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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Legal Professionals

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Legal Professionals on bossreporting.com

There’s no better time to improve than when you have a clean slate with a new year

A new year can bring hope and progress, no matter your career. After indulging throughout the holidays and gearing up to reset and return to work in January, it’s the perfect time to make resolutions and evaluate the previous year’s wins and losses.

As a lawyer or legal professional, there are certain mindsets to rethink or plans to reassess. And doing so at the beginning of the new year is a great way to hold yourself accountable and to have time to reflect.

These 5 resolution suggestions will help you get the ball rolling.

 1.  If you’re not happy, leave

At the end of the year, think about how happy you are with your current position. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Am I being challenged every day?
  • Am I overworked?
  • Am I stressed because of work?
  • Do I receive adequate compensation for the hours I’m putting in?
  • Are there days when I dread getting out of bed and going into the office?

Sometimes, you’ll know right away that you’re not happy, but you have x, y, and z reasons for staying at a job you hate. “Just until I get a raise,” or “The insurance is really good.”

There are a million reasons not to take a risk that could improve your life. But the truth is, if you’re not happy at work, there’s a place out there that would make you happier. Whether it be pay, benefits, hours, or the people you work with, you could find something that meets every priority on your list.

Make the new year the time you’ll stop settling and get what you want from your career. Once you are job searching and interviewing, you may surprise yourself to see how easy it is to move on to something better.

2.  Expand your network

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or have been at it for a decade, it’s never a bad idea to seek guidance. A mentor could help you take a new perspective or prepare you for what’s ahead. On the other hand, mentoring someone new to the field could also teach you a lot about yourself, while you would also be helping someone in need of guidance.

In addition to engaging with mentorships, try to expand the network of legal professionals that you interact with and get advice from. Attend events or conferences in your area. There are plenty of development and networking events out there, so it’s easy to get involved.

Interacting with others who share your passion can invigorate your drive to help people. It can remind you why you do what you do.

3.  Improve your online presence

If you’ve been putting off revamping your website or updating your Twitter account, 2019 is the time to dive in. Being online and sending updates is important for legal professionals, as more of the population continues to utilize search engines and online reviews to find legal help.

While people may trust personal legal referrals over a Google search, that may soon change. In fact, BrightLocal’s 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey showed that 91 percent of people between 18 and 34 trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from people they know.

So, how you’re viewed online matters. And you won’t be able to have control over that reputation unless you’re actively putting out content and figuring out what potential clients want.

Start by looking at your website from an SEO perspective. You could even hire an SEO professional to ensure you’re implementing keywords and utilizing your content to your advantage.

Then, start engaging with people on social media, and ask former clients to leave you reviews or testimonials. Whatever area you need to focus on most, make building your online reputation a priority this year.

4.  Create a more detailed schedule

A big culprit of slow productivity is poor time management. As the new year approaches, write down how you normally spend your day. If you find you don’t have enough hours to get everything done, or you’re always stressed to meet a deadline, there’s bound to be something you can cut out or shorten to improve the flow of things.

It may help to create a priority list each day. What absolutely has to be done today, and what could be pushed to tomorrow? Plan out the week in advance, so you know what tasks need to be completed, when.

Once you have a better idea of your normal work schedule, you can start tweaking it to see what works best for your productivity and your sanity.

5.  Give back

In 2019, consider taking on more pro bono cases or volunteering more of your time. Even if you have to squeeze it in, it will be a rewarding way to help those who can’t afford expert legal services. The Legal Services Corporation found that in 2017, 86 percent of the civil legal issues that low-income Americans faced did not get adequate legal assistance.

Help address this need by putting these cases into your cycle. There’s clearly a need for more affordable legal services, so make this a priority for 2019. This is also a great way to expand your network even more and could lead to additional clients down the road.

Legal professionals have a million things to consider, like client satisfaction, work schedules, areas of expertise, and more. By setting yourself up for success at the beginning of the year with these resolutions, you can make 2019 your best year yet.

Boss Certified Realtime Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

5 Tips for Preparing for a Civil Court Case

5 Tips for Preparing for a Civil Court Case on

Preparation is key when it comes to any trial

If you are preparing for a civil case in court, there are things you should know to have a successful outcome. We’ve prepared this guide to help you navigate this important legal proceeding.

What is a civil case?

It might be useful to define what a civil court case is and what it involves. According to USCourts.gov, a civil case, “Involves a legal dispute between two or more parties. A civil action begins when a party to a dispute files a complaint.” The plaintiff (the person who brings the suit) can file for damages or money to compensate for harm caused by the defendant. The plaintiff may also ask for an injunction to keep the defendant from doing something.

There are four basic types of civil cases:

  • Tort claims – A wrongful act that results in an injury, property damage or damage to a person’s reputation
  • Breach of contract claims – One person fails to live up to the terms of a contract
  • Equitable claims – Asking the court to take some action or stop some action
  • Landlord/Tenant issues

On the other hand, a criminal case involves the breaking of a law. In this instance, the government prosecutes an individual for violating the law.

Here are 5 steps to prepare for a civil case

Step 1: Read the complaint

Whether or not you were the one who filed the suit, start preparing by reading the complaint. This is the document the judge will be reading. The purpose of this read-through is to determine how you will prove (if you are the plaintiff) or disprove (if you are the defendant) the allegations spelled out in the complaint.

You need to determine:

  • What evidence you will need to prove/disprove the statements
  • If anything relevant has happened since the original incident. For example, has a debt been paid, was there a mediation or have there been additional damages?
  • If any key elements are missing from the complaint

Step 2: Gather your evidence

Whether you filed the complaint or not, you will have to gather evidence to prove your case.

