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Why I Rarely Hire a Consultant

When I bought my first computer and a dot matrix printer in 1983 I could not afford to hire a consultant to help me with hardware or software.  I was forced to learn about hardware and software and become my own consultant.  In the last 30 years I have invested a tremendous amount of time learning about software, law office technology and the internet.

Over the years I have saved a lot of money by becoming knowledgeable enough to avoid hiring a consultant.  Unfortunately from time to time I have been forced to hire a consultant.  Sometimes the benefit I have received from the consultant’s services have been well worth the cost.  For example, I have paid my Hot Docs programmer Bart Earle over $35,000 in the last ten years to develop templates I use in my practice to create limited liability companies.  I have also been very happy with my Time Matters consultant Tom Caffrey of Premier Software and my TimeSlips consultant Allen Hardon of Sherwood Systems.

One of the lessons I have learned from hiring consultants over the years is that far too often the value of the services rendered is substantially less than the money invested.  In the last several years I have had extremely bad luck with four Infusionsoft consultants.  I have hired four of them and paid over $11,000 all of which was a total waste of money.  At least two of these Infusionsoft consultants were so called ICCs aka Infusionsoft certified consultants.

I love Infusionsoft and it is an important marketing tool and customer relations management software that I use in my law practice.  The program, however, has a very high learning curve, which means that too many Infusionsoft users are forced to hire a Infuionsoft certified consultant.  All I can say is “buyer beware.”  Get references and talk to people who used the ICC’s services before you actually hire the ICC.

The last two Infusionsoft consultants that I trusted were Justin Handley and Ritchie Hale.  I would never hire either of these gentlemen again to provide any Infusionsoft consulting services.

To learn why I love Infusionsoft read my review called “Infusionsoft Review: The Cheapest & Best 24/7/365 Marketing Department.”

Time Matters for Law Office Practice Management

A question posed on a lawyer listserv that I monitor asked what practice management software to you recommend?  The text below is my response to the questionner.

I’ve used TimeMatters since 1998 and love it.  I cannot imagine practicing without it.  I recently invested a lot of time inspecting and trying the latest online practice management systems and not one comes close to the power of TimeMatters.  I will continue to use TM indefinitely because I must have its power to help me make more money.

My small three lawyer firm has 16,000+ people and clients in TM plus 190,000 documents saved in the TM document management system.  We can find a person in TM and see their phone number or email address in a few seconds.  Everything relevant to that person is available in a few clicks.  I can search the 16,000+ contacts for Simpson and select Homer Simpson then click on the related tab and see the name of the three LLCs I created for him.  Next I can click on one of the LLCs and click related to find out who the CPA is for that particular LLC.  I then click on the CPA’s name and it opens the CPA’s TM record where I see the CPA’s phone number and email address.  I can call the CPA and make a record of that call in the LLC’s contact record.  I can also click on the CPA’s related tab and see that the CPA is the CPA for 15 other LLCs I created.  Based on that I will call the CPA for lunch and do some marketing to the CPA.

TM’s document management system(every law firm should use a document management system) is one reason we have been 100% paperless for nine years.  A person can call me and as I am answering the phone I see the person’s name showing on caller id so that when the person says I have a question about Section 9.2 of my trust I can have the document opened on my computer monitor and be looking at section 9.2 before the client finishes the question.  If a client calls and says I’m at the bank and need a copy of the Articles of Organization for my LLC I can email the pdf version of the document to the client within 15 seconds.  To learn how to be a paperless law office see my article on this topic here:

www.keytlaw.com/lawofficetech/paperless-law-office/

TM allows us to keep everything related to a client in the client’s contact area.  When I look up a client I can see what was discussed during every phone call in and out, every document in the client’s file including pdfs and Excel files, every email message in and out, calendar events, to dos & ticklers, websites relevant to the client, notes made by us concerning the client and other people and companies related to the client such as the CPA or opposing counsel.  If I click on the email tab I see and can access all client email messages.  If I click on the Documents tab I see all documents organized by tabs.  If I then click on the Operating Agreement tab I see all versions of the Operating Agreement for the client and can right click on a document to open it or check the box to the left of the document to email it.

TM has approximately 200 fields that can be customized to be any type of field you desire such as a text field, drop down list, date field, email field, etc.  I have customized TM fields to do many important tasks.  For example to help us track estate plan prospects I created the following custom TM fields: date of 1st contact, type of contact (drop down that includes office visit, phone call, website, referral and other choices), date the person was entered into our automatic follow up email marketing system called Infusionsoft, date we mailed the prospect my hard copy book called “Family Asset Protection,” dates of my 1st, 2nd and 3rd follow up calls and a note field I can insert any text.

