The Oklahoma Bar Association Solo and Small Firm Conference is back! It will be helf June 23-25 at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durent.

Oklahoma lawyers and bar staff alike are looking forward to the return of this annual event after Covid kept us from holding this event. So, of course we are attempting to make it bigger and better than ever with four tracks of educational programming most hours and a special “ethics hour Saturday afternoon where attendees pick which of the three ethics offerings they wish to attend.

We have an interesting schedule featuring many different types of programs. Check out our conference website for more information and to register.

Brett Burney will be our special guest, teaching classes on Everything a Small Firm Lawyer Needs to Know About Electronic Discovery and How to Collect, Preserve & Produce Text Messages from Mobile Devices, as well as joining the panel for 60 tips. If you have heard Brett speak before, you know you are in for a very informative program.

Kenton S. Brice, Director of Technology Innovation at the University of Oklahoma College of Law will be teaching Document Generation Workflows and Why They Matter along with Evaluating Technology Tools | A Toolkit for Legal Professionals. Those two programs along should be worth the price of registration.

Martha Londagin, with Startup Junkie, is joining us to talk about the role small firm lawyers can have representing start-ups and other entrepreneurs. Her session title is Connecting with Emerging Entrepreneur Ecosystems to Grow Your Practice.

Professor Robert G. Spector will be joining us again for his signature program Recent Developments in Family Law as well as another session on Dealing with Relocations and Custody Modifications.

Our programming ranges from the Nuances of Representing Tax-Exempt Organizations  to the Uniform Parentage Act from Estate and Transition Planning for Business Owners to the Basics of Budgeting and Business Planning and from Coping with Conflicts of Interest to the Future of Law. We have a great group of conference sponsors, including co-producer Oklahoma Attorneys Mutual Insurance company and Gold sponsors,  Clio and PracticePanther

But there is lots of time for fun, including our Friday night Great Gatsby-themed party. Oklahoma lawyers. Start shopping for your Roaring 20’s outfit now!  We recommend early registration and hotel reservations to make certain you are not left out.

How to Build a Successful Solo Law Practice is our most recent Digital Edge podcast. Our guest Mark Bassingthwaighte. has been a Risk Manager with ALPS, the nation’s largest direct writer of lawyers’ malpractice insurance, since 1998.The podcast has been transcribed so you can either listen or read the transcript. Mark provides a lot of valuable tips about common mistakes made starting a  law practice. Many of the insights he shared are from the publication, The ALPS Guide to Getting Started Solo. Fair Warning to our listeners: You can receive a free copy of this publication from ALPS, but they make you jump through an inordinate amount of hoops to obtain it. Mark was a great guest with a massive store of knowledge.

In related news, we at the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program just finished teaching our semi-annual class for new lawyers on Opening Your Law Practice a few days ago. Our Opening Your Law Practice Resource Page contains many free resources. We also publish a Closing Your Law Practice Resource page as well, for those at a different stage of their career.

I think it is very important for lawyers who practice People Law, those primarily representing individuals, to appreciate that the differences between that and more business-oriented types of practices are increasing.

Today these areas are becoming completely different service delivery models. There was a time when a law firm handled its matters in the same way whether the client was an individual or a business. Today that is short-sighted. For future success, the firm should design processes to comfort and inform those who have never dealt with a legal process before as well as accomplishing the legal goals of the representation.

This month in the Oklahoma Bar Journal I wrote The Practice of People Law to outline some of the techniques a lawyer might consider. If your firm delivers services to both types of clients, I’d still encourage you to read this column and see what changes to the consumer side may improve the process and convert clients from one-time engagements to “You’re my lawyers if I need one again.”.

Professor Bill Henderson, professor of law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, is a source for much of the available data on the differences between people law and corporate law, including some rather sobering economic trends. I linked to some of his posts in my article and hope you can make time to review some of his research. When I asked about reprint permission for some of the graphs I included in my article, his response was “Of course, I create those graphics for public use.” He is a great follow on Twitter @wihender. Bill, keep sharing your great posts and insight with us.

I wrote a blog post about this about ten months ago The Changing Dynamics of a “People Law” Practice. At that time, I was informing our members of an on-demand webinar I had done on this topic. The latest article ends with a discount code for that webinar. (“But wait there’s more!”)

