The Best of TECHSHOW – Tips and Tricks

Every year the ABA TECHSHOW brings together some of the best legal technology minds our profession has to offer.  This year was no exception.  Over the next few posts I’ll share what I learned at this year’s conference.  Today: the best of 60 Tips in 60 Minutes.

Microsoft Office

Office Ribbon getting in the way? 

Use Ctrl F1 to toggle it off (and on).

View recently opened documents in Word with a quick right click

Want to see the most recently opened items in Word?  Right click on the Word icon on your desktop.  A list of recently opened items appears (whether Word is launched or not.)

Recover unsaved Word 2010/2013 documents or Excel 2010/2013 Workbooks

If your computer crashes and you haven’t saved your document or spreadsheet, act fast to recover your document. In Word or Excel 2010/2013, select File > Info > Manage Versions to recover your unsaved documents.

Print a blank Outlook calendar

A blank Outlook calendar can be handy for coordinating with others, but how can you print one that doesn’t show scheduled court dates, client appointments, or other events?  Easy!  The steps vary according to your version of Outlook.  Here are links to the instructions: Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013.

imagesReveal a sender’s full e-mail address

Sometimes e-mail messages only show the sender’s name.  If you want to see the full e-mail address, follow these steps:  In the blue message header, mouse over the name, right click, choose properties > show full e-mail address.

Need a system to follow-up on sent e-mails? 

Here are two approaches.

Option 1 – Create a “Waiting For” folder in Outlook

Drag e-mails that require a follow-up to this destination. If desired, add a “code” to the body of your message like “wff” (Waiting For Folder).  Create an Outlook rule that looks for this code and auto-files the messages that contain it in the Waiting For Folder.

Option 2 – The cc: method

Set up a “Delegated Mail” folder in Outlook.  Copy yourself on all e-mails that require a follow-up.  Create an Outlook rule that checks messages when they arrive, looks for your name as the sender and for your name in the cc: box.  Direct the rule to file messages that meet this criteria in a “Delegated Mail” folder.

Eliminate long, redundant e-mail threads

In Outlook 2010/2013, delete redundant e-mail strings by using “Clean Up a Conversation.”  The clean up function removes the prior e-mails and keeps only the most recent message – which has the entire thread.

How about a handy shortcut to an e-mail address? 

Create one right on your desktop.  Right click, select New > Shortcut.  In the “Create Shortcut” dialog box, type mailto: and the desired e-mail address. For example: mailto:joesmith@gmail.com (leave no spaces between the colon and the e-mail address). Click Finish.  You can now send an e-mail to Joe directly from your desktop without launching Outlook.

Never forget an attachment again

Download CodeTwo and never forget an e-mail attachment again.  This free download looks for keywords in the body of your e-mail like “enclosed” and “attached” and reminds you to add an attachment before your e-mail is sent.

Bloated e-mail inbox?

Clean it up with Outlook’s cleanup tools.  Choose File > Info > Cleanup Tools.  Choose Mailbox Cleanup… to manage the size of your mailbox with advanced tools, empty deleted items permanently, or move old items to an archive folder.

Disabling “reply to all” or “forwarding”

To prevent clients from forwarding e-mails or using “reply to all” inappropriately use this workaround to disable the functionality.  Yes, a persistent user can still “copy and paste” the body of your e-mail into a new message, but disabling forwarding or “reply to all” tends to stop 99% of perpetrators.

Work with clients or collaborate with colleagues in a different time zone?

Follow these easy steps to add a second time zone to your calendar in Outlook.

Open Your Mail and Calendar in Separate Windows

It can be annoying to toggle back and forth between your mail and other components of Outlook.  From anywhere in Outlook’s Navigation pane (Inbox, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes) right click on the second Outlook item you wish to view and choose “Open in new window.”

Security and Privacy

Looking for a secure flash drive?

Here are three good options: Imation Defender F200 Biometric, Aegis Secure Key, CMS Secure Vault FIPS.

Computer Screen Privacy

Keep prying eyes off your computer screen with PrivateEye from Oculis. Using facial recognition, the software instantly blurs your monitor if you leave your desk or turn away.

Wish you could monitor your servers remotely?

lockYou can with PC Monitor.  Compatible with iPad, iPhone, iPod. Free for non-commercial use.

Secure external hard drives

Just as flash drives should be encrypted or protected with biometrics, lawyers should take similar precautions to secure external hard drives.  Here are three choices:   Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Secure Hard Drive, Aegis Padlock, CMS Secure Disk Vault.

