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.”
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.
“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.
This article was written by Stephanie Paeprer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
There a tons of scanners on the market so the choice of a scanner for your law office can be daunting. You can spend a lot of time researching scanners and then take a chance on one or you can follow my advice and purchase the scanner used in my law office that does a great job for a relatively small amount of $$. I have been scanning documents since 2001 and have been 100% paperless since March of 2004. For more on the paperless law office read my article called “A Simple Inexpensive Way to Create a Paperless Law Office.”
I bought the first scanner for my law firm in 2001. It was a multi-function Hewlett Packard Laserjet 3300 printer/copier/faxer/scanner. The machine was great at three of its four functions, but as a useful law office scanner the HP 3300 sucked big time. The problem with the the HP 3300 was it only scanned at two pages a minute. That may be ok for home use, but it just doesn’t cut it for use in a busy law practice that does a lot of scanning. Attorneys typically create and receive a lot of paper so they need a fast scanner, i.e., at least 20 pages per minute (ppm).
In 2004 when I went paperless I researched the scanner market and purchased two Xerox 252 scanners for approximately $700 each. We still use both of these scanners. I do recommend this family of scanners (see the Xerox DocuMate 262i Color Duplex 38 PPM 76 IPM ADF Scanner for $715), because they are fast (38 ppm) and do a great job, but so is my favorite scanner, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for PC. The ScanSnap iX500 is only $415 (Amazon varies the price – it was $301 for two days in May) and it comes with Adobe Acrobat XI standard (a software program almost everybody in a law firm should have on their personal computer or on a server).
I recommend that all lawyers (except those that are tech-retarded), legal assistants and secretaries in a law office have a personal scanner on their desk. The best way to be paperless is for the people who know a particular document best to take a minute or two to scan the document then save it in the law firm’s document system. Do not create inefficiencies, bottlenecks and added expense by letting people send their documents to a designated scanner who scans docs for a large number of people. The best time to scan and save the pdf file is when you get the letter or the document. You know best where the document should be saved and how to name it. Once saved the document is now on your system to be accessed and viewed by others in your firm (unless you attach security to the document using your document management system). If your firm does not have a document management system it should.
My Law Office Scanner Recommendation: the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
I recommend that attorneys and law firms buy the $415 – $450 Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac. I have several ScanSnaps. Here are the reasons your law firm needs this scanner:
- Fast scans: 25 ppm in color and faster for black and white.
- 50 page sheet feeder
- Small: It is about the size of a shoe box.
- It comes with Acrobat XI Standard]. This is a $279 (as of 1/19/14) stand-alone software program.
- Scan to: PDF, searchable PDF, JPG, Word (editable), Excel (editable). It also scans business cards and zaps the data into an organizer.
- Automatic duplex scanning
- Easy to use. Drop the document in the scanner and press the scan button and your five page document will appear on your computer monitor in Adobe pdf format in about 15 seconds. You can then save the document, attach it to an email message or print more copies of the document. No need for a stand-alone copy machine any more because everybody that has a scanner can scan and print as many copies of the scanned document as needed.
Buying the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac (PA03656-B005) scanner is a no-brainer because you get such a smoking deal – Acrobat XI for approximately $279 plus the ScanSnap iX500 for a little bit more. When you buy this scanner from Amazon you are literally paying only $100 = $160 for it.
Acrobat XI Standard is a necessity for the scanning because it is the program that converts the scanned document to pdf format, the universal document file type.
From time to time I read on email message forums that lawyers do not want to buy the ScanSnap iX500 because it is not “twain” compliant. I have no idea what that means, but I can tell you that in the eight years my law office has been 100% paperless we have never needed a twain compliant scanner. To learn more about twain and why the ScanSnap iX500 is not twain compliant and does not need to be read “Why Doesn’t ScanSnap come with TWAIN drivers?“
Does your law firm have a stand alone fax machine that sends faxes the old fashioned way? I mean does your law office print the document to be faxed, insert it into a fax machine and push the send button and watch while the machine scans each page and then uses its modem to send the fax to the recipient? Do your incoming faxes come into your fax machine over the phone line and does your old fax machine then print a hard copy of the fax?
