Backup strategies for solo or small firm lawyers

Filed under: Cloud, Mac Tips, Practice Tips | Tags: , , , , , , |

It’s a new year and it is time to make good on that resolution to strengthen your law firm’s backup strategy (or to get one started)!

How to get your back-up plan in order, in case of a hard drive failure, theft or fire, is one of the most important things a solo attorney and small law firm can do — especially once you go paperless. Then it is all just bits. And you do not want them to go away. Fortunately, it is much easier to copy bits than it is paper documents, allowing you to have multiple up to date and versioned copies in multiple locations.

Goals of a successful backup strategy:

  • Automatic. You already know that if something is a hassle, it is not going to get done. You want something that works in the background whether you remember to use it or not.
  • Multiple locations. One of the worst backup strategies is to have your backup sitting next to your computer. You want to make sure you have offsite back-up. And having a backup in a completely different regions is even better.
  • Multiple copies. One backup is good, but several are better. You never know when a perfect storm will hit and take out your one backup.or
  • Multiple services. If something happens with your backup provider, even a temporary problem with connectivity, you could be left out in the cold. It is a good idea to put your eggs in several different baskets just in case.

Great, you say. You could read pabulum like this on any number of law blogs. So let me give you a quick and dirty guide to backing up. Some of this is Mac specific, but I am including PC alternatives for the Morlocks among you ;)

Read the rest of this entry »


Making Dropbox secure for lawyers and law offices

Filed under: Cloud | Tags: , , , |

security

Lawyers are particularly concerned about using cloud based service to store information. Here are some of the issues attorneys face:

  • I am handing over sensitive client matters to a third-party! Note: this is despite the fact that lawyers already do this when they store client files in a rented office.
  • Where are the files stored? Are any files stored outside of the United States?
  • What are the security procedures at the cloud service provider?
  • Who can see my data?
  • Will the data be handed over to law enforcement and under what conditions (subpoena)?
  • Will I be notified if data is handed over?

The flaw (some say the fatal flaw) with using a cloud service like Dropbox is the service ultimately has access to your files and could theoretically view or reveal your data.

There have been a number of workarounds including putting your files into an encrypted container. I discussed the trade-off with this in “Is Cloud Storage Secure Enough for Lawyers.” The problem is that you lose the benefit of constant synchronization: instead of files constantly being backed up and synced, you have to sync a single LARGE file when all you want to do is shut down your system and go home.

SpiderOak

The goal has been per file encryption and services like Spider Oak have stepped up to the plate to offer this. However, moving away from Dropbox, means moving away from a known service which is currently the market leader with cross-platform application on desktop (Windows, Apple/Mac, and Linux) and mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry) plus many applications support Dropbox right out of the box!

Dropbox mobile

Dropbox just logo

Plus, Dropbox just works! Sync is hard. Just ask anyone who has tried to keep contacts synchronized between various computers and online services: you get old information, conflicts, and duplicates. With Dropbox files sync accurately and quickly — even “files” like Circus Ponies Notebook which are actually folders work!

Now, I’m not saying other service do not work just as well. It is just that any contender needs to be considerably better to make me move.

The ONE thing Dropbox lacks is — per-file encryption. That is, until SecretSync. Read the rest of this entry »


Google Voice App Updated!

Filed under: Cloud | Tags: |

Good news everyone!

The Google Voice app was updated. I have been playing with it over the weekend and it no longer crashes with every launch, button click, scroll, sideways glance.

Yay!


Dropbox left open for 4 hours

Filed under: Cloud | Tags: , , |

A wrinkle has appeared in the perennial question, “Is Dropbox Secure?” Dropbox (one of my favorite services) was effectively unlocked for 4 hours on Monday June 20, 2011!

Writing in PC World, Sara Yin notes:

A code update left Dropbox, the popular cloud storage service, password-free for about four hours on Monday afternoon.

During this time, anyone could access any of Dropbox’s 25 million user accounts by typing in any password. The lapse occurred between 1:54 p.m. to 5:46 p.m. PT.

Ok. Altogether, “FUUUUU…!”  Read the rest of this entry »


Google GMail Alias Email Addresses

Filed under: Cloud | Tags: , , , , |

George SandHey, did you know that while Gmail does not offer traditional email aliases, there is a workaround?

