For more information about the issues of going paperless, using cloud technology, SaaS, and virtual law offices, take a look at Nicole Black’s “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” from the ABA (Amazon link). Psst: one of my articles is in it, so… SQUEE! However, I’m not getting paid. So you can buy it without worrying that you are enriching me in the process.
You probably already know how to create and use an electronic signature in Adobe Acrobat (if not, don’t worry it’s the first tip in Ernie Svenson’s video below). However, you may be wondering “how do I ‘flatten’ the signature image, so someone can’t simply lift my signature off a document.”
I figured that Adobe must have a way of doing this. It is the premier app for managing electronic documents in business after all. However, apparently not. Also, I could not find the answer by googling, either. After several dead ends, I was able to find the information. Everything you need is covered in Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat on the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. WARNING: this has worked fine for me (Adobe Acrobat Pro 9), but I make no warranty.
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 ;)
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 »
Over the weekend I moved my Social Security disability law practice to a new building in downtown Colorado Springs. The result is a larger, less costly office with better amenities including free parking for myself and my clients. I also swapped 6 keys for one!
The move also gave me a chance to simplify and modernize. Or, put another way: to shake the dust off and really see what I wanted to keep, update or get rid of.
I revisited a number of documents including the information packet I email prospective clients. I had been using largely the same packet I created in 2004. For this revision, I cut two-thirds of the text, added more images and white space, to create a more streamlined and nicer introduction to my legal services.
I also emptied out every drawer and cabinet. More than 95% of my work is done on the computer. The main things I need are:
A comfortable office for my clients to meet me.
An internet connection.
Despite being paperless, I still use the printer. I may be becoming nostalgic here, however, I believe there are some notices and letters that come across better when printed. The rest of the office, though, is largely ambience: including the statutes and treatises on the shelves (I prefer the electronic versions).
I am still struggling with getting the internet and phone working which is where the brunt of the modernization is taking place. Telephone systems for all their bells and whistles are still stuck in the early parts of the last century. The hassles are pushing me to a purer internet based communication system. I will be covering technology that I am adding to the office, what’s exciting, as well as what works over time, in upcoming posts.
Here are the slides from “Practicing in the Cloud” presented at the Colorado Trial Lawyers convention and Colorado Bar Association Hanging Your Shingle CLE. This covers the best of cloud based solutions for attorneys!
Here’s my 2009 presentation on taking your law office paperless. I cover the benefits of a paperless practice. The equipment lawyers need, and techniques for setting up an electronic file system. An excellent primer for any attorney thinking of going electronic!