If so, your law firm needs to move into the 21 century and use the not so new fangled technology to send and receive faxes. My law office has used efax.com to send and receive faxes since 2004. It’s great. To send a fax I do the following:
- Convert the item to be faxed to an Adobe pdf file. If the document is a Word document, I click on the Acrobat tab on the menu bar at the top of Word then I click on the “Create PDF” tab and tell the program where I want to save the pdf file. If the document is a hard copy document I put it in the sheet feeder of my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner and press the scan button. A few seconds later the document opens in pdf format on my computer screen and I save the file on my computer.
- Click on the eFax icon on my desktop to send an email to eFax. This opens the free eFax software. I enter the name of the recipient, company name (if desired) and the fax number. If I previously sent a fax to the recipient that information is saved and easily zapped into the proper fields for my fax. I can check a box to create a fax cover sheet that contains my recipient information and add more information if desired.
- Attach the pdf file to the fax. I click the attach icon and browse to the pdf file I saved and attach it to the eFax email.
- Click on the send icon. The email and attachment are send to eFax and it then converts the pdf and immediately faxes it to the recipient.
One very nice feature is eFax maintains a record (including the content of the fax) of every fax my firm has sent since we purchased the service.
What I like best about eFax is that all incoming faxes are converted to Adobe pdf and sent to us as an attachment to an email message. I can add up to five people in the firm to receive the same fax. Both of my legal assistants get every fax I get and they handle most of the faxes. Any email can easily be forwarded to another person in our firm or anybody outside the firm. When we get a fax that we want to keep we click on the Time Matters save icon in Acrobat and save the pdf file to the client or matter in our Time Matters document management system. For more on our document management system see my article called “A Simple Inexpensive Way to Create a Paperless Law Office.”
Every attorney in our firm has his or her own dedicated eFax phone number. This allows each attorney to have a fax number that causes faxes to that number to go only to the attorney associated with the number and up to four additional recipients in the firm. eFax also retains every incoming fax in case you need it.
Here’s the cost of an eFax Plus account as of the date of this post:
||Choose a local or toll-free number|
||150 Included inbound fax pages per month|
||150 Included outbound fax pages per month*|
||$.10 per page overage charge|
||$10.00 one-time setup fee|
Monthly Plan: $16.95/mo
Do yourself and your staff a big favor and switch to the new way of sending and receiving faxes.
What do you think? Do you use a different digital fax service? Tell us about it.
Hewlett Packard Laserjet Printers
Ever since 1985 when I bought my first Hewlett Packard laser printer I have only purchased and used laser printers in my law practice. I am biased towards Hewlett Packard laser printers because in my experience they are fast, produce high quality text and never need maintenance and produce high quality text output. I’ve probably owned about 20 of them over the years and can only remember calling a repair person one time to fix an ailing HP Laserjet.
The first HP Laserjet printer hit the market in 1984. It was a 300-dpi, 8 ppm printer that originally sold for $3,495, but the price was reduced to $2,995 in September 1985. I bought the original HP Laserjet printer in 1985 for $3,000. Can you imagine paying that kind of money today for an 8 ppm printer? The printer replaced an impact printer that I was using to print documents and letters sent to clients. Laser printers produce the best quality text. I would never print documents on an inkjet printer and send them to clients or anybody else. HP has sold over 100 million Laserjet printers.
In 2001 I bought two HP Laserjet 3300 printers. These were great four in one printers that included a fax machine, scanner and copier. The machine had a 50 page sheet feeder. It also had a top that could be lifted to copy over-sized paper or open books. I still have one of them that we use in the office solely as a copy machine.
HP 2055DN Laserjet
Now I give everybody in my firm a personal HP 2055dn Laserjet printer. The printer is relatively small and fits easily on a desk or small table. It only prints in black, but at the high rate of 35 ppm. The HP 2055dn Laserjet also does automatic duplex (both sides of the paper) printing. As of the date of this post Amazon is selling the printer for $349. If you don’t want duplexing then get the HP P2055D Laserjet for $249. Amazon sells the HP 05A black toner cartridge for these two printers for $72 today. The average cartridge yields 2,300 standard pages.
I believe that everybody in the office who produces paper should have a personal printer to increase their productivity and make them more efficient. These HP 2055 printers are relatively small and inexpensive. They are also fast even when printing on both sides of the paper. They print high quality text. Do your staff a favor and buy enough of these printers so they do not have to share with other people. The HP Laser printers are also very reliable.
