Digital Distraction: A Thief of Client Relationships?

Technology has its good points.  Mobile devices and apps give us 24/7 access to information and knowledge.  “As long as we have the Internet, we can be productive,” or so we tell ourselves.  But is it possible that tech is hurting our client relationships and we don’t even know it?

Your smartphone, smartwatch, and tablet are great gadgets – don’t get me wrong.  The 2015 ABA Tech Survey reported that an astonishing 60% of lawyers use iPhones; 40% use iPads.  Used consciously, as a tools, these devices serve us well.  The danger arises when we fail to appreciate that their mere presence may be disturbing to our clients.

Don’t Put Your Phone on the Table During a Client Meeting

In 2012, researchers at Essex University conducted two studies to learn how the presence and use of a mobile phone affected social interactions among strangers.  The participants were paired off and sat in private booths.  In half the cases, a mobile phone was placed nearby.  For the other half, a notebook was left in the same place instead of a mobile phone.  The studies revealed:

  • If a mobile phone is visible during a conversation it causes people to feel less positive towards the person with whom they are chatting.
  • The presence of a mobile phone reduces the level of empathy and understanding in face-to-face conversations.
  • Mobile phones can have negative effects on closeness, connection, and conversation quality.

‘These results demonstrate that the presence of mobile phones can interfere with human relationships, an effect that is most clear when individuals are discussing personally meaningful topics,’ the researchers wrote.  Credit to the Daily Mail.

All Client Meetings are ‘Personally Meaningful’ – Follow These Easy Fixes to Avoid Digital Distraction

The lesson here is obvious and easy: put your devices away!

Keep your phone in your pocket, purse, or briefcase during client meetings.  If you are expecting an important call (from a Judge or hard-to-reach expert) tell the client before the meeting that you may need to take a call.  But don’t use this as an excuse to keep your phone on your desk.

Not expecting a call?  How about setting your iPhone to Airplane Mode, which will automatically silence your Apple watch?

Worried about taking notes without your trusty laptop or tablet?   Don’t.  Turns out note taking is substantially more effective when done by hand, and your legal pad doesn’t need WiFi or an outlet.

Follow the Five Keys to a Successful Client Meeting

  • Avoid distractions (I think we covered this, but there is more to learn)
  • Prepare for your meeting
  • Create an agenda to stay on track
  • Anticipate and prepare for questions
  • Prepare a post-meeting summary and action list for the client

These excellent suggestions come from Tonya Pierce and appear on AgileLaw.  I highly recommend reading the original post.

[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

 

 

 

50 Shades of Green: Building a Profitable Solo or Small Firm Practice

The OSB Solo and Small Firm Section is sponsoring 50 Shades of Green: Building a Profitable Solo or Small Firm Practice on October 30, 2015 at the Oregon State Bar Center in Tigard.

Topics include:

  • Meeting the challenges of a changing legal world
  • Marketing and business development ideas you can use
  • Business planning 101
  • The new equation for lawyer happiness: mobile + paperless + virtual
  • Getting the right things done
  • Increase your profits by spending wisely
  • Legal ethics: technology in law practice

Register at osbar.inreachce.com – search for SSFP15.

Cost: $60 for section members, $80 for non-members. Registration includes box lunch.  Social hour follows the CLE at approximately 4:25 p.m.

50 shades of Green CLE

 

Getting Your Head into the Cloud

Whether you’re setting up a practice for the first time or upgrading existing technology, odds are you’re taking a long, hard look at the cloud. Here is a checklist to help you through the process.

Getting Started

Moving your data to the cloud is all about vetting the cloud provider – will they or won’t they keep your client information secure?  Here are your marching orders:

Research the Provider

  1. What is their reputation?
  2. How many years have they been in business?
  3. Are bloggers and news outlets critical or supportive?
  4. Can the provider give you a list of other lawyers who use their product?  (If so, check the provider’s references.)
  5. Talk to friends and colleagues: are they familiar with the product or provider?  What are their thoughts?
  6. If you belong to a listserv, poll the members of the listserv.
  7. Use the power of Google to reveal problems.  A general search using the product or provider name is a good start.  To uncover security issues, Google the product or provider name followed by the words “security concerns” or “data breach.”  To reveal if outages are a problem, search the product or provider name followed by the words “downtime statistics.”

Evaluate Speed and Reliability

Uptime, bandwidth, and general reliability of the Internet matter.

  1. Check on provider uptime statistics as part of your general research – see the discussion above.
  2. Make sure your technology is up to the task.  To use the cloud effectively you must have a fast, reliable Internet connection. If you don’t, contact your ISP.  If there is a remedy (and you can afford it), great.  If not, taking your practice into the cloud is likely not a good choice.

Read the Fine Print

  1. Dig into the provider’s website and follow any links that reference Terms of Service, Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Security, or Service Agreements.
  2. Contact customer service for clarification of terms if needed.

Educate Yourself about Encryption

Every cloud provider encrypts your data.  The devil is in the details:

  1. Is your data encrypted at all times (in transit and at rest)?
  2. Does the provider hold a master encryption key?  (If so the provider can access your data at any time, thus defeating client confidentiality.)
  3. Is third-party encryption an option?  If the answer is yes, you can lock out the cloud provider.  A master key only permits the provider to unlock their encryption, not yours.  With third-party (AKA client-side) encryption, you – the user – apply your own encryption software before uploading any content to the cloud provider’s site.  Here’s the rub:  encrypting your own content isn’t always an option for compatibility reasons, so check with the provider.

