We  had some great tips and content at the Oklahoma Bar Association Solo and Small Firm Conference this summer. I wrote about it in the Oklahoma Bar Journal, but forgot to cross post it here. This piece includes some of the best tips. Thanks so much to Brett Burney and Kenton Brice for the great tips they shared.

The 2022 OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference came back strongly after its two-year hiatus. We had a great attendance and many sponsors supporting the event. Mainly, we all were happy to meet in person again.The conference featured a blend of substantive law programs, practice management and legal technology education. There were programs on the implications of the McGirt decision, cannabis law, estate and succession planning for business owners, guardianships and Professor Robert Spector on recent developments in family law.

The opening session for the conference is always “60 Tips in 60 Minutes,” often noted as one of the high points of the conference in reviews. The 60 in 60 format originated at ABA TECHSHOW and soon spread to many legal technology conferences, as well as solo and small firm state bar conferences. With so many topics covered in a rapid-fire manner, it is hard to not learn something useful. In fact, one attendee came up to me after the session saying she had taken three pages of notes.

This year’s tipsters included Kenton Brice, director of technology innovation at the University of Oklahoma College of Law; Brett Burney, principal of Burney Consultants, an e-discovery consultancy and co-producer of the Apps in Law podcast; OBA MAP Director Jim Calloway; and OBA Practice Management Advisor Julie Bays.

In this month’s column, I thought I’d share a few takeaways from the conference, including several of the 60 tips.

Client development for lawyers used to focus on one-to-one meetings and in-person events. Today, with very few exceptions, solo and small firm lawyers should devote attention to having a good law firm web page and some appropriate social media outreach. Most of us were not trained for any of this. Video is very effective online. Julie Bays noted that www.descript.com is an easy-to-use video and editing tool. The company promotes it as “as easy as editing a doc,” and there seems to be some truth in that claim.

As the co-star of the Apps in Law podcast, Brett Burney was happy to share some of his favorite apps. Notability is an iOS app that makes it easy to save notes whether written or recorded. The app is optimized for use with the Apple Pencil. There is a free version, but Notability Plus may be worth the subscription fee because it includes handwriting recognition and math equation conversion. This app may be an excellent way to save random bits of information to your iPhone or iPad that you need to keep temporarily or permanently.

Brett also singled out the free Microsoft To Do as a simple list-keeping app that synchronizes across all your devices, and it allows you to set due dates and reminders. This functions on all three major phone platforms. Since it has the reminder function, this may be one way to keep personal items off the law office calendar.

Solo and small firm lawyers have a particular responsibility to make certain there is somebody to take care of their clients’ matters in the event of their death or disability. When was the last time your firm updated your succession plan? OBA members can log in to MyOkBar, and on the list at the lower right is the Attorney Transition Planning Guide. Download this free guide to help with your transition planning. Many different state bar associations offer a guide similar to this.

There is free Fastcase training available at www.fastcase.com/support . If you haven’t taken advantage of the free training associated with your bar-provided legal research member benefit, we encourage you to do so. The upgrade to Fastcase 7 changed the interface a bit, and a refresher is always helpful if you haven’t used Fastcase in a while.

In today’s world, when someone hands you an important document, you might take a picture of it with your phone. But for $3.99, iOS users can use the app Scanner Pro to take a picture of a document that is then converted to an OCR’d PDF file and stored on the cloud storage service you have designated. There are many scanning apps, but Brett Burney is not the only knowledgeable individual who gives Scanner Pro high marks. To me, having the documents off your iPhone and into a designated folder is part of the attraction.

Kenton Brice likes mechanical keyboards with their heavy-duty construction. He noted the MX Mechanical from Logitech ($169.99). This sturdy keyboard has received positive reviews.

Kenton also reminded iPhone users of the ability to set up a shortcut to either double-click or triple-click on the back of the phone to perform a function. A short, 45-second video on how to set this up on the iPhone is available.  One attendee commented that it was a great way to take phone screenshots without having to use both hands.