TM is a fabulous marketing tool.  As estate planners, we must market if we want to increase our review.

I also created a custom tab for the Contact records called Estate Plan Prospect.  When I click this tab I get a list of all the people who are estate plan prospects starting with the person whose first EP prospect contact date is the oldest.  I configured TM to display in spreadsheet format all of the custom fields mentioned above.  The TM screen lists the name of every contact in the first column.  The next column is the date of first EP prospect contact.  The other columns displayed are all the custom EP data fields.  This fabulous screen  allows me to get an overview of all estate planning prospects and see where each prospect is in the pipeline.  If I see somebody that has not had a first, second or third call I will call that person and make my marketing pitch and mark the date of the call in TM.

When I click the tab called Estate Plan Prospect the display shows only people who have the code EPP entered in their code field.  The ability to create multiple codes for a person or company gives you a lot of power to track and display data.

We all know that people procrastinate doing an estate plan.  You will make more money if you have a system like TM coupled with Infusionsoft that allows you to track EP prospects and do follow up marketing.  Marketing people say that most of the time when somebody contacts you they are shopping or doing research and not ready to buy.  If you want them to purchase from you when they are ready to buy you must do follow up marketing, but you can’t do that unless you have a system to identify prospects coupled with a system that will market automatically (Infusionsoft) or that allows you to do it manually TM.  For more about Infusionsoft see my review of the software here:

www.keytlaw.com/lawofficetech/infusionsoft-review/

Very soon TM will add a new feature I’ve been waiting for: the ability to check a box next to documents saved in TM’s document management system and have the selected documents uploaded to the cloud to TM’s secure server so that we can send an email to selected people in the TM contact database to give them a link, user name and password to login and access the documents on TM’s server.

TM does much more than what I have described above.  For example, I can prepare a letter in Word that includes merge fields and save it in TM.  I can then do a look up in TM for every estate plan client who signed between (pick a date) and (pick another date) and TM will generate a custom letter to each client by doing a merge of the data fields into the Word document.  A great way to do mass, but customized mailings.

There’s two ways to buy TM, the right way and the wrong way.  The right way is to buy TM from the best TM consultant, a man named Tom Caffery.  You should also buy his TM in a box, which is TM installed on a shoe box size server with one terabyte data storage.  I bought TM in a box from Tom  Tom sent me a package that had the little server in it.  Our IT guy connected it to our system and Tom’s TM guru JP configured it remotely for us.

The wrong way to buy TM is any way that does not involve Tom Caffery.  For TM to work properly you must have it set up and configured by a true TM expert.  If you use anybody else you will become one of the TM haters who complains about things not working right.  Call Tom Caffery at 856-429-3010.

P.S.  Client data is a gold mine, but you can’t mine the gold unless you have a system to compile the data and that allows you to use the data for marketing.

How Paid Search Drives Law Firm Leads

Watch this video to learn how a paid search advertising campaign can provide the broad online visibility you need to quickly generate high-quality leads for your law firm.

Blogs More Likely than Social Media to Influence Purchases

Social Media Examiner:  “Are you wondering how to influence potential customers and prospects?  The latest findings from Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report show that ‘consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.’  In fact, blogs rank favorably with consumers for trust, popularity and even influence.  Here are some interesting findings from the Technorati report.”  Note that Twitter ranked only at 8%.

online services high in influence

Google’s New How Search Works Site

Do you care about how Google’s search engine works?  If not you should because search engine optimization (SEO) is something you our your web guru must understand to get high search rankings and traffic.  Google just announced that it created a website aptly called “How Search Works” to educate us on how Google’s search engine works!  Spend some time on the site and educate yourself.

The site lets you follow the entire life of a search query, from the web, to crawling and indexing, to algorithmic ranking and serving, to fighting webspam. The site complements existing resources, the help center, user forums, Webmaster Tools, and in-depth research papers.

A few things you’ll find:

  • An interactive, graphical explanation of Google Search
  • A view into major search algorithms and features
  • A 43-page document explaining how we evaluate our results
  • A live slideshow of spam as we remove it
  • Graphs illustrating the spam problem and how we fight it
  • A list of policies that explain when we’ll remove content

How to Search is intended to illuminate the split-second journey from algorithms to answers.

Time Matters Training Materials

I absolutely love Time Matters.  I cannot imagine practicing law without Time Matters, which I have used since 1998.  Legal Loudspeaker, Business & Technology Tips for Law Firms, created a number of educational videos and white papers on using Time Matters.

