I recently attended a presentation by Judge Scott Schlegel, a Louisiana district judge who has received many accolades for his forward-thinking views about the use of technology to improve court

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proceedings, including text message reminders about appearances and calendars available online for scheduling. He asked those attending the program if they had missed a dentist appointment in the last year. He said, “I know you haven’t because one thing about dentists is they are relentless about sending text message reminders about appointments.”

His practice of text message reminders to those with scheduled court appearances in his court has not only reduced the number of failures to appear in his court, but many self-represented parties have thanked him profusely, admitting they forgot to write down the date or had it on the wrong day. Considering the possible ramifications of a failure to appear, such as being arrested or losing a court case by default, it seems this judge’s experiment is a success. So why is this not the standard practice in law firms the way it is in dentist offices?

Text message reminders are not always necessary. If you represent a corporation, it is perhaps not as important to provide a text reminder to the assistant general counsel you are working with for either a court appearance or an in-office appointment. They will enter the date in Outlook and get a reminder from that. But if you practice “people law,” this practice is likely good for your law business and your clients. Like no-shows are a financial hit for dentists, particularly when it is a new patient, the same is true for lawyers. In private practice, we always tried to call those who missed and reschedule. But some never did, whether it was from the embarrassment of missing an appointment or hiring another lawyer in the interim, we never knew. 


Years ago, a lawyer told me about her method of texting to and from the law office. She bought an inexpensive burner phone and purchased more time for the phone as needed. She left it plugged in at the receptionist’s desk, and it was used to text the clients. It would be a simple task for the receptionist to set aside 10 or 15 minutes each day to text out a few reminders for the next day; if anyone responded with a question or canceled, that employee is best set up to reschedule the appointment or get answers to questions.

A slightly more expensive version of that would be to buy a smartphone with a limited data plan. That would allow you to easily set it up to have the text come from the law firm’s name and do more sophisticated tasks since many burner phones lack a camera or web browser. You could send a Maps link to the law office or a photo for example.

Either approach is simple and understandable as long as your receptionist is not overwhelmed with current duties. However, both are done manually and require a staff person’s or lawyer’s time to accomplish the task. That is not terrible, but a person may forget or run out of time. Still, if you improve from never texting reminders about appointments or appearances to doing it 90% of the time, it is a huge improvement that should result in fewer missed appointments.


In today’s law offices, anytime you can automate a process, it is usually worth it unless the cost is prohibitive. In January 2020, I wrote about an Oklahoma lawyer who loved the app Apptoto:

“Apptoto will integrate with calendar software. That is, if we type an appointment into my calendar and type the client’s cellphone number into the appointment, Apptoto will automatically pick up the meeting and will send a text to the client before the appointment, notifying them of the appointment. My secretary likes this feature because she can type an appointment into the calendar and does not have to take any extra steps. I learned to use Apptoto, and then all I had to do was tell the secretary to continue entering appointments into the calendar. I chose Apptoto precisely for this reason [my secretary was concerned she’d have to do additional work and learn to use a new tool]. My secretary was very happy and thanked me for the choice I made.

“I can program Apptoto to send the client a text at a specified time before the meeting. I’ve programmed my account to send each client two texts – one at 6 p.m. the day before the appointment and another text one hour before the appointment. I can also program Apptoto to send a client a different text message based on what I type into the appointment. For example, if I type ‘appt’ into my calendar, Apptoto will send the client a text saying, “Appt Reminder: You have an appointment with [my name] today at 4:30 p.m.” If I type ‘Court Appearance’ into my calendar, Apptoto will send the client a text saying, “This is [my name]. You have a court hearing tomorrow on Monday, Nov. 4, at 1:30 p.m.” The text will also ask the client to press 1 to confirm that they received the message.

“Apptoto has set me up with a local number … If the client texts a response, the client’s text response will be emailed to me. If the client calls the number, the call will go to my landline.”

When that lawyer gave me his glowing recommendation, Apptoto was $29 per month. Now the starter pack is $39 per month, which will link to three calendars and provide 400 auto messages (essentially each text or email).