Evidence can include:

  • Copies of legal contracts
  • Documents
  • Written and/or digital communications (emails, texts etc.)
  • Witnesses
  • Receipts
  • Records of payments or evidence of non-payment
  • Pictures
  • Videos

According to PeoplesLaw.org, “If you have a contract, read it…The judge will expect both parties to be familiar with the contract. There are certain legal elements that must be proved if your goal is to enforce your contract. If you wish to show that the contract is not valid, you must explain why (disproving the same elements).”

Step 3: Analyze the case and decide what you need to prove/disprove

What you really want to do is analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Then determine how to play to your strengths or defend your weaknesses. Review the elements that must be proven and decide what evidence you can present that will prove/disprove those elements.

Step 4: Prepare documentation and your witnesses

This is actually a multi-step process:

  • Identify and prepare evidence and physical documentation you plan to present in court.
  • Make copies of everything for the opposing side and the judge.
  • Keep all of your documentation organized so you can find everything when you need it.
  • Highlight important points you plan to present to prove your case.
  • Identify and prepare your witnesses. Make sure witnesses can support your key points and that they have firsthand knowledge of the situation. Also, make sure any “experts” are truly qualified to give opinions or judgments in this matter.

Step 5: Practice your presentation…and then practice again

You will be much more relaxed – and much more likely to remember your key points – if you practice beforehand. Going before a judge and in front of witnesses can make anyone nervous, especially if you’ve never been involved in a court case before. It’s also okay to make notes with your key points. It doesn’t have to be a full script. You can use bullet points, the first few sentences, or anything that will jog your memory and ensure you don’t forget a point that is crucial to your case.

Preparing for a civil case takes time and effort. Follow these five steps to help you present the best case possible to help ensure the outcome you want.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

Case Closing on 2018

Case Closing on 2018 on bossreporting.com

Is there ever an end to learning when you’re a lawyer? No. It’s always an uphill trek through new laws and regulations, clients and cases, and business processes.

At BOSS Reporting, we seek to alleviate some of the learning tension with tips and tricks lawyers can use to stay ahead in their practice. We’re closing the case on our blog for 2018, but don’t worry, we will be back next year with more tips and tricks to help you better your career and your business!

A day at court

Competence & Confidence: Body Language and Other Tips for Professional Poise

Conquer Court Appearance Jitters: Tips and Tricks to Calm Down Quick

Trial and Error: Polish up Your Presentation

Three Ways to Hook and Capture Attention in Your Presentations

Ted Talk Tips to Help You Be a More Persuasive Public Speaker

Try Not to Put Them to Sleep

Without Saying a Word: How to Use Your Body Language to Project Confidence

Business and office advice

Virtual Assistants and the Law

Post It: Build a Better Law Firm Blog

Crime Online: Cybersecurity Threats and Solutions for Your Law Firm

Power Up: Is Artificial Intelligence Part of Your Law Firm’s Future?

Partnering Up: The Pros and Cons of a Partnership for Your Law Practice

Law Practice Improvement: The Importance of Tracking KPIs

The Right Steps to an RFP Response: Increase Business with Improved Proposals

Scan, Store, and Save: The Advantages of a Paperless Law Practice

Pencil It In: Finding the Right Legal-Calendaring System for Your Firm

Technology, Security, and The Law: Protecting Your Clients and Their Financial Data

The Silver Lining: How Cloud Computing Can Increase Your Firm’s Productivity

Virtual Attorney’s Office: Take Your Law Practice Online

How Attorneys Can Use Social Media in Due Diligence

Best Jury in a Hurry: Tech to Help Improve the Jury Selection Process

How Law Firms Can Improve Online Marketing Efforts

Online Marketing Strategies for Small Law Firms

What Happens During a Deposition?

How Attorneys Can Find Balance Between Work and Life

The Difference Between Mediations vs. Arbitrations

Workplace Bullying, and How to Deal with It

5 Ways to Criticize Others at Work Without Making Them Feel Bad About It

Writing Wrongs: Tips for Effective Proofing

Sincerely, Yours: A look at Business Email Etiquette

The Ten Million Dollar Comma

Click Here to Like This Litigation: Social Media for Law Firms

Social Media and the Law: 6 Social Media Best Practices for Law Firms

How to Make the Most of Online Client Reviews

Miscellaneous

Legal Briefs: A Quick Tour of Tech News

Reporting for Duty: Skills Court Reporters Need to Know

Let’s Get Technical: The Best Tech to Improve Your Law Practice

Law and Order: The Evolution of Professional Etiquette

Why Law Firms Should Consider Text Messaging to Communicate

There are Many Types of Laughter, but What Causes Nervous Laughter?

What Court Reporters Want People to Know About Their Job

The Danger of Recording Privileged Conversations, and the Preferred Alternative

Cybercrime, Technology, and the Future Workforce of Law Firms

Are Ladies Changing the Legal Landscape?

Reporting for Duty

How to Survive Your First Year as a Lawyer

How to Become a Stenographer or Court Reporter

The Top 7 Reasons Why Litigators and Judges Prefer Human Reporters to Recording Devices

How to Make the Most of Online Client Reviews

How to Make the Most of Online Client Reviews on bossreporting.com

In our digital age, you’ll be reviewed online whether you want to be or not. As you are just one attorney in a large pool of options, make sure you’re engaging with comments and monitoring how they affect your overall online reputation.

When the internet didn’t yet exist, and people had to go by word of mouth, personal reviews mattered. Today in our digital culture, these reviews are still one of the most important driving factors for customer decision-making.

In fact, a BrightLocal survey showed that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they’d trust a friend’s recommendation.