  1. Performing a Conflict Check in Time Matters (video)
  2. How To Archive & Retrieve Records in Time Matters (video)
  3. 10 Quick Time Matters Tips
  4. Changing Staff Initials in Time Matters
  5. Hiding Fields in Time Matters
  6. Creating Quick Tabs and Saved Searches in Time Matters
  7. Quick Tip for Tagging Record in Time Matters
  8. Setting up an Out of the Office Email in Time Matters
  9. 5 Tips to Quickly Improve Your Time Matters Experience
  10. 30 Time Matters Tips (pdf)
  11. Comprehensive Time Matters End-User Training Manuals
  12. Check out these Lexis-Generated Time Matters Product Videos

Author Rank

Blind Five Year Old:  “The idea behind AuthorRank is that your reputation as a content creator will influence the ranking of search results. Here’s the specific language from Google’s Agent Rank patent.

The identity of individual agents responsible for content can be used to influence search ratings. Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.

Agent? Agent is Google-speak for an author. This excerpt states that verified content by an author will be graded and it is that grade that influences the rank of content in search results. . . . AuthorRank won’t replace PageRank it’ll just make it more accurate. This is one of the more powerful applications of AuthorRank. In essence, Google identifies authors who can help curate the link graph.”

See also “How to Prepare for Author Rank and Get the Jump on Google.”

Your Law Firm Will Benefit From Google Authorship

LawWebMarketing.com:  “Google Authorship gives you the ability to identify yourself as the writer of Web content, as well as to boost your law firm’s marketing efforts and online presence. . . . One of the many benefits of a Google+ profile is the Google Authorship capability; with Google Authorship, you can claim all the content you create – no matter where it is published. Google Authorship markup works by connecting the pages where your content is published back to your Google+ profile.”

7 Benefits of Google+

The Rainmaker Blog:  “Google+ is one of those social media networks that many attorneys are still not sure what to do with…but with more than 500 million members now making it the fastest growing social media site ever, it’s worth your time and attention.  This infographic explains 7 benefits Google+ provides for business:”

The following video answers the all important question: Facebook or Google+

Fujitsu Announces Its Next Generation ScanSnap iX500 Desktop Scanner

The following is a January 7, 2013, Fujitsu press release:

ScanSnap iX500 Desktop Scanner Incorporates “PC-Less” Scanning to Mobile Device Functionality

Control and Access Documents From the Palm of Your Hand With Your Smartphones and Tablets; Instantly Send Documents to the Cloud for Easy Organizing and Sharing

Fujitsu, the market leader in document imaging scanners, today introduced the newest addition to its award-winning ScanSnap product lineup – the next generation ScanSnap iX500 featuring built-in Wi-Fi connectivity giving customers the ability to scan directly to their Android™ and iOS compatible devices 1. Additionally, the ScanSnap iX500, for PC and Mac users, is enhanced with faster scanning speeds, a new advanced feeding system, an intelligent and customizable Quick Menu, and functionality allowing users to easily scan to cloud-based services such as Evernote, Google Docs™, Dropbox, SugarSync and Salesforce.

Equipped with a revolutionary “GI” image processer 2 inside the scanner, the ScanSnap iX500 is now empowered for today’s ever-increasing on-the-go lifestyle and mobile professional. Now, users can instantly scan and transmit PDF or JPEG files, such as contracts, receipts, bills, invoices and business cards, to their mobile devices without the use of a computer.

Utilizing the free “ScanSnap Connect” app on their mobile device or tablet, ScanSnap users achieve a whole new level of convenience in scanning; literally from the palm of their hand. With a simple push of a button, documents are scanned and saved to their mobile device ready to view, share or send to their favorite cloud service. The “ScanSnap Connect” app can be downloaded in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store and can be used with Android compatible tablets and smartphones running OS 2.23 and both the iPad and iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later.

“There’s a simple reason why ScanSnap is the top selling personal scanner on the market today – it continues to offer the most intelligent, powerful scanning tools to keep up with the growing demands of our customers,” said Scott Francis, senior vice president of marketing, Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Inc. “The ScanSnap iX500’s built-in GI processor allows you to scan and save optimized PDFs to your mobile device without the need for a PC, while its advanced productivity features allow consumers and business professionals to be even more productive and paperless anywhere, anytime. All of this functionality provides customers with the highest performance personal scanning experience combined with extremely easy operation. The iX500 truly pushes the performance bar to a new level.”