Kenton also shared some real wisdom in his program “Evaluating Technology Tools | A Toolkit for Legal Professionals.” He noted that prior to adopting any significant technology tool, it is very important to understand both the processes and the people involved. “Processes before purchases” is a great slogan for technology projects and upgrades. Thinking that a process is messed up and so you need some technology to fix it is often reverse thinking.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency,” is Bill Gates’s oft-quoted observation.

But if you want to improve your client intake process, you must outline every step of the process of bringing in a new client, including how file opening and billing setup processes work. Then you ask all the people involved in the process what problems they see or improvements they suggest. Then ask a sampling of clients. Then the tech evaluation and, hopefully, purchase. It sounds time consuming, and potentially is, but not as expensive as a stalled or failed technology project or one that had a successful installation but didn’t address the two main problems with the system.

I updated my article titled “Client: ‘Can My Parents Pay for My Attorney Fees?’, Lawyer: ‘Yes, but…’”  and updated the language to include credit card refunds in my template agreement for use when parents are paying for their child’s divorce and similar situations. The template is a good starting place for you to draft your firm standard agreement. Some others suggest this language should be contained in the fee agreement. But I prefer a brief standalone agreement between attorney, client and litigation funder. If you don’t use one of these agreements and should or haven’t updated yours in a while, please review the article and template.

Do you use a VPN (virtual private network) for additional security either on the road or working from home? If you are looking for a VPN, Brett Burney suggests you check out TunnelBear. It is a VPN with a cute name and good rates. There is a free trial plan, and then unlimited plans start at $3.33 per month.

If you use PowerPoint, Julie Bays has a couple of tips for you. First, you may have already noticed the improved design feature of PowerPoint that automatically suggests designs for your PowerPoints. Julie was working on a slide that included the word “hat,” and when she looked for design suggestions, royalty-free images of hats were suggested. She also noted an improvement in the PowerPoint audio recording feature that now allows you to record your own voice narration with the audio saved slide-by-slide instead of one large continuous audio file.

One tip all the presenters agreed on was the need for the use of a password manager and multifactor authentication as an important security tool. MFA means even if someone learns your password, they still cannot get into your online account because they cannot access the other factor. Kenton suggested OnePassword as his password manager of choice. More sophisticated authentication and zero trust architecture will replace these tools over the next few years, but you should definitely now be using multifactor authentication on bank accounts, brokerage accounts and services containing client information.

We had a great conference. For those who attended, I hope you enjoyed the conference and return next summer. For those who didn’t attend, I hope you locate some valuable tips in this post.

Deep fakes and other fabrications of “synthetic content” (as the FBI labels them) are rapidly improving and present a potential risk to all of us. You have probably seen deep fake videos where the video shows a person speaking but the voice belongs to another. Artificial intelligence tools match the speech with the speaker’s lips, so it looks as if the person is saying those words.

Lawyers have all known that Photoshop and other tools can generate remarkable fake pictures, even though an expert can often determine when an image is inauthentic. We have now seen people falling victim to fake voice or video creations and being scammed. But the next generation of tools is scarier. Imagine a client or opposing counsel contacting you and asking for sensitive information or funds to be transferred. An AI-powered deep fake with enough information can allow someone on the other end to speak and have their voice altered to reflect a celebrity or corporate CEO. So, they can participate in an authentic-sounding conversation with the intended victim.

The ZDNET post The next big security threat is staring us in the face. Tackling it is going to be tough provides background information and a link to the FBI warning. The FBI also notes that cybercriminals are using deep fakes to apply for remote IT support jobs, which could give them access to sensitive consumer information. If you are not certain that you are talking to the actual person, some ideas include asking them something about an obscure bit of information that only you and the actual caller would know (favorite sports teams doesn’t work because fans often post online), asking them if you can hang up and call them in a minute on their cell phone (when they say they left it at home today, proceed with caution) or having a staff company call the client’s place of business to see if the client is actually in Bora Bora.

One cannot combat deep fakes unless you know they exist. Share the ZDNET post with someone you think should know about this.