That Pesky Facebook

If you love connecting with friends and family on Facebook, but are worried about who might have access to your data, check out MyPermissions. Sign up to receive alerts when a Facebook app gains access to your personal information.

Productivity

Addicted to multiple monitors and wish you had one for the road?

You can with the portable Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 14″ widescreen LED travel monitor.  Available on Amazon for under $200.

Looking for a fast, simple solution for installing apps on your new computer?

Try Ninite – directly download the most commonly used Web apps with no muss, no fuss.

proMeet the new scanner on the block

Everyone knows about the Fujitsu Scansnap s1500, but meet the new and improved kid on the block:  the Fujitsu Scansnap iX500. Bundled with Adobe Acrobat Standard, supports scanning to iOS and Android devices, improved resolution, and improved paper handling.  A work horse for under $500.  Ideal for most solos or as a supplementary scanner deployed at workstations throughout your office.

Stop carpal tunnel in its tracks

To avoid carpal tunnel, your keyboard must be appropriately positioned for your use. 3M offers quality keyboard trays that do the trick for around $160.

Why is your fillable form blank?

To “lock in” the contents of a fillable form, you must flatten the PDF.  Here’s how in Acrobat 9.  In Acrobat X or later, use an action.

Tip Grab Bag

Shopping for the best cloud service to backup your data?imagesCAVCNTYX

Visit Backup Review or follow the site on Twitter @backupreview – new reviews daily.

Splash happens.  Want to waterproof your iPhone?

Not a bad idea since water damage voids the warranty.  Try Liquipel.

Are you on LinkedIn

Did you know that you can reposition the components of your LinkedIn profile to feature preferred content? By default, Experience, Skills & Expertise, and Education appear “below the fold” after Activity and Background.  If you prefer a different sort order, simply drag and drop.

Many thanks to the 60 Tips in 60 Minutes presenters for all these great ideas

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis – 2013

How to Use Acrobat XI on Your iPad

Adobe TV Is a great way to learn Acrobat and its features. Here’s an episode about using Acrobat XI on touch devices like the iPad. Learn about the new Touch mode that provides smoother scrolling, the ability to swipe to scroll a page, accelerated swiping to allow to you to scroll quickly through large documents, and pinching to zoom.

Complying with PDF/A Filing Requirements

Did you miss the PDF/A Webinar offered by Acrobat for Legal Professionals? Watch the recording and:

Learn about the various “flavors” of PDF/A
See the new PDF/A-related features in Acrobat XI for easier conformance:
Find out the requirements and restrictions of PDF/A
How to create PDF/A using multiple methods
Working in PDF/A View Mode
Use the Standards Panel
Verify compliance with PDF/A
Conform existing PDF documents for compliancy with PDF/A
Use Actions to automate PDF/A conversion or conformance

Access the recorded Webinar here.

Free Webinar – How to Use PDF/A in Federal Courts

On Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 10:00 am Pacific Time, Acrobat for Legal Professionals will offer a FREE Webinar on PDF/A.  Federal courts and public agencies are moving toward use of PDF/A for all filing submissions.  Soon legal professionals will be obligated to use this format when efiling documents in the federal system.  Attend this FREE program and:

  • Learn about the various “flavors” of PDF/A
  • See the new PDF/A-related features in Acrobat XI for easier conformance:
    • Find out the requirements and restrictions of PDF/A
    • How to create PDF/A using multiple methods
    • Working in PDF/A View Mode
    • Use the Standards Panel
    • Verify compliance with PDF/A
    • Conform existing PDF documents for compliancy with PDF/A
    • Use Actions to automate PDF/A conversion or conformance

Register here.  If you are not able to attend the live Webinar, the program will be recorded and a link will be posted at the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog a few days after the event.

 

Hot off the Presses: Acrobat XI – What Can it Do for Lawyers?

On Monday Adobe announced the release of Acrobat XI.  According to Rick Borstein, author of the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog, “the latest version of Acrobat offers many new features that will be valuable to legal professionals.”  Rick will post more in the coming weeks, but for now, here is his top 10 list of new features for lawyers:

  1. PDF editing
  2. Easier PDF/A conformance
  3. Save PDF to PowerPoint
  4. Redesigned Combine Panel (for combining PDFs)
  5. Forms Central (stand alone tool for creating forms)
  6. Webmail Support
  7. Create PDF and Run Action (e.g. Macros)
  8. Improved eSigning
  9. Editing Restrictions
  10. Customized Toolset (create your own Quick Tools toolbar or panels)

To understand what these changes mean and how they will enhance your use of Acrobat, read Rick’s full blog post here.