Powerful, Intelligent and Fast

The ScanSnap iX500, enhanced with USB 3.0 connectivity, provides the same easy-to-use one-button scanning and advanced imaging technology that customers have come to expect with ScanSnap, while also providing consumers and business professionals additional intuitive productivity features that no other document management company offers. New and innovative features of the ScanSnap iX500 include:

  • Faster Scanning Performance: Utilizing the increased power of its engine and “GI” image processor, the iX500 can create PDF files at speeds of up to 25 double-sided color pages per minute (300dpi, color) — that’s 25 percent faster than its predecessor.
  • Advanced Document Feeding System: Inheriting the superior paper feeding technology driving the higher-end scanners from Fujitsu, the iX500 achieves exceptional feeding reliability using enhanced “Separation Roller” technology to maximize feeding reliability across an even wider range of documents and scanning situations.
  • Customizable Quick Menu: For additional convenience and flexibility, the ScanSnap Quick Menu is fully customizable and automatically appears after scanning providing a quick and easy way to send those scanned documents to several popular “Scan-To” applications. Furthermore, the Quick Menu incorporates new intelligence that anticipates the appropriate application while keeping users in the driver’s seat for easy and faithful disposition of content.
  • “ScanSnap Folder”: Stay in the moment and extend the power of one-button scanning into virtually any Windows application, even in the cloud, with the “ScanSnap Folder” function. This easy but powerful feature essentially replicates ScanSnap as a Windows folder which the user can open from their favorite software and web applications4 allowing them to scan into it without making complicated setting changes in ScanSnap or their application. It’s the ultimate in “Scan there!” versatility.
  • Cloud Services Support: Users can scan documents directly to Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox, SugarSync and Salesforce Chatter from their Mac or PC, giving them even more flexibility to store, share and access their paperwork. Whether it is scanning contracts, bills, invoices, or business cards on the road or using a PC in one place and a Mac in another, consumers have the necessary tools to be even more productive and paperless virtually anywhere.

Additional Productivity Features

The ScanSnap iX500 comes with software for PC and software for Mac so users who use both can optimize their ScanSnap for either platform. In-box software includes: Continue reading Fujitsu Announces Its Next Generation ScanSnap iX500 Desktop Scanner

Content Marketing Tactics that Work for Attorneys

LawMarketing.com:  “The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs just released their second annual study on B2B content marketing trends and found the following tactics most prevalent among B2B marketers:”

B2B-Content-Marketing-Tactics

Blogging & Content Marketing Replacing Traditional Marketing

Real Lawyers Have Blogs:  “Traditional advertising is rapidly losing out as marketing professionals begin to realize the effectiveness and advantages of content marketing. . . . The number of businesses blogging jumped 29% in the last year, going from 51% of businesses to 65% of businesses blogging. Blogging not only helped businesses gain trust, credibility, and authority, but companies that blog receive 55% more web traffic.  Blogs are also increasingly being viewed as effective in marketing with 58% of businesses believing blogs are an effctive marketing vehicle. Belief in Social media effectiveness jumped 61% from 31% in 2011 to 50% in 2012.

LexisNexis Study Finds Lawyer Bios Most Viewed Content on Lawyer Websites

Law Marketing Blog:  “LexisNexis® Legal & Professional ( www.lexisnexis.com ), a leading provider of content and technology solutions, last Thursday announced results from the latest LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® study on how international B2B law firms are using their websites as part of their marketing programs. . . . When asked about the most popular content on their website, lawyer biographies are the most visited pages (85% of respondents), followed by information about practice area/sector expertise (52%) and thought leadership articles, case histories, etc. (50%).”

This article misses the point.  You don’t need a study to know that if a person stumbles on a lawyer’s website he/she is probably looking for a lawyer and so it follows the website visitor will probably check the lawyer’s biography page.  The missed point is that the number one purpose of a law firm web site should be to attract visitors.  The firm’s goal should be to create a website or blog that gets a lot of traffic.  Bio pages do not generate traffic to your website.  People who know you may Google your name and find your bio page, but that is not how people who do not know you are going to find you after doing a Google search.

If you want website traffic you must have good content and a lot of it.  There is no secret to getting traffic to a website.  Traffic is the result of tons of content.  Years ago I noticed that my search engine word tracker said that people searched the phrase “Arizona dog bite” over 900 times in a single month.  Although I did not litigate or do dog bite cases I wrote an article on Arizona’s dog bite law solely because I wanted to increase the traffic to my site.  It worked.  The image below shows a Google search result I did today for the phrase “arizona dog bite law.”

