My fellow bar practice management advisors are providing a tip of the week to our members and various other bar associations. You may see them pop up on your state or local bar's web pages soon. So to restart that project in grand style, here are five (count 'em, five) PMA practice tips.
1. Quickly Zooming Fonts for Easier Reading
When you are reading a document or a webpage and the font is a bit too small to comfortably read, here's a quick solution. Hold down the control key and use the scroll wheel on your mouse to easily enlarge the text, zooming in. This doesn't work with everything. But since it works with True Type fonts, it will work most of the time.
2. Return Receipts for E-mails
Many lawyers never use return receipts for e-mails because they generally are not that useful as evidence in court. But when you are e-mailing important time-sensitive documents to clients or other lawyers, it is often helpful for you to know they received the document. Spam filters are one of many reasons an e-mail may not be received, but no "bounce message" is returned to you. Show your clients you care that they received a document and save yourself the aggravation of calling someone just to see if they got your e-mail by using the return receipt option. It is located under View, then Options in our version of Microsoft Outlook and can be located using the Help files if you use a different e-mail client.
3. A/R Aging Priorities Tip
Once a month lawyers should take a financial snapshot of the practice. The main purpose of this practice is to give lawyers a clear picture, on a monthly basis, of where the money is. This snapshot should tell them how much money is going out and how much is coming in. An important part of the money “coming in” is actually what should have come in, but hasn’t yet. This is the accounts receivable (A/R) aging report. This report shows unpaid accounts, their amounts and how old they are. Any collection efforts should look at the largest amounts first. If you are going to spend 30 minutes dealing with an unpaid account, do it on one worth $1000 instead of one worth $10.
4. WiFi vs Cellular Access
There is a lot of hype about the availability of WiFi but the fact is that there is not enough coverage, free or otherwise, to count on it being there in a pinch. If you have to be mobile and you have to be connected, either spend the money for a cellular broadband card for your PC or spend the time learning how to use your cell phone as a cellular modem. Depending on the phone type and the capabilities of your PC you have you may require a cable to connect to your PC or you may connect via Bluetooth. It will not be as fast as WiFi but you will get a signal where no WiFi is available. You can learn more by visiting http://mobileoffice.about.com/od/usingyourphone/a/cellmodem.htm
5. USB Flash Drives: Use with Care
USB flash drives, sometimes called jump drives, have become very popular with lawyers. What lawyer wouldn't be interested in being able to carry thousands of documents in his pocket? They are very convenient for the lawyer on the go. The problem is that they are so small that they are easy to lose. Therefore you need to take care with any documents containing confidential client communications on them. You may password protect those document, use a zipping utility to compress them while adding a password or maybe just buy a more expensive flash drive with encryption software as a part of the package. Keeping the flash drive on your key ring makes loss less likely as well.
The PMA Practice Tip of the Week is a service of the Practice Management Advisors Committee of the ABA Law Practice Management Section. The PMA tips are not meant as legal advice, nor binding on any bar association or law society.