It is certainly not rare to see lawyers practicing in an office sharing arrangement. Sometimes a law firm that is downsizing finds itself with more office space than it needs, and subletting makes sense. Two or three lawyers might rent an office suite for their individual solo practices. Office sharers can benefit from sharing overhead expenses, such as utility bills and equipment. And there can be many benefits, such as lawyers nearby to discuss issues with or someone filing a pleading for you when they do their own filings, saving you a courthouse trip.

Office sharing is also positive when a lawyer wants to slow down and practice less than full time but still needs a place to interview clients and someone to sign for deliveries and certified mail when the lawyer is out. Sometimes your officemates may be a good source of referrals.

Office sharing may appear to be simple on its face. But for the lawyers who want to comply with all ethical rules, protect themselves and have appropriate and effective business operations, there is a lot to consider.

Foremost among lawyers’ minds will be complying with the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct regarding client confidences, conflicts of interest and the like. Good lawyers will also be concerned about whether they may be opening themselves up to potential liability. So even though office sharing has the potential for positive benefits, some thought and advance preparation is advised.

One must then invest the energy and time-building processes that address each significant area of concern.

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING
Let’s begin with the formation of the attorney-client relationship. The solo practitioner will be the one representing their client, just like the other officemates are. But while you may share overhead expenses, you don’t want to share any potential liability should a case go poorly. So, let’s reverse engineer this. If you were trying to sue three office-sharing lawyers on a theory of implied partnership or partnership by estoppel, what evidence could you muster?

  • The sign on the front of the building says “Smith, Jones and Wilson, Attorneys at Law.”

This is not to say the sign is determinative in a court proceeding, but three separate signs with individual lawyers’ names are better.

  • Clients waiting for their appointment repeatedly hear the receptionist answer the phone “Smith, Jones and Wilson, Attorneys.”

While I have noted before that “Hello, law office” is not an inspiring way to answer incoming calls, it is common, and I suspect the practice is often inspired by office-sharing arrangements. (Very cautious lawyers might even consider signage in the waiting room: “This is not a law firm partnership. The attorneys who work here each have individual law practices.”)

  • “Their website said ‘Smith, Jones and Wilson.’ It seemed like a partnership to me.”

Normally each solo practitioner should have a separate website. Not only does that possibly relate to liability, but it makes things simpler when someone wants to move to another location. There could be a situation where an office complex might have a website listing the various lawyers who office there. But examine these exceptions to the “rule” with your plaintiff’s lawyer eyes, and you should be able to minimize any risk.

Client billing should come only from the engaged attorney and not from a firm name.

PAPERWORK
Your office-sharing arrangement, in most circumstances, requires a written agreement. This is because there are items you need the other officemates to include in their attorney-client agreements to protect you.

Primarily, every client for every lawyer should be required to sign an attorney-client agreement that states something to the effect that the client is only contracting with attorney Smith for this legal matter, and other lawyers at this address are not responsible for it. If you wish to make this even more prominent, make that provision a single-sentence paragraph with a place for the client to initial. Review the contract’s other provisions about utilizing other attorneys to ensure consistency. After all, if you wake up too sick to appear at that arraignment, your officemates are likely among the first you would call. All participants should also agree never to refer to the practice being a partnership or firm.

There are many other aspects of business that need to be considered.

The lawyers need a detailed outline of everyone’s financial responsibilities and a “prenuptial agreement” providing for how someone withdraws, including security deposits, if any, how much written notice is required to leave and how jointly acquired equipment will be divided. Consider what happens if the copier dies. The lawyer who owned the “paid for” copier may have been happy to accept a dime a page for compensation but may not want to buy a new copier or sign a lengthy copier lease. The simple solution may be for each lawyer to buy their own copier, particularly since there is often less need for huge copy jobs in many law offices today. You may even want to include provisions on sharing common facilities, including day-to-day maintenance and cleanup of those areas.