Of course, this heavy weight given to online credibility can go both ways. Make the most of online client reviews with these tips and solutions.

Come to terms with reviews

You first need to understand that clients will review you, and people will read these reviews. There’s nothing you can do to stop this from happening. Know that not everyone will like everything about you and that sometimes conflict can arise, even if it wasn’t your fault or you did everything in your power to stop it.

Businesses of any kind no longer have much control over what people say about them online. What you can control is the level of service you offer and your commitment to being genuine. If you focus on being the best you can be, your online reviews will likely reflect that.

Google yourself

It’s a given that potential clients are going to Google you. And you won’t know what they find unless you regularly check how your search results are doing, and what shows up about you to customers right away. Are negative reviews the first thing on the results page?

You may need to implement better SEO practices to get the landing pages you want to appear first in the search results list. And, since there are so many attorneys and practices nationwide, try to work with an SEO expert to get to the top of the results page with keywords that potential clients may search for.

All the good reviews in the world won’t get you anywhere unless clients can find them.

If you have a lot of positive reviews, this can actually help your rank in search results. ReputationStacker says that four factors determine rank based on reviews:

  1. Quantity: the number of reviews
  2. Quality: whether the reviews are good or bad
  3. Authority: if your reviews are posted on legitimate sites
  4. Velocity: how quickly you get reviews

Google continues to dominate the search engine game, so the first step to ranking high is understanding how the algorithms work.

Address reviews head on

When you do receive a negative online review, don’t panic. While you should be concerned and try to figure out if what the client is saying is true, you can also take steps to show other potential clients that you care and are constantly improving.

Reply to these reviews directly and in a format that anyone can see. Express thoughtfulness and concern that someone had a bad experience. You can even ask them to elaborate on a point you don’t understand. Showing clients that you’re engaged online, even if someone didn’t like your services, can allow them to see how much you care about customer satisfaction.

Plus, being available online and showing clients that you understand how important that is in our current digital age can be a big plus for business. This is why you should also respond to positive reviews, even if just to say thank you.

Ask clients for reviews

Because positive reviews play a big role in your online reputation and your search engine ranking, getting reviews in the first place is extremely important. Start asking your clients to leave you reviews on Google or social media pages, where people tend to look for services and recommendations.

The same BrightLocal data showed that Facebook and Yelp were the top two places that consumers look for and read reviews, so engage with those platforms especially.

Give your online reputation the focus it deserves

Taking all the above steps will help contribute to a positive online presence, but it may not be enough. It may be a good idea to hire someone to manage all your online avenues to truly build a positive online authority.

Metrics from your website, social media pages, or newsletter can show you a lot about the way people interact with your message. And allowing clients to review you on outlets like Facebook or LinkedIn can prove to customers that you want them to know the truth about previous clients’ experiences.

For more tips about how to improve your online client relationships, visit the BOSS Reporting Blog or contact our experienced team today.

Social Media and The Law: 6 Social Media Best Practices for Law Firms

Social Media and The Law: 6 Social Media Best Practices for Law Firms on bossreporting.com

Take advantage of social media for your law firm

Social media is essential to every industry, including the legal profession. A smart, effective social media strategy can help you market your services and attract new business.

Here are 6 social media best practices for your law firm

1.  Determine your purpose for using social media.

An effective social media strategy hinges on determining what you want to accomplish. You might wish to sign new clients or establish your firm as an expert in a certain area, such as criminal defense, civil rights, intellectual property or corporate law. Once you’ve established a goal, you will be better equipped to come up with a plan to reach that goal.

2.  Choose the social media platforms you want to develop.

There are dozens of social media platforms out there. You need to decide which platforms you want to develop or grow. Facebook remains one of the most popular. You can have a page for your firm and also take advantage of Facebook’s paid advertising platform, which lets you target potential business based on geographic location, age, profession, gender, income, and a variety of hobbies and interests.

One platform you should definitely cultivate is LinkedIn, which is geared specifically toward working professionals. You can establish a company profile and also use the network to connect with groups and individuals in your areas of specialization. A good profile will include a complete list of your services, areas of expertise, and an easy way to contact you. Individual attorneys and other legal professionals in your firm can also have their own personal profiles, which increases the likelihood of others finding you.

Other popular social media platforms include Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and more.

3.  Be active on social media.

You can’t simply set up a Facebook page or LinkedIn account and then walk away. You must post on a regularly to help attract new followers and increase engagement. If someone visits your page and sees you haven’t posted anything for weeks, they will move on.

4.  Avoid being a salesman.

Social media is not about making a sale. The point is to be “social” and engage followers in meaningful ways. You can do that by becoming a trusted resource and authority in a particular specialty and by showing your human side.

Here are some suggestions of things you can post that won’t seem like a “sales call”:

Post original content

Post links to blogs (either your own or another trusted source)

Share content and articles from trusted resources such as news organizations, newspapers, trade magazines, and legal publications

  • Post industry news
  • Answer questions from followers
  • Highlight videos or news segments that are relevant to your firm or areas of specialty
  • Post updates on the latest happenings at your firm such as new hires, attorney profiles, and company events
  • Post pictures from community events in which you took part. (e.g. If your firm participated in a Breast Cancer Walk or a holiday toy drive, highlight that.)

If you want a good idea of how to balance “selling” versus “engaging,” follow the 80/20 rule. According to WiseStamp, “80% of the content that you share should be about your customers; answering their questions, retweeting links and sharing articles that they will find valuable. The remaining 20% can be sales oriented shares.”