Xerox Phaser 6360 Color Laser Printer
My firm also has one high speed laser that we use when we have big print jobs. I form 40 – 50 Arizona limited liability companies every month. We prepare about 350 pages of text for each one. For big print jobs we use the Xerox Phaser 6360 color laser printer because it is very fast – 42 ppm including duplex printing. We print our longer documents on both sides of the paper to save paper and reduce the size / number of pages we put in the LLC portfolio. I do love this printer, but it has two issues you need to know about:
- Black toner cartridges are reasonably priced, but the three color cartridges are pricey. We do print a lot of documents with a little color (not very much actually) to give the page a better look so the cartridges do last a long time.
- You must purchase an annual maintenance plan (approximately $400/year) after the original manufacturer’s warranty expires. I’ve had two of these machines the last five years. The first one broke and we didn’t have a maintenance contract so it was cheaper to buy a new one. Our current Phaser 6360 has needed the maintenance guy three times in two years. If you don’t have a maintenance plan it will probably be cheaper to buy a new machine that fix the broken one. Xerox techs are very expensive when you pay them by the hour.
Did you ever want to send somebody a link to a web page, but the URL for the page was very very long? There is a simple way to convert a long URL into a tiny URL. Just copy the URL, go to http://tinyurl.com, paste the long URL into the box, click the make tiny url icon and copy the URL generated by Tiny URL.
I could copy and paste the below URL into a Word document or an email, but why not convert it into a tiny url.
Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/7xjczdy
Go to http://tinyurl.com and bookmark it so you can easily convert long URLs in a matter of seconds.
Another site that does the same thing as TinyURL is Bitly found at http://bitly.com/.
More and more people are using QR codes. An example of a QR code is made in one minute is below. A QR code is a digital method of conveying information contained in the design of the QR code. It is a great way to quickly deliver key information to another person or his or her phone or electronic device.
Let’s say we just met at a conference and I want to give you the following contact information:
I could convey the above information using the old fashion method and slowly tell you my contact information while you type it into your mobile phone, but why not use a quicker and 100% accurate method, i.e., the QR code method? Instead of using the old way of conveying information I could just “give” you my QR code that contains my contact info. I would display the QR code shown below on my iPhone and you could scan the QR code using your QR code app on your mobile phone. My QR code application is RedLaser, a free iPhone app that scans bar codes and QR codes.
I made the QR code you see above in one minute for free at Kaywa QR Code.Kaywa allows you to quickly and easily create QR codes that are URLs, text, phone number or SMS text. You can also adjust the size of your finished code.
Although I recently read that the traditional business card is being used less and less I plan to get all of the attorneys in our firm to have a personalized QR code on the back of their business cards and also saved in their mobile phones.
Are you in a 20th century or a 21st century law firm? Lawyers produce, review and store massive amounts of paper. If your law firm is not truly paperless its powers that be should be ashamed of themselves. It’s time to move your law firm into the 21st century and use technology to not only save your firm money by doing away with the cost of filing and storing paper, but also allow all law firm personnel to access client and internal firm documents in a matter of seconds. This article describes exactly how my small law firm became a paperless law firm.
My small law firm has been 100% paperless since March 2004. Here are some important facts about our paperless law office:
- We have 190,000+ documents in our paperless system.
- Our lawyers and staff are able to find any client document in 5 – 10 seconds and have the document displayed on a computer monitor.
- All of our documents are viewable over the internet from any where in the world.
- Each attorney can apply security (or not) to restrict access to a document to authorized firm personnel.
In 2004 I practiced law alone with no support staff other than my wife who was also my paralegal, secretary, bookkeeper and file clerk. We went 100% paperless in March of 2004. We do not keep hard copies of any documents.
I have a very high volume, document intensive practice. When I first wrote this article on October 29, 2005, my wife and I had saved 970 documents (46 documents a day excluding weekend days) in the previous month. Most documents we save are documents we create, but we also scan and save a lot of incoming correspondence and other documents. I can easily determine how many documents we save a month by looking at the document number (in my document management system) of the first document we create in any month and the comparing that number to the number of the latest document we create in a month.
For a solo or small firm, it is very easy and relatively inexpensive to create a paperless law office. I am extremely happy I made the switch. I can find any letter, document, notes of a meeting, Excel spreadsheet, .pdf document, Power Point Presentation or piece of paper that relates to a client, matter or contact in a few seconds and have it displayed on my computer monitor. It’s a wonderful thing. All of our six attorneys and our legal assistants and secretaries love our paperless system because it is much easier and less time consuming than filing hard copies in a file in a file cabinet.
My small law firm now has four attorneys and four legal assistants. We continue to create a lot of paper documents – over 1,500 a month.