What is the term of the agreement or is it indefinite? How are changes to the agreement handled? What if there is a tie vote? Each different arrangement may have different concerns. If someone is dead set against doing this in contract form, at least they should agree to the preparation of an unsigned memo as to agreed terms.

Then there’s the matter of liability insurance. The lowest-risk scenario would include an executed agreement between all the officemates, where each agrees to carry a minimum amount of professional liability insurance with the notice given to the other officemates if the policy is ever canceled, just like a lienholder would receive on collateral. If all officemates agree to carry professional liability insurance with the same policy limits from the same provider, this can be an important safeguard. While the prior discussion about avoiding implied partnership is very important, if an individual lawyer’s professional liability insurance policy limits are sufficient to cover a client’s claim, there is reduced motivation to try to bring in another lawyer defendant – particularly one who didn’t work on the matter.

Once you have a good working agreement between all insured officemates and everyone has included the proper provisions in their engagement letters, what’s next?

THE PHONES
For some types of law practices, the phone number may be one of the lawyer’s most valuable assets. This varies based on how long a phone number has been used for a legal business and the amount of advertising that has been invested in publicizing the phone number.

But, whatever the circumstances, it is usually best for each lawyer to have their own phone number, not shared with other lawyers in the building. The primary reason for this, in my opinion, is if the relationship with the other lawyer or lawyers doesn’t work out and one decides to move, there will be no need to obtain a new number and risk losing contact with clients calling the old number.

But having the individual office phone number has other benefits as well. If you pay a person or service to answer your phone, they can answer it with your law firm’s name. If you utilize voicemail, you can have a customized message, including your name. If you invest in marketing efforts that feature your phone number as a part of the information, this makes it less likely you will pay for advertising that could benefit your officemates instead of you.

Once I was in an office-sharing relationship with an attorney who died. His brother, also an attorney, had a different type of law practice and was happy to let the remaining lawyers keep his brother’s phone number. We assigned that number to the last rollover line so we would know when calls coming in were directly coming into it. He must have been very good about giving out his business card because that phone rang with potential client inquiries for years.

So most experienced lawyers will want to keep their own phone numbers. A jointly owned phone number may be quite a bone of contention when an office sharing arrangement terminates. Include how that will be decided in your operating agreement.

SHARING OF STAFF AND CONTRACTORS
Is it appropriate for officemates in an office-sharing relationship to share staff? As we lawyers often have to say, it depends.

If you have a cleaning service for the office, most likely that should be a shared expense. Someone should be responsible for making sure the cleaning crew understands they are not to read any documents they may come across or discuss anything they have seen in the law firm with outsiders. But there’s no apparent business or ethical reason not to split the cost of law office cleaning. But once you get past the shared cleaning services, things are more complicated.

What about the office receptionist? The traditional role of the in-office receptionist is not usually problematic. Welcoming individuals, offering them a seat or perhaps refreshments and letting the lawyer know their appointment has arrived is routine. Any question the client might ask about the legal matter can be answered with, “Ask your lawyer about that in the meeting.”

But the policies regarding the person who answers the phones can be more challenging. Clients or potential clients calling a law firm’s phone number may blurt out confidential information to the person who answers the phone. So that must be addressed with a policy and training about the nature of the office sharing arrangement. If three or four lawyers all want a shared receptionist to answer individual phone lines with different greetings, this could be too challenging for many.

A shared phone line will present the additional challenge of who gets the call from a potential new client wanting to talk with a lawyer, any lawyer. Some sort of shared rotation should be established. To me, the first rule should be if only one lawyer is available to take a call immediately, they get the potential client inquiry simply because if the caller leaves a message and their call is not returned for a few hours, they may already have secured a lawyer. Sometimes there are other considerations. For example, if only one lawyer in the office-sharing arrangement practices criminal law, those inquiries should go to that lawyer.

As we examine the possibilities, the idea of each lawyer having a separate phone number (with a virtual reception service as a backup when they cannot answer the phone) becomes more appealing.

Sharing staff, such as legal assistants and secretaries, increases the complexity. It can be challenging for two partners in a law firm to share a secretary or paralegal, and many a law firm associate has felt that they were second-class citizens compared to the partners as to how staff handled their assignments.

