Apple Stores are known for their knowledgeable personnel and excellent customer service. Not coincidentally, those are also the hallmarks of outstanding lawfirms. Jay Shepherd has written an article which questions what it would be like if these stores were run like law firms – and by extension, why law firms can’t be run more like Apple Stores. It is a very thought-provoking article, and I recommend it to attorneys everywhere.
Even though there are many fine time and billing programs for the Mac, some attorneys prefer to take an “old school” approach and use timesheets. If you prefer this low-tech option, you should read the article at the Esquire | Mac blog, which provides the following easy to use templates:
If you decide to use either of these timesheet templates, you will want to keep your spreadsheet easily accessible. One way to accomplish this is to keep it in your Dock. To do so, simply drag the document to the right side of the Dock (where your “stacks” folders are kept), and it will stay in the Dock for one click access to your timesheet.
Source: “Excel and Numbers Templates for Attorney Billing Timesheets” by Adam Greivell, published at his excellent Esquire | Mac blog.
FREE Webinar! Using Macs in Your Law Firm
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT
Space is limited! Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Until recently, law firms needed PC’s to run their practices. No longer. Scanners, software, printers, are now available to practice law on the Mac, and the iPhone is now a powerful business tool.
Ben Stevens, aka The Mac Lawyer, will get us up to speed on how a firm can transition to Macs for legal work. We’ll answer audience questions, conduct interactive polls, and discuss the latest gear and software for the Mac platform.
For those of you on Twitter, follow our conversation with the hashtag “#rmwebinar”!
Your host will be The Mac Lawyer himself, Ben Stevens:
Ben Stevens is a practicing attorney located in Spartanburg, SC. After using Windows machines for over a decade, his office has been all Mac-based since August of 2005. Ben has given presentations on both technology and legal topics at continuing education seminars, and he enjoys speaking on those subjects. Ben’s blog, TheMacLawyer.com, is synonymous with the Mac legal movement as is the Google Group he co-created, Macs In Law Offices (MILO). Ben is also a co-host of the MILO podcast.
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer
Larry Port from Rocket Matter and I will be conducting a free webinar next Thursday, May 21, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. entitled Using Macs in Your Law Firm. The webinar description is listed below. I hope that you can attend, and if you are interested, you can register by clicking HERE.
Ben Stevens, aka The Mac Lawyer, will get us up to speed on how a firm can transition to Macs for legal work. We’ll answer audience questions, conduct interactive polls, and discuss the latest gear and software for the Mac platform.
Not just for creative types anymore! A long-time staple of the technology needs of designers, ad agencies, etc., Macs are now worthy opponents of PCs when it comes to the needs of "serious" people. Read more about the ever-growing list of applications designed to help you market your business.
Marketing can mean a lot of things when you are dealing with a law practice these days. Technology has given rise to a new class of marketing activities and the flattening of the world has allowed many attorneys to handle most of their marketing from their living room (or office desk). With all of the services offered on the Internet, lawyers can now design and print their own business cards and brochures online – and many are doing so. More importantly, those attorneys who can create things that are decidedly in the talented-amateur level of design will be able to distinguish themselves from their competition. That’s where Macs come in.
It is well-known that Macs have been, and are, the go-to computer choice for people in the creative world. Most of the notable bloggers, ad agencies, and writers all use Mac computers. (Tom Clancy is even credited with saying, “Never ask a man what kind of computer he drives. If it’s a Mac, he’ll tell you. If not, why embarrass him.”) What’s lesser known is the fact that Macs are becoming the go-to computer for “serious” people who want to separate themselves from the pack in business.
As my readers are aware, I presented two seminars at the ABA TechShow 2008 this past March in Chicago. One was "How Lawyers Practice Law and Serve Clients with Macs — Really!" which I co=presented with Jeff Richardson. Our written materials from that session were recently republished in the September 2008 Law Practice Today webzine, as follows:
While most lawyers are
wedded to the PC, these two lawyers enumerate the advantages of the
Mac, for work, for home, and for the pure enjoyment of it.
For over a decade, every one of the hundreds of press releases issued
by Apple has ended by noting that “Apple ignited the personal computer
revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal
computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh.” Apple’s critical role in the
early days of personal computers is beyond debate, but for a period of
time in the 1990s, Apple seemed to have lost its way. Its computer
lineup was confusing, its market share reached an all time low, the
company’s stock price fell to $5 a share (in current share prices), and
Dell CEO Michael Dell famously quipped that if he owned Apple, “I’d
shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
Since then, the company has had a resurgence. Apple’s computers and
software have received rave reviews, its market share is at the highest
point since the Mac was first introduced in 1984, Apple has taken over
the digital music market with the ubiquitous iPod, the company is
already a formidable presence in the cell phone market with the iPhone
introduced just last year, and at the time of this writing (January of
2008) Apple’s stock price has risen to over $200 a share.