Capterra lists its top 10 text message reminder tools. Apptoto is included. The highest rated is DoctorConnect, and several others have names linked to the medical profession. DoctorConnect’s minimum pricing is $210 per month. It is HIPAA compliant and has advanced features, including payment reminders. 


We can all appreciate that the most affordable technology tool is the one we already have and are paying for but haven’t yet utilized or discovered. The developers of practice management software tools appreciate the increasing use of text messages and that these client communications need to be saved in the client file like other communications. Many practice management solutions are now incorporating their own text message solution or integrating with preferred text message providers. Here are a few examples.

MyCase has integrated two-way text messaging so a lawyer can send a client text messages within the MyCase desktop or mobile app and have those conversations retained within the client case file. A subscription to the Pro plan is required at $59 per user per month.

PracticePanther launched its text messaging application within its practice management solution in late 2021. It’s only available with the Business plan at $89 a month. They offer time capture, event and reminder alerts using a unique phone number for your firm that they will assign when you set up text messaging within their product.

Clio provides text messaging, including calendar notifications and reminders, in its Essentials plan. So if you are a Clio EasyStart base-level subscriber, it might make sense to upgrade to Essentials for an additional $30 per user per month. If you are already a Clio Essentials subscriber and haven’t set up text reminders yet, it is time to start implementing it since you already “own” the tool.

CosmoLex and Rocket Matter, both now owned by ProfitSolv, do not offer texting tools within their practice management solution. However, both have a CRM (customer relationship management) suite of tools that includes the feature and many others. CosmoLex’s CRM is an extra $147 per month for up to three users. Rocket Matter’s CRM package is an additional $49 per user per month.

Smokeball has a Communicate feature that allows communications with clients via email or text, but the preferred method is via the free downloadable app.

Using a texting tool provided by your practice management solution has the benefit of making sure all text messages are automatically saved to the client file. These tools are often much easier to use and save you time since they work within the PMS.[i] 


To complete this roundup, I wanted to take a deeper dive into a messaging platform with more CRM features. I noted on Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites blog that Case Status, “a mobile client portal and messaging platform with a primary focus on consumer law firms, has raised $5 million in a Series B round, bringing its total funding to over $11 million.” We met with some of Case Status’s employees to review its features over Zoom, and it has some impressive features.

While Case Status is referred to as a mobile client portal, I’ve always looked at portals as something that could provide the client access to digital copies of the documents in their file that they could log in to view at any time. I would describe Case Status as a powerful client communication hub. I also suspect many of their subscribers also subscribe to a practice management system.

But that is not intended to diminish what Case Status does. While I won’t quote too much from their marketing material, one customer recently participated in a Case Status webinar where the law firm reported a 30% reduction in phone calls from current clients, a 90% reduction in emails from current clients and a triple-digit percentage increase in Google reviews. Those results would draw a lot of attention in most law firms.

The law firm communicates with its clients through a mobile app that is branded for the law firm. The client installs the “Johnson and Smith, Lawyers” app on their mobile device. If your firm has wanted to have a law firm app, here it is. All Case Status communications are sent to the client’s mobile phone, but the features go beyond simple texting. There is a client dashboard full of client information, including a progress bar showing how the status of their matter is proceeding. One very interesting aspect of this is the ability to place a client matter “on hold.” When the client logs in to the app, the display is colored red and shows the message, “Your matter is on hold.” It also indicates what the client needs to do to take the matter off hold, e.g., complete a client information sheet, schedule a doctor’s appointment or make the retainer payment.

The service recognizes a phone set to a language other than English and translates the messages to that language. It also has mass messaging capabilities, so you can easily wish all your clients a happy holiday or let them know the office will be temporarily closed for bad weather. There is no payment app included, but you can easily use the service to send a client a payment link via messaging.

Another interesting feature is having clients give the firm a rating at various stages in the representation. If the client is giving a higher rating, like a Net Promoter Score of 9 or 10, they are encouraged to write a Google review. Conversely, if you are receiving an NPS of 5, the app prompts the law firm to contact the client to see what can be done. But this is not cheap. While a price quote from the company depends on several factors, a subscription for unlimited users in a small law firm could cost $350-$400 a month. 


