Strategies for Coping in Difficult Financial Times

money-treeMoney is a significant source of stress for many of us.  Lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed understand the pressure all too well.

If you feel stressed by lack of money, how can you get on track?  Meet your goals?  Create a vision for the future?  The answer is to take a multi-dimensional approach.

Step 1: Coping With Your Feelings

The American Psychological Association has some excellent tips on how to cope with the tension and stress caused by personal financial problems.  Among their suggestions: ask for professional support.

In Oregon, we are fortunate to have the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.  The OAAP is available to assist Oregon lawyers and their families with any issues that affect a lawyer’s ability to function.  This includes depression or anxiety caused by financial worry.  If financial problems are affecting your own mental health or the mental health of a loved one, friend, or colleague, contact the OAAP and speak with an attorney counselor.  OAAP services are free and confidential.

Step 2:  Communicating about Money Issues

Many of us don’t know how to talk to others about money.  We are fearful, anxious, and may even engage in self-sabotage.

Whether you are struggling to speak openly to a loved one or your law partner, help is available.

In 2010, the OAAP held a program entitled Money Matters featuring Brian Farr – a licensed professional counselor specializing in individual, couple, and financial therapy. Oregon lawyers can order the Money Matters program and download the handout at no charge from the PLF Web site.  (MCLE credit for this CLE has been extended through the end of this year.)

In Money Matters, Mr. Farr reviewed how to communicate about money issues and create a clear and accurate financial picture.  His handout includes a self-test for financial troubles, spending worksheet, monthly income and expense snapshot, and balance sheet.

If you are looking for guidance on how to talk to loved ones or colleagues about money issues, order this program.  If you are looking for practical tips on how to get a handle on your finances, order this program.  For one-on-one support, speak confidentially to an attorney counselor at the OAAP.

Step 3:  Getting Your Finances in Order

Beyond the insight and tips available in Money Matters, you will find excellent advice in this recent post by Sheila May: Managing Personal Finances During Periods of Unemployment and Underemployment.  Ms. May is a CPA specializing in forensic accounting and litigation support in Scituate, Massachusetts.

Step 4:  Additional Tips for Solos and Small Firm Practitioners

If you are a solo or small firm practitioner, add the following Business Essentials to your financial toolkit:

Do your homework on law firm economics and learn to avoid the pitfalls that lead to non-paying clients.  Details are available in this OSB Bulletin article.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

The Best of ABA TECHSHOW 2011

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:

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.

Hey – I sent well over 100 tweets using my iPhone with 3GS, not bad for a butterfingers – and you got to stalk (I mean follow) my whereabouts on Foursquare.

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

  • Take notes on your iPad using a handwriting app. Try PenUltimate ($1.99) – choose from three different pens, writes in color, uses photorealistic paper, saves notes to PDF.
  • Looking for a killer iPad case and keyboard?  I know I want this leather iPad case from Brookstone with Bluetooth keyboard.
  • Want to view, edit, and sign PDFs on your iPad?  Try the ultra-cool SignMyPad for $3.99.  Visiting a client outside the office?  Capture signatures on fee agreements with SignMyPad, and then e-mail the signed contract to yourself and the client.
  • Just bought the new iPad2 and still learning how to use it?  Subscribe by e-mail or RSS to Josh Barrett’s Tablet Legal blog and learn all there is to know.  (Another favorite of mine: iPhone J.D.)

Automate Certified Mailings

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  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.)

eFax Services

  • 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.)


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 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.


Keeping Up with Technology

Legal Research, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Articles and More

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


Online Annotation and Bookmarking


  • 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.> 


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.



Social Networking

  • 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.)

Smart Tricks

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

Windows 7

  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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

Money Matters

Are concerns about money keeping you up at night?  You’re not alone.  Almost three-quarters of adults say money problems are a major stressor in their lives, according to the American Psychological Association.

We’ve put together a unique program to help you with personal and business finances.  Join us on January 29, 2010 to hear Brian Farr, a professional financial counselor, talk about how to:

  • Develop greater awareness of the factors that can sabotage finances
  • Navigate financial conversations with greater ease
  • Communicate more clearly and effectively about money issues with your family, law partners, and clients 
  • Create a clear and accurate snapshot of your financial picture

 Dee Crocker and I will add our tips and advice on:

  • Setting up a budget
  • Evaluating profitability
  • Writing a business plan
  • Establishing law office checks and balances
  • Finding ways to save on practice resources

This program qualifies for 3.25 general MCLE credits in Oregon. At $15, it’s a great bargain.  Registration is open now.  I hope to see you there!

Copyright 2010 Beverly Michaelis