With a record number of people now switching from PCs to Macs, the
question for lawyers is: should you switch too? And if you do, should
you maybe just switch for your home computer, or also for your office
as well? Most importantly, what do you gain and what do you lose by
making the switch?
The following guest post is from Gerry Oginski, a Mac-using medical malpractice & personal injury trial lawyer in Great Neck, New York:
As the internet has taken hold and more lawyers have recognized the benefits of marketing online, one marketing tool is defining the standard of advertising on the web. Online videos. It is the newest, hottest tool available for lawyers to communicate their message on the web. Admittedly, attorney videos are one-way communication, but they offer significant advantages over every other advertising medium.
Most attorneys have failed to understand the true value of video and how it can improve their chances of a potential client calling them over their competitor. Legal marketing experts agree that the sooner you start to see the value of video marketing, the sooner you’ll see the results. Legal marketing expert Larry Bodine recently commented that putting video on your website is “…a great opportunity to present how you look, how you talk, what you’re like, and make yourself more attractive to clients. It’s a great business-getting technique.” The key to encouraging a website visitor to call you, is with video. Static websites and fancy graphics just do not cut it any more, and fail to distinguish yourself from your competitor. Tom Foster, CEO of Foster Web Marketing says “If you get in early by putting video on your website, you can take advantage of good search placement on the video search engines.”
If you thought that internet video was for the MTV crowd, you’d be wrong. If you thought that video for your website was only for geeky techno-lawyers, you’d be wrong too. If you thought that putting a video of yourself online was useless, you’d definitely be wrong. In fact, Google thinks you’re so wrong that they recently paid one billion dollars to buy a video sharing site called YouTube. To give you an idea about the reach that internet video has, consider a ten minute video clip by comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham: his video has been viewed over 60 million times. Most attorney videos are viewed in the hundreds of times, but it shows the potential that video has. Plus, if done correctly, does not cost you anything more if it is watched 100 times or 100,000 times.
In the pre-internet age, lawyer advertising was limited to television, radio, yellow pages, billboards, newspapers and magazines. Since the 1970’s when the Supreme Court of the United States decided that lawyers could advertise (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona), the general public has been bombarded with lawyer ads. Every jurisdiction in every state has their own peculiar set of ethical rules regarding what lawyers can and cannot say in their advertisements. Cheesy lawyer advertisements have been the bane of late-night talk shows and comedy shows for decades.
Lawyers trying to get a foothold into their particular market often looked upon lawyer advertising as a necessary evil. Many felt it was beneath them to advertise. Not many lawyers wanted to be in the same category as a salesman looking to pitch his latest slicer and dicer. Traditional advertising is costly. Lawyers often complained that the cost to advertise in each medium were prohibitive. The ads themselves were not able to be viewed repeatedly for the same cost, and unless a potential client was looking for an attorney at that moment, they would likely ignore the daily messages they were inundated with.
The New Millennia :: The Internet
With the dawn of the internet, attorneys began to develop web sites as an ancillary way to “get their name” into the public eye. Many New York lawyers felt, and still do, that they’d rather busy themselves practicing law, rather than marketing their services. The common thinking was “Hire a marketing person to do all that advertising for us.” The problem was that most marketing people had no experience with developing web sites for lawyers. Many did not know what a website could be used for and how it could be advantageous to a law firm. The early lawyer web sites consisted of only a few pages and held little information besides your law firm name, and the type of law that you practiced. It gave no real information and did nothing to distinguish you from your competitor down the street. It was analogous to a downed pilot in a war movie who was obligated to give only his name, rank and serial number. Those bland websites did little to encourage a potential client to call.
With the advent of interesting and focused lawyer websites, it is simply not enough anymore to have static websites with fancy graphics and photos. How does your website with nice pictures of tall buildings and cityscapes and mean-looking lawyers with their arms folded across their chests, like the Knights of King Arthur’s Court preparing for battle, differentiate you from your colleagues? The reality is that your website is probably not very different from your main competitors. Maybe your website uses different colors; maybe you have a different template and design; maybe your font is different. Put aside the design and focus on the substance. What is it that you are trying to tell a prospective client who is searching for an attorney online? What information do you offer that your competitor does not? How can a prospective client make an intelligent choice about whether to pick up the phone and call you instead of the biggest law firm on the block? Does your website distinguish you and your firm from every other law firm practicing in your specialty? If it does, you have a distinct advantage. If it doesn’t, you need to look critically at what you are doing in order to improve your online presence.
