Getting Your Head into the Cloud

Whether you’re setting up a practice for the first time or upgrading existing technology, odds are you’re taking a long, hard look at the cloud. Here is a checklist to help you through the process.

Getting Started

Moving your data to the cloud is all about vetting the cloud provider – will they or won’t they keep your client information secure?  Here are your marching orders:

Research the Provider

  1. What is their reputation?
  2. How many years have they been in business?
  3. Are bloggers and news outlets critical or supportive?
  4. Can the provider give you a list of other lawyers who use their product?  (If so, check the provider’s references.)
  5. Talk to friends and colleagues: are they familiar with the product or provider?  What are their thoughts?
  6. If you belong to a listserv, poll the members of the listserv.
  7. Use the power of Google to reveal problems.  A general search using the product or provider name is a good start.  To uncover security issues, Google the product or provider name followed by the words “security concerns” or “data breach.”  To reveal if outages are a problem, search the product or provider name followed by the words “downtime statistics.”

Evaluate Speed and Reliability

Uptime, bandwidth, and general reliability of the Internet matter.

  1. Check on provider uptime statistics as part of your general research – see the discussion above.
  2. Make sure your technology is up to the task.  To use the cloud effectively you must have a fast, reliable Internet connection. If you don’t, contact your ISP.  If there is a remedy (and you can afford it), great.  If not, taking your practice into the cloud is likely not a good choice.

Read the Fine Print

  1. Dig into the provider’s website and follow any links that reference Terms of Service, Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Security, or Service Agreements.
  2. Contact customer service for clarification of terms if needed.

Educate Yourself about Encryption

Every cloud provider encrypts your data.  The devil is in the details:

  1. Is your data encrypted at all times (in transit and at rest)?
  2. Does the provider hold a master encryption key?  (If so the provider can access your data at any time, thus defeating client confidentiality.)
  3. Is third-party encryption an option?  If the answer is yes, you can lock out the cloud provider.  A master key only permits the provider to unlock their encryption, not yours.  With third-party (AKA client-side) encryption, you – the user – apply your own encryption software before uploading any content to the cloud provider’s site.  Here’s the rub:  encrypting your own content isn’t always an option for compatibility reasons, so check with the provider.

Learn about Data Access Policies – “Authorized” and “Unauthorized”

Getting an answer to the master encryption key question will resolve whether the provider’s employees can freely access your information.  Now you need to ask:

  1. Will the provider notify you if authorities seek access to your account information?  (Some providers comply with subpoenas first and tell you about it later.)
  2. What is the provider’s procedure if a data breach occurs?

Know Before You Go: Security, Backups, Redundancy, and Local Copies of Your Data

  1. Find out what the provider has to say about the physical security of its facilities.  Features like fire suppression, redundant electrical systems, temperature controlled environments, video surveillance, and 24/7 monitoring by security personnel are standard.
  2. Learn everything you can about how your data is backed up. Where, when, and how.  A decent cloud provider has multiple servers that are geographically dispersed.
  3. Consider it a deal breaker if you can’t download a local copy of your own data. Keeping a local copy just makes sense.  First, it protects you if the provider goes out of business (some have).  Second, if the provider suffers a catastrophic breach you’ll still have a pristine copy of your information.  [Caveat: ability to download a local copy of your data does not mean you can work with it offline.  This is simply a way to protect yourself in a worst case scenario.]

Nail down the Details: Support, Training, Data Migration, and Data Integration

Cloud products are generally pretty easy to use, but at some point you’ll need help – maybe at the outset when you import your data – or later when you start using more advanced features of the program.  Either way, ask:

  1. Does the provider offer live telephone support?  Live chat?  Email?  What are the hours?  Is it free or is there a support contract?
  2. What resources does the provider have on its website?  Searchable knowledge base?  User forums?  Blog?  Training videos?  Webinars?
  3. Will the provider help you migrate your existing data?  Are you on your own?  If there is a fee for data migration, get an estimate.
  4. What about product compatibility and integration?  Some users need the cloud product to communicate with an existing piece of software, like QuickBooks or Outlook.  [Tip: don’t just take the cloud provider’s word for it.  Run another Google search: Is (cloud product name) compatible with (existing program)? If the blogosphere has spotted issues, you’ll uncover them quickly enough.

