There has recently been an increase in virtualization of law practices and the rate at which firms are beginning to adopt internet-based technology solutions. There are significant advantages attached to those programs including mobility, flexibility, ease of installation and management, and decreased setup cost. But most lawyers don’t know what a virtual office entails, are wary of trusting a remote server, or worry about the security of working through a browser. What is virtualization, how does it apply to law firms, and why should lawyers be adopting this new technology now?
On this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Jared Correia interviews AbacusLaw CEO Alessandra Lezama about cloud-based case management systems and why lawyers should virtualize their firms. Lezama explains the difference between desktop as a service (DaaS) and software as a service (SaaS), the benefits of virtualization, and how to choose a company to help with this process. The encrypted remote servers should have geographic redundancy, regular and thorough security audits, and have local data centers. Lezama points out that lawyers are hesitant towards virtualization due to anxiety of the unknown or lack of time, resources, or knowledge but they must adopt new technology as a matter of ethical compliance. Because there are so many intricacies to this process, many lawyers do not know where to start. Lezama encourages attorneys to invest time, perform due diligence, and seek a good partner to help guide the process. In the long run, the relief of IT burden will more than pay off.
Alessandra Lezama is the chief executive officer of Abacus, a legal technology solution company that designs, installs, and manages virtual practice systems. Before joining Abacus, she was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of two Blackthorn Investment Fund companies, chief operating officer and CEO at American Internet Services, and has held key leadership roles in sales, marketing, and operations for Comsat International.
These days there are so many options for legal practices that lawyers starting a solo practice often get carried away and spend too much. It is difficult to distinguish the essential hardware and software needs from supplementary products. With everything solo lawyers have to think about, technology questions can seem overwhelming, expensive, and important. Is a Mac or a PC better for a practice? Is it necessary to have a printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine? What about all of the software products available for practice management, document management, email, or a PDF editing processor? Most lawyers with their own practice could use a break down of necessary technology products and how much to spend on each.
On this episode of New Solo, Adriana Linares interviews the Lawyerist CEO and Editor in Chief, Sam Glover, about practice management essentials, what hardware and software to buy when starting a solo practice, and how much to spend. Glover discusses laptops and desktops, Macintosh computers versus PCs, what to invest in a printer, scanner, and internet, and why it is pointless to buy a fax machine or copier in 2014. He recommends services that provide a secure VPN, a secure client portal, and that cloud-based softwares are often less expensive, easier to use, and updated more often. Some other top essential products he suggests include a Gmail business account, Microsoft 365, OneDrive, Acrobat Pro, Google Voice, and several potential alternatives. To maintain a professional practice, he also highly recommends a virtual receptionist like Ruby Receptionists. In the end, he stresses the importance of spending the right amount of money on the products your new solo practice needs.
Sam Glover is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Lawyerist.com, an online magazine and reference manual for solo and small firm lawyers. He has written and spoken extensively about legal technology, marketing, management, and ethics, among other topics. In addition, he was a practicing lawyer from 2005 to 2011 for his own firm, The Glover Law Firm, LLC, before he sold it to focus on representing tech startup companies. The Lawyerist is well known for honestly discussing topics and being fair to the subject.
Most of us assume that lawyers are slow adopters of technology because that’s what we hear all the time. ILTA’s InsideLegal Survey and the ABA Technology Survey are annual surveys of lawyers that provide some data about the actual usage of technology by lawyers. Because these surveys are voluntary, they give a big picture of changing trends rather than specific accurate data. Does the common assumption that lawyers are technologically behind still hold true in 2014?
In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell analyze the results of 2014 ILTA-InsideLegal survey, the 2014 ABA Technology Survey and recommend ways lawyers can use these surveys to benefit their practice or clients. Mighell notices that in 2014 lawyers are adopting fewer new technologies compared with an increase in mobile technology and cloud computing from the previous two years. He explains that the major purchases have been pretty standard: hardware upgrades, server upgrades, and new laptops and desktops. Although Kennedy also noticed the lag in exciting results from the surveys, he emphasizes that these surveys are voluntarily taken by lawyers interested in technology, so there might be more progress in less tech savvy demographics. He also mentions the most exciting lawyer technology trends mobile, virtualization, cloud services, wearable technologies, and discusses the shift in tablet use and security.
In the second segment, Kennedy and Mighell discuss why young lawyers do not often attend legal technology conferences, how they could benefit from the conferences, and the disconnect between what young lawyers think they know about technology and what they still need to learn. Listen to the end for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Family law and divorce can be a very difficult practice due to the amount of emotion and transition surrounding the client’s life. The lawyers practicing in this area are directly responsible for the financial and emotional future of their clients. Because of the level of pressure involved, a successful family law firm depends on their paralegals to maintain organization of the firm and consistently complete projects and emails. But there is much more a paralegal can do to be a valuable part of a family law firm and increase the success of each case. What are some steps paralegals can take and how can the lawyers work best with their paralegals to benefit the firm?
