Escape from the Office

If you’re a regular reader, you are accustomed to my annual “reminder” to build vacation plans into your schedule.9371665116_dca14d2541_k

Work without rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation leads to burnout.  So banish the excuses!  This will take a bit of effort and planning, but your body and mind will thank you.

I Can’t Afford It

“If I’m not at the office, I can’t bill.  If I can’t bill, I won’t get paid.”  True enough, but there is a solution:  budget for your vacation.  A bit of research and number crunching is in order here.  First, calculate your vacation expenses. This should be relatively easy.  Next, quantify the lost revenue you need to replace during your time out of the office.  Now that you know how much you need, begin setting aside funds every week to meet your financial goal.  If necessary, find little ways to cut back that can really add up: like bringing your lunch to work, deferring your daily Starbucks fix, using public transportation, or telecommuting.  Saving weekly will keep you on track and help manage expectations. If you’re just getting started, then your plans this year may be more modest.  Next year, you can begin saving for your summer vacation in January.

I’m Too Busy

Work will never go away, but I guarantee that if you look ahead in your calendar you will find a block of time with no commitments.  Even if you haven’t made plans yet, block the time out now before your calendar fills up.  If you have a habit of backsliding, enlist your family as enforcers.  This time should be sacred.  If you need an extra incentive, consider non-refundable travel reservations.

Preparation is Key

If you’re a member of a firm, going on vacation is a matter of meeting with other lawyers who will be covering cases during your absence.  If you are a sole practitioner, use the buddy system.  Find a colleague who is experienced in your practice area and willing to cover for you.  This arrangement is usually reciprocal and is helpful if you have an unexpected absence from the office due to injury or a medical condition.

Get a game plan in place:

  • Notify clients, opposing counsel, judges, or other appropriate parties that you will be out of the office;
  • Prep your files.  They should be well-organized and current, with status memos so your buddy can easily step in if needed;
  • Create a “Countdown Schedule.”  Identify what needs to be done when and whether certain tasks can wait until your return;
  • Allow for wind down.  As your vacation approaches, leave time in your schedule to finish up last minute work.  Reduce or refer out new matters;
  • Train staff.  Do they have a clear understanding of office procedures?  How will they screen client calls during your absence?  Give them parameters for contacting you or your buddy in the event of an emergency.
  • Resist constantly checking voice mail, e-mail, or text messages.  Technology is a God-send, but part of rejuvenation is taking a break from our instant Internet society. Checking in is okay, but stick to a schedule to avoid obsessing over what is going on back at the office.  Remember – you have an emergency plan in place.  If something happens, staff or your buddy will get a hold of you.
  • Avoid post-vacation overload.  Just as you blocked out dates to go on vacation, allow yourself time to get back up-to-speed.  Otherwise, you’re right back where you started.

Give yourself and your family a well-deserved break.  With a bit of organization, you can budget for (and enjoy) your time off.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

Use Strikingly to Enhance Your Job Search

Looking for a job?  Stand out from other candidates by creating your own personal Web site with Strikingly.  Simply create a login, then choose from one of six templates under the Personal tab or scroll to the bottom of the page and select “One Click Online Resume” to convert your LinkedIn profile to a personal Web site.  It’s that easy and it’s free!

To give you an idea of how Strikingly uses LinkedIn, let’s do a comparison of the two.

Here is a partial screen grab of my LinkedIn Profile:

Here is a partial screen grab of my Strikingly Web site:

Click edit to change the background image, upload your own image, change the template style, add content or edit content.  Save at any time to avoid losing your edits and use Preview to test drive your site before making it live. When you’re done, click Publish.

To navigate your site, use the slide bar or simply scroll down the page.  (Note:  recommendations follow experience, but don’t have their own navigation.)

What did I appreciate about Strikingly?

  • It is incredibly easy to use.  Hard to beat a “one click and you’re done” Web site.
  • If you build one personal site and don’t mind the strikingly.com domain name, there is no charge.
  • Sites are available instantly – about 10 seconds and I was off and running.
  • Editing is easy and intuitive.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn I could upload my own background images and change the template style.
  • Stock iconography and logos are used advantageously to enhance content.
  • A key recommendation was showcased in an appealing way.
  • Publicize your new site on Twitter or Facebook when done!