Google :: Why You Need To Know How It Works
Today’s internet has exploded with creative and useful ways to educate and inform millions of viewers. A “Google search” has made it commonplace to search for anything and anybody with a click of a button. Google has cornered the market on creating the easiest and arguably most powerful search tool on the internet today. Why is this important for lawyers looking to market their services and their law firm? It’s not only important, it’s vital for a lawyer to understand how Google searches work. Only by understanding the concepts of how a search engine works, can a law firm take advantage of it with video marketing.
Typically, a potential client will do a Google search if they are looking for an attorney online. Obviously there are many search engines, but Google’s popularity cannot and should not be ignored. The results that pop up on Google will likely determine if your website will be clicked on. If you are on page 10 of a Google search result, it is unlikely your website will be found. The same reasoning applies if you had a full page ad in the yellow pages and were at page 30. The yellow pages representative always managed to explain that even if you were at page 30, “just one client” would be enough to pay for your ad. Unfortunately, the yellow pages rep never explained why a potential client would call your firm, 30 pages from the front, instead of the other 29 lawyers in front of you. However, if your website comes up on page one of Google, there is a good chance that a website viewer will click on your site. Unfortunately, with all the competition today, that alone does not get a potential viewer to call you.
Once a viewer actually clicks on your site, what do they find? Is the website static and filled with fancy graphics or flash media that does nothing to differentiate your site from all the others? What information do you provide that will cause a viewer to want to pick up the phone and ask you questions? The answer according to Gerry Oginski, a medical malpractice and personal injury attorney in Great Neck, is video. Oginski has created over 100 educational video tips on medical malpractice and personal injury law in New York using only his iMac and iMovie ’06. He posts them on his website, and uploads them to video sharing sites such as YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo and AOL.
Benefits of Video For The Practicing Attorney
Millions of viewers go online every day to watch video clips about every topic imaginable. From ‘how-to’ videos where you can learn to build a house, to bizarre videos of no-talent singers pretending to be Tom Cruise in their dining room. From sports to politics to technology, there’s a video online to steal a few moments of your time.
Video allows the attorney not only to convey their marketing message, but allows viewers to see, hear, and determine whether the lawyer inspires confidence and knows what he is talking about. Video allows for more than a 30 second commercial that screams at you. Online video gives lawyers the opportunity to explain to viewers how they are different from every other lawyer who is competing with them.
Video Is The Key To Show You Are Different
How does video distinguish you from everyone else? By creating a personal bond with your viewer. Admittedly, it’s a one-way conversation, but it allows the viewer to see you, hear you, and judge for themselves whether you sound confident and intelligent enough to want to call you.
So far, the biggest users of online video for law firms have been personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers. These attorneys have gotten in on the ground floor and are just now learning how to optimize their videos so that the major search engines identify the videos and improve their search engine ranking for their website. That’s the golden key that every attorney who advertises online appears to strive for. To be able to say that “Out of 4 million websites, Google thinks my site is #1 in their organic search rankings,” is indeed, a feat to strive for and emulate.
Why a Potential Client Would Call You
If a potential client is searching for a lawyer online, what would make them choose one lawyer over another with the same credentials? You each have a website. You each have similar experience. You each charge basically the same for similar services. So, how are you different, and how can you communicate that to a nameless, faceless visitor to your website?
A video that tells a visitor who you are and welcomes them, has already gained brownie points. What should you talk about? If you talk about how great you are and how amazing your credentials are, does the viewer really care? Or is the viewer more interested in how you can solve their pressing legal problem? If you can answer their unasked question through a video, not only will you have scored all the points, you can bet that person will call you and not your colleague down the street.
Generating Half The Calls To His Office
Oginski says “These educational videos, together with my informative website have caused my phone to ring. In fact, they generate half of all the calls to my office.” He explains that this is a dramatic increase from the previous year when he only had his website online.” Using a Mac is the key to creating, producing, editing and uploading my videos. Once you learn how to use iMovie, making educational videos is simple. I wouldn’t use anything else to edit my videos.”