Zoom is very popular because it is easy to use and provides a free version. Most of us now have a fair amount of experience with Zoom and can use it well. But Tessa Davis, whose interests include online learning for the medical profession, published “7 Zoom “hacks” you may not know” on Twitter. I would bet you don’t know all of these.

iPhone Screen sharing — if you have something on your iPhone you want to show the Zoom group holding the phone up to the camera doesn’t work well. Instead, you can Click:

  • Share screen
  • iPhone/iPad via AirPlay
  • And then follow the instructions to mirror screen

Turn off microphone and camera quickly – Life is full of interruptions. So when you have to deal with an interruption during a Zoom meeting, Tessa suggests you should have the keyboard shortcuts for turning off the camera and microphone memorized to allow you to exit quickly without having to grab the mouse. These are:

Camera:

  • Alt + V (Windows)
  • Cmd + Shft + V (Mac)

Microphone:

  • Alt + A (Windows)
  • Cmd + Shft + A (Mac)

Room lighting too low and no time to fix it? – Use Zoom’s “adjust for low light” feature:

Click: • Video settings • Adjust for low light • Manually adjust

Use your PowerPoint Slides as a virtual background. I have not used this feature and I cannot wait to try it. When sharing a PowerPoint, try using your slides as a virtual background with your image on top of the slides. Tessa has a short video with her tip that demonstrates how this can be used effectively:

Click: • Share screen • Advanced • Slides as virtual background

Then adjust the position + size of your image on screen in front of your slides. (See the video example.)

That covers four of her seven tips. All seven of her Zoom tips can be found here. If you don’t have Twitter installed on your computer, the link will open in your default browser.

She has also written similar guides for Microsoft Teams and using advanced Twitter search.

By Jim Calloway and Julie Bays

(Authors’ note: Because we waited for our print bar journal to be released, we are sharing this some time after ABA TECHSHOW. But that gave us the ability to include some content from other reviewers.)

Law office technology tools increasingly impact how lawyers practice law. I recently talked to a lawyer who said, “Okay, I’ve had the third client ask me about client portals. So, I guess it is time to set one up.” Every lawyer needs to understand the basics of cybersecurity. The advance of new technology tools cannot be ignored. Just ask Blockbuster shareholders.

ABA TECHSHOW 2022 was held in Chicago in March. The event featured the usual mix of product and service providers displaying their wares in the expo hall and numerous legal technology CLE presentations. As most readers know, I’m not unbiased about this event. I served as chair of ABA TECHSHOW many years ago and have spoken at TECHSHOW more than 20 times. This year featured a significant Oklahoman influence. Serving on the planning board were Kenton Brice and Darla Jackson, both from the OU College of Law.

OBA Practice Management Advisor Julie Bays was selected to present the James I. Keane Award at TECHSHOW. The focus of the award is on the innovative delivery of personal legal services using technology, with special attention given to firms and entities that serve both moderate-income individuals and the broad middle class. This year’s award recipient was Greg Siskind and his team on the IMMpact Litigation project. IMMpact Litigation created web-based expert systems to be able to manage mass litigation cases in the immigration space, sometimes involving thousands of plaintiffs. They automated the onboarding process, including using artificial intelligence-based tools to auto-generate signed engagement letters and declarations. Julie also facilitated some discussion workshops.

Since TECHSHOW 2020 concluded just before the pandemic restrictions began and the 2021 show was completely virtual, this was most attendees’ first in-person event since the last in-person TECHSHOW. Legal tech journalist Bob Ambrogi noted this timing in his review “ABA TECHSHOW 2022: A Karmic Bookend to a Long Strange Trip.” Veteran travelers shared chuckles over how different it felt to pack. Talking to people we had only seen via videoconferencing for the past two years was the most noteworthy part of the conference. Stephen Embry, chair-elect of ABA Law Practice Division, quotes my observation that this year, the conference felt like half tech show and half good family reunion in his post “TECHSHOW 2022: It’s a Wrap!”

So, while we are writing about ABA TECHSHOW, our thoughts cannot help but be drawn to our own upcoming OBA “reunion” this summer, the OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference. For example, two of Jim’s TECHSHOW presentations, “The Digital Client File” and “The Future of Law,” will be presented at the OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference. The final session of the conference will be “The Future of Law,” where several of our panelists will give their predictions about what comes next, interspersed with the usual end-of-conference door prize extravaganza. If you are inspired to attend this year’s Solo & Small Firm Conference in June, visit www.okbar.org/solo for more information and to register. 