In this episode of The Paralegal Voice, Vicki Voisin interviews attorney Nick Rice and certified paralegal Andrea Schultz who discuss their success working together at Rice Law, a firm that specializes in family law. Rice comments on the level of success he is able to achieve in divorce cases due greatly in part to working with Schultz and other high-level achieving paralegals in his practice. He appreciates the skills she brings to each case including discovery, research, prep for hearings, and document review and analysis in addition to her attention to detail and organizational skills. With the legal knowledge she has, Schultz can provide the assistance to afford Rice increased time and energy to give to the case and clients. Schultz encourages paralegals working in family law to become certified and get advanced certification in family law, learn the legal basics and how to move through a case, stay educated about changes in state laws, and find a niche within the firm. Inevitably, lawyers and paralegals should work as a team from the beginning of the case to ease stress for the client.
Nick Rice, formally known as George Lawrence Rice, IV, is a third generation attorney at Rice Law (Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC). He received his Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Tennessee and his J.D. from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. He has presented at many Continuing Legal Education lectures.
Andrea Schultz is a certified paralegal at Rice Law. She graduated first in her class from Southwest Tennessee Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies and was accepted into NALA’s class of 2011-2012 LEAP Program. Andrea is a current member of Greater Memphis Paralegal Alliance (GMPA) and currently serves on NALA’s Professional Development Committee.
Many young law grads are being urged to move out of large cities and into rural areas, where there aren’t as many attorneys competing for work. As we reported in the ABA Journal’s October cover story, there are many small communities in rural America that are woefully underserved, and access to justice is a real problem. It would seem a prime idea to hang your shingle in one of these small towns.
But what does it take to run a successful legal practice in a rural area? Asked and Answered moderator Stephanie Francis Ward speaks with Lorelei Laird, the reporter who wrote our cover story, and Bruce Cameron, who runs a solo practice in rural Minnesota.
Famed legal writer John Grisham calls them Rainmakers. We’ve celebrated their legendary victories in cinematic works such as “A Civil Action” and “Erin Brockovich.” In Hollywood, these plaintiffs attorneys are often portrayed as Davids to their opposing Goliaths of corrupt industry. But who are they in real life? In this special edition of Lawyer 2 Lawyer, hosts Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams interview titans of the courtroom Mike Papantonio, Howard Nations, Thomas Girardi, and Fred Levin. In the first segment of this show, they reveal their most respected defense counsel, discuss the traits of successful trial attorneys, as well as evaluate the contingency fee model. In the second segment, Bob and Craig interview Fred Levin about his new biography which covers his very colorful life and career. Tune in to hear about his victories and his defeats.
Mike Papantonio was instrumental in the creation of The Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. In addition to being a senior partner at Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, Mike co-hosts his nationally syndicated talk show (Ring of Fire) with esteemed co-hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder. Mr. Papantonio is also nationally known for his success in mass tort litigation, recipient of multiple prestigious awards (like Trial Lawyer of the Year and the Perry Nichols), and accomplished author of several motivational books for lawyers.
Howard Nations is an inductee at The Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame whose national practice is currently working on litigation for Actos bladder cancer, defective hip implants, transvaginal mesh, Pradaxa, and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As a pioneer in courtroom technology, Howard was the first attorney to have computer-generated liability and medical animations admitted into evidence at trial. Among his many awards, he is the recipient of the W. McKinley Smiley, Jr., Lighthouse Award; the Belli Society’s Mel Award; and MTMP’s Clarence Darrow Award.
Thomas Girardi is an inductee at The Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame who’s commonly known for his work in Anderson v. Pacific Gas & Electric (the case made famous by the Erin Brockovich film). Among his numerous headlines, Mr. Girardi secured a 4.85 billion dollar settlement from Merck for Vioxx, a 785 million dollar verdict from Lockheed for personal injuries, and a 1.7 billion dollar settlement from the State of California for manipulating natural gas prices.
Fred Levin is commonly referred to as the man who brought down Big Tobacco by helping to secure the largest settlement in US history. To date, he has won over 100 jury verdicts and settlements worth at least one million dollars. During his very colorful career he represented heavyweight boxing champion Roy Jones Jr., helped start the national firm of Johnnie Cochran, be-friended multiple Presidential candidates, and been investigated for murder twice. Today, Mr. Levin still practices as a senior partner at Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor.
