Best of 60 Tips in 60 Minutes – 2017 ABA TECHSHOW

Yesterday I shared the Best in Mobile Apps for IOS and Android from the 2017 ABA TECHSHOW.  Today: the Best of 60 Tips in 60 Minutes with ideas on:

  • Blockchain Technology [A direct payment solution that bypasses banks]
  • Document and Workflow Automation
  • Document Indexing
  • Email
  • eSignatures
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Hardware Hacks
  • Lawyer Websites
  • Meeting Apps
  • Microsoft Office
  • Mirroring Content from Mobile Devices
  • Mobile Scanners
  • Note Taking
  • Online Collaboration
  • Online Intake
  • Organization
  • Outsourcing Tasks
  • Practice Management Software
  • Productivity
  • Proofreading
  • Saving Money
  • Scheduling Assistants
  • Security
  • Social Media Management
  • Slide Presentations
  • Spam
  • Timekeeping
  • Travel
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Web Conferencing

For a recap, click here or on the image below.

Naming Your Law Firm

There is plenty of advice out there on how to name your law practice.

LawLytics suggests your name should convey trustworthiness, prestige, and experience. This post from Above the Law pokes a bit of fun at the prototypical ampersand law firms: A, B, C, D & E LLP.  Lawyerist reminds us there are ethical and state regulatory considerations. Yes, indeed!  More on that below!  And I love the fact that WikiHow actually has an entry entitled “4 Ways to Choose a Law Firm Name.” (While the graphics are off-putting, it’s actually an okay read.)

Let me bottom-line it for you: there are times when lawyers can benefit by taking advice from the business world, and this is one of those times.

What’s in a name?

Moving on ……..

What are the dos and don’ts in selecting a name?

The best advice I found was on Findlaw.  A little ironic, since it was written by lawyers for potential business clients, but good is good.  Here is a summary:

  • Make your name descriptive.
  • Say it out loud: how does it sound?
  • What does it look like?  What kind of visual impact will it make on business cards and other materials?
  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is it unique enough? (Also a legal requirement. Your choice must be “distinguishable upon the record.”)
  • Does it pass the abbreviation and acronym test?  (Make sure the shortened version of your name doesn’t spell out something embarrassing.)
  • Consider the meaning of your name in other languages if relevant to your practice.
  • Avoid names that are too long.
  • Avoid trendy names, since trends come and go.
  • Don’t imply by the name that your practice is somehow affiliated with or approved by a branch of the government. (Also an ethical requirement.)
  • Run your proposed name by family members and friends.

Read the complete post here.  For a chronological list of the steps involved in choosing a business name, see this resource sheet, also on Findlaw.

Assumed business name requirements in Oregon

If you’re an Oregon lawyer you should be proud of our Secretary of State (SOS) website. It really does a good job of educating businesses and providing information.  Assumed business names (ABNs) or what us old-school types call DBAs (doing business as) is no exception.  Here is exactly what you need to know about ABNs in Oregon.  Even better is this graphic, which comes from a PDF brochure on the SOS website:

abns

The ethics of naming your practice

Oregon RPC 7.5(c)(1) prohibits a lawyer from practicing under a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyers practicing under the name or that contains names other than those of lawyers in the firm. Oregon RPC 7.5(e) prohibits lawyers from holding themselves out as practicing in a law firm unless the lawyers are actually members of the firm.  This means:

  • Don’t append “and associates” to your firm name unless you actually have associates (staff don’t count).
  • Don’t use the firm name Smith, Jones, & Taylor if you are solo practitioners sharing office space and not practicing together as firm members.
  • Avoid adding “Law Group” to your name unless are two or more lawyers in the firm (staff don’t count).
  • Nonlawyer names are not permitted as part of the firm name.  You may list nonlawyers on letterhead if the nonlawyer’s status is clearly identified.  For example, if your legal assistant is Alyssa Jones, you may list her on your letterhead head as:

Alyssa Jones
Legal Assistant

Lawyers are also prohibited from using trade names that suggest a connection with government or with a public or charitable legal services organization.

Historical firm names and multi-jurisdictional practice

Using names of deceased or retired lawyers is permitted.  Multi-jurisdictional firms can use the same name in both jurisdictions, “so long as the letterhead listing of firm members indicates the jurisdictional limits of those not authorized in the jurisdiction where the office is located.”  See What’s In a Name: Things to consider before hanging that shingle.

Statutory requirements for PCs, LLCs, and LLPs

If you form a PC, LLC, or LLP, then the terms professional corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership or their respective abbreviations must appear as part of the firm’s name. ORS 67.625(1); ORS 58.115; ORS 63.094(1).

What about domain names?

Oregon does not have an ethics opinion specifically addressing the use of domain names.  Other jurisdictions do.  Arizona forbids domain names that imply a special competency or affiliation that is not factually true.  Ohio prohibits domain names that are misleading or claim a specialization.  New York and New Jersey are very particular in their rules.  California doesn’t have a straight-off statement on the subject, but has issued an opinion stating that the rules that apply to “communication” and “advertising” apply to websites.  Presumably this includes domain names.  Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma Texas, and Virginia have also chimed in on this topic.

