Despite of the solitary image of trial lawyers, there is increasing value for attorneys and firms that are willing and able to cooperate in order to foster an environment where team members work together for a greater good.
Dropbox – what could be new? With the announcement of a new API last month, some believe it may become an alternative for iCloud. For the rest of us, Dropbox simply remains the incredibly popular file sharing and collaboration tool.
- Get educated about the Cloud.
- Read and understand your state’s ethics opinion.
- Know the difference between free, pro, and business accounts. Free account users have a limited 30 day archive. Pro and Business Users can add Packrat to recover any file “as far back in time as you like.”
- Before sharing folders or links, review Dropbox help and learn how to unshare a file or remove a member from your business account.
- Establish strong user names and passwords unique to the Dropbox site.
- Understand Dropbox security and privacy policies …
- But add your own “client side” encryption to fully protect files.
All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis (2013)
Whew! ABA TECHSHOW is in the record books for another year. I enjoyed the Keynote and EXPO – always good to see product demonstrations and meet new vendors. And the weather was a welcome break for those of us who have yet to experience spring. As always, there is much to enjoy in Chicago by way of art, architecture, and museums. All In all, it was a perfect Silver Jubilee.
If you were following along, I live-tweeted these sessions:
- Web Site 101: Build and Rebuild
- OneNote – The Secret is Out!
- Google Tools and Apps for Lawyers
- Developing Documents Using Collaboration Tools
- Microsoft Word Power Users
- 60 iPhone and iPad Apps in 60 Minutes
Just click the links above to access my “Live Tweet Review” from each of these presentations – sans the hash tags, Twitter feed clutter, and occasional typo.
But what I really want to do now is share my favorite tips from 60 x 2, otherwise known as “60 Sites in 60 Minutes” and “60 Tips in 60 Minutes.” So without further ado:
All Things iPad
Looking for a killer iPad case and keyboard? I know I want this leather iPad case from Brookstone with Bluetooth keyboard.
Automate Certified Mailings
- Save the hassle and cost of certified mailings by automating with CertifiedPro.NET (works only with Internet Explorer) or SimpleCertifiedMail (works with Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.) (My Caveat: before using a Web-based certified mailing service, verify that electronic return receipts are legally sufficient.)
Can the Spam
- Everybody hates spam (junk e-mail that is, not the food). One way to nip it in the bud is to use a free, disposable e-mail address. Give it to vendors or use it for sites that require an e-mail registration when you don’t wish to provide your “real” e-mail address. Spamgourmet was recommended at TECHSHOW. Alternatively, if you want to keep your “real” e-mail address, but mask it from spammers try scr.im. This free tool keeps your e-mail address invisible and stops spam bots dead in their tracks.
- Looking for a way to better collaborate with in-house counsel? It’s Legal OnRamp to the rescue.
- Start using Web conferencing services like GoToMeeting (or my favorite: WebEx which supports audio over VoIP, toll, or toll-free numbers, video conferencing, desktop sharing, recording and collaboration over a secure connection.) For what purpose you ask? There are many, but one suggested at TECHSHOW – use Web conferencing to meet with your experts before they put pen to paper and write reports.
Download Online Videos
- Download online videos to store locally on your computer with Zamzar or KeepVid. (Without these services, you can’t pull content down from You Tube.)
- Want fax capability without the hassle and expense of maintaining a separate machine? Use an eFax service like EasyLink or Fax2Mail. Send and receive faxes as PDFs, view faxes as e-mail attachments, accessible anywhere, keep your personal fax number if desired. (My suggestion: Compare eFax services here.)
- Take your paperless practice to the next level with online e-signatures. Suggested at TECHSHOW: Right Signature. (My thoughts: Compare Right Signature to Adobe eSignatures.)