Filing Client E-Mail

Three years ago I conducted a twtpoll asking for feedback on how law firms file client e-mail.  I wanted to know:

  • Who files the e-mail in your office – lawyers or staff?
  • How is it filed – electronically or in paper form?

The results were mixed.  Here are some of the comments I received:

  • “Attorneys are supposed to file (e-mails) in Time Matters, but they end up in folders in Outlook, junking up the e-mail memory.”
  • “Lawyer (solo) files e-mail in Clients’ Outlook folders.”
  • “We use Gmail … and use search to find (messages).”
  • “We label e-mails with appropriate matter/client name in Gmail and archive or backup as needed.”
  • “E-mails are printed and placed in the client’s file.”

These answers illustrate four common problems:

  • Law firms using Web mail are not filing client e-mail on their local hard drive or server.
  • Lawyers are treating Outlook and Gmail folders as a filing cabinet for e-mail.
  • No one is really addressing the issue of who should be filing client e-mail (if filed electronically).
  • Gasp!  Some people are still printing e-mail!

Three years later, I would love to report: problem solved!  But firms continue to struggle with this task.  Therefore, here is a reprise of my original post with additional suggestions on how to properly process and retain client e-mail.  (Spoiler: Keeping it in your inbox is not the answer.)

E-Mail Must Be Properly Filed

E-mail should be segregated by client and saved electronically in the same network or local folder where Pleadings, Correspondence, Research, etc. are stored.  Create a specific subfolder within the client’s main folder, or include e-mail in Correspondence.  Use inbox organizers, filing assistants, and other techniques to make the process easier.

Storing e-mail with other client documents allows you to have a complete electronic record that everyone in the firm can access.  When e-mail sits in your inbox, no one else working on the case can see it, and no one else will know what is going on.   As you accumulate more and more messages, your inbox becomes bloated.  Merely archiving or backing up e-mail is not an ideal solution for several reasons:

  1. E-mails may be archived in their original HTML format which typically consumes more space than e-mails preserved as .txt  or .pdf files.
  2. Attachments may or may not be captured by archiving.
  3. The archive may reside in the cloud – not the end of the world, but the whole idea here is to maintain a local copy of your client e-mail communications.
  4. If you need e-mails pertaining to a particular client, you will have to restore the entire archive or backup.  This is time-consuming, space-consuming, and will involve work on your part to sort, search, and identify the specific messages for which you are looking.

Decide Who Should File Messages

Solos with No Staff

If you are a solo practitioner with no staff, you will be filing your own e-mail.  I recommend the “file as you go” approach.  As you receive or send client e-mail, save it immediately into the client’s electronic folder on your hard drive or server and delete the copy in your inbox.  If this gives you pause, then create client folders in your e-mail program as a temporary holding place.  Let me repeat that:  temporary holding place.  I understand many attorneys like to leave e-mail in their e-mail program because they find it easier to work with.  I can live with that. For a time. But at some point you should create a routine to move e-mail messages out of your e-mail folders into the client’s electronic folder on your computer.  There are many ways to do this easily and efficiently.

Solos with Staff; Law Firms

If you have staff, or are in a firm, you have other choices.

Option 1:  Forward e-mail to your secretary or assistant for electronic filing

Pros:  Forwarding e-mail means you stay in control.  Private or confidential firm e-mails remain in your inbox.  Only client e-mail is forwarded, with the benefit of keeping your staff person in the communication loop.

Cons:  You remain in control of your inbox.  If you aren’t good about forwarding messages, it defeats the purpose of this approach.  In addition, your IT Department may not appreciate such a scheme.  Every time you forward an e-mail, three copies exist:  the original that hit your inbox, the copy you forwarded, and the forwarded message received by your secretary or assistant.  Unless you are diligent about deleting the first two, your firm will be storing all three.

Option 2:  Give your secretary or assistant full access to your inbox

Pros:  If you give staff access, the e-mail will get filed.  Staff and others will be in the communication loop.  If you don’t want to be bothered with filing your own e-mail or forwarding it, this may be the approach for you.

Cons:  Staff will have to wade through a lot of messages to tackle this task.  Firms who choose this option must refrain from sending sensitive information to attorneys via e-mail.  As an alternative, confidential documents such as employee evaluations or law firm financial statements can be posted in a secure place on the server accessible only to those who have permission rights.

No matter which approach you use, here are some additional tips to make the process go more smoothly:

Train Staff

Make sure staff understand their role in filing e-mail – whether they do so directly from your inbox, or upon receipt when you forward messages.  If the “people” part of this process fails, you may end up with no record of your electronic correspondence.