Why Paperless if Good
There are several reasons why a paperless office is the way to go:
- It saves the time and expense of having people file documents in traditional hard copy files.
- It saves the expense and headaches of file storage.
- It saves the expense and time delay of getting documents from closed storage.
- It’s green and doesn’t adversely affect the environment.
- If your building is destroyed or your office vandalized, your documents are safe and not affected (assuming you have a proper backup system).
- With a good document management system attorneys can attach security to every document so that only authorized people can access the document.
- It allows firm lawyers and personnel to have almost instant access to documents.
My favorite reason for being paperless is the last item. If somebody calls and asks me a question about a document in our system, I can find and open a signed copy of the document in pdf format in a matter of seconds. People who do not know we are paperless are frequently shocked that I can access their document so quickly.
Hardware & Software Needed to Go Paperless
Here’s how we went paperless:
1. In 2004 I bought two Xerox Documate 252 scanners (one for me and one for my wife, my legal assistant) for about $900 each. It’s about the size of a shoe box and sits next to our flat panel computer monitors. It has a very small footprint. Now every attorney and legal assistant has a personal scanner on his or her desk. Personal scanners on people’s desks are absolutely necessary if you truly want to be 100% paperless. You must make it simple and convenient for everybody in the firm to scan documents and input the documents into your document management system (another must have item of law office technology).
Scanner Advice: The scanner I now buy and recommend you buy is the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac. Amazon sells this scanner for $400 – $450 (Amazon varies the price). This is a smoking deal – you get a 25 page per minute color personal scanner that comes with Adobe Acrobat X standard software. Acrobat is needed so that scans open automatically as pdf files. We love this scanner. It’s the size of a shoe box. It has a 50 page sheet feeder and can scan business cards and color photos. For more about this scanner real my article called “The Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 – A Great Law Office Scanner.”
The scanners you see in computer stores like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot are slow home use type scanners. When you shop for an office scanner, you want speed (at least 20 pages per minute) and a sheet feeder that takes at least 25 pages. If the scanner on sale doesn’t prominently display its pages per minute scanning speed, it means the scanner is much too slow (a few pages per minute) to use for anything other than infrequent home scanning. Years ago I bought three HP 3380 4 in 1 printer, scanner, fax and copiers for $700 each. They print, fax and copy great, but the fastest I could ever get the HP 3380 to scan was 2 pages per minute in black and white at 300 dpi. Very fast high volume scanners are several thousand dollars and up, but most small offices don’t need that kind of speed (50+ pages per minute). Manufacturers of medium and high speed scanners display the scanner speed because that is one of the main features buyer’s seek.
2. All lawyers and staff have Acrobat XI Standard Win [Download]. I have the Acrobat Professional XI Windows [Download] version (approximately $400) and everybody else has the standard version (approximately $299). This is one software item that every lawyer who wants to be paperless needs. We actually have a multiuser version of Acrobat 9 standard on our server. I use Acrobat Professional XI Windows [Download] to create pdf fillable forms. It’s great. For an example of an online engagement agreement that is typical of those I use to create for my law firm see my Arizona LLC Formation Agreement. Prospective clients can save the document on their computer, fill out the form, save it then email it to us. We make pdf fillable client engagement agreements and data intake forms and other forms for internal office use only. Update: We have replaced many of our pdf engagement agreements with a WordPress plugin called Gravity Forms. I love Gravity Forms. My LLC Formation Questionnaire is a Gravity Forms smart form.
3. Our computers are on a network. All data files are saved on the server. Our system makes daily backups to the cloud. We use Mozy Pro and Jungle Disk for automatic backs over the internet to a secure web storage site.
4. We use Time Matters for many things, including document management. I’ve used Time Matters since 1998. It is an incredible program without which our productivity would be drastically reduced along with a corresponding reduction in income. I bought my first document management program (PC Docs – later Docs Open) in 1992 for $350 a user. I believe that EVERY (w/o exception) practicing lawyer who has a lot of documents should use a document management system. Having a document management system is one reason I can find any document I seek in a few seconds.
That’s all the hardware and software we used to make our 100% paperless office.