File Sharing and Sending
- Dropbox was all over TECHSHOW. It was mentioned at almost every session I attended. If you’ve been living in an undisclosed location recently and don’t know what all the hub-bub is, here’s the scoop: Dropbox is a simple, easy, FAST way to store, sync, and share files online. Initial storage of 2GB is free. Get more by referring others or buy storage to suit your needs. I’m a huge fan. I have Dropbox on three desktops, my iPhone, and my husband’s iPad. In fact, I just used it to transfer and share my TECHSHOW photos taken with my iPhone. A great way to collaborate, work on documents remotely or share documents with clients and others. Want another file sharing option? Try Ge.tt or SkyDrive.
- If you don’t want to use Dropbox and wish to send a large file directly to a client, then you’ll need a file sharing service. Consider the tried-and-true YouSendIt. (I recommend you also take a look at the newer kid on the block: SendNow from Adobe.)
- Use FileGenius to offer clients file transfer capability on your Web site without setting up an Extranet. Sign up for the service, set up a link on your Web site, then send the link to your clients. All they have to do is click and enter a username and password. Once clients are on your site, they can view and transfer documents. Starts at $159/month for 20GB of file space. Free trial available.
- When only a snarky e-card will do Someecards comes to the rescue.
- If your lunch has ever been stolen out of the office refrigerator, you’ll appreciate these lunch bags: complete with green splotches that look like mold to drive would-be thieves away.
- DYAC displays the worst of the worst iPhone and iPad autocorrect attempts. Submit yours here.
- Attorney: What was the first thing that your husband said to you when he awoke? Witness: He said, “where are we, Cheryl?” Attorney: And why would that upset you? Witness: Because my name is Kathy. Read this and other funny posts at Overheard in Court.
- For more fun, check out Awkward Family Photos.
Keeping Up with Technology
- Staying on top of the latest gadgetry is challenging to say the least. Engadget can help with news, galleries, videos, podcasts, reviews, and more. (My opinion: I prefer Techlicious. The founder’s motto is “tech made simple” and it’s true. I like my gadget sites to be accessible, understandable, and topical – Techlicious delivers.)
- Makeuseof is a little bit of everything: cool Web sites, cool apps, how-to articles, tips, tricks, and downloadable guides. Registration is free.
- ABA members can get expert tech training in small doses with ABA TechEZ Training Tuesdays. Just one of the many benefits of being an ABA member. Check it out!
Legal Research, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Articles and More
- Free is always a plus, especially when it comes to online legal research, legal articles, or legal dictionaries. Check out these possibilities: Virtual Chase from Justia – includes links to state government and legal resources, library associations, people finders, and more. Jurispedia – a worldwide encyclopedia of law. And last but not least: Wex, a free community-built legal dictionary and encyclopedia from Cornell University Law School. (My tip: while you’re on Justia, grab your free legal profile.)
- Get almost “real time” alerts on appellate and Supreme Court cases with CourtListener. Create case alerts by entering a search query. Updated daily.
Marketing and Web Sites
- Ever wish there was You Tube for the legal profession? There is. It’s called Legal Tube.
- Analyze your Web site at no charge with Webmastercoffee and fix what doesn’t work.
Miscellaneous Good Stuff
- Get a tip a day from attorneyatwork (and check out other great resources there).
- Listen to podcasts at your leisure with Podcast Player Pro.
- Looking for free, downloadable books? They can be tough to find. Try Read Print. The library includes books, poems, and short stories. Works from many famous authors are available – all free.
- Budget, plan, and manage your finances with Mint.com’s free personal finance software. Bank-level security, not used for transferring funds or moving money. (Mobile apps are supported.) (Dee Crocker and I first recommended Mint at our Money Matters presentation in January 2010. It’s a great tool. Oregon lawyers can download the Money Matters handout and order our free presentation from the PLF Web site. Select Programs on CD/DVD under Loss Prevention – CLE.)
- Organize your business receipts with Shoeboxed, free online receipt organization software (scan, e-mail, or mail receipts to yourself or your office).
Online Annotation and Bookmarking
- Collect, highlight, and remember with diigo, an online tool for highlighting, annotating, and bookmarking Web pages. Available on the iPad, as an extension for Google Chrome, or a toolbar for your browser.