Virginia Personal Injury Trial Lawyer Ben Glass, who teaches marketing to lawyers all over the country says that after viewing Oginski’s website and the videos he created, agrees that “It’s no longer good enough to just have a message that you ‘shout’ out to consumers via the Yellow Pages, TV, Radio or the Internet. The informational videos that Gerry Oginski has created uses cutting-edge marketing ideas and combines them with the latest technology in order to ‘start a conversation’ with potential clients. That’s the key to getting a website visitor to call.”
What happens to those lawyers who choose not to use online video? Oginski believes that “those lawyers will lose the chance to get excellent placement on the video search engines. Those same lawyers lose the ability to improve their search engine rankings, because video clearly helps improve their website rankings. Lawyers who fail to create useful videos lose the opportunity to connect with their website visitors and distinguish themselves from all the other lawyers out there competing for the same business. Those lawyers lose the advantage of letting a viewer get to know them and trust them before they ever walk into their office.”
About Gerry Oginski, Esq.
Gerry Oginski is an experienced medical malpractice & personal injury trial lawyer practicing law in New York since 1988. He has created, produced and uploaded over 100 educational videos online about New York medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury law. Gerry’s popular website (www.oginski-law.com) consistently comes up #1 in the organic search results when you do a Google search for “New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer.” Gerry’s video blog can be seen at medicalmalpracticetutorial.blogspot.com.
The following Guest Post is from Jesmond Darmanin, a Web Marketer with GFI Software, and it explains the "Four Reasons for Archiving Email Correspondence":
Email is a primary source of documentation for many organizations and it has taken on an increasingly critical role in corporate court proceedings, regulatory compliance and legal discovery. Companies are realizing the importance of archiving their email correspondence, since being in a position to retrieve an old email could save them thousands of dollars in legal fees and fines, as well as their credibility.
The following are four legal reasons why companies need to archive their email correspondence:
- The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the ‘1934 Act’) :: requires various entities to maintain records for five years and more. Failure to do so can result in severe fines.
- The Commodity Futures Training Commission (CFTC) :: requires futures commission merchants to keep records for five years. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines.
- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (‘Sarbanes Oxley’) :: accountants must keep all audit or review workpapers for a minimum of five years. Violation of this rule can lead to a fine and imprisonment.
- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) (formerly the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD)) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) :: members are required to preserve records for no less than six years or they can be imposed with a civil fine.
Email archiving can help companies to abide by all four requirements mentioned above, because emails are archived at server level, so no matter if a copy is deleted by the end-user from his/her computer terminal, once an archive exists with all correspondence entered into by the company then the emails are searchable and retrievable and can be presented in court or as requested. Moreover, one is also able to offer the assurance that the email was not tampered with or altered in any way, thus making it a legal and binding document that could save a company or organization a lot of money in a legal situation. Companies that are unable to provide email documentation that is requested by the courts or other legal body could be subject to hefty fines, as they would be in breach of legal requirements.
Jesmond Darmanin :: Web Marketer :: GFI Software
GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. With award-winning technology and a strong focus on small-to-medium sized businesses, GFI is able to satisfy the need for business continuity and productivity encountered by organizations on a global scale.
The Connected Lawyer published an informative interview with Larry Port from Rocket Matter, which is a web-based practice management and time and billing solution. Since I am a big fan of Rocket Matter, I have published excerpts / highlights from that interview below for my readers. However, I urge you to click the link below to read the entire interview for yourself.
What is Rocket Matter?
Rocket Matter is an easy-to-use web-based legal practice management and time and billing solution. It’s designed from the ground up to facilitate the practice of law in small and solo firms. Rocket Matter allows law firms to manage calendars, to-do lists, contacts, matters, and time and billing in one integrated and simple solution.
We created a technology we call “Bill as you Work”, which traps billable time as lawyers and paralegals go about their day. The net result is a product that allows firms to operate more efficiently and reduces the amount of time that gets lost for invoicing. Since we host Rocket Matter on our servers and it’s accessed via the Internet, users have ubiquitous access to their information while never having to spend money or time on software installations or upgrades.
Tell me more about Bill as you Work. How does it work? What does it capture?
The whole idea behind “Bill as you Work” is to capture time as you go about your day to day activities, so that at the end of the month when it comes time to bill you don’t end up losing all of your precious hours. For example, when you schedule a deposition in your calendar, you can choose to bill for the time spent when you create the appointment. Likewise, your to-do items can be instantly converted from simple reminders into billable items that can end up on your invoice. The application also contains its own stopwatch, so you can time any activity you work on and funnel that directly into billing.
What size of firm is your product ideal for?
Our ideal firm is small, consisting of 1 to 25 total employees. We can scale our application to much larger firms, but we want to focus on the solo and small firm segment of the market, which has been under-served for too long.