If you are looking for a more engaging, interesting way to present your qualifications, please give Strikingly a try.  Take the time to edit and personalize your site by uploading your own background image and tweaking the template.  For custom domains and other features, check out the Limited or Pro pricing plans.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brush Up on Oregon Notary Law

The Oregon Secretary of State is offering free notary seminars statewide in May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.  Dates, times, and locations are available here.  Get comprehensive training on what a notary is, responsibilities and liabilities, how to notarize, notary certificates, and how to maintain a notary journal.  Learn more about electronic notarization and ask questions about procedures and practices.

Setting Up an Effective Filing System

I’m a member of Slideshare, a site where users “share what they know and love through presentations, infographics, documents and more.”

As a Slideshare contributor, I receive weekly analytics.  With over 9,000 views to date, my most popular document by a long shot is Setting Up an Effective Filing Systemslideshare

This article first appeared in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin in June 2000.  At a time when practitioners feel compelled to go digital and store data in the cloud, why would an article addressing organization of paper files remain in high demand?  It must be that many still prefer tangible documents and folders.

If you are a legal professional who likes paper, but struggles with how to organize files, here is an up-to-date redeux of an oldie, but a goodie:

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

Oregon’s Social Media Law

I first wrote about Oregon’s social media law when HB 2654 was passed by the Senate in May 2013.

A year later, Dan Webb Howard has penned an interesting article for the May 2014 issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, A Cure Worse than the Disease? Oregon’s New Social Media Law.”

The idea behind HB 2654 was to protect the social media privacy rights of employees and job applicants.  But as Howard describes, the law may have unintended consequences:

The “Employer Account” Exception

Social media accounts that are “provided by” or “used on behalf of the employer” are an exception to the non-disclosure provisions of HB 2654.  Howard points out that the exception is “so broadly worded that it could have the perverse effect of forfeiting an employee’s control over personal information contained in a social media account that he or she created.”

Employees Cannot be Compelled to Permit “Shoulder Surfing” or add the Employer as a Social Media Contact

Next Howard discusses the meaning of the term “compel.”  HB 2654 fails to provide a definition, which opens the door for speculation.  Why does this matter?  Because two of the key provisions of the law prohibit compelling employees or applicants to (a) add the employer as a social media contact or (b) access password protected social media content in the presence of the employer.

When are “Supervisors” also “Employers” under HB 2654?

The last murky detail concerns vicarious liability for actions of supervisors.  Howard suggests preparing for the worst-case scenario: “that even the lowest-level supervisor might ultimately be deemed an ‘employer’ for purposes of HB 2654.”

Read the Hypotheticals and Suggested Solutions

Throughout the article, Howard provides a series of hypotheticals to illustrate his points.  He also offers spot-on advice for employees and employers.  Read the full article here.

 

 

Treating Clients Well

In today’s legal economy, developing business and marketing to prospective clients is the centerpiece of nearly every lawyer’s existence. Whether you are a sole practitioner, an associate or a seasoned partner, you will most likely need or be expected to cultivate and grow your own clientele.

Some firms lean heavily on web design and search engine optimization to attract prospects. Others rely on referrals. Both approaches are effective, but incomplete. The next step is to deliver top-notch client service, starting with understanding and meeting client needs. Continue reading

Email Filing Assistants for the Mac

Are you tired of dragging messages to Inbox folders?  Try using an email filing assistant to speed up the process!

How do Email Filing Assistants (EFAs) Work?

Email filing assistants help “automate” filing of email into folders by using algorithms to learn and adapt to your email filing habits.  After you “train” the assistant for a time, filing email in the correct folder is a simple process.

Whether you are sending a message or replying to a message, the filing assistant “guesses” which folder the message belongs in.  (Accuracy rates are 80-90%).  There are no configuration wizards, no set-up, and no rules to maintain.

EFAs for Mac Users

I’ve written before about electronic filing assistants for PC/Outlook users, but what about Mac?