Oregon lawyers are advised “to be mindful of the overarching prohibition against misleading communications” when selecting a domain name.  That seems like pretty good advice to me.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

Flex Space and Other Meeting Options for the Home-Based Practitioner

Practicing from home has its challenges, chief among them finding a place to meet with clients.

Until recent years, meeting options were fairly limited. Some lawyers elected to pay for an executive suite.  Others borrowed a colleague’s conference room, met clients at their location, or gritted their teeth and used coffee shops.  A few lawyers invited clients into their homes.

woman-with-laptop

Traditional Meeting Options Aren’t the Greatest

Executive suites are fine, if you can afford one.  Using someone else’s conference room is hit or miss. Going to your client’s location can be a nice touch, but isn’t always optimal. Be prepared for interruptions from others vying for your client’s attention.

Coffee shops are bad for the obvious reason (confidentiality) and some would add they are unprofessional.

Seeing clients in your home?  I am not a fan.  You are sacrificing your privacy and the privacy of everyone else you live with.  In addition, most jurisdictions require a special permit and a business license.  In addition to the fees involved, your special permit may carry a long list of conditions and standards.  Tigard’s “home occupation permit” is an example.  Also be prepared to purchase a rider on your homeowner’s policy adding premises liability coverage for business invitees.  (If you’re a renter, the same would apply to your renter’s insurance – assuming you are allowed by the terms of your rental agreement or lease to operate a business on the premises.)  Have I discouraged you yet? Good. I’m all for working at home.  I’m only opposed to seeing clients at home.

Flex and Co-Working Spaces

Fortunately, there are a growing number of flex space and co-working options. What makes them different from an executive suite? You can book co-working space, a business center, or shared space by the hour, day, or month on-demand through a website.  Think of it as Airbnb for client meetings.

Here are two to consider: ShareDesk and LiquidSpace.  Both are good solutions for meeting space in larger metro areas, or if you need to set up a meeting out of state.  As they catch on,  I suspect options in less populated areas will become available too.

In the Portland metro area, take a look at:

Another possibility is Regus meeting rooms by the hour.  (Regus is a long-time competitor in the executive suite business.  A quick check of their site shows meeting rooms available in Portland, not elsewhere in Oregon. Perhaps a better option for out-of-state business meetings… ?)

Some flex spaces require membership or give perks and discounts to members. Depending on specifics, this may end up making them very similar to an executive suite.

Statewide Meeting Options in Oregon

If you don’t know about the “Oregon Meeting Rooms” list on the Professional Liability Fund website you’re missing out.  Visit the website, select Practice Management, then Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and locate the heading “Other Options for Meeting Space – Metro Area | Statewide.”  A link to the meeting list appears here. It contains four pages of options for free or inexpensive meeting space made available by libraries, bar associations, and courthouses throughout Oregon.  The state is well-covered, with meeting options in places like Dallas, Lakeview, and Vale in addition to the valley, coast, central Oregon, and larger cities in eastern Oregon.

Portland Metro Area Choices

  • The Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room is free meeting space courtesy of the PLF and Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. To learn more, visit the PLF website, select Practice Management, then Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room.
  • The Multnomah Bar Association makes its conference room available at no charge to members.  Read about the conference room use policy here.
  • The Oregon State Bar offers meeting rooms on an hourly, half-day, and full-day basis.  Extensive amenities; check the website for rates.
  • Naegeli Deposition & Trial generously makes its conference room available to Oregon lawyers.  Contact Naegli by phone for more information: (800) 528-3335.
  • Specialty bar groups may also be willing to lend out their conference rooms – make a phone call if you want to pursue this option.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

Rural Law Practice – An Essential Need

The day after Christmas the following headline caught my eye on Twitter: Lawyer Shortage In Some Rural Areas Reaches Epic Proportions.

neighborhood

As it turns out, the tweet was about a report on NPR that profiled a lawyer in Nebraska who travels 500+ miles a week visiting clients.

But this isn’t just a Nebraska problem, and it didn’t begin in 2016.

The lack of rural lawyers has been highlighted right here in the Pacific Northwest:

How are states addressing this unmet need?

The lack of rural lawyers has real access to justice implications, as reported in April of last year.  (Legal Aid holds Oregon’s first virtual legal aid clinic to help address the disproportionate ratio between legal aid needs and available legal aid attorneys in the state’s rural areas.)

The NPR piece points out that some states, like North Dakota, Iowa and others, send law students to rural firms for summer internships. South Dakota gives a stipend to lawyers working in under-served areas. Nebraska (the home state of the lawyer featured in the piece) is recruiting high school kids to become rural lawyers.  Each year, 15 high schoolers get a tuition scholarship and future admission to the University of Nebraska Law School.  Utah, Colorado, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin are trying to tackle the problem too.

Back here in Oregon

Oregon is working to draw attention to this need and offers the Rural Opportunities Fellowship Program through the OSB Diversity and Inclusion Department.  The fellowship allows continuing law students to explore summer legal opportunities with public employers and non-profit organizations in rural Oregon (defined as anywhere along the Oregon coast, anywhere east of the Cascade Mountains, or anywhere south of Roseburg. Other areas of Oregon are considered on a case-by-case basis).