In my opinion, the best practice today with text reminders is to be a bit relentless:

  • Send a reminder message a few minutes to an hour after the appointment is scheduled to help a client or potential client get it on their calendar,
  • Then send another reminder 48 hours before the appointment (or hearing) and
  • A final reminder on the morning of the consultation.

As you can see, there are several methods of text message interaction with your clients available with today’s tools. Whatever tool you employ, I believe you will see a financial benefit from confirming your clients’ appointments, particularly when it is a new client deciding whether to retain the firm. Cutting down on “no-show” appointments or failure to appear in court situations is in everyone’s best interest, clients and lawyers alike.


[i] Some of the rates noted above require an annual prepayment.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — January, 2023 — Vol. 94, No. 1

This is a guest post by Oklahoma Bar Association Practice Management Advisor Julie Bays.

By Julie Bays

If you spent much time online, you have recently seen several creative writing assignments completed by artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT. One can also describe images and an image will be created with online AI tools such as Pictory.ai. Many types of AI tools are available today that can help with a wide range of tasks. These examples include machine learning algorithms: These algorithms can analyze data, identify patterns, and make predictions or decisions. Natural language processing tools like ChatGPT help with tasks such as language translation, text summarization, and sentiment analysis. Computer vision tools can be used for tasks such as image and video analysis, object recognition, and facial recognition. And virtual assistants can help with tasks such as scheduling, customer service, and answering questions.

One thing we have learned reading these AI-produced essays is that grading middle school papers or college essays will be more challenging for teachers. I thought I would ask ChatGPT to write a short story about law practice management software. Here is the result:

ChatGPT – Sure! Here is a story about practice management software for lawyers:

Once upon a time, in a busy law firm, there was a group of lawyers who were struggling to keep track of their cases, deadlines, and clients. They were constantly missing important dates, losing documents, and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work they had to manage.

One day, the senior partner of the firm decided that enough was enough. He knew that there had to be a better way to handle the many tasks that lawyers deal with on a daily basis. After some research, he discovered practice management software specifically designed for law firms.

The senior partner quickly implemented the software into the firm’s workflow, and the lawyers were amazed at how much easier their job became. With the software, they were able to easily track their cases and deadlines, store and access important documents, and communicate with clients more efficiently.

The software also helped the firm save time and money by automating many of the tedious and time-consuming tasks that lawyers often have to deal with. The lawyers were able to focus more on the actual work of practicing law and less on administrative tasks.

As a result, the law firm became more productive and successful, and the lawyers were able to provide better service to their clients. The senior partner was grateful for the practice management software and knew that it had been a crucial investment for the firm’s future.

I often consult with lawyers setting up a new solo or small firm practice. There are many items involved in setting up any new business – like applying for an employer identification number (EIN) and Working on computerdeciding on the best entity to use for the business.

But there are also aspects of setting up a law practice unique to the legal profession. The OBA Management Assistance Program maintains the Opening Your Law Practice resource at www.okbar.org/oylp and provides a day-long seminar on the subject twice a year.

As the end of the year nears, law firms are making their plans for the next year. So in this month’s column, I decided to outline the technology tools a lawyer should consider when opening a new solo and small firm practice.


There are many different ways to assess cost for law firm technology purchases. First, there is the initial purchase price. Today that is more associated with hardware than software, as most software tools have evolved to subscription-based models.

Everyone in the office needs a computer for their workstation. If there is more than one person in the office, the computers must be networked. Setting up a network for a small firm is not a hard task. But since it is rarely done, it is better to pay a local computer shop to set it up than try to learn how to do it yourself. That vendor will likely know things about network security you do not. But do enough research to know what you need because, like buying a car, you may be offered additional options.

As for the computers required, you already know whether you are a Mac or PC user, and nothing I write here is likely to change that opinion.

Reception and secretarial workstations are likely best set up with desktop computers. But for the lawyers, I strongly recommend a business-class laptop. Roughly speaking, these will be in the $1,000 to $2,000 price range. It is better to purchase one with Windows 11 Pro pre-installed than Windows 11 Home because Pro has superior security and networking tools, including the hard drive encryption tool BitLocker.