When I first started my website twelve years ago I used to write articles just to increase the traffic to my site.  It worked.  Another important fact of search engine optimization life is that sites that have a lot of traffic will have higher search engine rankings.  Now I only write articles with the primary purpose to inform people about an area of law that I practice.  It works.  My Arizona LLC Law website had 9,911 visitors the month of September 2012.  The bottom  line is more traffic means more new clients.

Legal Guru Describes Money Problems of Big Law

Lee Pacchia of Bloomberg Law interviews Bruce Macewen law firm consultant and publisher at Adam Smith Esquire about the condition and future of big law.  He titles the interview “Suicide Pricing.”

Lawyers Guide to Twitter Language and Acronyms

Kevin O’Keefe of  Real Lawyers Have Blogs wrote a great article on Twitter lingo for lawyers.  It is very informative.  He starts “One of the most difficult parts of using twitter is condensing your thoughts into 140-chracters or less. Although often complained about, the 140-character limit is Twitter’s core feature and differentiates it from other social networking sites.  On top of the character limit, Twitter has a language of it’s own. The abbreviations and lingo are helpful in fitting your thoughts into one simple and powerful tweet, but can be confusing to beginners.”

Google+ Pages for Law Firms

Google+ is an important marketing tool for lawyers and law firms.  We are just at the beginning of this relatively new Google feature.  Google+ has the potential to pay off big time, but there is a steep learning curve. To learn more about it I recommend an excellent article by Gyi Tsakalakis called “Google+ Pages for Law Firms.”  There are a lot of good links in the article to other important sources of information about Google+.

10 Infusionsoft Commandments for Maximum Effectiveness

An Infusionsoft consultant wrote an excellent article that starts “A client recently asked about my personal best practices for Infusionsoft. So I’ve decided to organize them into what I’m calling my ‘10 Infusionsoft Commandments.’ I’m pretty sure this list isn’t exhaustive but will provide you with a nice little perspective on how I approach marketing automation with the app.”  His commandments are:

  1. Thou Shalt Collect As Much Data As Possible
  2. Thou Shalt Track Every Click
  3. Thou Shalt Use Conditions For Most E-mails
  4. Thou Shalt Incorporate Other Marketing Channels
  5. Thou Shalt Limit Number of Front End Follow Up Sequences
  6. Thou Shalt Never Let Technology Limit Goals
  7. Thou Shalt Never Waste A Campaign Step
  8. Thou Shalt Not Be Scared Of The Word No
  9. Thou Shalt Never Fear E-mailing The Right Person Too Much
  10. Thou Shalt Ascend Customers

Read the article to learn about the details of each commandment.

Abolish the Law Reviews!

This week I have been talking to my summer law clerk about her recent selection to be a staff member of the Arizona State University Law Journal.  She is a very bright young lady who just finished her first year of law school at ASU.  Her selection reminded me of my experience as a staff member and the associate managing editor of the Pacific Law Journal at my law school, the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific.

Before my law review experience I hated writing.  It was very difficult for me to write my article, but the article was selected for publication in the law journal.  My year as the associate managing editor taught me about writing and to overcome my fear and reluctance to write.  The managing editor and I were responsible for reading and editing every word of the two hard copy editions of the journal that were published during my tenure.

Law review is a nice feather in the cap of young law school grads seeking jobs early in their career, but the experience itself has intangible benefits.

An article in Forbes called “Abolish the Law Reviews!Abolish the Law Reviews!” contains the following true statement about law reviews:

“Whereas most periodicals are published primarily in order that they may be read, the law reviews are published primarily in order that they may be written.”

The article makes a point with which I agree.  The print version of law reviews should be abolished.  The Harvard Law Review had 1,896 subscibers in 2010-11.  I suspect that most law reviews have a lot fewer subscribers.  Law reviews should be online only.

Rel=author Not for the Faint of Heart

I’ve spent six plus hours trying to get a handle on how to configure my websites and my Google profile so that my picture will appear next to Google search results that show a link to a web page that contains content I wrote.  Everybody in the know says that having your photo appear next to your Google search results increases the number of clicks to your web site or blog.  That’s my goal, but to say the process is confusing and complex is an understatement.

I think that my efforts today will ultimately give me the desired result, i.e, my picture next to Google search results when one one my pages or posts comes up.  I think I am good to go because when I run tests using Googles’ rich shippets tester I do not get any error messages.  However, based on what I have researched it can take some time, even months, before the author’s photo appears in the search results.  I’ll update this post when I see my picture in a search result, assuming it ever happens.

