How quickly things can change.
Social distancing is challenging for many of the tasks that lawyers do. Many courts are now closed to the general public so they can continue to provide emergency services and so staff can safely continue some of their work. Court dates and other deadlines that motivate clients to work with their lawyers to resolve their matters are stayed. Yet some clients still really want their matters heard now. Many of the business clients lawyers represent are closed.
Small businesses are impacted by pandemic closings more quickly than larger ones. The same is true for lawyers in solo and small firm practice settings.
Many business clients are fearful for their future. Many lawyers are fearful for their future.
In response to these changes, I’ve decided to provide short daily tips for practicing in a crisis. Everyone is feeling the stress and there are many things some law firms need to do to effectively practice in this strange new time. So I am shooting for short pieces that make you think or motivate you.
Some of my colleagues are writing some really good pieces on topics of interest as well. So, another part of my idea is to frequently pair my short tips with a link to a longer related piece, video or other resource.
I have covered Zoom Security Tips, “Home without a scanner? There’s an app for that” and have directed everyone to the cutest working from home video you will see for our profession: The Burneys: Bears & Boundaries & Conference Calls. Thanks, Bret Burney.
A few of these tips will be state-specific. Oklahoma has a relatively new Remote Online Notary Act. Lawyers are obviously very interested in this relatively new law under our current situation. So, I located some knowledgeable lawyers and recorded a video explaining the law and one of them even provided a downloadable tip sheet. Check the Oklahoma’s Remote Online Notary Act tip.
And, yes, I will also push them out through this blog.
Stay safe, everyone.
On January 2, 2005, I launched Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog. It’s been quite a ride. Because of ABA TECHSHOW, I personally knew many of the law bloggers who were happy to share advice and tips. (Not that there were many lawyer bloggers at the time.)
But we were all experimenting. It is amazing how many of those early bloggers are still active and powerful influences today. Bob Ambrogi’s Law Sites Blog turned 17 this past November. His blog is *only* the top source today on legal technology news and it is still free to all readers. Carolyn Elefant’s My Shingle blog turned 17 last month. She is still a very active blogger, sharing her tips and opinions about solo and small firm law practice. Dennis Kennedy’s blog turns 17 next month. He is still an active blogger as evidenced by his post on his top posts of 2019. And many readers know that Ernie Svenson’s Ernie the Attorney blog was one of the earliest, launched on March 2, 2002. I’m happy to count all of these people as my friends. For more law blog history, see Bob Ambrogi’s Who Was the First Legal Blogger?
One thing about law blogging is that many of these early blogs only lasted a short time. Blogging was, and is today, a time-consuming prospect if you do it well. And lawyers are busy people.
Luckily for me, my job as a practice management adviser with the Oklahoma Bar Association, provided me with “bloggable” material on a regular basis. And the fact I was trained as a journalist and adopted Dragon Naturally Speaking very early, allowed me to produce a lot of content. At one point, in addition to blogging, I was writing monthly columns on legal tech or practice management for three magazines, ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, ABA GPSOLO Magazine and the Oklahoma Bar Journal. So part of my blogging was posting links to my columns as they appeared online and to our Digital Edge podcasts. That helped with regular updates when I didn’t have to do an original post.
I’m proud of this aspect of my work and have really enjoyed it. It is certainly fun when I speak to groups out of state and audience members come up to me to tell me how long they have been reading the blog posts or listening to our podcasts. But it is hard to keep up anything at a high quality for 15 years. I experienced a lag a year or so ago when staff changes within my department and a huge one-time project at work kept me from consistent and quality blogging.
When the ABA and OBA updated their websites, it turned most of my links into dead links, which was a setback. Link rot is a problem across the Internet. But it was a challenging experience to have the majority of links go bad all within a short time and I still have several hours of work ahead reviewing every past post.
But 2019 was a big year for Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog. I migrated to the LexBlog platform and Kevin O’Keefe’s team at LexBlog provided masterful assistance helping me migrate from Typepad to their platform. (Kevin’s blog, Real Lawyers have Blogs, is also in its seventeenth year.) Working with those great people and seeing my blog with a clean, more modern look has been inspiring, so my blog posts picked up in 2019.
