The idea that Google would run out of storage for its many premium services is unbelievable. Google did not run out of storage, but a misconfiguration which limited storage access did knock out many services from the Gmail app to YouTube offline for about 45 minutes. My colleague Sharon Nelson covered all of the important facts in her Ride the Lightning Blog post Google Global Outage Caused by Critical System Running Out of Storage.

A 45-minute outage can seem like an eternity when you are working on a deadline. But you know what might have been even worse than not having access to your email for an hour or so? Maybe it would be not having access to your Contacts! At least with that you can easily telephone the people who are expecting that email from you.

My personal Gmail account is mostly non-urgent email. But perhaps we all should download our Gmail contacts to a file we can access if Gmail is offline. So here from WikiHow is How to Export Gmail Contacts. It is a very simple process. Whether you do this once a year or more frequently depends on how dependent you are on this Gmail account.

Do I think there’s a realistic chance Gmail will vanish without notice and leave you permanently without access to your contacts? No. But if there’s data important to you

Unfortunately, few people see an advertisement on a website and click on the ad to see more about the product or service. And by “few” I mean not enough to make that online advertising effective. So advertisers soon began to rely on popup ads that site visitors could not ignore because they at least had to click on the little X in the upper corner to close the ad. Of course, some didn’t like that and soon there were popup ad blockers. Usually these were added as a browser extension. Websites fought back with anti-popup blocker technology. These came in the form of a full screen message stating “We have detected a popup blocker. Our site depends on ad revenue to survive. So, either disable your popup blocker— or go away!” That means it is time for the web users’ next move.

My friend Shawn L. Holahan is Practice Management Counsel/Loss Prevention Counsel for the Louisiana State Bar Association. She just shared this video with me that details four ways to defeat these “blocker blockers” in Chrome. While I’d encourage you to watch the entire video, here’s her summary:

  • Right click on popup “Please disable adblocker to support us” or something like that
  • Click inspect
  • Control F
  • Type in “please disable” or a string contained in the popup (e.g., “Welcome to NBC news”)
  • Delete where it appears.
  • Poof. It’s gone.

Of course, given the history lesson above, it’s likely this will not work “forever.”

For many lawyers, 2020 upended their marketing plans, with industry conferences, customer events and other marketing opportunities cancelled. Who would have predicted that even offering to buy a prospect lunch would become impossible this year?

Micah Buchdahl is an attorney whose company HTMLawyers works with law firms on marketing and business development. He is also past chair of the ABA Law Practice Division, the only past chair who came from a legal marketing background if memory serves.

Micah Buchdahl
      Micah Buchdahl

I note his credentials because his recent post What Does Your 2021 Marketing Plan & Budget Look Like? contains a wealth of great information, including a discussion of that other vexing question “When will I be able to start my marketing again?”

The first point he notes “Never Stop Never Stopping” is perhaps the most important point one can make about any form of marketing. Next year is going to get better. Your marketing plan for 2021 will likely be much better if you read and follow Micah’s sound advice.

Making predictions about the future can be useful and entertaining. Although I certainly hope no one in 2019 making predictions about 2020 made any large wagers on being correct.

Law Practice Today is an ezine published by the ABA Law Practice Division. Anyone can subscribe for free. This set of predictions, Crystal Ball: Our Editorial Board Makes Their Predictions for 2021, is really top notch because of the talented group of people the ezine has assembled who have very different perspectives on the legal professional and work in many different settings. They include several people I have worked with on various ABA projects like former Law Practice Magazine Editor-in-Chief John Bowers, two of my fellow practice management advisors and Oklahoma attorney Mark A. Robertson, who co-authored a pair of books on alternative billing with me for the ABA long ago and who also authored Alternative Fees for Business Lawyers and Their Clients a few years ago.

There are some great takeaways in this collection, even if the predictions don’t all come true.