5.  Blog regularly.

Blogging is an easy way to establish your firm as an expert. Blog posts should be relevant to your firm’s main areas of practice. If you aren’t going to have a dedicated person responsible for creating posts (or if you don’t want to outsource the task) it might be a good idea to have attorneys or other legal professionals take turns writing original posts. Blog posts can then be used as content on your social media channels. Followers can also share the posts on their social media channels, increasing your reach.

6.  Include a clear call-to-action everywhere.

Include contact tools on each page you manage, as well as your website and blog. Contact information should include your website, email, and phone number.

Social media is one of the best ways to attract and engage potential clients. Develop your policy to ensure you aren’t missing out on this important marketing tool.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

Virtual Assistants and the Law

Virtual Assistants and the Law on bossreporting.com

How a virtual assistant can benefit your law firm

Managing a busy law practice takes a lot of time and effort. From paperwork, filing and billing to office management, there are endless tasks that must get done. In a smaller firm, all of these tasks may fall to you or a single office manager. Although most law firms have in-house assistants, many are now employing virtual assistants to take on administrative and office management tasks.

What are the benefits of a legal virtual assistant and is using one the right choice for your firm?

What does a legal virtual assistant do?

Virtual assistants (VA) complete online tasks that can be done remotely from any computer. VA’s can perform many of tasks, from basic administrative work to more complex things, depending on the person’s experience and qualifications.

Basic VA tasks:

  • Invoicing
  • Bill Paying
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Tracking accounts receivables/payables

More complex VA tasks

Answering the phone. It is possible to outsource receptionist duties, using a service that screens incoming calls seamlessly. Clients need never know the person is not physically in your office.

Email management. The number of emails flooding into your inbox every day can become overwhelming. Simply reading through them and determining which emails are urgent is extremely time-consuming. A good VA can help manage your inbox, setting up folders for various categories, from bar-related emails and listservs to potential and current clients. A VA can help prioritize emails that need an answer right away. They can also set up appointments and answer basic questions.

Filing documents. Legal documents can be scanned and saved on a shared server by a VA so everyone can access the information. The assistant can go through each document to identify the client and type, and then complete the necessary indexing.

Manage your meeting schedule. A VA can set up meetings with clients and manage your calendar. A VA can also take care of reserving a meeting room and ordering food if needed.

Social media. Social media is becoming more important as law firms try to attract new business in a very competitive field. Posting on sites like Facebook and Twitter is time-consuming, and your efforts might be ineffective if you’re not a social media expert. A good VA with experience in social media can lift the burden and help ensure success.

Transcription. If you take notes by hand, a VA can type them up and then save the copy directly on your server.

Make travel plans. Searching for flights, booking a hotel room, and renting a car all take the time you probably don’t have. A good VA can make travel arrangements for you, based on your schedule and budget. A VA can also make restaurant reservations.

Is a VA right for your law firm?

To determine if a Virtual Assistant is right for you, it is essential to weigh the cost of such services. How many hours a week do you expect the VA to work? You can also calculate the benefit by estimating how much time you spend on administrative tasks. How many more hours do you have to work to make up for the lost time? What would be the cost if you paid yourself to do those tasks?

You must also ensure that you hire a VA you can trust. Trust is essential, especially when it comes to sensitive and private client information. Plus, even though a VA works remotely, you still need to manage him or her, so you get your money’s worth. This means you must determine which tasks need to be done and then ensure they are completed in a timely manner. You must also take the time to train the VA, so he or she does things the way you want them.

A legal VA can remove the burden of administrative tasks so you can concentrate on client needs. It is important to weigh your needs and determine if and how a VA can help your law firm.

Boss Certified Realtime Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Post It: Build a Better Law Firm Blog

Build a Better Law Firm Blog on bossreporting.com

Improve your online marketing efforts by building a better law blog for your practice’s website

Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate thoughts, ideas, facts, and our personal and professional images to the world. The internet provides a wealth of valuable opinions and information and a ready-made audience that would have taken years of marketing and expertise to develop in the past. Websites have become platforms in which you can position your practice as an expert in your professional field, and the addition of a blog can serve as a valuable resource to your clients and an effective marketing tool for your law firm.

A blog for your law practice can help strengthen your professional reputation and act as an ongoing opportunity to attract new business by establishing a voice and presence that will inform and appeal to potential clients.

Write with intent

The first step to any endeavor is to understand your intention, and developing a professional blog is no different. Understanding why you are blogging can help you narrow your focus and identify your audience. Here are some of the practical goals you may be aiming to achieve:

  • Attracting new clients: Improving upon your business is clearly the best return on the investment of the time, effort, and money involved with developing a new blog. Provide valuable information in a clear and consistent tone that appeals to a wide range of readers. Convey professionalism without weighing down the tone of your writing with a ton of legalese or complicated terms.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Creating compelling content with relevant keywords can help your website gain credibility with search engines. The purpose of your posts should be to provide factual information, and the inclusion of keywords should be organic – don’t shoehorn in a bunch of terms in the hopes of getting noticed by Google; algorithms are more sophisticated than you may realize.
  • Professional branding: Blogging is a great tool to share your expertise in a way that showcases your authority in your area of practice. Brainstorm areas of interest and topics that will appeal to your audience and create corresponding posts. Take care to develop a voice and personality that complements your practice.
  • Sharing business-related news: Announce business-related news and legal happenings on your professional blog to keep your clients informed and to share your successes with prospective customers.

Adding inspiration

Once you’ve established the “why” of your blog, it’s time to work on the “how” and the “what.” Get clear (and be realistic) on who will be the author of your blog. Ideally, this person will have the time, interest, and ability. If you don’t have an available staff member, look into hiring a blogger, copywriter, or agency to create your content.