Most lawyers are technicians; they want to provide legal services but cringe at the necessary step of selling them. There is a negative connotation of sales and marketing in the legal field. Lawyers often feel like they are trying to convince a potential client to pay for something he or she does not really need. But what if lawyers began to think of marketing as a network of trust and sales as connecting a person with legal needs to the right lawyer? While many lawyers would embrace this as an idea situation, few know where to start. What steps should solo and small firm lawyers take to ethically and effectively sell their services?
In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, Christopher Anderson interviews networking expert Bob Burg who wrote a book about successful marketing techniques called “The Go-Giver.” Burg describes a different sort of marketing in which the lawyer provides value to the consumer in the form of comfort and trust. By shifting the focus of the practice to the consumer’s needs, the lawyer creates an environment in which people want to pay him/her for the legal services they already need. In order to do this properly, Burg explains, the lawyer must recognize five “laws of stratospheric success,” or systems for evaluating the success of their practice: value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity. These laws are based around the idea that authentically and genuinely putting others first will inevitably be profitable for a valuable legal practice. Burg does not mean giving away services, however. He encourages lawyers to do some research; ask happy clients what qualities about the service they found valuable build upon those qualities for future marketing techniques.
Bob Burg is a sought-after speaker at corporate conventions and for entrepreneurial events. He has written the well known business marketing books Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver. His latest book is entitled, Adversaries Into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion which discusses how to master the art of Ultimate Influence. Bob is an advocate, supporter, and defender of the Free Enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve.
Lawyers now have the option to purchase Microsoft Office 365 for their small, medium, or big law firms. Microsoft Office 365 is a collection of products and services that can be purchased individually or in bundles known as stockkeeping units (SKUs). The products available include Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync, Yammer, Office Suite 2013, and Matter Center. These provide everything from document management, email and contacts, voice and text communication, to a corporate social network. How might these services benefit a law firm and what questions should lawyers be asking?
In this episode of The Digital Edge, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway interview Microsoft expert and technologist Ben Schorr about the Office 365 services and products as they pertain to use in a law firm. Schorr answers some of the often asked questions concerning the difference between Office 365 and Office Suite 2013, cloud based information storage, collaboration and sharing, and the way that Microsoft’s pricing differs from other software providers. He wraps up the interview by explaining the differences between SharePoint and Matter Center for document management and advises lawyers and legal professionals to do online research and work with a Microsoft partner before deciding on products for a firm. There are many options to pick and choose from for a firm of any size, from solo to big law.
Ben M. Schorr is a technologist and Chief Executive Officer for Roland Schorr & Tower, a professional consulting firm headquartered in Flagstaff, Arizona with offices in Hawaii and Oregon. He has been involved with management and technology for more than 20 years and a Microsoft MVP for more than 15. He is the author of several books and articles on technology including “The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Outlook,” “The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word,” and “OneNote in One Hour.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all crashes involving heavy trucks. Join Ringler Radio host, Larry Cohen, co-host, John Muir, Esq. and special guest, Attorney David A. Brose from the firm Langdon Emison, as they talk about truck driver fatigue, litigation stemming from these incidents and what is being done to prevent truck driver fatigue.
Visit Ringler Associates to contact a consultant in your area about structured settlements.
Many lawyers believe they are not benefiting from the time and money spent on marketing their firm. Online marketing can seem complicated and time-consuming and most lawyers do not want to seem self-promoting so hiring marketers seems like the best option. However, the fact is that marketing a personal brand is both necessary and not as hard as it seems. Especially in solo and small practices, lawyers are marketing their reputation every day by building relationships online and in their offline communities. But in a field where everyone is doing the same thing, where should a lawyer start and how does he or she stand out from the crowd?
In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, Christopher Anderson interviews legal marketing consultant Mary Beth Monzingo about the importance of marketing a personal brand, how lawyers can start building relationships and connections with potential clients, and tips to a successful online marketing strategy. Monzingo encourages lawyers to market themselves at all times whether working with a client on a case or while engaging in outside hobbies and activities. Additionally, lawyers need to attend networking conferences, connect with other lawyers, stay in touch with law school alumni, and be an active part of associations and organizations. Online, lawyers should be available on most social media outlets, create valuable content, have a ‘call to action’ on their website, and always maintain a consistent presence. Monzingo encourages every lawyer to spend 2-5% of their revenue on marketing in order to see an increase of 10% or more. And, don’t forget, consistency is key.
Mary Beth Monzingo is the managing partner of Monzingo Legal, a consulting company for legal marketing and management, business development, and law firm recruiting. A specialist in helping lawyers start and build their law practices, she has consulted with hundreds of attorneys in structuring successful firms, implementing marketing departments and strategies, and recruiting top talent for expansion and growth.