Many lawyers who are part of the Florida Bar do not realize what the Practice Resource Institute (PRI) has to offer. The PRI is an online resource for lawyers who need help with office technology, finance and accounting, marketing, management, or who need assistance with all aspects of starting a new practice. Much of the content is free to the public and there are additional services available to members.
In this episode of The Florida Bar Podcast, Adriana Linares interviews Jonathon Israel, director of The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute. Israel discusses how the PRI has developed to offer a myriad of new opportunities available to any lawyer (not just Florida Bar members). He describes the structure of the site and the types of information, resources, and tools you should expect from visiting the PRI website or becoming a member. In the future, Israel explains, the PRI will respond to member feedback to include more video and audio content, social media interaction, and aggregation.
Jonathon Israel is the director of the Practice Resource Institute. He has been with the Florida Bar for thirteen years, starting at the help desk and working his way up through the Information Technology Department. As long-time operations manager for the Bar’s IT department, he brings a strong technology background to the PRI.
The Florida Bar Podcast: Director Jonathon Israel on How the Practice Resource Institute Benefits Florida Lawyers – 4/18/2015
Advertiser: Welcome to the official Florida Bar Podcast. Where we cover practice management, leadership, and what’s happening in Florida law. Brought to you by the Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hello and welcome to the official Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by the Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. The Practice Resource Institute is the Florida Bar’s online center for practice management information, dedicated to Florida attorneys. My name is Adriana Linares, and I’ll be your host. I’m a legal technology consultant, trainer, I’ve been working around Florida and for the Florida Bar for a couple of years now and I’m very honored to get to host this show for you. With me today is Jonathon Israel, who happens to be the man at the top. He is the director of the Practice Resource Institute and we cornered him during the Winter Meeting of the Florida Bar to ask him a few questions about PRI, get his take on what
Jonathon Israel: Thank you, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Thanks for stopping by, appreciate it.
Jonathon Israel: No problem, happy to be here.
Adriana Linares: So tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been with the Bar, how’d you get the job, what did you have to do?
Jonathon Israel: Well, I’ve been with the Bar for 13 years. I started at the help desk inside the Bar and worked my way up into the IT department. Moved from the help desk to assistance administrator inside the Bar supporting our internal services and systems and then moved over to the IT Operations Manager role where I managed the operations department and help desk for the Florida Bar. The director of the PI position became available and I approached Terry Hill, the division director of programs at the Florida Bar about it, and it really peaked my interest coming up on the operations side of IT managing the services in the help desk. I had a knack for helping our internal staff as well as the membership that our IT needs. And having a strong technology background, I thought it would be a real good opportunity for me to slide in over there and see how I can benefit the members and give them the resources they need to help their practice in everyday life.
Adriana Linares: That’s great, that’s really awesome. I’m glad that you got excited about the opportunity, that you went over there and said hey, how about me and they picked you. This is going to be great. So you’ve been with the Bar for a long time. 13 years, you said, so you definitely know the inner workings and the ins and outs.
Jonathon Israel: Definitely, yeah.
Adriana Linares: So when you got hired, let’s say PRI had gone through it’s incubation period and there was some content out there already and it’s still in its infancy, we have a long way to go with it. But what was your first impression when you looked at the ideas that President Coleman had as well as the special committee on technology and what’s the official name of that committee?
Jonathon Israel: The Special Committee on Legal Technology and Tools and Resources.
Adriana Linares: It’s a very complicated and long name.
Jonathon Israel: It’s a long name.
Adriana Linares: But let’s put it this way. There’s a group of people led by Kevin Johnson, who have been working on the content and the look and feel of PRI. So when you first took a look at it, what did you think?
Jonathon Israel: I thought it was a really good start. They really laid the groundwork for what they feel would help benefit the members in finding the information and resources to answer their questions as far as practicing law in the state of Florida.
Adriana Linares: How’s it broken down?
Jonathon Israel: Right now we have 5 silos that link off of the main page, and it’s office technology, finance and accounting, marketing, management, and new practice.
Adriana Linares: Great. We call them silos, but they’re not really siloed off as if you can’t go from one place to another but they’re sections, correct?
Jonathon Israel: Correct, categories.
Adriana Linares: And those were the five the committee chose, and I think those are great. It’s hard to define the practice of law outside those 4 or 5, so those are perfect. And then inside of each of those silos, what kind of information will I get?