- Are you an Outlook user? Do you ever wish you could streamline saving attachments to your hard drive? Try EZDetach from Techhit. This Outlook addin allows you to save attachments from one or more messages (or folders) with a single mouse click. $39.95 with 30 day risk-free trial. While you’re at the Techhit site, be sure to take a look at their entire suite of Outlook utilities. I couldn’t live without SimplyFile, the intelligent filing assistant. And unlike other Outlook addins, I haven’t experienced major program conflicts requiring me to abandon or uninstall the product.
- Wish you could bypass the Recycle Bin and permanently delete Outlook e-mail? Use <Shift> <Delete.>
- Learn the magic of creating PDF portfolios in Acrobat. This is more than just combining files. Use the portfolio capability of Acrobat to present your next settlement package as a single PDF – organized in one of five layout styles and accented with themes and backgrounds. Make even more of an impact by adding photos, video, or audio. PDF portfolios are also a great tool for case analysis and archiving e-mail. While you’re at it, get tips, techniques, and even more from Rick Borstein’s Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog. While there, visit the movies page and set up a lunch and learn for you and your staff.
Presentations: Beyond PowerPoint
- Need to create a presentation? No one wants to “read” your slides. Ditch the text and get creative with tips and video blog posts from Presentation Zen.
- Maybe you’ve got the “Zen” of it down, but you’re looking for a cloud-based presentation tool? If so, try 280 Slides or Prezi.
- Try online scheduling and avoid the pain of exchanging e-mails. Try Tungle or When is Good (I would add Doodle or ScheduleOnce to the list or you can compare online scheduling apps here.)
- Boot and Nuke with Darik – a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers.
- Need to generate or store secure passwords? Try FileFlash from WinCatalog or Password Safe from SourceForge. Both are free.
- Want to securely encrypt your Mac or Windows hard drive, but don’t have the money to do it? Try TrueCrypt open-source disk encryption.
- Social networking eating up too much of your time? Turn it off for a while with Anti-Social (Mac users only) or Freedom (supports Windows and Mac.)
- What are they saying about you in the cloud? What did you post? Find out using social search engine greplin. (Register for free, premium accounts available.)
- Want to easily bring a folder to the top of the list in My Documents, Documents or Libraries? Use the underscore _ or plus key + and give your folder a promotion. (My two cents: you might also want to try a nifty little product called Folder Marker to color-code your electronic files.)
Summarize and Examine Text
- Condense, examine, combine, and summarize text quickly with Topicmarks. Sort of a “crib notes” for readers. Receive your summary by e-mail. Easily set parameters to control summary length. Accounts are free.
- Tired of Expedia or Orbitz? Get hip with Hipmunk. Rated as “fantastic and surprisingly usable” by Lifehacker. Hipmunk has a helpful blog with travel tips, news, and insights as well as a “Pedestrian’s Guide to the USA.” If you’re an iPhone user, check out the app.
- If you are a frequent traveler, then you also may want to know about MedjetAssist – medical evacuation from (almost) anywhere in the world. Recommended this year and previously at TECHSHOW, it can literally be a lifesaver.
Voice to E-Mail and Call Recording
- Looking for a better voice to e-mail service than Google Voice? Try PhoneTag. $9.95 per month for 40 messages; $29.95 per month for unlimited messages. Other options: YouMail, VoiceCloud and Yap Voicemail.
- Want to record your Skype calls? Use Pamela for Skye. Pamela Basic and Pamela Call Recorder allow you to record for up to 15 minutes. Free!
- Help! Windows 7 no longer shows me the full path of the current folder and file in the address bar! No worries, the solution is just a mouse click away! Right click any part of the address bar and choose Edit Address. Copy and paste the path as desired.
- Still trying to wrap your head around the many features of Windows 7? PC World offers Windows 7: A Complete Survival Guide.
If you haven’t been to the ABA TECHSHOW before, I hope you come sometime. Save the date for next year: March 29-31, 2012. Register early and take advantage of the Professional Liability Fund program promoter code to save money. (Details will be posted on the News page of our Web site at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012.) Meanwhile, enjoy this glimpse of Chicago. Hope to see you there in 2012!
Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis