Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

Editor: W. Patrick Tandy

January, 2004
 

Solo/Small Firm Practitioner

"Tidbits & Bytes: Catching Up on Old Periodicals"

By Pat Yevics, MSBA Director
Law Office Management Assistance

At this time of year, I try to catch up on my reading. I have been going through some of my magazines and publications, and I would like to share some of the information I have read. In addition, I am including some Internet sites that I have learned of at some seminars and used in some of my own presentations.

From the Free Law Technology News

I regularly recommend that practitioners subscribe to Law Technology News. It is a free monthly publication that mostly contains information from companies about their products, but it is a quick way to keep up with new hardware and software. It has just celebrated its 10th anniversary and its editorial content has improved dramatically over the 10 years.

  • Which PDA? - There is an excellent review and comparison of the many products on the market in the October 2003 issue of Law Technology News (I told you I was catching up on my reading). In order to read the article on-line you must subscribe. Go to www.lawtechnologynews.com. The name of the column is “Fifth Gear,” and the article is called “Your Whole World, In Your Hand.” The link is www.lawtechnews.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=414661. Although it did bring up the article when I typed in the address, I am not certain it will always work if you do not register. If you do register, you have the option of not accepting advertising or having your e-mail shared.
  • Power Persuasion - Craig Ball is a solo practitioner and legal consultant from Houston. He recommends that practitioners start to learn (and ultimately use) PowerPoint. According to Craig (from the same October 2003 issue of Law Technology News), practitioners can teach themselves the basics of PowerPoint in a single evening. However, to go beyond the basics he recommends using the PowerPoint area of MS website at www.microsoft.com/office/powerpoint. He also recommends reviewing postings in one of the PowerPoint newsgroups such as microsoft.public.powerpoint. In addition, you could check out the Google Groups for PowerPoint discussions.
  • Tips for Upgrading - Although the article was written to assist mid-sized firms with upgrading their computer systems, the tips are universal. The article from the October, 2003, Law Technology News was written by Wayne E. Smith, manager of Information Systems at Chester, Willcox and Saxbe in Columbus, Ohio. The tips are:
  1. Have a compelling reason for the upgrade.
  2. Do your homework.
  3. Get as much input and feedback from all potential stakeholders as possible…
  4. Always get the best.
  5. Get more than you need.
  6. Track what larger firms are doing. [This is a good idea even for solos and small firm practitioners because technology can level the playing field – PY]
  7. Test and document everything thoroughly once you have decided to upgrade.
  • Top 10 Websites of the Last 10 Years - Robert Ambrogi has been managing editor for Law Technology News for the past 10 years. Over those years, he has written on and evaluated websites. Much of my information about sites has come from his articles. He wrote an article about the top 10 sites of the last 10 years in celebration of Law Technology News’ 10th Anniversary. He states that these are the 10 most influential websites, although they may no longer be judged “the best” by today’s standards. I think the list is an excellent one and worth sharing. If you are not familiar with these sites, take a look. They are described in detail in the October issue under WebWatch.

1.   www.findlaw.com
2.   www.law.cornell.edu
3.   www.gpoacess.gov

4.   and 5  www.law.com (a merger of Law Journal Extra and Counsel Connect)
6.   www.versuslaw.com
7.   www.advertsinglaw.com
8.   www.abanet.org
9.   www.llrx.com
10. www.legalethics.com

From Law Office Computing

  • 10 Tips for Marketing Online:
    1. Let visitors sign up for an e-newsletter.
    2.   Send the e-newsletter in HTML format.
    3.   Become a content provider for AvantGo which is a medium that allows PDA users to see your Web content. For more information, go to http://avantgo.com/products/businesses/marketing_commerce.
    4.   Start writing a blog. (For more information on blogs, see the article from the October, 2003, Bar Bulletin at www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/articles.htm and go to “Technology”)
    5.   Optimize your website for search engines.
    6.   Make sure your site has the three things business clients look for: industries served, businesses represented and client success stories.
    7.   Follow directional norms on the Web. In other words, Web users expect a certain layout. Know what that is and follow it to make it easier for users to follow.
    8.   Avoid putting up content you want and not what users want. Such unwanted content may include welcome messages, firm history or mission statements.
    9.   Take care with your Web bio.
    10. Google yourself (www.google.com).  See what comes up when you put your name in Google and Google Groups.
    [From “Ten Tips for Marketing Online,” by Larry Bodine; August/September, 2003]
  • The Envelope Please… - The winners of the 5th Annual Best Law Office Website Contest conducted by Law Office Computing were listed in the October/November 2003 issue. Take a look at what are considered successful sites. They were judged on aesthetics, ease of use and navigation, quality and quantity of content, unique features and search engine effectiveness.