What type of security do you use to make sure that the information remains secure?
The security measures we included in Rocket Matter are comprehensive. Every request is encrypted with 128-bit secure SSL, the same encryption used by many major banks and financial institutions. Passwords are hashed (stored in an encrypted format) and known only by you. Threat Modeling, which is the practice of identifying and countering attacks, is a fundamental part of our development process. There are a host of other security measures we have taken to lock down and isolate a firms data, and we’ll be conducting ongoing audits with independent security specialist firms.
What type of computer system do I need to access my data?
Rocket Matter runs in an Internet browser, freeing you from the constraints of any particular operating system. Macs, PC’s, and Linux systems can all be used, as long as they have a modern browser (Firefox, IE 6 or above, and Safari). Now that full-fledged mobile browsers have been introduced, iPhones and Pocket PC’s with SkyFire can be used to access Rocket Matter.
Can I access my data in any way if I cannot reach your servers, (e.g., I can’t get to the internet)?
Currently, access to Rocket Matter requires an Internet connection. Of course, if you need to access some piece of crucial information and you find yourself without access, you can always call our customer support line.
What happens to my data if I chose to stop using your service?
In the sad circumstance that we part ways, Rocket Matter will offer you a full copy of your data at no charge. Your contacts and calendar data will be exported to industry standard formats, such as vCard and iCalendar, which can be read by applications such as Outlook, iCal, and Address Book. Your matter and time and billing information will be exported to a navigable HTML format, so that you can view and make sense of your information.
Can I backup my data from your servers to a local hard drive?
Rocket Matter is developing an enhanced service plan, in which customers can obtain regular backups of their information. Users participating in this plan will have the option of downloading their data or having it sent to them on a DVD.
Do your offer training with your product? If so, what kind?
Rocket Matter users enjoy free training called CRE, or Continuing Rocket Education. These are live webinars hosted every week, open to all Rocket Matter customers at no additional cost. Furthermore, we offer Online CRE courses, which allow users at any time to watch guided instructional videos on the various features of the program.
What is the pricing for Rocket Matter?
During our Pilot Program, we are charging $50 USD per attorney per month and $15 USD per support staff per month. Customer support is included for Pilot Program participants. Phone support is available from 9am to 6pm EST. Phone support is handled in the United States and conducted by a native English speaker.
What makes Rocket Matter different from other similar programs?
Rocket Matter’s big differentiator is the simple yet comprehensive nature of its features. Simplicity, paired with great customer support and training, will enable our customers to actually use our product and enjoy doing so.
Compared to traditional legal practice management tools, Rocket Matter is a leap forward in ease-of-use. We eliminated the confusing “bloatware”, or features people don’t require. We’ve taken the elements that most firms need: calendaring, contact management, matter management, and invoicing, and rolled them into one integrated product.
By creating a web-based solution, we have created another differentiator with existing legal products: there is no need to purchase additional hardware, and no IT consultant required for an install or upgrade. We handle backups, security, and all of the other technical issues so that attorneys and their staffs can focus on the practice of law.
My good friend, David Swanner, reports that his "tech guy is using
Apple iMacs to build a more stable, easier to maintain Windows network." That’s right, even some PC tech guys are starting to come around to the many benefits offered by Macs.
Dave lists the following advantages of running Windows on a Mac:
- Nice Hardware at a Reasonable Price – Chrome and glass, 20″ monitor, memory, speed, decent memory all in one box. It works well and is attractive.
- Less Desk Space – The Macs are an all in one and leave a small footprint on your desk. It’s just the monitor and the keyboard.
- Ease of Maintenance
– The entire Parallels Windows file is a single computer file. That’s
huge. You can install Windows, tweak it to the way you want, install
all of the programs that you want and then all of that information will
be in a single Parallels file that can be copied and backed up. If your
Windows goes down, you can just copy that file back to your iMac and
you’re up and running. If your entire iMac goes down, you can copy that
file to a different iMac and you’re up and running. No worrying about
file registries, different hardware signatures. No fuss, no muss.
- Portability – Once you have your Parallels backup file, you can copy that to another machine without any problems. You can’t do that (easily) with Windows, because of different hardware configurations and the Windows registry.
- Ease of Installation
– Once you have a specific set up that you want, for example,
WordPerfect, TimeMatters, CaseMap, TimeMap, Sanction, MicroSoft Office,
you can save this as a building block and as a base for every
installation. Of course, you need to have a site license for each
program. You will also have to switch license codes, but that’s a lot
easier than starting each machine’s installation from scratch.