For comparison purposes, I have included a screenshot of a Dell XPS 17 laptop on the Dell website costing just over $2,000. A model just like this, but with Windows Home instead of Pro, costs $50 less. That is not $50 you would want to save. I would never buy a laptop with smaller than a 17-inch monitor, but that is my opinion. I also believe it is best to have at least 16GB of memory. Note the computer in the graphic has 32GB of memory.

The reason a laptop is highly recommended is that sometimes you need to work from different locations, whether you are working from home or on the road. That will go much better if you use the same machine every day and everywhere. Certainly, you can work remotely from a home computer. But for security and hardware reliability, it is best to have a law office computer no one else uses. Remember the “I’m not a cat” lawyer who became internet famous because his daughter had configured the Zoom settings, so he appeared remotely in court via Zoom as a talking cat? For client confidentiality and many other reasons, the laptop serves as a work computer that your family may not use when you bring it home.

When working in the office with your laptop, you will want to be connected to the network and have an additional monitor (or two). So it is best to purchase a port replicator that works with your model so you can quickly and easily connect to the network, the additional monitor, the printer and other peripherals. Old-style “docking stations” that had custom housing that attached to the computer have been replaced with plug-in port replicators.

I continue to be a fan of the Fujitsu ScanSnap line of desktop scanners. The ScanSnap iX1600 is the recommended model. But you can save money by buying the older ScanSnap iX1400.

I have little to say about printers, except that this is where the needs of large firms and solo and small firms differ. A small firm is usually better off buying low-range to mid-range-priced printers and locating them where needed. A large firm may still decide to buy massive printer/scanner combination devices. They have an IT department helping them to get the most from those machines.


Today, most software is sold on a subscription basis, paid annually to get a better rate.

Lawyers process words – a lot. But they sometimes need to use a spreadsheet or prepare a presentation. So the first thing one needs to purchase is a Microsoft 365 subscription. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams are all included in the Microsoft 365 Apps for business ($8.25 per user, per month with a one-year commitment and auto-renewal) and Microsoft 365 Business Standard ($12.50 per user, per month with a one-year commitment and auto-renewal). Both come with 1TB of secure cloud storage in OneDrive.

Business Standard is recommended. The Business Basic plan is too basic for lawyers with only web-based apps. Those who want enhanced security and data access controls may choose the pricier Business Premium. Teams is an included secure videoconferencing tool that is great for internal communications.

Over the years of serving in this role, I have developed a strong opinion on the next subject.

A solo and small firm lawyer should next subscribe to a practice management software (PMS) solution. Products such as Clio, MyCase, CosmoLex, Rocket Matter and PracticePanther combine most tools needed by law firms into one interface, including time capture, billing and invoicing, digital client files containing all documents, attorney notes, a secure client portal for sharing sensitive material and much more.

I often tell lawyers seeking a billing program to consider just subscribing to a PMS because they contain – among their many features – time and billing (and frankly, the cost is not much greater for the entire PMS package as compared to a good, dedicated billing software). Even if they are not ready to embrace digital client files powered by PMS solutions, it is still better to learn the time-capture and billing tools within the PMS solution so you will not have to change billing programs when you ultimately adopt digital client files, as you likely will.

Even if you put together a combination of time capture, billing, client portals and cloud storage for documents instead of the all-in-one PMS solution, you still might miss one positive aspect of PMS solutions: great tech support included at no extra charge. Their business goal is to keep you as a customer forever. That means they will continue to assist you until your tech support inquiry is answered. And their cloud storage was built from the beginning to provide lawyers with a secure place to store client matters. Protecting lawyers’ confidential information is one of the provider’s most important goals.

Client portals are simple to use when the documents are already in your digital client file. If all documents are scanned or saved to a client file, sharing them with clients via the portal is typically quick and easy.


