Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : September 2007

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 SOLO/SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONER

BY PAT YEVICS  

You can always tell when I have been on a long airline flight – my next column is “Tidbits and Bytes”. I recently attended a conference in San Francisco and used the eight hours of flying time to catch up on my reading. Each time that happens, I promise myself that I will stay on top of my reading, but I know that will never happen.

  • Who Needs Med School? If you have to cross-examine an opposing doctor, you now can have a real doctor listening online to give you suggestions on what questions to ask. Since most attorneys did not go to medical school, this can be a huge help.  Go to www.MDinaBox.com. [From May 7, 2007, Lawyer’s Weekly.]
  • Thinking Way Outside the Box. I am a great believer in trying new ideas, but a lawyer in Chicago may have pushed the envelope too far. Attorney Corri Fetman put up a huge billboard in downtown Chicago that read “Life is Short. Get a Divorce.” It showed a scantily clad woman and a man’s washboard abs. To see a clip of the ad, go to http://tinyurl.com/3bupwh.
  • Scheduling Headaches Eased. If you need to schedule a group of people or even get input about a particular topic from a group, use the tool Doodle (www.doodle.ch).  To just schedule a meeting, you can also use www.meetomatic.com.
  • Sometimes Nagging Helps. If you have trouble staying focused, you can download a shareware program called Instant Boss (http://instant-boss.app-s-apps.qarchive.org/) that is a motivational timer that you can set to your preference. It tells you when to work and when it is okay to stop.
  • E-mail Reminders. Have you ever thought of something that you wanted to do, but did not write it down and so it remained undone? Now you can use your cell phone to call Jott and it will send you an e-mail as a reminder. I now have the Jott number on my speed-dial, and I just call it and it sends it to whichever e-mail address I say. Go to www.jott.com (it is free, but you do have to register).
  • Valuable Resources for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers. The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/) has an excellent website available to all solo and small firm practitioners. The website is www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/gpsstechcenter.html. Another excellent site is Mobile Lawyers Info Center (www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/mobicomm.html).
  • Is Your Computer Ready for Vista? Microsoft has a tool that will analyze your current hardware and software and tell you which parts of your system are completely incompatible and which parts may require patching. Search in Google for Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor and it will take you to the correct page at www.microsoft.com. [From June, 2007, ABA GPSolo, p. 23.]

Tips for Technology Planning for Smaller Firms

The following tips come from pages 45-47 of the March 2007 edition of the ABA’s Law Practice. According to five experts, these are tips for small firms to plan for technology.

  1. “Engage a consultant to help analyze present assets and potential enhancements.” Use a consultant that understands small law firms. Be prepared to pay for good advice, which will be much less expensive than making technology mistakes. If possible, consider using a consultant who does not sell hardware or software.
  2. “Create the case for change within the firm.” In other words, get everyone to buy into the change by asking for input from the staff and letting them know how the change will help them and the firm.
  3. “Don’t cut corners in network hardware and expert installers.” Enough said.
  4. “Investigate legal-specific solutions – and provide proper training in them.” The key part of this statement is providing proper training. It almost goes without saying that most of your software will be legal-specific, but training by experienced people is critical if the transition is to go smoothly. Although there may be upfront costs of the training, the amount of time that will be saved will more than pay for itself.
  5. “Put an emphasis on systems security.” This is another area where you cannot try to cut corners.
  6. “Get real about maintenance and support.” It is critical to have off-site IT personnel who can diagnose problems and be available when you need them.

Shameless Plug

Just a reminder about the 9th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3 at the BWI Marriott. As usual, Friday consists of two half-day programs that run from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. One session is “How to Start a Solo Practice”; the second session is a result of the evaluations from last year’s conference – “The Myth and Realities of the Paperless Office,” a practical guide for how to make the decision, how to get started and how to move ahead. The speaker is national expert Ross Kodner of Wisconsin-based MicroLaw.

Saturday features 21 sessions of practical information to help you be a better lawyer and run a better office. All paid attendees will be able to hear podcasts of all sessions, so you do not have to miss any program.

See you there.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: August  2007