You’ll also need to determine posting frequency, the ideal post length (500 to 1000 words is ideal), and then get to work developing an editorial calendar with content ideas.

Make a list of possible writing topics using the following inspiration:

  • Your area of practice: Writing about what you know is the very best way to create credibility and provide valuable content that will enrich the lives of readers. Think about the questions or situations your clients have most frequently and develop post ideas that address those issues.
  • Other professional resources: If you see a subject in an industry newsletter, magazine, or website that piques your interest, use it as inspiration to share your own thoughts on that topic. Once you adopt inspiration as a mindset, you’ll find it all around you.
  • Professional experience: Reference your own legal casework to show-off your expertise and professional successes. Demonstrate your abilities by sharing how you were able to secure satisfactory results for your previous clients and advice for readers in similar scenarios.
  • Current events and legal news: Keep an eye on industry news and viral events for content inspiration, and share your own professional opinions and reactions to relevant situations reflected in the world.

Blogging is an affordable and effective way to keep your website current, your content relevant, and your professional brand consistent and well-developed. Blogs have become an accepted source of information in the online media landscape, and an ideal platform to develop an authoritative voice that readers can grow to respect.

Boss Certified Realtime Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Competence & Confidence: Body Language and Other Tips for Professional Poise

Competence & Confidence: Body Language and Other Tips for Professional Poise on bossreporting.com

Make yourself a commanding presence in the courtroom by conveying confidence

Practicing law involves a lot of different elements and skill sets; a good attorney is inquisitive, assertive, and thorough; is a good orator, an effective researcher, and is skilled at adeptly maneuvering through various forms of dialog. However, conquering in the courtroom (and in life, actually) is often influenced by the ability to convey confidence.

Memorizing statutes and learning case law can be challenging, but doesn’t feel as personal as cultivating confidence. On the surface, it seems like confidence is something you either innately possess or that you acquire from years of experience and a series of personal successes. That’s not necessarily true, though. While those things are certainly helpful, a confident countenance is a skill like any other, and will soon become second nature if you invest time and effort into fully developing it.

Professional posturing

Body language and personal appearance often speak as much, or more, than words ever can. Even the smallest detail can skew a person’s perspective of who you are and how you carry yourself.

Clothes should always be clean and pressed, shoes un-scuffed and polished, nails and hair groomed – there’s no such thing as casual in the courtroom. Purchase one or two good suits, and a nice pair of shoes in both brown and black if money is tight as you first start off practicing law. Justify the cost of these essentials – and the dry-cleaning bills that come with wrinkle-free clothes – as the investment that they are.

Once you’re well dressed, it’s time to impress. Never underestimate the importance of good posture and outward composure. Studies show that 90 percent of human communication is nonverbal – these off-the-cuff judgments are part of our biological instinct of assessing potential allies and threats. Use that to your advantage when it comes to prospective clients, opposing counsel, the judge, and the jury.

Walk tall: Good posture has been pressed upon most of us from well-meaning mothers throughout our lifetimes, but it’s easy to let it slip. Draw your stomach in, your shoulders back, and lengthen your spine. It may not feel quite natural, but it gives off an air of strength and self-control.

Neutral expression: Although it feels like an odd thing to do, watch your neutral face in the mirror. Do you look calm? Pleasant? Practice smiling without smiling; just a slight lift of the corners of your mouth that will help you seem unstressed and not threatened or threatening.

Eye contact: Looking directly at people makes you seem honest and certain about what you’re saying. Make a point of making eye contact during introductions, take the time to make sure jurors feel seen instead of skimmed over – in fact, making people feel acknowledged goes a long way in earning their trust and affection. Approach people with an open, friendly demeanor, regardless of what role they play in the trial or how you feel about them personally.

Preparation is everything

Another important aspect of developing confidence happens through preparation. Competence begets confidence. When you truly know a subject, it’s easier to speak about it with assurance so pursue knowledge related to your area of practice with a passion at every opportunity, and prepare for every case as if your entire career depends on this one outcome.

Doing your due diligence is obviously important, but so is staying organized and knowing that you’re ready for anything.

Develop routines around how you prepare for trial, not just during the research portion but before the actual event. Review your material thoroughly, but then take some time to work out, go for a walk, or meditate to collect yourself. Practice calming breaths in the car or indulge in a stop at your favorite coffee shop before pulling into the courtroom. Give yourself a pep talk before pulling your shoulders back and striding into court like you already know the outcome.

Confidence isn’t as nebulous as it seems; certain characteristics or traits help paint the picture of personal strength and surety and anyone with the willingness or desire can practice until those tell-tale signs become part of their character. Also, as with many things in life, there’s some wisdom in the old adage, “fake it ’til you make it.” Act confident, mimic the behaviors of people you admire as such, and eventually your own confidence in your abilities will develop in an authentic way that others will emulate.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Crime Online: Cybersecurity Threats and Solutions for Your Law Firm

Crime Online: Cybersecurity Threats and Solutions for Your Law Firm on bossreporting.com

Protect the confidential information of your clients by securing your law firm’s digital data

The internet has revolutionized the availability and transmittal of information, and for the most part, the resultant technology has made our lives infinitely easier. From the mobility enabled by cloud computing to the on-demand access to data, the internet has become a part of our daily personal and professional lives that would be difficult to live without. However, the myriad of benefits also comes with consequences and responsibilities. The potential for data breaches is a real and present danger, and since your ethical obligations as an attorney include protecting your clients’ confidentiality, your practice needs to have a plan in place that covers cybersecurity.