These days, with so many online threats to our data, it is not only important that we protect our clients’ data, but also that we should protect our business continuity – our ability to continue with operations in the face of a disaster or adverse circumstances. How would you proceed if you learned your office had been flooded or destroyed by fire? Obviously, it would be a difficult situation with time devoted to dealing with insurance adjusters and coming up with a new place for operations. But what about your court appearances scheduled that week, and the next? Today, most lawyers would at least have their calendars available on their smartphones and hopefully client contact information as well. But what about the client files, needed exhibits and your notes on questions to ask witnesses?

Larger law firms with dedicated IT staff may utilize other options. But for a small firm lawyer, the best way to protect your client’s confidential information, along with your work product and your business continuity requirements, is a subscription to a cloud-based practice management solution. Then, if the physical office is destroyed or inaccessible, your staff can either go home or to another location with internet access and log in to the exact same interface they use every day with access to the digital client files. With practice management software, all you need is an internet connection, a computer with a web browser and your username and password to log in and do your work.

OBA members can contact Practice Management Advisor Julie Bays with questions about practice management software or to set up a demo of PMS for you and your staff. If you are in  a different jurisdiction, see if your state bar association has a practice management advisor on staff.


There are many other software tools and services that may be useful for the new solo and small firm lawyer – from customer relationship managers (CRMs) to document management systems (DMSs). But starting with the tools we have discussed here and mastering them gets you started on a firm foundation.

Practice-specific tools are also important. I simply cannot imagine preparing a bankruptcy petition and schedules without using software to keep everything organized. Many will benefit from form and automated document assembly services like www.oklahomaforms.com.

Our biggest security threats today often appear in our inboxes. Most malware and ransomware attacks begin with someone in your organization clicking on an email attachment or a bad link in an email. Often, these attacks result in the criminal interloper gaining access to usernames and passwords.

A password manager allows you to use long, complex passwords and different passwords for every site or service you log in to. Two-factor or multifactor authentication tools mean that even if your username and password are obtained by a criminal, they still won’t be able to log in to your account because they won’t have access to your cell phone to receive a text or another alternate authentication method. Anti-virus, firewalls and other security tools are also important.

Several years ago, I would have added speech recognition tools to this list. But now, the dictation feature built into Microsoft Word in Microsoft 365 means you probably will not have to use a different tool.


I hope this overview has been useful to readers. Certainly, these tools are not limited to solo and small firm operations. Oklahoma lawyers can contact the attorneys at the OBA Management Assistance Program if they have further inquiries about software or any other aspect of law office management. 

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — December, 2022 — Vol. 93, No. 10

Do you ever have trouble spotting your cursor? Since I often use three monitors, it is sometimes easy for the tiny, little cursor to get lost when I have many windows open. There’s an easy way to fix that – just make your mouse pointer a little bigger. Start with the Windows icon at the bottom left and then click “Settings,” then “Devices,” then “Mouse” and you will see the entry at the right “Adjust mouse and cursor size.” I adjusted from the default size of 1 to size 3 and then selected yellow for my cursor color. It is easy to make the change and easy to change back if you don’t like it.

Mac users: Go to the Apple Menu in the upper left corner of your screen and then click “System Preferences,” then “Accessibility,” then “Display” in the sidebar. In the “Pointer” tab, there is a scale to adjust your cursor size and outline and fill color.

The  holiday shopping season is upon us, and that means it is also time for our annual Tech Toys for the Holidays Digital Edge podcast.

Sharon Nelson and I highlight an eclectic assortment of holiday gifts with a technology focus. We have some budget shopping items like an AirTag lock for $15.90 or a UBeesize 67” tripod at $13.49 for steadier cell phone pictures, and some that are budget busters like a Nemo personal submarine.

Links to all the featured tech toys are in the show notes. Happy shopping and happy holidays.

What if you copied a lot of documents to a USB flash drive for working offline and now you can’t find the drive? Do you have to report this potential breach to firm management or notify the client of this potential breach? Suppose a hacker has gotten into your laptop and perhaps downloaded some files?

The short answer is there is no breach of confidential information if the device is encrypted or the files are encrypted . We have known for some time that misplacing portable devices with appropriate encryption is not a security breach because the information remains inaccessible. This means there is also a good case to be made for encrypting all laptop hard drives.