For those of you who want your picture to appear with search results, I recommend you read an excellent how to article called “Rel=Author Step By Step Tutorial For WordPress” and watch the author’s demo video.

Cyberattacks on Law Firms-a Growing Threat

Martindale-Hubbell:  “In what has become an all too familiar refrain, a major New York law firm was recently informed by the FBI that all of the firm’s client files had been discovered on a server in a foreign country. Those files were then sent from that foreign server to China. . . . How do law firms come into the picture? The Chinese are just as likely, if not more likely, to steal the data they want from the foreign company’s attorneys and consultants as from the company itself.  In fact, it is widely known that attorneys’ files are not well-protected from cyberattacks, and it is usually much easier for the Chinese to hack into the law firms’ files to steal the client data than it is to hack into the company’s files directly.”

Data Backup Best Practices

I’d like to point out the need to set up a protocol to check what’s on the backups since there are common errors.  Obviously, you should have backups both on-site, for fast local restore, and backups off-site, for ‘geo-redundant’ safety.  Sometime the data files you need to backup are not really where you think they are.

1.1 SQL databases aren’t being properly backed-up – sometimes there is no .bak file available.  If you just copy files when backing up, the file may not be there to backup.  A SQL script is necessary to write the secure data inside the SQL database to an external .bak file.

1.2 The SQL backup (.bak files) are stored on the same disk drive as the SQL database. When the drive fails you also loose the backup.

2. Archived data is taken off of the cloud.  For example, even though email may be hosted ‘ in the cloud’ it may have substantial archived data located only on the local user PC.  Last week we know where a firm had five PC’s stolen including a user whose PC had 9GB of email and attachments archived i.e. only stored on her local PC.
Fortunately the PC was imaged and the data was recovered, but most firms don’t image their PC’s.

Maybe the formula for backup is best expressed as:  DD + I = S@N   (Where DD is  Due Diligence, I is + Insurance = S@N is Sleep at Night)

Here are some best practice suggestions for your backups:

Designate one person to check for the presence of a reasonable quantity of files, monitor total GB being backed up, look for the critical .bak for SQL databases and keep several recent backups plus monthly and yearly backups in case to go back to a prior point in time.  If possible, have your backup protocol include the forwarding of a daily email status report to a designated individual(s).

For additional peace of mind ‘image’ PC’s and the file server(s).  Software to do this includes use of of Microsoft’s VSS (volume shadow service), or Apple’s Time Machine.    I know the Windows image approach only stores the same file one time, even if it is on ten PC’s, so it is very efficient.  An advantage of imaging is if for example a hard drive failed the image can be used to restore data and it will actually re-install all of your programs too.  That can save a ton of time. (Note: Imaging should not be used as a replacement of on and off site backups.)

Some practice management programs let you create a clone file or an automatically synchronized second database that replicates all of your critical calendar, contacts, matters, and related records including email, notes, documents, phone and billing records and related files (such as .pdf, .xls and .anx).

Check your insurance to see how much coverage you have for the next time you have an event –  fire, flood, theft, malware, malcontent, solar flare etc.

When it comes to backups you really do need a plan a, plan b and maybe a plan c.  Hopefully these suggestions will help you identify what the right backup protocol should be for your office.

Tom Caffrey
Premier Software
www.premiersoftware.com

Lawyers Who Talk about Client’s Confidential Information on the Phone Won’t Use Automated Cloud Backup Services Because Fear of Hackers

Yesterday I saw the following on a lawyer list serve:

“I’m still concerned about the security of the information.  Anything involving software can be hacked. Although I freely admit to a tech deficient mind, still I have not seen any info which demonstrates that cloud computing is less risky than not using cloud computing.”

I responded to this message with this text:

“Which is easer to hack:

 1.  The hard copies of your documents in your office that a burglar could steal by breaking into your office or that might be destroyed if your building burns down, or
2.  The encrypted files on Amazon’s servers where our Jungle Disk auto-cloud system backs up our data every night without any human involvement?

P.S. If you use the highest level of Jungle Disk’s encryption it can’t be hacked and if you lose your key you’ll lose everything.”

A retired USAF guy answered me with:

After flying fighters and doing intel stuff, I served as the first squadron commander of a combined space test and aggressor squadron in the USAF. Space work has a lot of crossover with information security…hacking. I can promise you that anyone that thinks a piece of software is unhackable has spent little time with very bright millennials who may or may not have training with the “big boys” (the military or NSA) and who can crack almost anything…and if that individual cannot do it, they know someone who can.

