Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : September 2006

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 SOLO/SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONER

BY PAT YEVICS  

Tidbits and Bytes, or What You Get When You Spend 14 Hours on a Plane

In early August, I had the "opportunity" to spend many, many hours on a plane going to a National Association of Bar Executives Conference. Since I was on work time, I felt obligated (and relieved) to catch up on my reading. As a result, here are some interesting tidbits worth sharing. Most of the information comes from Law Office Computing (LOC) or the American Bar Association's Law Practice Management (LPM). There are many more tips, but space here is limited. For more tips visit the LOMA Blog.

Websites

  • www.anonymousemail.com – This site was created to give people the opportunity to send e-mail anonymously to other individuals, law enforcement agencies, schools or other organizations. Its main purpose (according to its website) is to give people the opportunity to voice complaints or concerns without fear. It allows you to send a free anonymous e-mail, so I sent one to myself at the MSBA and it was blocked by Postini™, our spam-blocking software. (LOC, April/May 2006)
  • www.jdblissblog.com – I am always amazed at the number of websites/blogs that focus on balancing work and professional life. Being on the Internet (which I use and love) sometimes only creates more stress, so I rarely use it to find balance. Having said that, this site has an interesting Work/Life Balancing Calculator that will determine "how many total hours you must spend in your office during the week (Monday through Friday) in order to meet the billable hour requirements of your firm (taking into account vacation, personal and other ‘days off'), and the amount of time you'll need to spend working at home after work or on weekends if you can't meet your firm's billable hour requirements solely from your time in the office during the week."

While it may not help you find balance, it may help you manage your time more effectively. (LOC e-magazine, March 2006)

Alternative to Adobe Acrobat
DocsCorp has created an alternative to Adobe Acrobat, with pdfdocs. It will allow you to collate documents from multiple sources and edit and annotate documents. The complete review from the April/May 2006 issue of LOC is available on the DocsCorp website (www.docscorp.com).

Time and Billing Dos and Don'ts

"14 Common Mistakes Firms Make":

  1. Buy the system that works for your firm.
  2. The cost is greater than just the software.
  3. Involve your entire staff.
  4. Read all the instructions.
  5. Different practices need different software.
  6. Learn more about the software than just the basics.
  7. Work with your accountant.
  8. Have a partner (or you) know how it works.
  9. Use experts/consultants.
  10. Software can help you improve your procedures.
  11. Use "Help" and utilities.
  12. Use the reporting tools and functions.
  13. Use with other software products.
  14. Train staff on firm time. (LOC, April/May, 2006; full article can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/epyjo)

Hurricane Season
Although Maryland does not have the devastating hurricanes that hit other states, disasters happen (which is the theme of this year's Pre-Solo Conference on Friday, November 10). In the December/January 2006 issue of LOC, J.R. Phelps from the Florida Bar Association has some outstanding resources.

MS PowerPoint Tip
More and more attorneys are using PowerPoint (See the August 20, 2006, Baltimore Sun article. Here are a few tips:

  1. As many of you know, if you make a mistake in MS Word while you are typing, hitting "Ctrl + Z" will "undo" whatever you just typed (or deleted). There unlimited number of undo's in Word. However, in MS PowerPoint, the default number of undo's is 20. To increase that, go to Tools>Options>Edit and change the number of undo's. (LOC, June/July 2006)
  2. To inserting slides from other presentations that you have done, first open the file into which you want to insert the file. Then "Insert" and "Slides from Files". This will take you to the "Slide Finder" box. Using the "Browse" button, find the presentation containing the files that you want to insert. You can insert just a few or all of them.

I tried it and it worked great. It is much easier than using "Cut" and "Paste" because it inserts the slides with the same formatting, which does not always work with "Cut" and "Paste".

Surfing Tips
In the July 2006 issue of Law Practice Management, Dan Pinnington from Toronto gave the following tips for using keyboard shortcuts to make internet use even faster:

  • Use the "Backspace" or "Alt + Left" to retrace your steps.
  • Use "Alt + Right" to go forward. (You saw that coming).
  • Toggle the "F11" key to go between full-screen and regular views.
  • Use "Page Up" or "Page Down" to move one full screen at a time.
  • Use "F5" to refresh or reload a screen.

Staying Safe on the Road
This used to mean making certain that you had a dime in your shoe to make a phone call or flares in the car in case of a flat tire. With all the electronic gadgets to keep us connected, staying safe is a lot harder and even more critical. In an excellent article in the July/August issue of Law Practice Mangement, "A Road Warrior's Guide to Mobile Security", Tom Mighell gives practical tips on protecting your gadgets, your data and your office. (You can currently view the article online. The article will only be available to non-ABA LPM members for another month, so try to read it now.)

Some of Mighell's tips are:

  1. Use a firewall (Zone Alarm, www.zonelabs.com), anti-virus software and anti-spy software. (Windows Defender www.webroot.com)
  2. Keep your Windows software updated with all the patches.
  3. Get a lock for your laptop or other devices (www.targus.com).
  4. Have a plan to backup data even while on the road, and do not keep the backup in your computer bag.
  5. Have a strong password for your PDA.
  6. Be very careful about using wireless connections. Use www.jiwire.com to confirm the location of a legitimate connection.
  7. Do not configure your laptop to automatically connect to any network.
  8. Avoid using public computers to check e-mail or connect to the office.
  9. If you must use a public computer, erase your history before leaving.
  10. If you use a public computer, thwart hackers that try to capture your keystrokes by using the on-screen keyboard to enter passwords or credit card numbers.

When you are at the screen where you are asked for this information, Click on "Start">"Acces- sibility">"On Screen Keyboard". A keyboard will pop up on the screen. Put your cursor on the space where you want to enter the information and then use the cursor and the online keyboard. It takes longer, but it is safer.

For more tips visit the  LOMA Blog.

Also, note that Law Office Computing will no longer be published after the June/July issue. Since this was one of my favorite publications, I will go through that issue and share some of the final tips.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: September 2006

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