Paperless Office Procedures
Here’s how we actually do the paperless thing:
1. When we receive a hard copy of a document or if we create a document such as a letter or contract, we either scan it with a scanner (if it’s in hard copy format) or “print” to Adobe .pdf (if it’s in Word format) to create a pdf version of the document in a few seconds. Having a personal scanner at our desks is critical for a successful paperless system. You want the user/office personnel to be able to scan the document contemporaneously with creating or handling it. The user is best able to determine the appropriate information for the document to input in the document profile. You must indoctrinate your staff to do contemporaneous scanning and saving to get maximum efficiency, staff productivity and attorney ability to access scanned documents in the system.
2. To scan a hard copy of a document, we insert the document (up to 50 pages for the sheet feeder, but I usually limit it to around 25 pages to reduce the chance of a paper jam) into the sheet feeder of the Xerox 262. If the document is letter size, we press the simplex or the duplex button on the scanner and the scanner then scans the document at about 25 pages per minute. If the document is legal size, I press another button to change to scan format #2, which is legal size paper. I then press simplex or duplex button to start the scan. We scan at a resolution of 300 dpi (preconfigured in the Xerox 262), which produces a good quality printed version of the document.
3. In a few seconds or maybe a minute if the document is 25 pages, the document automatically appears on the screen in Adobe .pdf format, even if Adobe was not previously loaded.
4. We click on the TM save icon in Adobe Acrobat, which causes the TM document profile screen to appear on the screen. To add a document to the TM document management system, the document must be saved using TM’s document profile.
5. In 10 – 15 seconds we enter the following information into the TM profile: document code (PN for promissory note, OA for Operating Agreement, etc.), the name of the document and the client, matter or contact. By pressing F2 in the appropriate field or by typing the client, matter or contact info, TM will find the desired client, matter or contact. TM automatically inserts the initials of the person creating the document, the date and time of creation, the next document number, and most importantly, the document file name and file location on the network. We’ve configured TM to use its automatic naming feature and to automatically create a file name equal to the document name and save it in a folder under the client, matter or contact name. TM’s file naming and file saving location configuration feature is very robust and gives the user many options and a lot of flexibility. If needed, TM will automatically create the folder where it saves the file.
Step 5 is the last of the steps needed to free your office from paper. I did two test scans, one with a 35 page document and the other with a five page document. One minute and 45 seconds from pushing the scan button, I had scanned the 35 page document, converted it to Adobe .pdf format, created a document profile in TM and saved the profile and pdf file. The same process from start to finish for the five page document was 40 seconds.
Ask yourself how long would it take your secretary or file clerk to file a hard copy of a document. The filer must find and obtain the hard file, punch holes in the document, physically tack down and file the document in the file, then return the file to the appropriate location. Not only does hard copy filing take a lot longer than paperless filing, but it might take days or weeks before the document actually is filed in the client or matter file.
The old fashioned method of filing hard copies is inefficient, costly in terms of staff time to file, a waste of expensive office space for row after row of file cabinets, a waste of time for lawyers and staff to find and deliver files to personnel, and expensive to store long term.
As for setting up the hardware and software and training staff to scan and save into TM, any good TM consultant should be able to configure a scanner and TM’s document management system and teach users how to do operate the paperless system in a very short period of time. I taught my wife how to scan and save in TM in a 20 or 30 minute session. It really is just as easy as I made steps 1 – 5 above seem.
Practical Note: If you convert to a paperless or semi paperless office, don’t waste the time, money or energy to scan and index existing documents and files except those that are actually being serviced at the time and inactive files that you think you will need in digital format in the near future. Start fresh and scan going forward. Most of your old files will rarely if ever be accessed so it does not make sense to convert the inactive files to digital files unless it is for the purpose of eliminating file and storage space.
Below is a chronological list of my major law office technology accomplishments since I bought my first computer in 1983. Since 1980, I have practiced law full time while conducting a never-ending search for software and hardware that will make me more productive, more efficient and more money. The search has been fun, extremely successful and very profitable. I recommend that you invest more time in technology and you too can reap the rewards.
Why I Wrote this Tech Biography
The reason I am publishing my law office tech background is so that people who read my articles on law office technology can see that I have knowledge, experience and a practical basis on which to base my pontifications. Too many law office technology gurus blow mostly hot air and do not know what they are talking about. I think the reason so many law tech pundits are so far off base is because do not have real world knowledge and practical experience with respect to the subjects about which they opine.