2020 will be an even better year, I predict. There are so many things going on in the legal tech world. And, at some point in 2019, I’m going to start with “semi-regular” video blog postings.
Thanks for reading, my friends, and share the blog info with your friends.
Lawyers hear a lot about networking. Conferences and CLE programs feature “networking luncheons,” even though the only scheduled activity is eating. Networking opportunities are more challenging today because what used to be networking time in “the old days” is now the time for everyone to pull out their smart phone and disappear into it.
But sometimes it works. I met Dennis Garcia, an Assistant General Counsel for Microsoft, at a College of Law Practice Management meeting while we were standing next to each other in the buffet line for lunch. The line was moving slow. We introduced ourselves and had a nice visit. Afterwards we followed each other on social media and now know more about each other. So networking is still valuable.
But my blog readers are the beneficiary of that meeting now because his blog post last week, A New Decade for #TechIntensity in the Legal Profession, might not have come to my attention otherwise and it is extremely valuable reading. He quotes experts ranging from Peter Drucker to Winston Churchill. So I hope you have time to add it to your end-of-the year reading list, particularity if you practice in a larger law firm. I think you will find his post both enjoyable and challenging.
At last count, 38 states have adopted language in their Rules of Professional Conduct stating a lawyer should be aware of the risks and benefits of relevant technology. Canada recently adopted a similar change to its Model Code of Professional Conduct. But many lawyers still have concerns about what they need to know and what the real risks are to themselves and their clients.
So I was very pleased when the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division asked me to write on the risks of technology incompetence for their theme issue “Digital Bumps in the Road.” Hopefully the concrete examples I provided will guide some lawyers in setting improvement priorities for tech competency. There are some other great articles with useful information in this edition of the magazine.
Open a PDF of the feature as it appeared in GPSOLO magazine here. The ABA has copyright restrictions that appear at the bottom of each page.
I was a bit disappointed when the decision was made to put the magazine behind the membership firewall. But it looks like the entire issue is online right now. I’m not sure for how long. Every ABA member can “opt in” to membership in both the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division and the Law Practice Division at no additional charge and receive digital copies of GPSOLO Magazine and Law Practice Magazine. (I’m a long term member of LP Magazine’s editorial board.) Then you will also have access to GPSOLO Magazine archives. The ABA’s new dues structure is very friendly to solo or small firm lawyers at only $150 per year for those lawyers.
Marketing is a challenge for many lawyers. It can be time-consuming. There are ethical restrictions. People outside of the legal profession usually look at legal problems differently than those trained in law and most lawyers have little or no training in marketing.
My column Tales of Fails in Lawyer Marketing in 2019 was based on several disappointing and perplexing data points I encountered recently from different studies. One of those was the Clio 2019 Legal Trends Report. There was some shocking data about how poorly law firms respond to new client inquiries by email or phone. The data was hard to believe. The people at Clio must have found it difficult to believe, too, since they then commissioned an independent research study, which largely confirmed their initial data. You can download and read a copy of the Clio 2019 Legal Trends Report yourself.
The other “shocker” was in the 2019 Legal Technology Survey Report from American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center, which reported that 43% of solo lawyers do not have websites. There are obviously different types of solo practices. The “single client” solo practice may not need a website, nor perhaps does the partner who left the large law firm after a long career and took the three clients they wanted to keep in the new solo practice setting. But if you are a solo practitioner who represents primarily individuals, you really, really need a website — a mobile friendly website.
So my column has two primary focus points. Your law firm, every law firm, needs to evaluate the new client vetting and intake process to make sure you are not missing out on new potential clients that your reputation and other marketing efforts have caused to reach out to you. And if you are a solo lawyer with no website, it is time to start the process of reserving a domain name and creating a website. If your firm has a website that hasn’t been updated in the last few years, you probably need to take a look at that, too.