Ask Any Practice Management Expert

And ask any (aged? experienced?) practice management expert – we have been telling young lawyers to consider rural law practices for over 20 years.  The suggestion began with my excellent colleague, Carol Wilson, and was carried forward by myself and Dee Crocker.  If you don’t want to listen to us, then consider this: legal marketing trends show that 71% of people looking for a lawyer think it is important to have a local attorney.  If you want clients, put the Tim Brouillette’s of the world out of business.  (Tim is the Nebraska lawyer who travels 500+ miles each week to visit clients.  No offense Tim, but if we can get lawyers to set up shop closer to where the need is you won’t need to travel so much.)

Something tells me Tim won’t mind….

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

ABA Blueprint: What Is it and Why Should I Care?

ABA Blueprint.combp is a new tool designed to help solo and small firm lawyers find what
they need to run their firm.  Any lawyer may browse the website for resources and information.  Technology, marketing, insurance, retirement, and practice management services are available to ABA members only.  Here’s an overview:

Services for ABA Members at Blueprint.com

  • Discounts on products and services
  • Access to free practice management consultants
  • Firm Builder (see below)
  • Ability to save solutions to your Blueprint account so you don‘t lose your research

If this sounds good to you, check out ABA membership here.  Dues are pro-rated based on your date of original bar admission.  Membership is free for 2016 and 2017 admittees.

Resources Non-ABA Members Can Access at Blueprint.com

Informative BLOG Posts

At ABA Blueprint, click the logo (upper left) to visit the Home page.  Scroll to the bottom to find a feed of the latest posts from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center blog. Examples include using email newsletters, trends in legal technology, website costsgetting the most out of online forms, and state data breach notification laws.

Universal Solutions

Anyone can visit the Universal Solutions page to look at the curated list of products for starting a firm, growing a firm, getting paid, building a team, mastering eDiscovery, and insuring your family and future.  Keep in mind the listed discounts are for ABA members only.  The ABA expects to add more products in the future.  Here are the highlights:

Universal Solution Category Discount Offered
to ABA Members
Projected
Annual Savings
Start a Firm Now Office 365

Clio

$222.00-$363.84
Help Me Get Paid Clio

LawPay

QuickBooks Online

$361.60-$595.00
Help Me Grow Lexicata

MailChimp

LexBlog

$169.90-$578.80
Help Me Build a Team Ruby Receptionists

Fancy Hands

$833.28-$1440.88
Help Me With eDiscovery eDiscovery Assistant

PageVault

 

$714.00-$1394.00
Help Me Insure My Future ABA Insurance

ABA Retirement Program

No data available

What is Firm Builder?

Firm Builder is available to ABA members only. Online modules provide help for technology basics, virtual assistance, and marketing.  This is also the place where ABA members can connect to a practice management consultant.  Here’s how the modules work:

  1. Select a Firm Builder topic (technology, virtual assistance or marketing).
  2. Answer a series of questions.  (Don’t worry, there are plenty of options for “I don’t know, or I’ve done some research, but tell me more.)
  3. Once you’ve answered all the questions, Firm Builder proposes a set of solutions, i.e., products that fit your needs.  The product list is curated from the Universal Solutions page of ABA Blueprint.

Long story short

Firm Builder is a fancy tool that ends up replicating the information already available under Universal Solutions.  While this is redundant, don’t let it dissuade you from using the tool as it may help you focus more specifically on the products that fit your needs. In addition, Firm Builder gives you the option of contacting a live practice management consultant.  Thirty minute consultations are available at no charge via phone or email, and users are promised a 24-hour turnaround time. Live chat is available for quick questions from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, presumably 7 days a week as no limitation is noted on the website.

Who are these consultants?  For now, most or all of them will come from CuroLegal, a private consulting firm working with the ABA.  In the future, the expectation is that practice management advisors – like those associated with your bar or liability coverage provider – will sign on as ABA Blueprint consultants.

Endorsements and Ethics

Does the ABA endorse the products listed on their site?

No, as a matter of ABA policy.  Products featured on the site were selected based on “suitability for solo/small firm practitioners, the stability of the vendor, the availability of integrations, and the standing of the product in the market.”

Do the products on the ABA site meet ethical requirements for all states?

The ABA does not certify the ethical suitability of a given product or service.  The website recommends consulting your local ethics body for advice or guidance. Oregon lawyers can speak to private ethics counsel or contact the Oregon State Bar General Counsel’s office.

Speaking of Oregon Lawyers

If you need help, please take advantage of the abundance of resources available to you through the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund, including access to free and confidential practice management advisors.  You are also welcome to call or email me. I dedicated the last 20+ years of my professional career to helping Oregon lawyers. Thirty minute emails and calls are always free.  Turnaround time is next business day.

On the CLE front, it’s not too late to sign up for Unclaimed Client Funds this Wednesday. Or start the new year off right with “Fee Agreements – Ethical Dos and Don’ts.”  This live, online webinar is scheduled for January 18, 2017. Registration is open now.

All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis