Tidbits & Bytes, or 'Cleaning Out
By Pat Yevics
One of my resolutions many years ago (which I
recommended in this column) was to limit the number of monthly publications
I receive. The reasons were simple: 1) the Internet made it easier to get
information especially related to technology and 2) I really did not have
time to keep up with all the reading. It seemed extremely wasteful to spend
money on publications that I was not reading. In addition, I always felt
guilty when I would throw them out without having read them as thoroughly
as I should.
I now subscribe to only a few. As a member of
the ABA Law Practice Management Section and the ABA Solo and Small Firm Section,
I receive their two monthly magazines, Law
Practice Management and GPSolo,
respectively. Both are excellent publications.
Other publications I receive and highly recommend
are Law Office Computing and Lawyer's Weekly. I think they
are particularly useful for solo and small firm practitioners.
By the time you read this, it will be 2006. What
better time to share with you some of the tidbits and bytes from these and
other 2005 publications?
Assistants. More and more firms of all sizes are using
"virtual assistants" to help with word processing and document preparation.
More than 600 members strong, the International Virtual Assistants Association
has standards for certification on Microsoft software and other products. Each "assistant" is
priced differently, and although each provides MS Office services, there are
variations within each company. Some of the services include www.legaltypists.com, www.kulshangroup.com,
(From Law Office Computing, August/September 2005)
on Conflicts is not a website that will be of interest to many non-lawyers.
In fact, in his "Ground Rules for Using This Site", William Freivogel states
that "[t]his site is not designed for non-lawyers. Indeed, lawyers who
have not studied or dealt with conflicts of interest rules for lawyers
on a regular basis will find this site a bit of a challenge. It is designed
for lawyers who have a basic knowledge of the conflicts rules." Freivogel
is an insurance industry executive who has been working with lawyers on
risk-management and malpractice prevention issues since 1987. If you've
ever done legal research on ethical conflicts, then you know that once
you get past the easy and obvious rules, the law becomes complex rather
quickly. To get an idea of the value of this site, click on "What's New" and
look at the number of items posted within the last 30 days. Then go to
the "Table of Contents" and pick an interesting-looking topic at random.
You'll find a clear statement of the issue and a set of citations that
will save you a great deal of research time if you need to delve deeper.
Clearly, this is a "must" bookmark. (From Jim Calloway, Practice Management
Advisor, Oklahoma State Bar Association)
Shopping. We get many calls about what products (phones, scanners,
copiers, etc.) to buy. The technology is changing so rapidly it is hard
to keep up. Moreover, what is good today will be obsolete next week.
A good site on which to do some research is Buyer
Zone, which offers quotes on particular products. You must complete
a short survey about your specific needs and e-mail it to them (they have
a no-spam policy and claim that they do not sell names). In turn, they
send your requests to their vendors, who will subsequently contact you.
I would prefer to have them send you the information so that you can contact
the vendors directly. What I do like very much about the site is that for
each of the categories there are "Buyer's Guides" – information about
the product you are researching and what you need to know before making
the decision. This is worth reviewing before you consider a product.
Your Assets". In an article in the August/September issue of Law
Office Computing, Ross Kodner declared, "One day, data backup will
save your law practice." Kodner believes that although most law firms back
up their data most do not do it effectively and would be unable to recreate
all their information. He believes it is only a matter of time before there
is a malpractice suit by a client because a lawyer failed to protect the
Kodner's backup basics are:
- w Never trust your backup system.
- w Alternate between at least five backup tapes.
- w Store your most recent tape away from your
- w Retire backup tapes after one to two years.
- w Train at least two people to perform backups
and restoration of data.
- w Don't rely on a single backup method.
According to Kodner, "the only way to truly protect
your systems' information is to backup everything on your key hard
drives everyday." (my emphasis) This is contrary to the incremental
backup approach where only the files that have been changed since the last
backup are saved which he describes as "an understandable but commonly-used
According to the article, while this may be faster on a daily basis, it will
be difficult to restore the data easily.
Another of Kodner's suggestions about backing
up software programs contradicts some of the prevailing wisdom; he suggests
also backing up their software programs. Most firms do not back up their
programs because they have them on the original CDs. This is shortsighted
(according to the article), however, because of the changes, patches, updates
and tweaking that would be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate.
Kodner believes that it is possible to build
a reliable automated system for daily full-system backups for as little as
For more details on backups, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
("Covering Your Assets," Law Office Computing, August/September,
While this year-end purging of reading material
can be cathartic, I want to make an effort to share these tidbits in my column
each month as well as weekly on the LOMA blog – a tall order to be
sure, but it will save a lot of angst next December. Besides, there is nothing
like a public declaration to ensure living up to your own expectations.