You can receive messages sent to your.username+any.alias@gmail.com. For example, messages sent to jane.doe+notes@gmail.com are delivered to jane.doe@gmail.com.

You can set up filters to automatically direct these messages to Trash, apply a label or star, skip the inbox, or forward to another email account.

So if you need a quick temp address (say when you are setting up another twitter account), this a quick way of getting a “new” address without a whole lot of mucking about.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Zabowski


Time to Secure Facebook (Yes AGAIN)!

Filed under: Cloud | Tags: , , |

Padlock
With the recent concern over Facebook privacy (if that isn’t an evergreen topic I don’t know what is) specifically the Firesheep plugin for the Firefox browser. If you are not familiar with it, Firesheep is a dead simple plugin that lets people see and capture the password for other Facebook users on the same network.

If you ever use an open wifi — say at your local Starbucks — and checked your Facebook page, someone else in the cafe might also have not only gotten full access to your Facebook page on that day, but also now been able to log on to your Facebook page ANY TIME THEY WANT.

Feel free to re-read that and let it sink in.

Fortunately, Facebook has implemented some new security options to fix this problem. So, it’s time to review and tighten up your Facebook security. Yes, again! Read the rest of this entry »


Evernote Tip: Export To Stay Under Folder Limit

Filed under: Cloud, Software | Tags: , |

Evernote is an amazing tool for lawyers. With folders, tags and the ability to search within documents, it makes it amazingly easy to find any document in any case either at your desktop, from your phone, or on a tablet.

UPDATE: since I drafted this post, Evernote increased the maximum folder limit to 250 folders. Thanks to Brooks Duncan and DocumentSnap for the heads up!

The biggest problem with Evernote is the 250 folder limit. Unless you are just starting out as a lawyer, your law firm probably has more than 250 files. There are several ways to deal with this limitation including  using TAGS as case names. However this really turns the program on its head and means you cannot use several of the nice features of notebooks in Evernote such as sharing.

Since you can select whether a notebook is synchronized or not, you  would think you could simply turn off synchronization. Unfortunately, you can’t do that! Evernote lets you select whether a folder is online (synchronized) or offline only when you create the folder. Read the rest of this entry »


MILOfest 2010 Larry Port on Connecting Responsibly

Filed under: Cloud, Conferences | Tags: |

Larry Port of Rocket Matter (an online SaaS legal case management service) presented at MILOfest 2010. Larry started by talking about the change in our lives caused by our connected culture.

Pretend it’s 1987. Don’t tweet. Don’t go online. Don’t use your computer.

Think about how things have changed from 1987 to the present:

Now in 2010, online use is change our culture and our lives!

The internet is actually changing your brain. A study found that heavy web users have heavy activity in the left pre-frontal cortex. When web novices were trained in heavy web use, their pre-frontal cortex also lit up. This is the same part of the brain that is used for hunting and gathering.

The problem is heavy web users were shown distractions during the study, their attention was shifted from the task to the distraction. Put another way, web surfers are more likely to be distracted – and we are becoming trained to be distracted.

What can you do about this?

  • Read a book. No, really! Books are sequential. They don’t have hyperlinks (which you have to choose not to click on). They don’t have banner ads or “punch the monkey” flash ads.
  • Use a “no-distraction” timer. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Until the timer rings, no twitter, no email, no web, no phone calls, no interruptions from co-workers or anyone else. JUST WORK! Use the 25 minutes to get things done.

Check out Responsibly Connected for more.

MILOfest is an annual conference for Mac based law firms.


MILOfest 2010: Jack Newton New Clio Developments

Filed under: Cloud, Conferences | Tags: |

Jack Newton, co-founder of CLIO (an online SaaS case management system) presented about putting your practice in the could at MILOfest is an annual conference for Mac based law firms.

Planet10tech caught up with Jack Newton to find out what’s new with Clio?


Tech Story Roundup

Filed under: Cloud, Marketing, Software | Tags: |

Headline News

Here are some of the best tech stories from around the web.

What were the best articles you read this week? CC photo credit: christopher.woo