Product Cost and Licensing

Most cloud products are sold on a monthly subscription basis.  Do a bit of research:

  1. What is the current fee per user?  Any price breaks for multiple licenses?
  2. Research historic costs.  If monthly fees have jumped significantly in the recent past, factor this into your choice.
  3. Are product upgrades or new features included in existing subscriptions or is there an additional fee?
  4. What does a single license or a single user account include? Some providers are strict: one user/one license/one device.  Others are more flexible: one user/one license/multiple downloads: desktop, laptop, tablet.

Choose the Right Version

If your cloud provider offers multiple packages or products, proceed cautiously.

  1. Look for a Web page on the provider’s site that will compare the features of each version side by side.
  2. Call customer service when in doubt.
  3. Take advantage of free trials, which are almost universally available. A trial run is the best way to know whether you’re really going to like something.

Cyber Liability and Data Breach – What if the Worst Happens?

If you’ve decided to store your data in the cloud, it might be a good idea to have cyber liability and data breach coverage.

The Professional Liability Fund Excess Claims Made Plan automatically includes a cyber liability and data breach response endorsement with these features:

  • Forensic and legal assistance to determine compliance with applicable law
  • Notifications to individuals as required by law
  • 12 months credit monitoring to each notified client
  • Loss mitigation resources for law firms

If you aren’t eligible or don’t wish to purchase excess coverage through the PLF, contact a commercial carrier.

This is Too Much Work – Can’t You Just Tell Me What to Do or Give Me a List of Recommended Products?

No.  I can’t make this decision for you.  You and I have different likes, dislikes, needs, skill levels, and preferences.  (Think: Windows vs. Mac, Word vs. WordPerfect, or Mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip.)

If you want to be happy with your choice, you have to make it.  We can talk, I can point you toward resources, or send you comparison charts.  But in the end you are the decider.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Windows 10 – Cool New Features

This is the last of three posts on Windows 10.  Previously I examined specifications, compatibility issues, and default settings for Microsoft’s new OS.  Today I review all the cool new features Windows 10 has to offer.

Print to PDF

At long last, Windows has native, built-in, Print to PDF.  Any Windows application that supports printing to paper will now support printing to PDF.

A New Browser

Tired of Internet Explorer?  Meet Edge:

Biometric Security

Windows 10 uses face, iris, and fingerprint recognition – not user names and passwords – to unlock your computer.  Check out this video posted on Techlicious.

Meet Your Virtual Assistant(s)

Cortana is Siri’s new competition.  Touted as Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana responds to voice commands to set reminders, track your schedule, or find documents.  To get the most out of Cortana, check out PC World’s comprehensive how-to guide.  To search popular cloud services and all devices connected to your PC, get the add-on REACHit.  Learn more here.

The Clutter Folder

If you have a love/hate relationship with your spam filter (blocks too much/doesn’t block enough), you may feel the same way about the Clutter folder in Windows Mail.  Email you probably don’t care about (ads? listserv messages? broadcast email?) can find its way to the Clutter folder.  Check this folder often, and if you find that legitimate, important messages are being diverted to “Clutter,” move them back to your inbox.  Windows Mail uses predictive filing to guess which emails are less important, and thus subject to filing in “Clutter.”  Over time, the Clutter tool will learn your preferences.  Find the Clutter folder under the “More” button in Mail.

Better Support for Multiple Monitors

Windows 10 now lets you scale each display separately, for example: set one display ratio for your tablet, use another setting for your desktop monitor(s).

Sync OneDrive Files

Gain full access to your OneDrive files by enabling the “fetch” feature.  PC World tells you how.

Laptop Battery Saver

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could optimize the battery life of your laptop?  Windows 10 makes it easy as pie.  Click on the Start menu, select: Settings > System > Battery Saver.

A Better File Explorer

If you use File Explorer to find files, you’ll appreciate the improvements made in Windows 10. The new “quick access” view now displays the most used/most recent files and folders.

Load Windows Apps from Anywhere

Before Windows 10, users could only load Windows Apps from the Windows store.  Now you can “sideload” an app from any source – just be aware that using an unofficial source may pose a security risk.  PC World describes how to enable sideloading.

