The State of Oregon’s Legal Industry

Where can we learn about the state of Oregon’s legal industry?  Data about demographics, employment, supply, and demand can hard to find – especially in one convenient location.  Now a new resource is available, thanks to the hard work of Annette Shelton-Tiderman.

In her post, Problem Solvers: Offices of Oregon Lawyers, Annette reports on the following topics:

  • Offices of Lawyers Reflect Oregon’s Diverse Population and Geography
  • Supply and Demand: Employment Reflects Changes in the Economy
  • Marshalling Problem-Solving Resources
  • Projected Demand Shows Change and Overall Growth

She includes interesting infographics on the statewide marketplace for legal services, employment growth rates, employment projections, and breakdowns on areas of practice.  An interesting read and informative resource. Thank you Annette!

Postscript

The Oregon Employment Department’s Web site is a helpful resource for businesses researching economic data, business indicators, and other information. There are 13 workforce analysts spread across the state who are responsible for assisting businesses with needed labor market information. This can include the demographics of a neighborhood – very helpful when a business is looking to relocate or expand. The Employment Department also tracks education levels, income, population data, and maintains a database for occupational and wage-related information that is easily accessed via its Web site.  Services provided by workforce analysts are paid for by business taxes.  There is no additional cost to access their expertise.

Just Say No to Charging Clients Merchant Fees

Lawyers often ask if they may ethically charge clients for credit card merchant fees.credit card

There is no ethical barrier to passing on the merchant fee, or crediting the client for the net amount of the transaction only, if the client agrees. Therefore, the first step toward charging clients merchant fees would require updating your written fee agreement to include this cost. If you wish to modify existing agreements, remember that any modification in the lawyer’s favor “… requires client consent based on an explanation of the reason for the change and its effect on the client…. In addition, the modification must be objectively fair.”  OSB Formal Opinion 2005-97.

The real obstacle in passing on merchant fees is a little something called the Truth in Lending Act. (TILA).  As noted by the Oregon State Bar in OSB Legal Ethics Opinion No. 2005-172:

Passing the merchant fee on to the client or crediting the client for the net amount of the transaction only … may implicate Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act,
12 CFR §226.  As a result, you may be compelled to offer cash discounts to all clients and make specified disclosures to your clients who pay by credit card.
See CONSUMER LAW IN OREGON ch 14 (Oregon CLE 1996 & Supp 2000).

The bottom line: unless you are willing to immerse yourself in the TILA and create compliant disclosures, don’t try to pass on merchant fees.  The TILA is an extremely complex piece of legislation, as evidenced by this 61 page manual published by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).  Furthermore, the best practice is to build the cost of taking credit cards into your fee – what you charge for your services.  This is what the retail world does.  When we pay by credit card, retail merchants don’t say: “That will be $159.00 for the lamp (or spa services) and another $4.77 for our merchant fee.”  Clients do not like to be nickel and dimed to death.  Just say no!

For a further discussion about credit cards, including answers to FAQ, see this post.

For tips on flexible and inexpensive credit card processors for lawyers, check this out.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

Legal Tech by the Numbers

As we bid adieu to tips, sites, and other good stuff curated from this year’s ABA TECHSHOW, some interesting numbers for you – courtesy of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center.

Who is Using the Cloud and Who is Using Technology in the Courtroom?

  • 50% increase YOY (year over year) in use of cloud services. @CaseyHall
  • 58% of lawyers use Dropbox #ABATECHSHOW stats. @paperlesschase
  • 40 percent of solos use cloud services. @rocketmatter
  • In 2013, 34% of attorneys use iPads in the courtroom, up more than 20% in one year. @pegeenturner

eFiling is Here

Security

  • Only 13% survey respondents use whole disk encryption for device security. 25% use remote data wiping. @RealSheree
  • Bonus tip from yours truly: lawyers would be well-advised to tighten up security promptly to protect information subject to HIPAA.