We are deluding ourselves to think that our security is unhackable, anymore than a door is unbreakable. We have to simply trust that for the most part, we’re all too small for anyone to care about what is on our server, so the hacker doesn’t target us.”

The guy’s response kind of rubbed me the wrong way so I responded:

“YGBSM.  Typical wing puke who can’t see the forest from the trees.  I flew the F-4 Phantom in combat in Southeast Asia and taught very bright USAF pilots to fly the Phantom at an F-4 RTU for three years.

I don’t know computer security, but I do know that anybody who is afraid of state of the art cloud back ups or storage but uses the extremely low tech and highly vulnerable telephone to talk about client stuff while their office can burn to the ground (server destroyed) or be broken into (server stolen and then hacked) does not appreciate which threats have the greatest risk of occurring.  I personally know attorneys whose offices were destroyed and they didn’t have copies of their client files stored off site.  Oops!  When that happens all client info is lost.  I don’t know any lawyer whose encrypted data was hacked, nor have I read about it happening.  If you know about a lawyer or law firm whose encrypted data was hacked please tell us about it.  There are reasons hackers want to attack top secret U.S. and military databases and systems, but those reasons don’t apply to you and me and our data.  Bright millennials are not going to waste their time on either of us or any lawyer on this list serve.

The issue in not whether encrypted data can be hacked (the trees), but which threats have the higher risk of actually occurring (the forest) and which threats have a sufficiently high risk of occurring that justify using your resources to protect against?  When I was flying combat missions over Route Pack 6 in North Vietnam in 1972 I got a lot of threat information from the RHAW (radar homing and warning) gear, the mod 1 eyeballs and the radio.  Red Crown broadcast the location of all MiGs airborne over North Vietnam and warned flights when a MiG got close.  I had to analyze the threats and determine which threats, if any, were the highest threats and take action accordingly.  For example, when the azimuth/section light (fondly called the “ah shit” light) illuminated, the launch light flashed on and off and I got a loud missile launch tone in my headset I knew my biggest threat that required immediate attention was the 32 foot long supersonic flying telephone pole that was tracking my airplane.

I agree that a thief may exist who is a very bright millennial who could hack into my encrypted cloud-based data, but I have a better chance of wining a Powerball jackpot than that happening.  I’m much more likely to lose everything in a fire, natural disaster or a hard drive crash.  The latter is the biggest threat all lawyers and law firms face.

You said “We are deluding ourselves to think that our security is unhackable.”  When I said my encrypted cloud backup system couldn’t be hacked I meant it could not be hacked in the real world you and I live in.  Nobody is going to use the resources necessary to hack into data that you or I encrypt.  It is delusional, however, to fail to create an automated data back system that stores your data off site and that makes automatic daily backups because the biggest cyber threat that every lawyer must protect against is the crash of a hard drive that causes data to be lost because of no backup or old and cold back ups. Yes I know of lawyers who lost data because they didn’t properly backup or didn’t back up off site at all.  I met yesterday with an Intel engineer who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering who told me he was backing up all of his home computer data “every once in a while” to an external hard drive that just crashed and caused him to lose 350 gigs of data.

P.S.  I’ve been 100% paperless since 2004 – 150,000 plus documents on my server that I can access from anywhere in the world using my browser and an internet connection.  Yes a hacker dude could bust into my system, then again I could be killed by a shark that falls out of the sky and lands on me.”

What  do you think?  Leave a comment.

Lawline Offers 1,000+ Hours of Free Continuing Legal Education

“The value of legal education is higher than ever, unfortunately so is the price.  But with the relaunch of its website, Lawline.com has set out on a mission to provide legal education to all those eager to learn, for free. With over 1,000 hours of content available, Lawline has recently enabled users to have free access to its entire course library.  What started as free mobile-phone access and the original free content website Learn.Lawline.com, has evolved into a completely new education tool for attorneys, professionals and avid learners everywhere.

While those who seek CLE and CPE credits must pay for the certification, every course can be viewed, with full access to written materials, course notes and discussions, without purchase.  Viewers are given the easy option to view for free or purchase for credit.

One of the most beneficial tools of Lawline.com’s new website launch includes a completely revamped course center, allowing attorneys and other users to make the most of their easy learning experience.  CEO David Schnurman emphasizes the best aspect of the course catalog, “SmartNotes” as a crucial tool in Lawline’s educational reach.  “SmartNotes” enables the user to enter and record notes at any point during the course.  The notes are archived and can be later accessed bringing the viewer to the same point in the course at which the note was taken.