Save Videos from any App or Program

This trick requires using Windows 10’s “Gaming DVR Tool.”  If you want to save actual video – not just a screenshot – read more about this feature here.

Many thanks to PC World and Techlicious for their excellent posts!

Final Thoughts

Let the buyer beware.  Remember our old Latin friend?  It applies here.  These features ARE cool, but many permit Microsoft or third parties to collect or access data about you.  If you didn’t read last week’s post on default settings, please do!

 All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

NYSBA Crowdfunding Ethics Opinion

In January and April I blogged about the ethics of crowdfunding. In May, when I co-authored Tread Carefully: Crowdfunding Your Law Practice with Amber Hollister, we reported:

No jurisdiction, including Oregon, has published an ethics opinion or other formal guidance on the propriety of crowdfunding. As with all legal applications of new technologies, the ethics law can be slow to catch up with modern-day practice. Nevertheless, a preliminary look at crowdfunding suggests that it is not per se prohibited by the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct. As with any novel approach to practicing law, whether crowdfunding is permissible depends on the type of funding model used by the lawyer and the specifics of how the lawyer implements the fund-raising campaign. Wise lawyers will proceed with extreme caution.

This changed in late June, when the NYSBA issued Ethics Opinion 1062.  The opinion digest states:

A law firm may engage in certain types of crowdfunding but not others.  Any form of fundraising that gives the investor an interest in a law firm or a share of its revenue would be prohibited.  However, in some circumstances a law firm may give the funding source some kind of reward. For example, a law firm may send a funder non-confidential memoranda discussing legal issues (provided the law firm complies with any applicable advertising rules), or may agree that the law firm will provide pro bono legal services to certain charitable organizations, provided that the lawyer complies with Rule 1.1 regarding competence and the representation does not involve conflicts in violation of Rule 1.7 or Rule 1.9.

The NYSBA opinion is the first of its kind in the nation.  It addressed the issues of competence and conflicts head-on, but did not touch on some other points that my co-author and I raised relating to trust accounting, third-party payment, fees, advertising/promotion, use of disclaimers, and taxation.  Lawyers interested in crowdfunding would be well-advised to give our article a second look.

Windows 10 – Must-Change Default Settings

In my last post I discussed specifications and compatibility issues relating to Windows 10.  This week the focus is default settings.  Before you click away, consider the following:

  • During installation, “express settings” permits Microsoft to collect data about you
  • By default, Windows 10 shares private Wi-Fi passwords with your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook contacts
  • Microsoft Edge and Cortana collect data on you and your relationships with others
  • Apps can access your name, photo, and other account information unless this setting is toggled off
  • Windows Updates are on a “share to download” basis, which could cause some users to exceed data usage limits

To change these default settings, check out this excellent post on Techlicious.  Want to stop Microsoft from looking over your shoulder?  Consider the DoNotSpy10 app or switch from Microsoft Edge to Firefox.  Did your computer stop working after Windows 10 automatically updated your device drivers?  Maybe you want to turn that setting off.

Worried about what else Windows 10 might have in store?

Keep your eye on Your IT Consultant Information Technology Blog.  If there is a security issue – or solution – John Simek will find it.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Windows 10 – Specs and Compatibility Issues

Eager to upgrade to Windows 10?  Take five and learn about specifications and compatibility before upgrading your OS.  In future posts I’ll cover default settings you may want to change and cool new features.

Specifications

Not sure whether you can upgrade?  System requirements and additional requirements to use certain features can be found here.

Compatibility

Verify with your software provider that key programs are compatible or check the Microsoft Compatibility Center.  Consider these issues:

  • The DC version of Acrobat is Windows 10 compatible.  Acrobat XI hasn’t been tested on Windows 10 yet.  Will Adobe release an update?  Maybe.
  • Kaspersky is recommending users download the new version of their product before downloading Windows 10.  If you use another antivirus program, check with your provider!
  • SnagIt and Jing, the popular screen and video capture programs, are not fully compatible.
  • Quicken 2015 users report no issues with Windows 10; Intuit promises compatibility when the 2016 version is released.  Using an earlier version?  All you can do is try – but back up your data file(s) first.
  • QuickBooks seems to (mostly) work on Windows 10 if you have versions 2012-2015.  A notable exception is the 2014 Enterprise Edition, which crashes.