Social Media Engagement

  • … Almost 80% of firms now using Social Media. @CaseyHall_
  • 72.3% of all atty-social media stats are unverifiable. “@Westlaw: 39% of firm blogs result in clients or referrals.” @victormedina
  • 70% of lawyers use LinkedIn #ABATECHSHOW stats. @ernieattorney
  • 22.6 percent of law firms have no social media presence. @rocketmatter
  • 20% of lawyers responding to survey use twitter/microblogging. @Westlaw

To Blog or Not to Blog

  • 39% of firm blogs result in clients or referrals. @Westlaw
  • Surprised to see that only 27% of law firms are blogging yet 39% of those said the blog had resulted in clients-survey. @RealSheree
  • My two cents: Why aren’t you blogging!  Adding frequently updated content causes search engines to crawl your Web site more often and will improve your listing in search results.  Check out this oldie but goodie post, 5 Ways to Increase Your Visibility on the Web.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

 

Crowdsourcing Legal Research with Casetext and Mootus

One of the more interesting ideas discussed at ABA TECHSHOW was the concept of crowdsourcing legal research using Casetext or Mootus:

“On Casetext, judicial opinions and statutes are annotated with analysis by prominent law professors and attorneys at leading firms, giving you unique insight. And everything is 100% free.”

Mootus “…helps law students and lawyers at all levels build reputation and knowledge through competitive, collaborative legal argument.

Okay … but what is it exactly?

Here are three quick answers curated from the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW:

  • Crowdsourcing: people contribute to a common project. Social curation: filtering info for others – e.g. Twitter. @lisasolomon
  • Mootus: crowdsourcing (offers) answers to legal questions. Users vote up/down contributions (also a Casetext feature). @lisasolomon
  • Crowdsourced annotations, links to blog posts and commentary big benefit of @casetext approach to legal research. @RealSheree

It turns out that crowdsourcing isn’t exactly new.  Bob Ambrogi first wrote about it in 2010 for the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.  See “Crowdsourcing the Law: Trends and Other Innovations.”  

Here is Bob’s more recent take on Casetext, which I recommend you read if you are at all interested in this approach to research. In a very rudimentary way, think of it as Fastcase + Wikipedia together in one place.  Here is a snippet from Bob’s post:

“But what makes the site unique is the ability of its users to add descriptions and annotations to the cases. When you view a case, the screen is divided in half. On the left side, what you first see is a section of “Quick Facts” about the case — its holding, citation, court, judges, docket number and the like. After that comes a section called “Case Wiki” with a more narrative description of the case. Following those two sections comes the case itself.

Both of those first two sections — Quick Facts and Case Wiki — are fully editable by registered users. Simply click the “edit” button and revise or supplement any of the text. Click the “revisions” button to see the full history of edits by all users.

Similarly, the right side of the screen contains sections for “tags,” “cases,” “sources,” “analysis,” and “record.” Users can create and edit any of these items.”

Thank you Bob Ambrogi!

 

 

Still Pondering Paperless?

In my continuing series of top tweets from the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW, today I am offering 10 thoughts to chew on if you are pondering going paperless.  (Including bonus tips from me!)

  • And it saves trees! RT @Westlaw: Benefits of going paperless: increased revenue and better client service. @Westlaw RT @ESIPhones
  • 1st Q. to ask: Is your “paperless plan” in line with your record retention plan and retention requirements? @Westlaw
  • Want to go paperless? Reduce the # of printers, replace with scanners. @Westlaw
  • Get a ScanSnap ix1500. Make it easy to go #paperless #abatechshow per Steve Best. @david_bilinsky
  • PDF is a cornerstone to the #paperless practice per Steve Best. @david_bilinsky
  • Get a DMS (doc mgmt system) to go #paperless. Handles email + attachments rather than rolling your own system. @david_bilinsky
  • If you came to my #ABATECHSHOW session on “PDF Enlightenment” & want the 1 page PDF cheat sheet, click this link. @pdflawyer
  • For checklists, white papers, and other resources on going paperless, visit the PLF Web site.
  • For CLEs on paper reduction, document management, the paperless office, and PDFing: A Lawyers Guide to Adobe Acrobat, visit the PLF Web site.
  • For an overview of the issues involving in going paperless, see my In Brief article, “Is It Time to Go Paper Less” on the PLF Web site.  Also see Greening Your Law Practice.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

Making Money: Maximizing the Business Side of Practicing Law

Law is both a profession and a business. So what pearls of wisdom did the experts at the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW have to say about the business side of law practice? Read on…

How Are We Doing?