ABA TECHSHOW’S STARTUP ALLEY

ABA TECHSHOW’s Startup Alley competition gave an opportunity for promising legal tech startups to exhibit at TECHSHOW. First, there was a review by a group of TECHSHOW participants, then online voting narrowed down the field to 15 (nearly 32,000 votes were received). The top 15 gave a short, in-person pitch to open TECHSHOW, moderated by Bob Ambrogi. The audience then voted on the winner. This year’s champion was TurnSignl, which is not a tool for law office operations. A motorist who is pulled over by law enforcement can use this app to record the interaction and obtain legal advice from a licensed attorney during the encounter. This program is only available in two states, Minnesota and Georgia. But with the publicity generated by their big win, I can see expansion in their future.

Julie was very taken with the startup CoParse, which is both a word processor and PDF application. It integrates features you use in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat into one product. It also has additional features such as automatic optical character recognition (OCR), e-signature and uses artificial intelligence to help with navigation. The demonstration was very impressive. Hardcore WordPerfect users who are against using Word should take a look.

The list of all 15 companies that participated in Startup Ally can be found at https://reinventingjustice.com/2022-startup-alley-aba-techshow/. It’s an interesting and diverse lineup to peruse. Among these innovative startups is EmotionTrac, which analyzes emotions from facial clues as videos are shown to audience members. The idea is to assist with feedback on trial strategy without hiring a jury consultant. Another, ClearBrief, is a Word add-on for checking your brief (or opposing counsel’s) for misstating of the facts. It also is used to easily assemble a table of authorities.Lock and key

TECHSHOW was divided into five in-person tracks: design, launch, grow, sustain and transform. As you can see, it is not your traditional lawyers’ conference. It was interesting to watch a live comparison between Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Oklahoma’s own Eric Patrick, COO of the law firm Ball Morse Lowe PLLC, demonstrated the collaboration tools with Google versus Microsoft 365. One key takeaway from this session was the continuing expansion of Microsoft 365’s collaboration tools. With the use of Teams, law firms can seamlessly and quickly hold virtual meetings, set up phone calls and collectively work on documents more efficiently than ever before. If you haven’t tried Teams and the features it offers, you really should, particularly if you are already paying for it with your Microsoft 365 subscription.

Automated intake processes are big time-savers. We saw several companies offering tools in this area. When computers first came to law offices, one of the early benefits was not having to type repetitive information over and over.

Workflows for document creation was another hot topic. Kenton Brice of the University of Oklahoma College of Law will be teaching on that subject at our OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference. Designing and documenting your workflows is important on many levels, from preventing errors to determining what steps of a process can and should be automated. 

CONCLUSION

Technology tools are intertwined with law offices, as they are with most other businesses. The last two years have demonstrated an amazing interest from venture capital firms in investing in legal technology companies. We’ve seen some companies acquired by others just to fill gaps in their existing offerings.

Probably the best takeaway from ABA TECHSHOW 2022 was that great technology can be very useful, but it’s still the people who make our law firms run and give us pleasure in our work – from our coworkers to our clients. The best technology is one that helps us better connect with our clients, and the least desired technology is one that interferes with attorney-client access and communication. Client portals are great and perform an important client service, enhancing both digital security and client convenience. Having a prospective client telephone your law firm only to deal with several menu choices of “press one for this and two for that” is perhaps not the best use of technology, even though some may find it necessary.

There are two areas related to geotagging photos that lawyers need to appreciate. One is related to privacy and security concerns of both lawyers and their clients. Another relates to the sometimes-hidden evidentiary value of geotagged photos.

As Brian X. Chen, consumer technology columnist for The New York Times, noted in a recent column “Just say no to photo locations”, “Imagine that you’ve met someone on a dating app and you text that person a selfie from your favorite coffee shop. If you’re there every morning, you might not want a near-stranger to have the exact location of a place you frequent regularly.”

Geotagging basically means attaching geographic coordinates to media based on the location of a phone camera or other mobile device. The location information and time stamps are not readily viewable to someone viewing a digital photo. So many people do not know that the embedded information, known as Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) data, exists. This data will reveal which phone or camera was used to take the photo.  Geotags are applied to photos and videos. We see location tags attached to social media posts as well, but most social media websites filter out the geotag metadata in posted photos because a large number of “near strangers” might have access to it..

In Windows, simply right-click a picture file, select “Properties,” and then click the “Details” tab in the properties window. Look for the Latitude and Longitude coordinates under GPS. Latitude and Longitude can be entered into Google Maps to find the location within a few yards. Google offers instructions for properly formatting the coordinates for Google Maps. But when I opened a photo taken at ABA TECHSHOW years back, Photos showed a thumbnail map of the location and a link to an online map just by selecting File Info.