Ah, the Windows Update! The magical time in our lives when we get more features at the price of familiar things being moved around, if not eliminated. So, the most recent update moved my Outlook search bar. This likely happened to most of us. At first there was a moment of panic because, let’s face it; unless you regularly stay within 50 emails of Inbox Zero, using search in your Outlook Inbox is something you do more than once a day. But Outlook search was not killed, it was just moved to the very top of the screen in that nice blue bar. And, as you can see in the graphic below, there is now a drop-down menu with various fields you can search in your inbox. (Same upgrade occurred for Word and Excel.)

But here’s the problem. When search was at the top of your inbox displaying the last search you had done, it was a convenient reminder that you were not looking at your entire inbox, but just those emails containing the search terms. Now that it is located at the top of the page, it is much easier forget that. Woe to the lawyer who leaves the search on while important incoming emails are not being shown. You cannot clear it just by backspacing to clear the box either, Apparently, you have to click on Inbox to clear a search. So after you do a search, click on Inbox to clear the search and see your entire inbox. I await one of my friends working at Microsoft to explain if I’m doing it wrong. UPDATE: Someone mentioned to me that you can also clear your past search by clicking on the X by the search Window. I should have noted that. Although hitting the Inbox icon is still a bigger target. 😊

Working from home was a big pandemic-related development this year. But the American Bar Association has previously noted that: “Lawyers who continue to provide legal services in the area affected by a disaster have the same ethical obligations to their clients as before the disaster, although they may be able to provide advice outside their normal area of expertise.” ABA Formal Opinion 482 (Although I do note that language was drafted pre-pandemic and assumed an area or region would be impacted rather than the entire planet.)

This week the ABA issued Formal Opinion 495 on Lawyers Working Remotely. However, while the opinion addressed an issue that had been vexing legal ethics experts, it did not cover security, confidentiality or many other challenges for lawyers and law firm staff when working from home. It did, however, address the issue of whether working for your clients on matters related to your state could be the unauthorized practice of law if you happen to be traveling outside of your state. (I must admit when I first heard this discussion, I imagined the law school hypothetical of a lawyer flying cross-country and corresponding with clients over the airline WiFi. Was there exposure to every state flown over while typing or was it only the states when you hit Send?)

The opinion’s conclusion:

The purpose of Model Rule 5.5 is to protect the public from unlicensed and unqualified practitioners of law. That purpose is not served by prohibiting a lawyer from practicing the law of a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed, for clients with matters in that jurisdiction, if the lawyer is for all intents and purposes invisible as a lawyer to a local jurisdiction where the lawyer is physically located, but not licensed. The Committee’s opinion is that, in the absence of a local jurisdiction’s finding that the activity constitutes the unauthorized practice of law, a lawyer may practice the law authorized by the lawyer’s licensing jurisdiction for clients of that jurisdiction (additional caveats omitted)

Some states do have a more restrictive view, so if you are planning an extended trip to a particular jurisdiction you might do some quick research. ABA ethics opinions are persuasive authority, but not binding on any state authority.

Office 365 users can develop automation tools with Power Automate. This tool used to be called Microsoft Flow and the training materials still reference flows. But this is not a beginner level exercise. Microsoft has provided some videos to help you get started and is hosting a user forum at Microsoft’s Power Automate Desktop getting started videos and community forum. Even if you are not ready to attempt this just yet, the first two videos on basics and creating your first flow may be instructive just so you know what is available.

Aquaforest Connector for Microsoft Flow (Power Automate)

I am not judging, but I see a lot of lawyers making some elementary videoconferencing mistakes. If you are talking with a client or on behalf of a client, you want to look your best. How to Look Better on Zoom (and Other Video-Calling Apps) is really a nice basic training on videoconferencing.

Recently I was in a Zoom meeting with a few dozen people. One was a colleague from another state I’ve been in several such conferences with recently. Afterwards, I texted her “OK, don’t take this the wrong way, but you really looked nice today.” She quickly texted back “It’s my new light ring!!!” Enough said on the importance of light rings?

Now that you are using Windows 10 (because you shouldn’t be using Windows 7 anymore), you are no doubt aware there are a lot of features you have not yet tried. Windows 10 Optional Features: A Quick Guide to the Best Extras You May Want is a high-level feature targeted to IT types. But it is worth your time just to know how to activate these if needed and to scroll down the list of optional features available.