If you decide you don’t like Windows 10, you have 30 days to revert back.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Laptop Note Taking: Lost in Translation?

As I long suspected, using a laptop or tablet for note taking is not what it’s cracked up to be:

Mueller and Oppenheimer conducted three different studies, each addressing the question: Is laptop note taking detrimental to overall conceptual understanding and retention of new information?

The students’ scores differed immensely between longhand and laptop note takers. While participants using laptops were found to take lengthier “transcription-like” notes during the film, results showed that longhand note takers still scored significantly higher on conceptually-based questions. Mueller and Oppenheimer predicted that the decrease in retention appeared to be due to “verbatim transcription.”

But, they predicted that the detriments of laptop note taking went beyond the fact that those with computers were trying to get every word down. In their second study, Mueller and Oppenheimer instructed a new group of laptop note takers to write without transcribing the lecture verbatim. They told the subjects: “Take notes in your own words and don’t just write down word-for-word what the speaker is saying.

They found that their request for non-verbatim note taking was “completely ineffective,” and the laptop users continued to take notes in a “transcription like” manner rather than in their own words. “The overall relationship between verbatim content and negative performance [still] held,” said the researchers.”  What You Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop.  

The takeaway: if you want to transcribe, use technology. If you want to understand, use paper and pen.  Need more incentive to stick with your legal pad?  Using your laptop or tablet during client meetings can be off-putting.  

Everyone looks down when taking notes. But keyboarders – especially those who use touch screens – barely look up.  Clients need to know you are present in the conversation – listening, absorbing, and understanding their story.  When you fail to make eye contact, you fail to engage.  I witness this each time I speak to law students, all of whom bow their heads to “transcribe” (but not understand) my words. 

This is also reminiscent of the results that suggest working paperlessly may not be the most optimal way to read, comprehend, and understand client file materials. 

The original article appears at the Harvard Business Review online. You can read the full post here

Oregon Civil Procedure – Amendments Coming to UTCR 5.100

Out-of-cycle amendments are coming to UTCR 5.100, which governs submission of proposed orders and judgments.  The amendments will affect conventional filers and eFilers, but are designed to address the following concerns raised by judges who sign proposed orders and judgments using the new eCourt system:

  • It is difficult, if not impossible, to know whether proposed orders or judgments are ready for judicial signature;
  • A sufficient and uniform time period to object to proposed orders or judgments is presently lacking;
  • Opposing parties need clear instructions on how to object to proposed orders or judgments; and
  • Protocols are necessary to ensure that parties work to resolve objections before submitting disputed orders and judgments.

For clarity, the proposal to amend UTCR 5.100 breaks the rule up into three parts:

Service

“As amended, the service component … requires service on the opposing party, and an opportunity for objection, as to any proposed order or judgment unless an exception applies. The rule is no longer limited to only those proposed orders and judgments submitted “in response to a ruling of the court.” The purpose of the updated wording is to ensure that the opposing party has a reasonable opportunity to object. The service component also sets out specific notice requirements and lengthens the time between service and submission.”  Read more here.

Objection

The objection component is new and requires service of a written, dated, and signed objection within 7 days of the date that the proposed order or judgment was sent to the opposing party.  If an objection is served by the opposing party, the drafting party must make a reasonable effort to resolve the objection before submitting the proposed order or judgment to the court. However, opposing parties are also permitted to file objections directly with the court.

Practice Tip:  Opposing parties who file an objection directly with the court are required to include in the caption “Objection to Proposed [Order/Judgment]” and must describe the nature of the proposed order or judgment.  If the opposing party requests oral argument, the request must be stated in the caption.

More details are available here.

Submission

The submission component:

  • Retains the Certificate of Service requirement
  • Adds a “Certificate of Readiness” requirement
  • Clarifies that a proposed order or judgment may be submitted sooner than the 7-day period for objection, if:
    • the opposing party has stipulated to or approved the order or judgment, or
    • the opposing party has objected and the objections are resolved or ready for resolution.