For example, if Joe Pundit writes an article telling you what is necessary for a successful law office website and he does not have a successful website, why would you believe anything he says about the subject? How does Joe Pundit measure a successful law firm website? If it is based on awards or recognition of other law office technology gurus, then www.keytlaw.com is a total bust because it has never won a single award or even been recognized by a guru. Heck, all www.keytlaw.com does is generate traffic (an average of 163,000/month during 2011), a measurement that does not even exist in the mindset of the average law office tech expert. Per Avvo and www.alexa.com my website is one of the 25 most visited law related websites in the United States. My Arizona Limited Liability Company Law website is the primary reason I formed 522 limited liability companies in 2011 and 3,300+ since I started counting in 2002. Translation: When it comes to law office technology I can talk the talk and walk the walk.
Why I Love Legal Tech Pundits
I am not bitter that my website has not won any awards or gotten any recognition. I would rather have a lot of website traffic and the business it generates than one worthless website award. The fact that people write about law office technology without a clue about their subjects cracks me up. I love the fact that people who cannot do law office technology write about it because as long as the average lawyer in the United States learns about technology from people who do not understand the subject it means there are very few lawyers who can ever acquire the knowledge necessary to compete with me in the high tech world of the 21st century law practice.
Time Line of Technology Knowledge & Accomplishments
1. First Computer: I bought my first computer in 1983 for around $3,000. It was a Compaq portable with a 9 inch green screen. It had 256k or RAM and two 5.24 inch floppy drives
2. First Word Processor: I bought WordPerfect 3.0 in 1983. My license number was in the 50 thousands. I became a WP expert and used it until 1998 when the large law firm in which I was a partner switched from DOS and WP to Windows and Word.
3. First Law Firm: I started a two lawyer firm in 1984 with the Compaq computer, WP and an impact printer that cost $1,000. We saved forms and client documents on many 5.25 inch floppies.
4. First Billing Program: I bought my first billing program in 1985. It was the “Client Management System” by Compulaw. CMS was a great program for its time. I learned how to use CMS and taught to every secretary and staff person in my firm who used it, which brings me to Keyt’s Technology Rule Number 1.
5. Created Legal Form System: Beginning in 1984, whenever I had to prepare a contract or legal document for a client and if I did not have an applicable form, the first thing I did was prepare a form document and then modify the form as necessary for the client’s document. I did this religiously and still do it to this day. As a result, I now have over 500 legal forms that I created and use in my practice. I rarely have to create a new form any more. A good form system is essential and money in the pocket for any lawyer who produces the same documents over and over.
6. System Administrator of My Firm’s Novell Network: In the early 1990s the law firm of which I was a founding partner needed to network the firm’s computers. I selected Novell’s Netware 3.11 software as our network operating system. Everything I read said it was great software (and it was), but it required a full time system administrator. I had my computer guy install Netware 3.11 and network all of the computers. I studied how to administer the network. In a relatively short period of time, I learned how to use Netware to satisfy my firm’s needs. I was the sole system administrator of the network. I added, deleted and modified all users and software. I made daily backups. I did it all and it only took a few hours a month.
7. Purchased First Document Management Software: Shortly after installing our Novell network, I purchased a document management program called PC Docs. I not only installed it on my Novell network, but I also was the only person to administer it. PC Docs was the leading document management program sold in the U.S. when I purchased it. My firm had eight lawyers plus legal assistants, secretaries and staff, all of whom were creating and accessing documents on the network. With thousands of documents being created every year, we desperately needed software to manage those documents and secure documents from being accessed by people who did not have a need for access. I paid $350 per user for PC Docs, which included a $100 per user premium for the full text indexing feature of the program. The benefit we got from PC Docs far out weighed the cost. I believe that every law firm should have a document management system (“DMS”) to manage the documents created by the firm. A DMS eliminates creating Windows folders, file names and exotic & unique to each firm document file naming conventions. The user creates a profile that identifies the document including document type, name, client and matter and the DMS stores it and makes it easy for anybody with the required security to access the profile and the document. Currently I use Time Matters for my document management system, and it is fabulous.
8. Installed Full Text Indexing on Network: When I installed PC Docs, I “turned on” the $100/user full text indexing feature we purchased. Turning it on was a simple matter of answering “yes” to a question asked in the system administrator’s area of the software. I also added a dedicated computer on our network and gave it the task of indexing on the fly the text of all documents saved on our network. Full text indexing allowed anybody with the appropriate security to search for a word or text phrase and find within a matter of seconds all documents on the network that contained the word or text phrase. When I joined the big firm and became a partner, I found that the firm had paid the extra $100 per user for full text indexing, but the IT department (not knowing what full text indexing was or why lawyers might want to us it) did not have indexing “turned on.” What a waste of $20,000+.