  • According to Lexis’s Chris Anderson, over 50% of solos have no accounting software at all. @MrsMacLawyer RT @lawyerist (My 2 cents: true and sadly ineffective – the return on investment in purchasing quality billing and accounting software can’t be overstated.)
  • Law firms used to raise rates 10% a year; now just about 3% says @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • Key Business Challenges for Lawyers [INFOGRAPHIC] – MyCase Blog @nikiblack

Talking to Clients about Fees

  • Calling a client that’s behind on payment is a hard thing to do; manage expectations — says Steve Best of @affinitytech @Business_of_Law
  • Lawyers are not comfortable having conversations about fees (both sides) – feels “salesy” and “confrontational” says @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law

Setting Rates and Crafting Agreements: The Rule of 3

  • Law firm billing discounts are a 1-way street; once you give them, you’ll continue to give them; protect the price – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law  (My thought: I don’t believe in continually marking down bills.  I do believe in offering early payment discounts.  The client saves money.  The lawyer is paid more quickly.  Win-win.)
  • Rule of 3 in law firm pricing: 1% cut in price = 3% cut in profit – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • Rule of 3 defined: Attorney bills at $300/hr; 1st 100 is salary; 2nd 100 is law firm cost; 3rd 100 is profit – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • Bills Out – Money In – #ABATECHSHOW session @PeggyGruenke makes this case for flat fees – @Business_of_Law
  • New meaning for AFA: “appropriate” fee arrangement – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • The better law firms are at pricing, the better it is for the market – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • Resources for law firm pricing: LMA Group (Legal Marketing Association) | ILTA. (International Legal Technology Association) @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law

Billing

  • Some firms have 300 billing codes…but just 20 are used. Need to think through codes – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • Billing codes are gamed; got a cap on one code, the hours get logged in another. @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
  • Where’d those billable hours go? Right here in the matter management system – @Business_of_Law (Link to LexisNexis FirmManager “Money Finder.”)

Trends and Where to go from Here

  • Litigation finance is a growing trend — several financing companies have raised lots of capital @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law  (My input – this can be a slippery slope.)
  • The Essential Survival Guide for the Independent Attorney: summary here. @Business_of_Law
  • Session Summary: 5 Effective Law Firm Billing Techniques – @Business_of_Law

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

Cyber Security – Horrifying Stats and Tips for Dropbox Users

For the last two weeks, I have been featuring a potpourri of posts gleaned from tweets posted during the ABA TECHSHOW.  Today we explore cyber security with extra bonus tips for good measure.

Cyber Security – Numbers, Trends, Protecting Your Firm

Tips for Dropbox Users

  • Dropbox security: use third party apps – like Viivo – to encrypt. You own the key. @VIIVOkey happens to be in attendance.… @MrsMacLawyer RT @rocketmatter
  • Dropbox security: use 2 step authentication but put recovery code in safe place. It’s not retrievable. @larryport RT @rocketmatter
  • Also see my post, The 7 Rules of Using Dropbox and search this blog for related Dropbox posts.

Thanks 2014 ABA TECHSHOW tweeters for the tips!  And check out these resources for lawyers posted by the author on Scribd.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

You’re Sold on the Cloud, Now What?

Good question! Fortunately, we can glean a lot of good ideas from the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW:

Security, Ethics, and Questions to Ponder

  • Snoops, Thieves, and Idiots – The Weak Links in Cloud Storage via @betabeat – @JackSmithIV RT @VIIVOkey
  • Securing client info. Reasonable safeguards for different type of data depending on circumstances. @LtdPI RT @Westlaw (Using Oregon’s standard – your duty of reasonable care to protect confidential client information will flux based on the circumstances.)
  • If you are storing client data in the cloud, do you inform your client? @Westlaw (Yes: incorporate appropriate language into your fee agreement/engagement letter.)
  • 18 states have issued opinions related to #cloud computing or similar technology. @Westlaw (Here is the low-down on Oregon’s opinion.)
  • Uptime and data security are a crucial element of a #cloud provider’s standards. Learn more @Cetrom
  • Great tip to switch cloud data storage providers! @LeeRosen: Discourse: The Cloud Wars are On. @pegeenturner
  • Takeaway from cloud session #ABATECHSHOW: continuing requirement to stay informed on cloud tech. @Westlaw (From Oregon’s opinion:  “As technology advances, the third-party vendor’s protective measures may become less secure or obsolete over time.  Accordingly, Lawyer may be required to reevaluate the protective measures used by the third party vendor to safeguard the client materials.”)