Learn about Data Access Policies – “Authorized” and “Unauthorized”

Getting an answer to the master encryption key question will resolve whether the provider’s employees can freely access your information.  Now you need to ask:

  1. Will the provider notify you if authorities seek access to your account information?  (Some providers comply with subpoenas first and tell you about it later.)
  2. What is the provider’s procedure if a data breach occurs?

Know Before You Go: Security, Backups, Redundancy, and Local Copies of Your Data

  1. Find out what the provider has to say about the physical security of its facilities.  Features like fire suppression, redundant electrical systems, temperature controlled environments, video surveillance, and 24/7 monitoring by security personnel are standard.
  2. Learn everything you can about how your data is backed up. Where, when, and how.  A decent cloud provider has multiple servers that are geographically dispersed.
  3. Consider it a deal breaker if you can’t download a local copy of your own data. Keeping a local copy just makes sense.  First, it protects you if the provider goes out of business (some have).  Second, if the provider suffers a catastrophic breach you’ll still have a pristine copy of your information.  [Caveat: ability to download a local copy of your data does not mean you can work with it offline.  This is simply a way to protect yourself in a worst case scenario.]

Nail down the Details: Support, Training, Data Migration, and Data Integration

Cloud products are generally pretty easy to use, but at some point you’ll need help – maybe at the outset when you import your data – or later when you start using more advanced features of the program.  Either way, ask:

  1. Does the provider offer live telephone support?  Live chat?  Email?  What are the hours?  Is it free or is there a support contract?
  2. What resources does the provider have on its website?  Searchable knowledge base?  User forums?  Blog?  Training videos?  Webinars?
  3. Will the provider help you migrate your existing data?  Are you on your own?  If there is a fee for data migration, get an estimate.
  4. What about product compatibility and integration?  Some users need the cloud product to communicate with an existing piece of software, like QuickBooks or Outlook.  [Tip: don’t just take the cloud provider’s word for it.  Run another Google search: Is (cloud product name) compatible with (existing program)? If the blogosphere has spotted issues, you’ll uncover them quickly enough.

Product Cost and Licensing

Most cloud products are sold on a monthly subscription basis.  Do a bit of research:

  1. What is the current fee per user?  Any price breaks for multiple licenses?
  2. Research historic costs.  If monthly fees have jumped significantly in the recent past, factor this into your choice.
  3. Are product upgrades or new features included in existing subscriptions or is there an additional fee?
  4. What does a single license or a single user account include? Some providers are strict: one user/one license/one device.  Others are more flexible: one user/one license/multiple downloads: desktop, laptop, tablet.

Choose the Right Version

If your cloud provider offers multiple packages or products, proceed cautiously.

  1. Look for a Web page on the provider’s site that will compare the features of each version side by side.
  2. Call customer service when in doubt.
  3. Take advantage of free trials, which are almost universally available. A trial run is the best way to know whether you’re really going to like something.

Cyber Liability and Data Breach – What if the Worst Happens?

If you’ve decided to store your data in the cloud, it might be a good idea to have cyber liability and data breach coverage.

The Professional Liability Fund Excess Claims Made Plan automatically includes a cyber liability and data breach response endorsement with these features:

  • Forensic and legal assistance to determine compliance with applicable law
  • Notifications to individuals as required by law
  • 12 months credit monitoring to each notified client
  • Loss mitigation resources for law firms

If you aren’t eligible or don’t wish to purchase excess coverage through the PLF, contact a commercial carrier.

This is Too Much Work – Can’t You Just Tell Me What to Do or Give Me a List of Recommended Products?

No.  I can’t make this decision for you.  You and I have different likes, dislikes, needs, skill levels, and preferences.  (Think: Windows vs. Mac, Word vs. WordPerfect, or Mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip.)

If you want to be happy with your choice, you have to make it.  We can talk, I can point you toward resources, or send you comparison charts.  But in the end you are the decider.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Getting the Most Out of MS Office for iPad

So you’ve download Office for iPad, now what?  Learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by watching the tutorials available from InvestinTech.  If you are new to Office for iPad, start with the General Tips.  Some of the more popular InvestinTech topics are:

Each tutorial includes screen shots and easy-to-follow instructions.

InvestinTech is primarily known as PDF solution provider.  While on the site, check out their line of PDF products.  If you’re not in the market to buy, InvestinTech also offers some nifty FREE tools:

  • Slim PDF Reader
  • Docx to Doc Online
  • PDF to HTML Online
  • HTML CSS Templates
  • PowerPoint Templates
  • Able2Extract Mobile Apps – Allows you to convert PDFs into editable Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and create PDFs on your mobile device.

Share your favorite Office for iPad tips by commenting below.  Enjoy!

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.

Technology Update: Office 365 – Free CLE

untitledOn March 4, 2014 the OSB Professional Liability Fund will offer Technology Update: Office 365. This FREE seminar will provide an overview of Office 365, a cloud-based productivity service hosted by Microsoft.  Office 365 includes Microsoft Office applications that work with other services including e-mail, Web conferencing, and document sharing.  The program will include live demos and a question-and-answer period.

Date:               Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Check-in:         8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Program:         9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Location:         Oregon State Bar Center – Columbia Rooms

Presenter
Lesly Kenney, Technology Trainer
Savvy Training & Consulting, Inc.

Free Giveaway
Savvy Training & Consulting will be giving away one FREE full-license copy of Office 2013 Professional Plus during the program.

MCLE Credits
2.50 General/Practical Skills MCLE credits are pending. Due to the timing of this seminar, notification of CLE credits will be sent out after the seminar.

Registration Fee
There is no cost to attend this program.

How to Register
To register for this seminar, please e-mail your name and bar number to
DeAnna Shields at deannas@osbplf.org.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Monday, March 3, 2014.  Space is limited.