26. If you like writing – blogging is a great way to showcase your practice.

27. Start with free site like blogger or WordPress. WordPress has two types of blogs – one you download and add to your site; the other just uses theirs.

28. You can transfer the information if you find you enjoy blogging and you want to upgrade to non-free service.

29. Don’t invest thousands in a blog only to find you don’t like it. Start with free.

30. Social media is a great way to showcase your area of practice. Social media levels the playing field. The more you interact, the higher your search engine results.

31. Starting out should have 3 or 4 posts per week. Draft posts in advance and then schedule them. (I recommend 2 posts per week.)

32. Intersperse current events and answers to questions you get frequently.

33. Once you have momentum, put up a thorough post once per week. If you can do more, do it.

34. To start, 3 or 4 times per week for the first 4 months – regularity is best. (Me: 2 per week)

35. Paid blog sites look nicer; for fee services may link you to other sites; perception

36. Free sites don’t back up your posts; whereas paid sites will.

37. Find someone to create the design but use WordPress from your own server.

38. Blog should focus on one or two areas; use words organically – the words that your clients are searching for you with.

39. If there’s no passion, your blog may appear flat.

40. Search engine optimization for blogs means focusing on one or two specific topics.

41. Clients search by their needs – so use those words.

42. Link to your website from your blog – so narrow focus but still let consumers know a bit more about you and link to your site.

43. Second life is not mainstream; but there are lawyers on it specializing in the virtual transactions that go on.

44. Go where other lawyers have not gone – you have an advantage.

45. Still lots of room on all the suggested directories and social media.

46. Social networking and professional networking are not mutually exclusive.

47. When you connect on line it allows you to form off line relationships.

48. Social media allows you create connections.

49. Social media allows you to be remarkable and stand out.

50. How much is too much? Blogs are passive so not push. Facebook Fan pages can overwhelm. Just like in real life – don’t be rude. Also if you’re on all the time, your clients and contacts will notice.

51. Don’t SPAM