Due to the nature of the work, law firms have access to information that is considered valuable to cybercriminals, including personal client details, mergers and acquisitions data, and intellectual property. The American Bar Association’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey Report shared that 22 percent of the law firms that responded had experienced a cybersecurity breach, which was an 8 percent increase from the previous year. That statistic can be further broken down by firm size:

  • 27 percent of reporting firms had two to nine practicing lawyers
  • 35 percent had 10 to 49 lawyers
  • one-quarter with 500 or more lawyers suffered a breach

As businesses and data become more interconnected, the insidious industry of cybercrime becomes more sophisticated, and the consequences more drastic.

Types of cyber attacks

Regardless of the size of your firm, or the type of law you practice, your digital information is at risk. Generally, hackers use one of the following tactics to access legal data illegally:

Phishing: Phishing attacks involve sending out emails with infected attachments in an attempt to obtain passwords or gain access to computers or networks. Phishing is the biggest threat according to Mark Rasch, a lawyer, and former computer crimes prosecutor, “It’s the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 threat for law firms.”

Phishing attacks are usually random and generated by a network of computers controlled by a botmaster that programs the directions. However, there’s also a method known as “spear phishing,” where individuals or a group of individuals are targeted by cybercriminals. The involved emails usually look like they come from a client or colleague; some form of trusted source. A “whale phishing” attack targets managing partners or senior executives in an attempt trick an executive into revealing company info to gain access to personal and corporate data.

Malware: The word malware is a portmanteau for “malicious software” and involves a virus or worm that will infect the user’s computer. For the most part, the affected files are held hostage versus being outright stolen – the hackers will threaten to lock or destroy the information if the ransom isn’t paid within a certain timeframe.

Unsecured Wi-Fi: Lawyers are largely dependent on accessing data remotely, which makes them vulnerable to attack an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Experts recommend that attorneys use a virtual private network or mobile hotspot, and never rely on a hotel’s Wi-Fi. It’s also important to update software regularly; outdated versions allow easier access for cybercriminals.

Cybersecurity solutions

There are many ways to prevent data breaches, and unfortunately, you can’t rely on just one, which makes the entire endeavor potentially overwhelming. While it’s true that firewalls and anti-virus software are important, security goes far beyond that.

Although it’s not cheap, the best bet to ensure that your client and business information is safe is to hire an outside source for a vulnerability assessment. A vulnerability assessment can identify where your firm is most at risk, which can help you assess where your time and money is best spent when it comes to cybersecurity.

Whether it’s training employees, encryption options, upgrading equipment, or purchasing insurance that will help cover the costs of a cyber attack situation, an experienced outside source has the knowledge and objectivity to identify your firm’s weak spots and make suggestions on adjusting accordingly. Remember, a data breach could potentially cost far more than preventing one will.

Cybersecurity is a big business; Gartner Inc. estimated that spending to prevent cybercrime will increase by 8 percent this year, for a total of $96.3 billion. While securing your firm’s information can initially seem like a big investment, creating a solid plan regarding the protection of your digital data can save you time, stress, money, legal repercussions, and damage to your professional reputation in the long-run. Do your research and find a trusted vendor capable of performing a vulnerability assessment so you can get back to what you know – practicing law with confidence that your clients and your practice are protected.

Looking for more technology-related tips? Check out the Boss Reporting Blog to better serve your business.

Power Up: Is Artificial Intelligence Part of Your Law Firm’s Future?

Power Up: Is Artificial Intelligence Part of Your Law Firm’s Future? on bossreporting.com

Learn how Artificial Intelligence can improve your business practices

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of those concepts that still feels vaguely futuristic – like it’s better suited for a science fiction story than office applications. However, AI is already a practical tool that improves your daily life in major ways. From personal assistants powered by voice, like Alexa and Siri, to the predictive suggestions of Netflix and Amazon, the concept of machine learning and AI is currently more common than many realize. The future is here whether you’re ready or not; instead of fearing the foreignness of new technology, learn how to use AI to your advantage in your law firm.

The wisdom of AI

AI is a system that can learn on its own by compiling and analyzing data; it can make connections and conclusions without relying on a programmed algorithm. True AI can improve on past mistakes and become more aware, enhancing its abilities and knowledge.

It sounds a little intimidating, doesn’t it? Have no fear, though, the machines haven’t taken over – they’re just here to help. Empower yourself by harnessing the magic of AI and putting it to use for the benefit of your business.

Adaptation enables growth, and acting as an early adopter of AI in the legal industry could increase productivity and reduce errors – and both are beneficial to your bottom line.

The implementation of AI

The legal industry has been slow to embrace new technology, and AI is no exception. Between the learning curve, uncertainty about best practices, and a reluctance to disrupt an already established workflow, law firms are generally behind the curve when it comes to implementing AI.

According to a report titled, “Law Firms Need AI to Stay in the Game,” “The initial step in bringing AI into the law firm is not a consensus on making an investment in AI, but rather answering one question: What problem are we solving for? Do we want to increase efficiency with certain tasks? Improve the quality of work? Differentiate from the competition? Once the law firm identifies the problem it is solving, it can proceed with determining what the solution is. For the questions posed above, AI can be the solution or part of the solution.”

What problems can AI solve in your practice? Current applications appear to fit into one of the following categories:

  • Research: Due diligence is time-consuming, tedious, and absolutely essential. It’s also a task that’s prone to user error. Contract review, legal research, and electronic discovery can all be enhanced by AI, reducing time and user error.
  • Litigation Prediction: AI software can be used to forecast the outcome of litigation. Professor Daniel Katz of Michigan State University analyzed Supreme Court decisions from 1816 to 2015 and found that their algorithm achieved a 70.2 percent accuracy on case outcomes.
  • Document Preparation: Law firms can increase efficiency by using software templates that assist in filling out documents based on data. Work automation is one of the areas in which AI has the greatest potential to streamline tedious business-related tasks. Forms that can take days to research and fill out manually could be completed in minutes thanks to machine learning.
  • Intellectual Property Research: Doing research related to securing patents or investigating copyrights or trademarks can be time-consuming and could involve looking into hundreds or thousands of results. AI can analyze large portfolios of work and draw conclusions on the content quickly.
  • Client Invoicing: Getting paid is important, and keeping accurate records is imperative. Paper-based invoicing reduces inconsistencies and is more easily searchable and organized. The ability to compute billable hours automatically has broad-reaching benefits.