As always, feel free to forward the link to Tales of Fails in Lawyer Marketing in 2019 if you know a solo lawyer who needs a website.
It’s been quite a few years since I served on the ABA TECHSHOW planning Board. That’s probably a good thing because I would have lobbied for some puns in ABA TECHSHOW 2020 marketing.
ABA TECHSHOW 2020- Your vision for the future of your law practice.
Or something about 2020 hindsight, if you miss this one.
If we used Super Bowl style Roman numerals, it would be ABA TECHSHOW MMXX. Or we could focus on the fact ABA TECHSHOW ends on LEAP DAY. (ABA TECHSHOW will be held February 26 – 29, 2020 in Chicago.)
As far as legal technology conferences go, ABA TECHSHOW is tops in my books. The faculty is selected based on merit, not corporate sponsorship. (Although they have loosened things up the last few years with some vendor lunch ‘n learns, which has worked out well.) The educational sessions include MCLE accreditation and are accompanied by well-done written materials so you can benefit even from the sessions you didn’t attend. Most who follow legal technology recognize the names of many ABA TECHSHOW speakers, but the planning board also searches out new talent. The content is relevant for most lawyers, but particularly useful for those in medium-size to smaller law firms. Check out the programming tracks. The sessions will be announced soon.
There are educational sessions on the ethics of using legal technology. For example, I’ve been asked to speak on the Cybersecurity track on the subject Cloudy, With a Chance of Sanctions, a topic of interest to all lawyers. (I’m also speaking on How to Partner Like a Pro on the Recession Proof track.)
So here is what you need to do. First calendar February 26 – 29, 2020 now so you won’t schedule a conflict and then also calendar the Early Bird deadline of January 13, 2020 as the deadline day for for discounted registration.
Oklahoma Bar Association members can use OBA Event Promoter Discount Code EP2011 to save when registering on the TECHSHOW website.
You need to attend for ABA TECHSHOW 2020. If you keep planning on it, but haven’t yet, this should be your year. I’ve got my eyes on you and I hope to see you there.
Just when some of us are beginning to believe that the battle for protecting your privacy online is lost, here is a list of affirmative steps you can take to fight back. This is not quick or easy. You wouldn’t really expect it to be as most internet behemoths’ primary revenue is either using or selling your private information for profit. So they are not going to make it simple to take back your personal information or limit its sharing in the future.
Everyone who uses the internet by now has a creepy story to share about ad placement based on your personal information. Mine was my wife showing me a winter coat she thought I might like on her phone and the same coat showing up in an ad on my phone within minutes, even though we have different carriers. So if you decide you want to fight back, Sharon has the list of tactics and weapons for you.
Sharon’s post was inspired by (and informed by) this great New York Times piece.
UPDATE: It’s not just private companies doing this. The California DMV Is Making $50M a Year Selling Drivers’ Personal Information
Tips to Avoid Some Major Technology Glitches is the subject for my November Law Practice Tips column.
You will learn why I believe Focused Inbox in Office 365 Outlook is a trap waiting to catch the unwary attorney and why you should have already stopped using Internet Explorer. Plus I discuss Windows 7 end of life and buying your new Windows 10 computer..
Glitches and bugs are a part of using technology, but there’s no need to volunteer for extra glitches if you can avoid them. As always, feel free to share this column with someone who needs to read it.
The holiday shopping season is upon us and that means it is time for our annual ‘Tis the Season: Tech Toys for the Holidays from the Digital Edge podcast. Co-hosts Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson give you a tour of some great high-tech gadgets. We include some very practical and some not-so practical gift ideas, ranging from Bose Frames Audio Sunglasses to Rocketbooks to your very own Death Star fire pit. Clocky, the original Alarm Clock on Wheels, was so unique and funny that I purchased one for a giveaway at a section meeting during our recent OBA Annual Meeting.
The team at Legal Talk Network has livened up the podcast with a few fun sound effects as well. You can find links to all of the gadgets on the podcast home page.
Sharon and I send Season’s Greetings to all of our listeners. Feel free to share this podcast link with a friend or colleague.