Protecting Portable Devices from Catherine Reach, Director, North Carolina Bar Association Center for Practice Management, was published in ABA Law Practice Magazine this month and she has republished it on her blog. It is a comprehensive treatment on securing portable devices, from encryption, to remote wiping, to office policies.

Businesses exist to make a profit. Lawyers often go into practice with the goal of helping their clients with their legal needs. Profits aren’t always the first thing a lawyer thinks about daily, but this should be a primary goal every day.

That is how OBA Practice Management Advisor Julie Bays began her article  Using Technology Tools to Build Financial Security. She focuses on the technology tools that directly impact the law firm bottom line. From attracting a client to the firm, retaining the client and managing the client file, legal technology can help law firms increase efficiency and their bottom line.

We have certainly seen many weather-related disasters this year. How long has it been since your law firm reviewed its disaster plan? Disaster Planning: It’s Not Just for Hurricanes is our new Digital Edge podcast.

Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson get Shawn Holahan’s top tips for disaster planning in legal practice.  Shawn Holahan is Practice Management Counsel and Loss Prevention Counsel for the Louisiana State Bar Association. Being from the Big Easy, she knows a thing or two about dealing with hurricanes and other types of weather disasters.

Her list of items to prioritize in disaster planning is valuable information, even for those of us for whom a tornado or prairie fire is more likely than a hurricane. Shawn emphasizes the importance of keeping your plan simple and explains “No Tech” Binders and the pre-disaster steps all lawyers should take.

Prior to Shawn’s position with the bar, she litigated employment discrimination matters. While with her firm, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city and her home, which necessitated moving her firm and family to another part of the state for several months before New Orleans could once again support its residents.

There is a transcript of the interview posted at the site for those who prefer to read rather than listen. I imagine some lawyers will copy the transcription into their disaster planning file.

Did you know that roughly 96% of worldwide email traffic is spam? Or that one of the more recent scams is to text someone an innocent or flirtatious message, followed by, “Whoops, wrong number,” in hopes of opening a conversation? Or that iPhone scammers are now using the TestFlight app to avoid Apple’s approval process for new apps and convince people to install malicious software?

“Wrong Numbers, Fake Invoices, and Catfishing: How to Avoid the Top Internet Scams” was recently published by PCMag.com. It covers all those issues and more. It also gives clear and simple instructions on how to avoid scams.

Consider this plan:

  1. Read the article.
  2. Share with your staff (and friends and family).
  3. Consider whether this might give you a chance to do some informal email marketing/client service by sending your active clients the link and a brief email warning about how fraud schemes are increasing. No sales pitch about your services, just a warning from a professional.
  4. Then consider whether to also send that to former clients whose files were closed in the last year.

Practice Pointer: Protect your clients’ privacy! Never send an email to groups of different clients (and their email addresses) in the “To:” line. Always use the “BCC:” line so you aren’t sharing their private information with other recipients of your email. When sending BCC, group emails in small batches to no more than 30 or so recipients to avoid inadvertently being flagged as spam.

As you likely know, Microsoft 365 provides great speech recognition built right into Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and OneNote. You just click on the microphone icon labeled Dictate and begin your dictation.

But to dictate into other applications on your computer, there are other built-in options.

It’s simple on a PC, just use the Windows key + H to open the dictation Windows. (If it hasn’t been enabled, you may receive a link to first enable the feature.) Place your cursor in any text entry box and dictate away. You can also dictate appropriate punctuation. I suggest memorizing this keystroke combo so you can quickly use it when needed. Use this to dictate into Microsoft Excel or a web search engine for example.

I must confess I didn’t know how to do this on a Mac. But longtime technology tipster Kim Komando shared how to do it in a recent feature:

“On a Mac, it requires a bit more setup.

  • Click the Apple logo, then System Preferences.
  • Choose Keyboard > Dictation. Make sure this is set to On. You can set up a shortcut to start dictation here, like hitting the Control key twice.
  • Now, open a document, tap the cursor, then tap your shortcut. You can also select Edit > Start Dictation.
  • A microphone will appear. Hit Done when you’re finished.”