The above examples of AI in law practices already exist. As AI continues to evolve, so will its uses. Will your business be ready for the future?

An extensive analysis by Deloitte predicts that up to 100,000 legal roles may be automated by 2036. Prepare your practice to embrace AI as part of your growth mindset, and improve productivity and profit by committing to the idea of incorporating this valuable – and inevitable – new technology.

Looking for more technology-related tips? Check out the Boss Reporting Blog to better serve your business.

Partnering Up: The Pros and Cons of a Partnership for Your Law Practice

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Is it in your best interest to go solo or pair up with a partner?

A lot of lawyers dream about making a name for themselves on their own – being their own boss and running their own practice. However, the reality is that going solo can be a daunting experience. That doesn’t mean it’s not an option worth exploring though; as, with any important business decision, it’s important to be fully aware of the pros and cons of forming a partnership before deciding which arrangement best suits your personality and work style.

The pros of a partnership

Any burden is more easily managed when shared, and that’s particularly true in business. A partner can help with:

  • Costs: Sharing the expense of rent, staffing, software, research, marketing, signage, stationery, and technology means you can start out in style.
  • Responsibility: Having a partner may bring peace of mind to your clients since there’s someone available to cover for you if a personal emergency should arise. They can also assist in managing the staff of the legal practice, saving time and effort better spent on clients.
  • Brainstorming: Whether it’s how to bring in new business or solve a complicated issue, two heads are better than one and having someone to bounce ideas off can help with both positivity and productivity.
  • Appearance: For better or worse, partnerships often bring a sense of security to new clients in that they seem more established than a sole practitioner might. A partnership also greatly expands your sphere of personal influence in terms of marketing since you’re now doubling your audience of family, friends, and former clients.

The cons of co-ownership

A business partnership isn’t all sunshine, shared costs, and roses, though. As with all things, the good comes with some bad and part of your decision in taking on a partner involves weighing out the potential for problems.

  • Less control: This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your personality, but if you have strong ideas on how things should work and dislike the idea of making concessions or negotiating around your expectations, then a partner could involve more emotional labor than you’re willing to take on.
  • More liability: It’s relatively easy to guard and manage your own work ethic and reputation but adding a partner to your practice comes with the risk of dealing with someone else’s potentially bad behavior and, if worse comes to worst, a malpractice suit.
  • Conflict of interest: Depending on the size of your practice area, adding a partner could increase the likelihood of running into a conflict of interest that could prohibit your firm from taking on a case.
  • Dissolution: Hopefully it never comes to this but dissolving a business can be as acrimonious as a divorce, and then you’re faced with some degree of starting over again. If you decide to commit to a partnership, choose carefully.

Making a match

The key to a successful partnership in any business involves finding the right match. The greatest benefit to a partnership comes with choosing someone whose strengths and weaknesses complement your own. For instance, an extrovert with strong ideas on marketing and networking is an asset to an introverted personality type who just wants to study and practice law. Diversifying your skill sets can increase productivity and profit while making day to day tasks more seamless.

A difference in perspective can be advantageous too. Avoid tunnel vision in your business goals or client cases by integrating the fresh opinions of someone you respect into the daily dialogue. Although being set in your ways feels comfortable, it leads to stagnation. Find someone who can articulate their ideas in a way that you appreciate and learn to listen with an open mind.

When it comes to finding a partner, you want someone who you can trust, admire, and communicate easily with – much like a marriage. Be clear in your initial intentions and expectations and make sure your business goals line up in a way that’s compatible. Make sure your partner is someone you can vent to, brainstorm with, and that you’ll feel comfortable with when having difficult conversations or exchanging constructive criticism.

Ideally, a partner would be someone you have an existing long-standing professional relationship with; not quite a friend, but more than an acquaintance.

And perhaps you’ll decide that a partnership isn’t for you – and that’s okay too. It’s far better to make that decision up front than to find out along the way. Take the time to assess all your options and invest your time and energy into whatever business arrangement aligns best with your future goals.

Boss Certified Realtime Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Conquer Court Appearance Jitters: Tips and Tricks to Calm Down Quick

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Harness the nervous energy you feel before court appearances and make it work for you

Even the most confident professionals experience anxiety from time to time, particularly before an important presentation or in high-pressure situations – and presentations and high-pressure situations are what being an attorney are all about. However, knowing it’s a normal reaction doesn’t make pre-court jitters any easier to live with. Reclaim your inner peace with these tips and tricks to calm down quickly.

Prepare, don’t obsess: Obviously, appropriate preparation is essential. It’s also your job. Don’t procrastinate, do your homework, review your materials thoroughly, and have confidence in knowing what you need to know.

Be cautious not to over prepare though. Not only will you sound too rehearsed but exhausting yourself before trial will only add to feeling overwhelmed and irritable.

Breathe deeply: “Take a deep breath” seems like a mindless platitude when your problems feel pressing, but it’s good advice. It’s more about mindfulness than respiration, though. Bring consciousness to your breath by slowly filling your lungs with air, pausing for a moment, and steadily exhaling. Pause again and repeat.