The “Certificate of Readiness” certifies that the proposed order or judgment is ready for judicial signature or that objections are ready for resolution, and provides the “readiness” reason.  It will eliminate the need for judges to access multiple documents in the eCourt system to ensure that a proposed order or judgment is ready for signature.

Practice Tip:  UTCR 5.100(3)(c) sets out the language to be used in a “Certificate of Readiness.”  Filers are required to use substantially the same form.  When the rule is adopted, maximize efficiency by copying and pasting the “Certificate of Readiness” language into a template that you can re-use each time you submit a proposed Order or Judgment.

Read more here.

This is the second go-around in the proposed amendment process for UTCR 5.100.  Public comment on proposed revisions will be accepted until August 17.  Since the intention is to amend the rule out-of-cycle, expect an effective date around or before September 1.

[All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2015]

Oregon eCourt – Where are we now?

Judging by the numbers, Oregon eCourt is a success.  In February, March, and April of this year an average of 65,666 documents were filed electronically using the Odyssey eFile and Serve system:  efilings 2015Easy-Peasy or a Bumpy Ride?

The transition from paper-based filing to eFiling hasn’t been easy.

A record number of Oregon lawyers went inactive or resigned from the bar in December 2014/January 2015, leading some to speculate that mandatory eFiling drove veteran members to retire sooner than originally planned.

Why might that be?  eFiling requires an investment of time and money. To succeed, eFilers need to know the rules, understand the technology, subscribe to OJIN/OJCIN, and buy a decent scanner and PDF conversion software.

Rejection Rates

For those who persevered, kudos to you!   Of the 197,000 filings in February, March, and April of this year, less than 10% were rejected.  Bottom line: Oregon lawyers [or their staff] are getting it right.

New Policy and Standards for Acceptance of Electronic Filings

Effective July 1, 2015 Chief Justice Balmer signed Chief Justice Order 15–026, which adopts the OJD Policy and Standards for Acceptance of Electronic Filings in the Oregon Circuit Courts [dated May 22, 2015]:

Statewide standards for the acceptance of electronic filings are intended to provide clear consistent guidance to practitioners and courts on the proper use of the OJD eFiling system (File and Serve). The standards are grouped into two broad categories: (1) how to properly use the system from a technical perspective to ensure acceptance of eFiled documents, and (2) compliance with Uniform Trial Court Rules (UTCR) Chapter 21 or ORCP 9E.

These standards will help educate eFilers on the correct usage of File and Serve to provide them with a high quality experience, support consistent statewide messages to accompany returned electronic filings with instructions on how to cure the error, and allow the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) and eFilers to achieve the full benefits of an electronic filing system.

The policy and standards are available here.

New Supplemental User Guide for eCourt

OJD has also released a new Supplemental User Guide.  This document provides descriptions of the most common mistakes made by eFilers and step-by-step directions for fixing them.  It is a must-read for all lawyers and staff who use the Odyssey eFile and Serve system.

Free Training for Odyssey eFile and Serve

You can still sign up for free training Webinars with Odyssey eFile and Serve. Tyler Technologies, the vendor for Odyssey eFile and Serve, offers both recorded and live sessions here.

UTCR Amendments Coming

Next week, I will review the proposed amendments to UTCR 5.100, which affect orders and judgments.

[All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2015]

Track changes: Display for review options (Word 2010 and 2013)

beverlym:

Track changes can be incredibly useful or drive you batty if you don’t understand option settings. Get smart by following CompuSavvy’s helpful hints.

Originally posted on CompuSavvy's Word & WordPerfect Tips:

People who use Track Changes sometimes find the Display for Review options confusing.  For one thing, some users don’t realize that changing the Display for Review option to “Final” (or, in Word 2013, “No Markup”) doesn’t actually remove the revision marks – for insertions, deletions, formatting changes, moves, etc. – from the document.  Rather, it merely lets you preview the document as it would look if you accepted all of the changes.[1]

For another thing, the wording of the options isn’t particularly easy to understand.  And the wording has changed between Word 2010 and Word 2013, but remains somewhat obscure.

This post is intended to help clarify the various Display for Review options available in Word 2010 and Word 2013.

Display for Review Options in Word 2010

In Word 2010, the Display for Review options are as follows:

Original

This option shows the document as it appeared before any insertions, deletions, moves…

View original 812 more words