But in those large-firm situations, everyone is still theoretically focused on generating revenue for the firm, while the lawyers in an office sharing arrangement are all focused on their individual bottom lines. While I appreciate that many lawyers have made these situations work well for years, there will be growing pains initially setting this up, particularly if the staff person has a primary role in document creation.

CONFIDENTIALITY CONCERNS
When a client retains a law firm, all those working in the firm are understood to have access to the client’s confidential information. (A law firm may limit access for administrative reasons.) With an office-sharing situation, as suggested above, the clients sign a contract with only one individual lawyer instead of a firm. So shared resources and staff are not assumed but must be examined with an eye toward guarding client confidentiality. Before we cover some of these concerns, let’s discuss a broad office confidentiality policy.

To oversimplify, there are two broad approaches. You can build walls between the practices, so nothing is shared between them and then determine exceptions as needed (e.g., letting the in-office receptionist know whom to expect that day.) Or you can decide that even though the arrangement is not a partnership, it is a better arrangement not to take cases in opposition or conflict with each other. This would require a conflict-checking protocol like that used by any law firm.

To me, there are many reasons not to take matters in direct opposition to your officemates. Lawyers can sometimes get emotionally involved in litigation, and it’s best to avoid that with officemates. As one long-term office sharer remarked to the OBA Office of Ethics Counsel, “We don’t take cases against each other. Too much potential for things to get messy.” But the main reason to me is the Murphy’s Law hypothetical situation, where lawyers do not share schedules. Just imagine two lawyers scheduling pretrial conference preparation with opposing parties in a marital dissolution case at the same time. What if both lawyers are then delayed, and the two clients spend a lot of time in your waiting room glowering at each other? It is quite possible that someone’s trust in their lawyer could be damaged, and/or a client could decide to fire their lawyer just over the waiting room situation.

The lawyers’ agreement will also need to address walk-in clients and how they are assigned a lawyer. Any method of operation has the potential for challenges. The walk-in client who just showed up needing a lawyer – any lawyer – may turn out to have been referred to Lawyer A by a long-time client. But that is far better than dealing with an enraged client who didn’t notice both their attorney and opposing counsel shared the same address.

PAYROLL
Most solo and small firm practices with employees are well served to use a payroll service. But if you are sharing an employee and paying a portion of the employee’s salary, you can be personally responsible should someone else fail to make the employee tax deposits with the authorities. The reports from the payroll service can make that simple.

TRUST ACCOUNT
Trust account management under office sharing scenarios is simple. Each individual lawyer should have their own trust account. There is no good argument to handle it any other way.

First of all, it is simpler to manage a single-lawyer trust account. Even assuming it would ethically be permissible to have a multi-lawyer trust account, it would take someone with very strong accounting skills to properly manage it. That person would have to be compensated. And, of course, the worst-case scenario would be checking on the trust account to find that it was substantially overdrawn, and an overdraft notice had been sent to the OBA Office of General Counsel even though you hadn’t used the trust account for months.

COMPUTER NETWORK
One may need to hire a computer expert to set up your network properly, so each lawyer only has access to their own files. This is not a particularly difficult task for a trained individual to set up.

But the cloud is likely the best option for client file information in any event. Either your practice management software or a service like Microsoft OneDrive can organize and store all your client information, including scanned copies of all documents filed with the court. And just like owning your own phone number, your cloud-based information storage is yours exclusively, as long as you keep paying the subscription fees.

CONCLUSION
I hope this rather detailed piece will not deter you from sharing offices with another lawyer or firm if that is in your best interest. Working through all of this in advance with your officemates may take some time, but planning can avoid potential problems and potential liability.