9. Wrote First Contact Management Program: In the early 1990s I looked at the contact management programs on the market and was not impressed. I knew then that I wanted software that could track information about my clients and contacts. I purchased WordPerfect Corporation’s relational database called “DataPerfect,” and learned how to create relational databases. I created a contact management DataPerfect database I called the “Office Information System” or “OIS” for the eight lawyer firm that I founded. The program retained names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and other pertinent information about our clients and contacts. Everybody used the OIS, which was on our Novell 3.11 network. At its peak, the OIS had information about more than 7,000 clients and contacts. This leads me to Keyt’s Technology Rule Number 2.
10. Wrote First Time Keeping Program: In the early 1990s, I could not find a lawyer time keeping program into which I could enter my time on a daily basis so I wrote one using DataPerfect. I used the program for several years until I switched to a lawyer time keeping program built into the time and billing program used by my firm. My time keeping program had the names and numbers of all clients and matters. It collected my time by day, client and matter. It printed reports that showed how much time I worked by the day, week, month, and year. At the end of each month, I printed all of the time for the month and gave it to my secretary to enter into our billing system.
11. Owned & Operated a Four Phone Line Electronic Bulletin Board System: In the mid 1990s, I become interested in the forerunner of the World Wide Web called the bulletin board system or BBS. I set up a computer in my home connected to four phone lines. I learned how to program BBS software called TBBS and created a very popular BBS called “Phoenix Online.” My BBS offered the public many fun games, Roger Ebert movie reviews, 20 gigabytes of downloadable files, and free internet email. Anybody could register on Phoenix Online and get and use an internet email address that ended in “@phoenixonline.com.” Creating my BBS in the mid 1990s helped me in 2001 when I created www.keytlaw.com.
12. Caused My Big Law Firm to Add Document Types to PC Docs: When I joined the big law firm (80+ attorneys) in 1996, it was essentially using the same software that I had purchased and installed for my eight lawyer firm. Both firms used Novell 3.11 for networking, WordPerfect 5.2 for DOS, WordPerfect Office, and PC Docs. When I joined the big firm, I noticed that nobody in the firm really understood PC Docs and how to use it. See Keyt’s Technology Rule Number 1. In addition to paying $100/user for full text indexing and not turning it on, the IT department taught firm personnel to insert the document number in the document name field of the document profile and to give every document one of two document types, either “pleading” or “letter.” This made it very difficult to find documents because when you looked at all the documents listed under a matter, all you saw in the document name field was a number of seven digit numbers characterized as either a pleading or a letter. When I gave the head of the IT department a list of 60 or 70 document types and asked that she add them to PC Docs, she said she could not because “it would double or triple the size of the document type database.” Like many IT types, she thought I was a lawyer who did not know s___ from shinola about networks and law office software and she could fool me like she had fooled everybody else. With a network of over 200 users and huge gigabyte file servers, adding the new document types would have been a few thousand bytes at best and of no significance on the network. I had to write a memo to the Board of Directors to get them to approve adding the document types to PC Docs. They never did turn on full text indexing
13. Caused My Large Firm to Purchase Time Matters 2.0: When my large law firm switched from DOS to Windows in 1998, I had to replace the OIS and DataPerfect with a Windows based contact management program. After researching the available contact management programs at that time, I concluded that Time Matters 2.0 was the best contact management program. I convinced the Board of Directors of my firm to purchase a 20 user license. I became the systems administrator of TM 2.0 on the firm’s network. The only people in my 80 lawyer firm who used Time Matters from 1998 – 2001 when I left the firm were the people in the corporate department. The firm had a wonderful training room with ten computers connected to the network, white boards, tables and chairs. I used to offer classes on how to use Time Matters and never once had a lawyer attend. Only a few secretaries ever came. This leads me to Keyt’s Technology Rule Number 3.
14. Created an Internet Website Gets a Ton of Visitors: In 2001, one of my areas of practice was internet law, including domain name law. I wanted to show my clients and potential clients that I understood the internet. I also had a desire to write articles to help people understand the law. In the winter of 2001 I started my website at www.keytlaw.com. I did not start tracking visitors until November 2002. I can remember when I was paying $300 a month for pay for click advertising and getting 3,000 visitors a month to www.keytlaw.com. I thought it was awesome to have that many people visiting “my place of business” every month. For the calendar year 2011 www.keytlaw.com had 1,957,043 visitors (an average 163,000/month in 2011).