The winner of the large firm category is Jones Day of Washington D.C. (www.jonesday.com). Runners up are Kirkpatrick & Lockhart (www.kl.com), Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox (www.skgf.com) and Porter Wright Morris & Arthur (www.porterwright.com).

The winner in the small firm category “by a mile this year” is  Zupkus & Angell (www.zalaw.com) from Denver. The runners up are Wolf Greenfield & Saks (www.wolfgreenfield.com), Gorberg, Gorberg and Zuber (www.mylemon.com) and Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell (www.gcglaw.com) from Concord, New Hampshire.

It is interesting to note that runners up in both the large (Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox) and small (Wolf Greenfield & Sacks) categories were designed by the same company, Greenfeld Belser from Washington, D.C. (www.gbltd.com). It is also worth noting that David J.Gorberg designed the site for the small firm runner up, Gorberg, Gorberg and Zuber.

[To request a packet of information on developing and maintaining a law firm website, please send an e-mail with your mailing address to pyevics@msba.org, or call Pat Yevics at (800) 492-1964.]

Law Marketing Portal

An excellent site for one-stop marketing on the Internet is www.lawmarketing.com. Although this is geared to larger firms, much of the information is easily adapted to solos and small firms.

Elusive Information

As many as 55 billion (yes, billion) posted pages are not found when a searcher enters key words. They are not visible because they have not been located or indexed. There are many reasons they are not found, but one of the reasons could be that they are PDF files, which are generally not searchable or indexed.

There are now two ways to search PDF files. Google currently indexes 13 million PDF files. In addition, Adobe also allows searching of 1 million PDF files. To search these files, go to http://searchpdf.adobe.com.

Keeping Your Website Fresh

It is important but difficult to keep a website current or even give the impression that it is current. One way to consider doing that is to subscribe to a news service that will provide new legal news content. Lawyer’s Weekly, a newspaper for solo and small firm practitioners, provides daily legal content. For a sample and details, go to http://newslinks.lawyers weekly.com.

[From Law Practice Management, ABA Law Practice Management Section, November/December 2003.]

Looking for Someone?

In a recent post to the Solo and Small Firm Email List, MSBAsolo, someone wanted to know how to find someone who had moved and left no forwarding address. Here are some places online that could assist you find people.

  • Portico (http://indorgs.virginia.edu/portico/home.html) – This is a site from the University of Virginia that is a collection of links created by the development office. It is very organized and has many categories.
  • Switchboard (www.switchboard.com) – This site still maintains a reverse lookup for phone numbers.
  • Accurint (www.accurint.com) – This is one site that came up many times on the Email List. It was highly recommended. It is an aggregator of public records data. It is done on a pay-as-you-go basis for a reasonable price.
  • VitalCheck Network (www.vitalcheck.com) – This site describes procedures and fees required of each state’s vital records agency and links if they are available.
  • Public Records (www.searchsystems.net) – This site links to free and public databases throughout the United States.
  • KnowX (http://knowx.com) – This is another site for public records. Some require a fee, but it is usually less than $10. Although you must register, it is on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Skipease (www.skipease.com) – Skipease was created by skiptracers, people searchers and public records researchers to search for people and public records. It is a free service with other types of information available as well.

[From a presentation to the Virginia Trial Lawyers, October, 2003 by Hazel Johnson, Richmond Librarian, McGuire Woods, LLP]

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: January, 2004

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