New Features in Popular Cloud Products Clio and Net Documents

Resources

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

Practically Perfect Presentations or How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint

Yep, it’s day 7 from the best of ABA TECHSHOW.  Today we tackle presentation faux pas, starting with:

10 Essential Tips for Improving Your Presentations

  1. Figure out where your strengths are – don’t use tech if you’re not comfortable using it – tech can hinder your message – via @psuba98
  2. “@rajuip: “The thought behind PowerPoint is to make a point, not a distraction.” @pauljunger – via @MEKowalski
  3. You can increase info retention 10-20% if you repeat and repeat your points in slides/presentation – 45% increase if msg simple – via @psuba98
  4. Clarify and simplify your message in your presentation – distill it to your message – you are the filter – @rajuip – via @psuba98
  5. If your presentation is a story it should have a beginning, middle and an end…so maybe we all need screenwriters now b4 trial – via @psuba98
  6. De-Bullet your presentations by using images and using your voice – @pauljunger – via @rajuip
  7. Keep your slides simple – for no scientific reason, @rajuip says use 7 words per slide (hey, it might work) – via @psuba98
  8. If you’re reading your slides, you’re doing it wrong. People need to have the relationship with you, have them trust you – via @psuba98
  9. RT @rajuip: Orienting responses (moving, voice pitch changes, ppt slides) increase information retention. @pauljunger – via @scrappydoo6
  10. Use (cool) fonts, you can download them and add them to your presentation @rajuip uses Font Squirrel – via @psuba98

PowerPoint Isn’t the Only Game in Town

RT @psuba98: HaikuDeck, Prezi, SlideRocket, there are lots of presentation tools out there (besides @rajuip) – via @IntermixLegal

We’d love to see more lawyers embracing Haiku Deck’s high-impact messages and visuals! For iPad & web – via @HaikuDeck

Zooming feature in @prezi adds emphasis & scale. #prezi – via @ lucasboling: @bdwassom

[All Rights Reserved - Beverly Michaelis - 2014]

 

It’s Social Media, Not Anti-Social Media

To start out the week I have more great tips from the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW.  To begin:  “Think before you post” on social media @bobambrogi – @Westlaw [good advice!]

The Whys and Wherefores of Having a Facebook Page

Does a law firm need a Facebook page? What are the benefits over having a great website? Do firms want likes or comments? – @MrsMacLawyer RT @JamesWegener

Designate other Admins for your #Facebook firm page, esp if you will be too busy to keep it up. @sammiem – @MrsMacLawyer

Why social media? (See pic.) But know ethics rules. Useful session w/ Jeff Lantz, @JLE_JD @bobambrogi – @rocketmatter [Oregon lawyers can start here.]

70% of folks are checking FB pages from a mobile device. Make sure your photos are sized right for mobile screens. @sammiem – @MrsMacLawyer

Once you have 30 Likes on your firm #Facebook page, it opens up a lot more things you can do with the page. @sammiem

Twitter

Are there ethical concerns using twitter? There is an ethical issue with you NOT being on it.” @bobambrogi – @legalcurrent

Not mentioned in social media session but it’s not wise to cross post to Facebook & Twitter. Customize for platform. Via @RealSheree

Yelp

RT @Westlaw: Dealing w/ negative yelp reviews – @GallagherLaw

Blogging

Your blog should not be an ad.” @rbcater #ruthbook – @familyLLB RT @MarkRosch

Wise words. @JLE_JD “Don’t insult the judge” when blogging about your case (or any case, really) – Judges read blogs too! – @JamesWegener

If you blog about client work, even if anonymously, get clients’ permission. And wait until case is finally resolved – @RealSheree

Blogging is a fun way to drive traffic to your firm’s website #ABATECHSHOW Quality content can boost traffic +1000% – @VinceDePalma RT @invinciblecrtv

[All Rights Reserved - Beverly Michaelis - 2014]