Keep Personal E-Mail Out Of Your Business Account

Many lawyers and staff are already overwhelmed by the amount of e-mail they must process.  Slogging through personal e-mail in addition to business e-mail makes it more difficult to find critical, time-sensitive messages.

Keep personal e-mail personal.  Doing so will save space on your business server, protect your privacy at work, and prevent business e-mail from bouncing back to the sender because your inbox is full of personal messages.

Zap the Spam

Use a spam filter to keep the garbage out of your inbox.  Postini, MailWasher, POPFile, Spamfence, Spamihilator, and K9 are all good products.  (Remember to check your quarantine summaries daily in case your spam filter is holding back a legitimate message.)

Take Back Your Inbox by Unsubscribing

If you order software or products online, you have probably acquired e-mail subscriptions you don’t want or need.  Sure, you can delete these messages from your work e-mail – just as you delete spam – but wouldn’t it be better if you never saw the messages at all?  The truth is that deleting e-mail means reading e-mail – or at least skimming through your inbox.  Talk about a time waster!  Get serious about unsubscribing!  “Constant contact” updates and broadcast e-mail product announcements have Unsubscribe links – usually at the bottom of the e-mail message.  Look for the link and click to get off these lists.  As you shop online in the future, use your personal e-mail (not your business e-mail) for purchases.  (Or better yet, set up a separate free e-mail account used exclusively for online shopping.)  The goal is to reduce your business e-mail to only those messages that relate to your law practice.

Don’t  Use (Outlook) Rules to “File” Client E-Mail

Don’t get me wrong.  Rules definitely serve a purpose.  I use rules (based on domain name) to direct Listserv messages to designated folders.  You can use rules to copy and forward all e-mail coming from a court domain to your assistant so he or she is copied on court notices.   What doesn’t work is relying on rules to “file” client e-mail.  Even if you were willing to suffer the tedium of creating a rule based on each client’s e-mail address, client’s don’t always use the same account to communicate with their lawyers.  And of course, trying to base a rule on a subject line is impossible.  How many times have you received (or sent) an e-mail with NO subject line?  Or continued an e-mail thread based on a subject line that ran its course?  Rules require consistency to work properly, and subjects lines don’t offer that security.  In addition, Rules created while you are connected to your office Network typically don’t run when using Outlook Web Access or similar remote access apps.

Get Your E-Mail Off the Web

I find it ironic that folks who are leery of cloud computing (SaaS) don’t give their Hotmail, GMail, or Yahoo!  accounts a second thought.

When you leave e-mail on a Web server, your confidential client data is not entirely under your control.  If your provider’s server is down, or you can’t get on the Internet, you can’t get to your information.  Macs and PCs both ship with e-mail programs.   Poke around.  I guarantee a preloaded program is available on your computer.  Set it up to download your Web mail.  This doesn’t cost you a dime.  Go to your Web mail’s Help page and search for instructions on how to download Web mail to your specific program.  For Google, log in to Gmail, click on Help, and click on POP under “Other Ways to Access Gmail.”  Google offers instructions for setting up Apple Mail, Outlook Express, Outlook 2002, 2003, and 2007, Thunderbird, Windows Mail, the iPhone, and other mail clients.

Once you are downloading e-mail to a local program on your computer, you can save it, print it to PDF, or at least archive it locally (my least preferred method of saving e-mail – see the issues discussed above).  Remember:  the idea is to sort e-mail by client, get it out of your inbox, and into the client’s file on your network or local hard drive.

If you absolutely, positively, cannot be persuaded to download your Web mail, then I strongly recommend you print messages to PDF.  If you don’t own and can’t afford Adobe Acrobat, then download a free PDF writer.   As you open and read each Web mail message, simply “print” it to your PDF printer and save it on your hard drive or server in the client’s electronic folder.

Copyright Beverly Michaelis 2012

Postscript

I’m proud to say I took my own advice this past summer.  After “doing as I say,” I cut incoming e-mails in half.

30 Twitter Tips on Marketing, Social Media, and Technology

And now my final installment of news that may have passed you by in June.  The best of the best on marketing, social media, and technology posted on Twitter last month:

Marketing and Social Media

Technology

The Paperless Office

Privacy and Security

Cloud Computing

Dictation

Apps

  • Fastcase Tip 23: Utilize the extended toolbar at top and the ‘jump to most relevant paragraph’ option to save you time! (via @fastcase)
  • Quick Look: New Fastcase Android App by @catherinereach (RT @danpinnington RT @JoanHFeldman RT @attnyatwork)

Tech Tips