Option One – EFA Lite 2 or EFA 3 from Schulz

The first contender is the Email Filing Assistant from Schulz Software. The company offers a free versionEFA Lite 2 and a pro version for $6.99 – EFA 3.  Both are compatible with Apple Mail and require Mac OS X or later.  This chart explains the differences between the two versions.  EFA Lite 2 is unrated in the App Store.  EFA 3 (the pro version) has a three-star rating from 8 reviewers.

If you are tempted by EFA’s free version, check out this post from Addictive TipsEFA does not offer support or documentation, although there is an FAQ page. A few testimonials are available here.

Option Two – Msg Filer

A second option is MsgFiler.  From the outset, MsgFiler seems to be a more tried and true brand – touting a rating of 4.5 mice from Macworld and 4.5 stars from 130 reviewers on the App Store.  The testimonials are numerous.  Support appears to be more robust than EFA and the documentation section of the MsgFiler site has helpful screenshots and detailed how-tos.  The app is $9.99 in the Mac App Store, and from all appearances is well worth it.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

 

 

 

Case Numbers are Not Unique – Oregon eCourt Week

This is the final post in my week-long series on Oregon eCourt. Today we take note of a small, but potentially important detail: case numbers are not unique in the eCourt system.

After logging on, eCourt users have an option to search case records, court calendars, or find judgments with money awards. If you elect to search Civil, Family and Probate Case Records, the following search screen appears:

search screenThe first option is to search by Case Number. Here is an actual search result that generated three listings in three different jurisdictions for the identical Case Number. Identifying information has been redacted for privacy reasons:

case numbers

Identical case numbers across judicial districts do not pose a problem so long as you are aware of the possibility.

Other Options when Searching Case Records

Searching by Case Number is the first option presented when searching case records. Users may also search by Party, Attorney, or Date Filed.

other search criteria

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis.

 

Searching eCourt Calendars – Oregon eCourt Week

Today we explore how to search court calendars in the Oregon eCourt system.

There are two options for searching calendars. The first uses a publicly accessible link from the Oregon Judicial Department home page. The second approach requires logging in to the eCourt system. The search methods are identical regardless of the approach used.

The following search criteria are available when searching eCourt calendars:

  • Attorney
  • Case
  • Judicial Officer
  • Party or Defendant Name
  • Date Range

Search by Case is the default search method. To search by any other criteria, click the drop-down arrow.

When searching by Attorney, use the attorney’s last name and first name or bar number.

search by attorney

When searching by Judicial Officer, the search screen offers a pull-down menu of all judicial officers in the state in ascending order, beginning with Abar, Donald and ending with Zuver, Julie:

search by judicial officer

When searching by Date Range, you can filter your search by Case Category. Case categories include: Criminal, Family, Civil, and Probate/Mental Health. By default, all four are selected. De-select categories you do not wish to include in your search.

date range

Phonetic Searches Using Soundex

Phonetic searches are available when searching by Party or Defendant Name or by Attorney if using last name and first name criteria. Check the Soundex box in the upper right portion of the screen to retrieve calendar dates for search names that sound alike.

eCourt Calendar Searches Limited to 90 Days in the Future

When searching the calendar, date ranges cannot be more than 90 days in the future. If you attempt to search more than 90 days out, the following message will appear:

date range message

Searching OJIN Circuit Court Calendars

Search OJIN Circuit Court Calendars here. Search criteria are limited to Date, Party Name, and Attorney. Note these conditions:

The (OJIN Circuit) Court Calendar allows entering up to four identifiers to locate an event occurring on a specific court docket. A minimum of at least one identifier is required. Providing more information will result in more accurate search returns.

The Party Name and Attorney fields are case-insensitive and can be all or part of a name. For example, entering “John” in the Party Name field will give results of all the cases with “John,” “Johnson,” and “Van Johnson.”

Names are stored in the same manner as in the OJIN system “Last First Middle” with no commas and one space between names. For example, Michael Jay Smith is actually stored as “Smith Michael Jay.” Searching for “Michael Jay Smith” will not find any results; however, searching for “Smith Michael” or “Smith M” or “Smith Michael Jay” will include the desired results.

You can only search for the first plaintiff and defendant on a case. You can only search for the first three attorneys on a case, with the system first looking for attorneys on the scheduled event and then for active attorneys on the case. Search results will return the first 500 entries on the docket.

OJIN Online subscribers have access to more functionality.

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.