15. Learned Microsoft FrontPage: To create my original website, I had to learn Microsoft FrontPage. It has a learning curve, but once I got over the initial hump, it has been a easy to use and simple program ever since. I am the only person who has ever worked on www.keytlaw.com. It is entirely my creation. I could have paid somebody to create my website, but for what I now have, I would have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Had I not learned FrontPage, I would now be completely at the mercy of whoever was my current web developer. The slightest change would cost money and perhaps take hours or days to appear. Because I knew FrontPage, I can fix an error on my website myself in a few minutes from the time a user alerts me of the error or bad link.
WordPress Update: In 2009 I learned WordPress and have been using WordPress ever since for www.keytlaw.com and all of my websites. WordPress is an incredible program for creating websites and blogs. If you are not using WordPress and administering it yourself you are making a big mistake. WordPress is so simple it eliminates the need to spend big bucks with some outside web developer.
16. Learned Search Engine Optimization: From the first days of my website, I researched and studied search engine optimization. Because I understand search engine optimization, many of my web pages are highly ranked by Google and other search engines. Some of my web pages have more than 3,000 visitors a month. Many pages average over 1,000 visitors a month. Imagine the amount of new business you could generate if you had 500, 1,000 or more people reading one of your informative articles every month.
17. Learned Hot Docs Programming: In 2001 I purchased Hot Docs. Hot Docs is the recognized world market leader in the document automation software industry. It has also won virtually every industry award – including Law Office Computing Reader’s Choice Award for Document Assembly and the TechnoLawyer Reader’s Choice Award for Document Assembly and Automation – for five consecutive years. Since purchasing Hot Docs, I paid over $2,000 for four days of basic and advanced Hot Docs training from LexisNexis and created many Hot Docs templates that I use in my practice to quickly produce legal documents. Hot Docs is the reason my legal assistant was able to form 522 limited liability companies in 2011.
18. Created a 100% Paperless Office: My law practice creates a tremendous amount of legal documents, correspondence and paper. By using available technology, my practice became paperless in March of 2004. If you would like to learn how your office can become paperless, see my article called “A Simple Inexpensive Way to Create a Paperless Office.” As of April of 2012, we have over 140,000 documents in our Time Matters document management system.
19. Created an Online Store for My Law Firm: My clients can purchase legal services online and pay by credit card. I created online engagement agreements that clients can sign with digitally secure signatures and click on a submit button to email the agreement to me. Clients can pay for our legal services in our online web store. My website has a shopping cart for legal services. Check out my web store where I sell legal services and products. and my legal forms store.
20. Adopted Infusionsoft in 2007, an Automatic 24/7 Web-Based Customer Relations Management system: I use Infusionsoft’s CRM to do automatic marketing 24/7 to clients and prospective clients. We add prospects and clients to campaigns that automatically send out a series of email marketing messages to them over an extended period of time. The CRM is a fabulous way of automatically keeping in touch with clients and prospective clients. It has substantially increased our lead capture rate and bottom line. If you want to collect leads from your website and make more money, the first step is to watch Infusionsoft’s video demo that shows how it works its magic. You want people to visit your website, but you must also capture their email address so you can do follow up marketing. Marketing gurus say that most of the time when people visit your site they are shopping. If you do not capture a prospects email address so you can send follow up email messages the prospect will probably not remember you when the prospect is ready to purchase. We offer free reports that visitors obtain only if they give their name and email address. Once they sign up for our free report on widget law we know they are interested in widget law and will send follow up emails about widget law and why the prospect should hire us as their widget law attorneys. Infusionsoft collects the prospect information through webforms it creates and then does automatic email follow up marketing.
To learn more about Infusionsoft and how I use it to collect leads from my website, do automatic follow up marketing and make more money, read my review of Infusionsoft called “Infusionsoft: The Cheapest & Best 24/7/365 Marketing Department.”
21. Website Marketing: I have created many websites used successfully by to generate new clients. Click on the link on the top menu row to see all of the websites KEYTLaw attorneys have created. We believe in web marketing. It works for me and my law firm.
22. Facebook: We created a Facebook Page that actually sends traffic to our websites. Check out the KEYTLaw Facebook page.
23. Web Videos: We believe in using videos to inform potential clients, get more web traffic and market our services. See our video series called “Ask the KEYTLaw Girl” (used for LLC formation marketing), testimonial videos and our other videos on our Youtube channel.