Many years ago, Oklahoma City attorney Jim Slayton and I taught a CLE on office sharing and published an article as well. Jim noted that some of the most important attributes for making this arrangement work are common courtesy and cleaning up after yourself when you use common areas. Some things do not change.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — September, 2022

Computer crimes continue. Lawyers need to be aware of wire fraud schemes and the many types of phone-based fraud that exist. But we also need to be aware of appropriate cyber security measures. You don’t want to be hacked. But you also don’t want clients, coworkers, friends and family to be hacked.

Wired magazine published a feature 6 Things You Need to Do to Prevent Getting Hacked.

These six items are mostly about personal habits rather than sophisticated IT infrastructure.  This makes it a great item to share with staff, family and friends. Every computer user can handle these items.

Of course, there may be one slight drawback. You may be asked if you “do all of this?” You’ve seen some of these six items before. So hopefully your answer will be either “yes” or “mostly.”

A law firm being hacked has significant consequences for the lawyer and clients alike. We know that most hacks enter the office via email. So that is a good area to address. Recently New York became the first state to require lawyers to take CLE of one hour every two years in cybersecurity, privacy or data protection.

Chrome is the most popular and most widely used browser. Tessa Davis is an educator who regularly posts technology tips on Twitter. Her most recent offering is “10 simple Chrome Tips that will blow your mind.

Did you know if you have a video or audio file you want to play, you can drag and drop it into a tab in Chrome and it will play? No setup or software installation required.

Did you know that if you are annoyed by a tab playing a sound, there is a very simple process to make that speaker icon on the tab a mute/unmute button going forward? (Seriously, every Chrome user should do this.)

Or did you know if you want to share a web page with an important section of text on the page, just highlight the section, right click and use “copy link to highlight” to create a link to that page which will go to the section and show the text you highlighted when your recipient opens the link?

Those are only three of the Chrome tips she shared. You can find them all at: https://twitter.com/tessardavis/status/1554437949579821056?s=21&t=l8UKszPsbnnNFlaiblL30Q

Many lawyers use Gmail and Google Docs. I always suggest that if lawyers are going to use Gmail for client matters, they upgrade to the paid business version of the service for account controls and improved security. That business class service is Google Workplace (formerly GSuite, Google for Business, et al.) But there is more to the upgrade than just more secureGmail. There’s significant value and a more professional appearance if your emails are from your law firm domain instead of Gmail. Workplace users also get access to other communication tools, including (at the Starter level) hosting video conferences of up to 100. See Google Workplace pricing.

But Workplace users, and eventually all Gmail users, will soon see some changes, including a new toolbar. Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of North Carolina Bar Association Center for Practice Management gives us a brief overview of what is ahead in her post What’s New with Google’s Gmail and Docs?

One of the more important tasks for lawyers is proofreading. It also can be among the most tedious. We endeavor to produce perfect legal documents. Reading a complex document for the third or fourth time can be tiring.

We have all also learned that when proofreading a document you authored, there are times you can read what you meant to write instead of what you wrote. That is why many of us have a policy of always having “two sets of eyes” review a document before it is finalized.

Using Microsoft’s Read Aloud feature can be a great way to final proof a document you have created. An error your eyes might skip past will likely be caught by your ear. An awkwardly worded sentence may be exposed as well. Read Aloud is only available for Microsoft 365, Office 2019 and Office 2021.

You can locate Read Aloud under the Review Tab in Microsoft Word. To change the reading speed or pause, use these commands. (You will likely have to tap the arrow key several times while holding down Alt key to notice the difference.)

Alt + Left Arrow: Decrease reading speed

Alt + Right Arrow: Increase reading speed

CTRL + Space: Play or pause Read Aloud

As the graphic shows, I have installed Read Aloud on my Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) to make it quickly available without having to use the Review tab. If you haven’t customized your QAT or don’t know how to do this, my prior column Time-Saving Microsoft Word Customizations and Tools should help.

Needless to say, Read Aloud can be very useful for those with certain visual disabilities. The feature is also included in Microsoft’s Edge browser.

To launch it, click the little “A” icon on the right-hand side of the address bar. Alternatively, right-click anywhere and select “Read aloud.” Read aloud will then begin to read the web page. Audio controls at the top of the page allow you to pause and change the voice and reading speed.

