The Sound of Music is often associated with the holiday season, even though the movie doesn’t contain content we would normally think of as relevant to the holidays. One reason is that in the days before streaming, family-friendly content was often broadcast by networks during this season. Many people have memories of watching the movie during the holidays with family. Julie Andrews played Maria, and her character’s song “My Favorite Things” just seems to fit into the season. For my last Law Practice Tips column of the year, I decided to cover a few of my favorite legal technologies that readers should consider applying to their law practices or their lives.
Maybe you will have some downtime during the remainder of the year to investigate some of these to see if they should become your favorite things as well.
BUILD YOUR BRAND BY UPLOADING A SINGLE PICTURE
One of my favorite things is seeing pictures of OBA members in the OBA directory, which is accessible to OBA members only. It is such a great benefit for Oklahoma lawyers who have similar names, so lawyers looking up a phone number or email can tell by the picture that they have the right person. In addition, if you are going to be meeting up with another lawyer in court for the first time, seeing a picture may be helpful. Law firms spend a lot of money on branding and marketing. You probably already have a professional picture on your computer right now. Log in to MyOKBar and upload your picture to your profile. It is free and should only take a moment. If you are the managing partner of your firm, maybe you should send out something encouraging all the lawyers in your firm to do the same.
QUICK PARTS IN MS WORD AND OUTLOOK
Lawyers should automate routine processes when they can. Quick Parts is the easiest and fastest way to automate placing “prerecorded” blocks of text into Outlook emails and Word documents. For example, if you often close emails with the same paragraph, you can add that to any email with a couple of clicks. Find a sent email that has the paragraph(s) you want to reuse, open a reply to it, highlight the text you want to save and then click Insert, Quick Parts, Save to Selection to Quick Part Gallery, give it a name and click OK.
To insert the new Quick Part into an email, click Insert, Quick Parts, Auto Text and select it from the list of saved Quick Parts. It works the same way as in Word. See my 2009 video Fun with Quick Parts.. Word has been updated a few times since then, but this functions the same, and the video could be inspiration for your staff to start creating Quick Parts.
SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE BY CUSTOMIZING WORD’S QUICK ACCESS TOOLBAR
I recently changed to a new computer. In the hours before I imported my prior Quick Access Toolbar settings, I was reminded just how much time my QAT entries save me every day. They are quick and easy to set up. My most used function is Mail. When I complete a document in Word, clicking on that icon opens a blank email with the document attached. I also recommend installing Save As on the QAT.
“Time-Saving Microsoft Word Customizations and Tools” is a Law Practice Tips column I wrote in 2018 that was named the BlawgWorld Pick of the Week by Technolawyer. It contains detailed instructions, with screen shots, on customizing the QAT and the status bar. Invest a small amount of time doing this customization for Microsoft Word to save yourself time every week afterward.
Droid users can skip this section, but as a longtime iPhone user, one of my very favorite things to use while driving is Apple CarPlay. Various iPhone apps are displayed on the vehicle screen. Text messaging is safer while driving when CarPlay reads the contents of the text messages, asks if you want to reply and lets you dictate your reply – all hands free. The maps display on your vehicle’s dash is bigger and in a better position than using the iPhone navigation without CarPlay. Driving directions can be heard over the car’s speakers.
Like me, many iPhone users only discover Apple CarPlay when they purchase a car that has it preinstalled in the entertainment system. But after using it for a while now, if I bought a car that didn’t have it installed, I’d prioritize switching out the radio or entertainment system for one that included CarPlay.
FUJITSU SCANSNAP SCANNERS
For a very long time now, the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners have been the office standard for the legal profession, in my opinion. These scanners are easy to use and come with great preinstalled software. The ScanSnap line is also great for home use as they do a good job of scanning receipts and other odd-sized pieces of paper. Since these scanners are so durable, I bet many office scanners were retired to someone’s home when a new office scanner was purchased. The model I use, the ScanSnap IX 1500, is no longer available. Most purchasers will choose between the IX 1400 and IX 1600.
“Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX1400 ($395) sheetfed document scanner is a pared-down sibling to the Editors’ Choice-winning ScanSnap iX1600 ($495),” according to a PC Magazine review.
To save $100, you’ll give up wireless connectivity and an onboard control panel. The iX1400 has no Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or mobile device support; the USB 3.2 interface can only connect to a single desktop or laptop computer. But that’s fine for many applications, such as scanning IDs at your facility’s front desk or documents for your one-person business. If you need to configure and run scans from more than one station, from handheld devices, or from the scanner itself, you should investigate the iX1600. Otherwise, the iX1400 is a fine, user-friendly for small office and home office (SOHO) purposes.
Most lawyers should likely opt to spend the extra $100 for the iX1600 to have the control panel feature.
ONLINE SCHEDULING FOR CLIENT APPOINTMENTS
For lawyers in private practice, serving mostly individual clients with their personal legal matters, it’s time to allow potential clients to schedule an appointment online. Doctors do that. Dentists do that. It’s time for more in the legal profession to provide that service. If you are concerned about screening for subject matter, conflicts or which lawyer in the firm should have the appointment, then at least after they have been vetted give potential clients the option with, “Do you want me to schedule you an appointment with attorney Whiteacre, or would you like me to text you a link so you can schedule it yourself?” Many readers will assume few would take the link option, but some clients will so they can check their schedule or rearrange something on their end. I’d suggest keeping track of those folks and contacting the ones who haven’t scheduled within a few days by phone to see if they need assistance.
I mentioned Fastcase in my September Law Practice Tips column. Since then, some have contacted me and shared that taking the free online training at Fastcase.com really improved their use. I would encourage going to Fastcase.com, registering for the webinar Introduction to Legal Research and downloading a copy of the Fastcase 7 Quick Reference Guide. This legal research tool, provided to OBA members at no expense, has coverage of state and federal courts and statutes. It is better to get the training on the unique ways Fastcase functions. Remember, you log in to use Fastcase on the OBA website; however, to get the training, go to Fastcase.com and select the Support tab. You can always call Fastcase with legal research questions at 1-866-773-2782, but the webinar will answer many of those questions.
OBA SOLO & SMALL FIRM CONFERENCE
Finally, after a long, pandemic-fueled hiatus, the OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference will return next summer, June 23-25, at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant. Save the dates now so you won’t miss out. Conference and hotel reservations will open in the spring.
TECH TOYS AND LAWYER GIFTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Every year about this time, our Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology podcast features tech toys for the holidays, which includes gift-giving ideas from Sharon Nelson and me. Some of these suggested gifts are quite practical, while others are a bit fanciful. Listen to the podcast for gift ideas. This year, I did double duty on the holiday gift suggestions. Senior Director of the Association of Immigration Lawyers of America’s Practice & Professionalism Center Reid Trautz and I co-authored “Holiday Gifts for Lawyers” for the November/December issue of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice magazine.
That is it for a few of my favorite things. I hope the holiday season brings you some of your favorite things, along with great times with family and friends.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — December, 2021