Jonathon Israel: Inside each silo, you’ll find the topics relevant to that category or silo. So under office technology, you’ll have links to podcasts, blogs, technology tips and resources related to the practice of law and how you could use those in your everyday life. You’ll find online CLE courses that will give you the technology related on continuing education we provide from the Florida Bar.
Adriana Linares: And those are free.
Jonathon Israel: Those are all free, they’re available online, on demand, you can watch them straight from the PRI website.
Adriana Linares: Great.
Jonathon Israel: There will be some recommendations, whether it’s publications from the ABA’s website or other resources out on the web that will promote from the PRI website. And you’ll also find a lot of other good tips and useful information as well as some member benefits that we think could help you in your practice.
Adriana Linares: So we took a little bit of what was already there from the previous practice management assistance program. You guys have called old stuff out, kept everything that was relevant, and then also reaching out to some outside resources, as well as getting new content from the committee and anyone else who really has good information, good white papers, forms and stuff. So it’s a very varied and growing site, right?
Jonathon Israel: Correct.
Adriana Linares: And then tell us a little bit about how do I get there and is there a difference between what a member of the Bar will see versus a public citizen that goes to PRI.
Jonathon Israel: Sure. You get to the website by going to www.FloridaBar.org/PRI, or if you’re already on the Florida Bar’s website, if you go down under member services, you’ll see a link for Practice Resource Institute, and then that will take you to the main homelanding page of the PRI and from there you can link off to the 5 silos. And then as far as the content goes, most of the content on the site is available without having to log in to the website. However, there are some additional features and benefits provided to the membership that once they log in, they’ll have access to. Those being our knowledge base where they can search for tips and answers to question they might have and the live chat where they can access our PRI practice management assistance for asking them questions when they are available online. And should a practice management advisor not be available online, they could send us an email asking their question and we’ll respond to them accordingly.
Adriana Linares: That’s great, I mean that sounds like a really amazing resource. And I’ve said this when I interview Terry, for attorneys who might not have the luxury of having an IT person or having an ethics expert in their firm, or when an attorney wants to go out on their own, there’s a whole section on starting a new practice, right?
Jonathon Israel: Correct.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s very exciting. And tell us a little bit about the knowledge base that you mentioned. What sorts of things are stuck inside there that I’m going to be able to poke around and get information on?
Jonathon Israel: The knowledge base is really going to be answers to your question on how do I do something and we’ll have the answer provided to you. How do I bookmark a website on my iPad or how do I access content on FastCase? We’ll have all those types of questions and answers on there that you’ll be able to access.
Adriana Linares: And how will you be growing the knowledge base, because the typical definition of a knowledge base is you’re just constantly putting new questions and answers and information in there. Tell us about how that’s going to just keep expanding and becoming a major resource.
Jonathon Israel: It’s all going to come from the membership and how they can help us grow it with what they feel we need in there. So the questions they ask us, when we answer them, we’ll have those questions and answers available to the rest of the membership through the knowledge base.
Adriana Linares: That’s perfect, and that’s behind a member login wall, right?
Jonathon Israel: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Okay. That’s very good, so that’s a great benefit that the Bar is bringing. Not just so far as building the site itself, I mean that’s one thing, but also staffing it. There’s going to be a couple more practice management advisors, not just you, right? You’re not a robot, they can’t see you but I’m looking at you and you don’t look that robotic to me so you’re going to have to sleep sometimes, right?
Jonathon Israel: Right, we will have some other practice management advisors on staff to assist me with answering those questions.
Adriana Linares: That’s great! Well that’s pretty exciting. What else might be on there that I hadn’t thought to ask you about? We’ve got some stuff from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, what do we have on there?
Jonathon Israel: We have links to the Legal Technology Resource Center’s website, as well as their publications and their newsfeeds.
Adriana Linares: And the buyer’s guide.
Jonathon Israel: Yep, the buyer’s guide.
Adriana Linares: I think that something maybe we should explain real quick that the committee that helped put PRI together thought we should really have some sort of buyer’s guide to help our attorneys in picking software out, hardware, vendors. And realized that the ABA LTRC had been doing that for a couple years and they have a couple of full time staffers who sit there keeping that updated and gathering information all the time. And we thought, well, why don’t we reinvent the wheel? We’ll partner with a great resource like the LTRC and they can just get the information from there which is constantly getting updated. That’s great. So if somebody has any suggestions or ideas about what they’d like to see on PRI, do you want to hear those?