Microsoft’s Listen to Your Word Documents resource page has additional information on this and similar features.

Ordinarily published in OBA’s Courts & More

Google (aka Meta) is a technology powerhouse. But it all began with Google Search.

It is a widely held view among technology experts that Google Search is not what it used to be – unless you are measuring corporate profitability. But that has become more apparent to many ordinary and occasional users.  Even though Google officials deny it, it seems that today you must scroll down past more ads and sponsored content to get to actual search results.

The Open Secret of Google Search by Charlie Warzel was featured by the Atlantic in its “One Story to Read Today” newsletter and I concur. In fact, if you have exhausted your free articles for the month in The Atlantic, I’d strongly encourage you to calendar a date next month to read the article – or use another computer or phone.

Google Search was amazing in its early years when the internet was more challenging to navigate. Warzel notes:

“One can’t really overstate the way that Google Search, when it rolled out in 1997, changed how people used the internet. Before Google came out with its goal to crawl the entire web and organize the world’s information, search engines were moderately useful at best. And yet, in the early days, there was much more search competition than there is now; Yahoo, Altavista, and Lycos were popular online destinations. But Google’s “PageRank” ranking algorithm helped crack the problem. The algorithm counted and indexed the number and quality of links that pointed to a given website. Rather than use a simple keyword match, PageRank figured that the best results would be websites that were linked to by many other high-quality websites. The algorithm worked, and the Google of the late 1990s seemed almost magical: You typed in what you were looking for, and what you got back felt not just relevant but intuitive.”

But today he says:

“Most people don’t need a history lesson to know that Google has changed; they feel it. Try searching for a product on your smartphone and you’ll see that what was once a small teal bar featuring one ‘sponsored link’ is now a hard-to-decipher, multi-scroll slog, filled with paid-product carousels; multiple paid-link ads; the dreaded, algorithmically generated ‘People also ask’ box; another paid carousel; a sponsored ‘buying guide’; and a Maps widget showing stores selling products near your location. Once you’ve scrolled through that, multiple screen lengths below, you’ll find the unpaid search results. Like much of the internet in 2022, it feels monetized to death, soulless, and exhausting.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. I already try to use Duck Duck Go for shopping-related searches and many lawyers use it for sensitive client-related searches because their search is not tracked. I haven’t used the Reddit technique mentioned in the article. But I do often add the word Amazon to initial shopping searches, so I get the Amazon product page first and can see all features and Amazon’s price. Then I do the search again without the word Amazon.

Planning for retirement is often complicated by the fact that many lawyers love their careers, and their self-image is grounded in being a lawyer. On the other hand, there are also lawyers counting the days until they close their private practices. A year or so ago, I attended an online program put on by another state bar association where one speaker said his most important advice is you need to be running toward something in retirement, not away from something.

“A funny thing happened on the way to my retirement” by lawyer Stratton Horres was published in the June 2022 ABA Journal. He echoes the advice of planning something to retire to. He tells his own story of how winding down has opened more opportunities. But the primary reason I am sharing this is his section on taking your own deposition to clarify retirement plans. His questions are worth considering whether you are a year from retirement or a decade.

If your retirement date is coming soon and you are in private practice, don’t forget the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program provides a Closing Your Law Practice page with forms, checklists and other resources.

Our Digital Edge podcast this month features Kenton Brice, Director of Technology Innovation at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Our podcast is titled Professor Kenton Brice on Training the Next Generation of Lawyers and the Future of Legal Tech.

Kenton’s reputation as a thought leader in legal tech is well-established. He is currently serving his second year on the ABA TECHSHOW planning board. He directs the OU Law Center for Technology & Innovation in Practice and the College’s Digital Initiative.

He is also one of the more captivating and enthusiastic speakers that you will ever get a chance to hear. He taught several programs at our OBA Solo &Small Firm Conference last week. Even if you are not interested in legal education anymore, this discussion of the future of legal technology makes this podcast worth a listen. We have seen many changes on that front and many more are ahead.