Schnurman’s overall goal is to cater to the “lifelong learner.”  By opening access to Lawline’s courses and even making it a point to continuously add non-CE courses, he has begun to do just that.

For more information please visit www.lawline.com or Robert Ambrogi’s recent blog article “Lawline Opens its Full CLE Catalog to Free Access.”

This article was written by Stephanie Paeprer.  Contact her at stephanie.paeprer@lawline.com

How to Use the New Facebook WordPress Plugin: A Complete Guide

Facebook recently created a WordPress plugin that  allows your WordPress website or blog to interface smoothly with Facebook.  I recently installed this free plug in and it looks great.  I had been using a third party plugin to send content from my websites to my Facebook business page, but for some reason Facebook terminated that plugin’s interface with Facebook, which caused all content put on my Facebook page by that plugin to disappear.  The experience soured my on using a third party WordPress plugin for Facebook.

Now problem solved with the new Facebook WordPress plugin.  It looks great and I can’t wait to get it up and running after reading “How to Use the New Facebook WordPress Plugin: A Complete Guide.”  The article begins with:

Facebook has released a highly comprehensive plugin for WordPress. With the new plugin, you can perform sophisticated auto-publishing to your Timeline and add many Facebook features to your blog. This makes advanced Facebook social sharing features accessible to everyone. This detailed article tells you how to install and use this powerful plugin.

iLawyer: What Happens When Computers Replace Attorneys?

The article linked to below discusses a topic I have been preaching for years.  I tell all my lawyer friends, especially young lawyers, that technology has changed and will continue to change the practice of law and you must embrace it and use it to your advantage or your revenue will decrease.  What do you think?

The Atlantic: “After decades of killing low-end jobs in retail, software is finally doing the people’s bidding by creating a world with fewer lawyers.   In the end, after you’ve stripped away their six-figure degrees, their state bar memberships, and their proclivity for capitalizing Odd Words, lawyers are just another breed of knowledge worker. They’re paid to research, analyze, write, and argue — not unlike an academic, a journalist, or an accountant. So when software comes along that’s smarter or more efficient at those tasks than a human with a JD, it spells trouble.   That’s one of the issues the Wall Street Journal raised yesterday in an article on the ways computer algorithms are slowly replacing human eyes when it comes to handling certain pieces of large, high-stakes litigation.”

The Ultimate Guide to the New Google Analytics Social Reports

Kissmetrics:  “Social media brings us free traffic, scales well, and requires zero up-front investment. There’s just one problem: tracking social media would make a coal miner weep.  I’ve got good news. Tracking social media just got a LOT easier. Recently, Google Analytics received a whole new batch of social reports that break down your social traffic so you know whether or not your social media marketing is working.  I’m going to walk you through each new report so you know how to use these puppies. By the end of this post, you’ll be completely comfortable using the new Google Analytics social reports.”

Google+ Is No Longer Optional For Law Firm Marketing

Law Web Marketing:  “Google has once again changed the rules for law firm marketers. What does that mean for your Web strategy? Google+ and Google profiles are a must for collecting positive reviews that show up in Google’s local listings.  In the latest change from the online search engine giant, Google accounts and reviews from clients are now firmly linked. Anyone who wants to leave a review for your law firm must have a Google+ account.”

How to Promote Your Blog With Social Media

Marc Pittman on Social  Media Examiner:  “Are you looking to use social media to promote your blog?  Sharing your blog posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and even Tumblr can help your content gain significant exposure.  But each social media platform is distinct with different benefits and abilities. You need a simple process to tailor your social sharing to generate as much engagement as you can on each of these platforms.  Here’s a process you can use to ensure your posts get maximum mileage. Consider these steps and adapt them to the social platforms where you find your customers.”

Marc’s article explains how to take advantage of:

  1. Tumblr
  2. Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn
  3. Google +

How to Get Prospective Clients to See You as the ONLY Attorney to Choose

The Attorney Marketing Center has a good article on follow up marketing plan for prospective clients.  The article is important for the following reasons:

  • Attorneys must market.
  • It has good follow up marketing ideas.
  • If you execute the plan you will get more new clients.

Are You Struggling To Get More Business From Your Website?

Legal Marketing Mavens:  “Are you driving regular traffic but it feels like no one is taking the next step to pick up the phone and call? . . . A great way to neutralize the overwhelm and capture a prospect’s information anyway–even if they aren’t quite ready to call–is to implement a strategy of lead generation.  Effective lead generation is the process of offering something of value to the prospect in exchange for their contact information.”

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