Jonathon Israel: Definitely.
Adriana Linares: That’s a trick question.
Jonathon Israel: We are all ears. That’s the only way we’re going to make this better and better serve the membership is by them giving us the feedback on what we’re missing or what else they would want added on there.
Adriana Linares: And what’s the email address to send suggestions or ideas?
Jonathon Israel: Right now it’s [email protected].
Adriana Linares: And there’s also, too, the ability to leave a message if you actually go to PRI. Tell us a little bit about that because that’s not emailing directly.
Jonathon Israel: It’s not. So once you log in to the Florida Bar’s website, you have the option of live chatting with a practice manager and advisor, should one be available online. Or at the bottom you’ll see a leave a message link and once you click it, it’ll pop up with a form where you could input your name and contact information as well as your question and it’ll submit the question to our PRI mail and database where we’ll respond from there.
Adriana Linares: And then is there an opportunity – let’s say I have a question that is either complicated, or you, as the practice management advisor and then when there’s more of you, need more information. Are you going to call me and follow up and make sure that my question gets answered?
Jonathon Israel: Definitely.
Adriana Linares: Good.
Jonathon Israel: That’s what we do now. We’re available through the live chat, through email, through phone. We’re there for you.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome! Before we move onto our next segment, we’re going to take a quick break to hear a message from our sponsors.
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Adriana Linares: Welcome back to the official Florida Bar Podcast. I’m Adriana Linares and with me today is Mr. Jonathnon Israel. Before we took a break, we talked for a few minutes about the types of resources that are going to be available on PRI. He gave us a little bit of information about the type of content were going to have on there, how members can email, call or live chat. And I have a couple more questions for you. I’m excited about the podcasts, obviously, because I think it’s great that the Florida Bar decided to do an official podcast that PRI is sponsoring and putting together. What type of content do you hope to see from the official Florida Bar Podcast?
Jonathon Israel: I hope to see all the information you would see on our silos, technology related tips and tricks, any updates with the finance or accounting category, marketing tips and tricks. The marketing world is constantly changing along with technology, be it through social media or other mediums to get your advertisements out there, so it’s trying to stay current as possible out there.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, and that’s a hard thing for the lawyers sometimes to keep up with, so it’s going to be a great way to communicate updates, changes, ideas, information, education, and we’ll be interviewing different kinds of Florida Bar law leaders that can help with all of those, again, different areas of expertise of the silos that when you put them all together, are what make up practice management.
Jonathon Israel: Definitely.
Adriana Linares: That’s pretty exciting. So we’ve talked a lot about what is already on the site, as it is, and the resource center. What are your current ideas – and we’re not going to hold you to them; we know ideas mean this is an idea, it might or might not come around. What are some ideas or feedback you’ve already gotten from members or committee members as far as future content?
Jonathon Israel: A lot more podcasts and videos to help them with their questions and answers. Everybody learns in different ways, some people learn from reading it where other people would rather have a visual learning example form to follow. So I think we’re going to have a lot more audio and visual content published out there on the website to help our membership. Maybe some blog posts that we can take from our practice management advisors, as well as Twitter feed or anything else that we can kind of aggregate and publish out this information to our membership and get in front of their face to help them with their practice.
Adriana Linares: That sounds great. That all sounds really exciting, I’m very excited about the Practice Resource Institute. I’m so happy that you’re heading the whole thing, congratulations on getting that position, the Bar’s going to be really lucky to have you as well as all of its members. So one more time, remind everybody the link to get to PRI and then the PRI email address.
Jonathon Israel: Sure, the link to PRI is www.FloridaBar.org/PRI, or again on the main Bar’s webpage, member services, you’ll see a link for Practice Resource Institute. And the email address for us is [email protected]
Adriana Linares: Thank you Jonathon! For all you listeners who would like more information about what you’ve heard today, please make sure to visit the official Florida Bar Podcast on the PRI section of the Florida Bar website. And of course, be sure to check out Legal Talk Network. You can follow all of our feeds on iTunes, RSS, Twitter, or Facebook. I’m Adriana Linares and thank you for listening. Join us next time for another great episode of the official Florida Bar Podcast.
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