In macOS, right-click the image file (or use Control+click), and select “Get Info.” You will see the Latitude and Longitude coordinates under the “More Info” section.

But those who want to disable adding GPS data entirely can go into their phone’s camera app and disable the location setting. On an iPhone, head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Camera, and then select “Never” for the “Allow Location Access” option. On Android phones, this operation varies from phone to phone.  The embedded data can also be deleted before sharing photos. In fact, most social media sites automatically strip the location data from uploaded images.

This location metadata can be very useful, such as organizing your vacation pictures. So, you may want to turn the feature back on when leaving on a pleasure trip.

But for many lawyers who have a situation where there are stalking allegations or threats of violence, teaching the client how to “un-tag” photos before sharing may be an important bit of advice. Some parents may also be interested in this approach.  And, if you are dealing with a digital photo that seems questionable or implausible, checking the location geotag and other EXIF data can be done quickly after you learn how and may provide useful information.

We all agree that email is a pain, and sometimes managing email seems like a separate job all by itself. But Outlook users have a great tool for processing email that is already built-in. It is called Outlook Quick Steps. Being able to accomplish several email actions with one click is a significant time-saver for Outlook users.

I’ve written about Quick Steps before, but a recent Attorney at Work post does a great job of explaining how to easily get started with Quick Steps.

So, I would encourage you to read “Process Email Faster with Outlook Quick Steps” and perhaps share it with your office co-workers who also deal with email every day.

Start with a few simple Quick Steps. For example, if you often forward a certain client’s emails to another attorney in the firm, a paralegal and a secretary, you can build a Quick Step that will address an email to those three individuals. Then you can either hit send or type some text before hitting send. The time savings are small but real, especially when repeated many times each day. If you send similarly worded emails out frequently, you can create a template with the text automatically included in the email body.

Saving minutes each day can add up to more billable hours or more time away from the office. Either is good.

By Julie Bays
Oklahoma Bar Association Practice Management Advisor

In 2019, I wrote in an OBA Journal article on trust accounting basics::

“Frequently, lawyers go into private practice thinking more about their representation of clients rather than the business side of the practice. As a matter of fact, it’s quite common to hear lawyers joke that they went to law school because they couldn’t do math. When it comes to trust accounts, the math is no joking matter.”

It’s been a few years, so I decided to revisit this topic. Luckily besides my older article, two of our member benefits providers recently teamed up to write a helpful guide! Trustbooks, a cloud-based trust accounting service for lawyers and LawPay, an OBA endorsed payment processor, wrote “A Complete Guide To Managing Your Trust Account” for the blog Above the Law. Yes, you will have to provide them with your email address but frankly, their emails are usually quite helpful. Anyway, check it out, and download it for a good reference guide. Between my 2019 trust accounting article and this guide, you should have plenty of trust accounting information.

 

Dropdown menus are great ways to navigate through software for things you do infrequently. For operations you do several times a day, keyboard shortcuts are faster, and you don’t have to remove a hand from the keyboard. Some of these we know by heart, like Esc to close a window, Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste. But we often don’t use keyboard shortcuts in Outlook, a tool we tend to spend entirely too much time using each day.

66 of the Most Useful Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts is brought to us from the Reader’s Digest website. This may be a good article to print and leave by your computer for a few days as you use Outlook. (I just used Ctrl+K to insert that hyperlink in that preceding sentence, and it was certainly faster.) If you often switch between Outlook mail, calendar and contacts, as you can see from the screen capture at left, it is as simple as 1,2 3 (or actually Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2 and Ctrl+3.) I note those three because they are easy to memorize, and they will likely be used frequently enough to retain that knowledge.

There is a section on enabling shortcuts in the post. But that apparently only applies to the online version of Outlook.

But if you review this piece, you may find the shortcut for something you use very frequently. Because the most useful shortcuts are the ones you actually use to save a few seconds or a few minutes every day.

Today concludes Women’s History Month.

Our Digital Edge podcast this month focused on What Do Women Lawyers Really Want from Their Law Firms? 

Our guest is Roberta Tepper, Chief Member Services Officer of the State Bar of Arizona and was the co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2021. Roberta is also a former President of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association Board of Directors and also served as President of the Maricopa Chapter of AWLA.

Roberta’s interview was based both on her personal experiences and several recent studies indicating the challenges of the pandemic fell disproportionally on women lawyers. Some gains may have evaporated with the focus on pandemic challenges. Roberta is always a pleasure to talk with and I hope you enjoy her observations. And if you really don’t enjoy listening to podcasts, the transcript is available at the podcast link above. .