Guided meditation apps can help improve your focus and center your breathing and thoughts. Even spending a quick ten minutes in your car before entering the courthouse can help change your mindset and ease any physical discomfort. Practicing meditation will eventually lead to the ability to connect to a sense of calm and well-being even in the most chaotic of circumstances.

Ritual of comfort: Set yourself up for success by indulging in a ritual that brings you comfort before each court appearance. Whether it’s a rigorous workout to burn off nervous energy or a quiet breakfast in your favorite coffee shop, make time for whatever it is that makes you feel good and create a regular pattern of behavior before each case to create a sense of satisfactory predictability before facing the unknown.

Reframe your fear: Feeling anxious is accompanied by physical symptoms, which is what makes that vague sense of dread so difficult to ignore. Difficulty drawing a full breath, increased heart rate, a flushed face, and chest, sweaty palms, racing thoughts – it all adds up to make feeling nervous seem more serious than it is.

Consider the fact that fear and excitement share the same symptoms. As that sense of unease starts to creep in, tell yourself that it’s anticipation; you’re gearing up for battle, and you have the tools and training to win. Don’t fight the feeling, just add depth to your understanding of it.

Fake it ’til you make it: When all else fails – break out your best acting skills. Check your posture, dress to impress, grin easily, and do whatever it is your favorite T. attorney would do. It may seem disingenuous, but part of your job is to project an image of being cool, confident, and collected. Study your mentors and try on some of the habits or personality traits that contribute to the parts of their demeanor that you admire. Go ahead and get into character before your courtroom performance.

Also, have faith in who you are – even if you feel slightly insecure, it’s unlikely that it’s as obvious as it feels when you’re experiencing it. There may even be a junior attorney emulating the very behaviors you’re so unsure about.

Although it doesn’t feel like it as it’s happening, a little anxiety is a good thing. Being nervous motivates you to prepare and brings a necessary consciousness to the task at hand. Appreciate the benefits of a sense of anticipation and remind yourself that you are a prepared professional taking on a challenge that you look forward to defeating. Dress and act the part, stand tall, breathe deep, know your facts, and remember why you chose this career path in the first place, and you’ll be conquering your court appearances in no time.

Get more advice on polishing up your presentations and appearances on the Boss Reporting Blog.

Boss Certified Realtime Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Law Practice Improvement: The Importance of Tracking KPIs

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Measuring Key Performance Indicators is essential to the growth of your law firm

Analytics are an important metric for the health of your business. The phrase Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is thrown around so often on business blogs and entrepreneurial articles that it begins to feel like another busy buzzword – a trendy idea that professionals expound upon with very little understanding of its actual meaning or worth. However, measuring the KPI of your law firm is essential for growth and profit.

Knowledge is power, and KPIs can help you understand where your business is experiencing the most return on investment, or which services or processes require more assets than they’re worth. Running a successful law firm involves more than just a simple understanding of billable hours, profit, and loss. Longevity requires you to analyze, measure, define and set goals around your KPIs.

Measuring up

The challenge lies in determining what to measure – the possibilities are endless and should ideally be tailored to your firm’s specific business goals.

To start, evaluate what information is indicative of the success of your law practice. KPI possibilities include:

  • Number of new clients
  • Collected revenue
  • Billed revenue
  • Monthly expenses
  • Cost of client acquisition
  • Client satisfaction
  • Employee leverage

To determine if your KPIs are appropriate, check to make sure they have the following characteristics:

  • Is it quantifiable?
  • Does it reflect the goals of our firm?
  • Is it a key to our overall success?

Keeping track

The most important component of effective measuring is information. Once you decide what your metrics are, you need a system for collecting and analyzing the associated data. Look at what data already exists in your firm’s management system and determine how you will manage that information, and then distinguish the gaps between what data you have available to you and what you need.

The most convenient and effective way to organize your Key Performance Indicators is with a spreadsheet or series of graphs. Easy access to a visual representation of the various elements and indicators can help you identify patterns and areas of improvement.

Many firm management applications include a component that offers dashboard reports, which can help streamline the set-up and review process. Getting well-acquainted with this module of your management software is a worthy investment.

Changing course

To make effective changes, you have to have a true understanding of the meaning of each KPI and why it’s important to your overall success. Don’t rush to make changes through – data will need to be collected for a few months in order to be able to spot trends and measure impact.

Plan to run your KPI reports monthly and analyze the collected information promptly. Once you identify areas of improvement, take corrective action and re-evaluate during your next analysis.

Once you have a general idea of your current circumstances, create benchmarks and set goals for the future. Increasing customer satisfaction can improve your ability to gain new customers or reduce your cost of client acquisition when repeat customers are involved. Working more efficiently or better leveraging your staff can reduce monthly expenses or increase billed revenue. Think of your KPIs as individual cogs that work together to improve production. A minor tweak to one area can result in a ripple effect of changes.

Acting on evidence

Adaptability is essential for growth, and you can’t adapt productively if you don’t have verifiable evidence of where change is needed most. Knowledge is power, and KPIs enable you to make data-driven decisions that help you make informed improvements.

Although measuring KPIs initially feels like more work, eventually, the information collected will improve productivity and profitability which increases the satisfaction of employees and clients alike. Break your law practice down into the components that contribute to its overall success, become familiar with each, and make the necessary changes to help your law firm evolve into its optimal form.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

The Right Steps to an RFP Response: Increase Business with Improved Proposals

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An RFP response can be a challenging task, but a worthwhile investment of time

Request for Proposals (RFPs) are an important part of a law practice’s business and formulating the response to one requires information that is thoughtful, well-researched, and timely. RFPs are very specific in outlining what services are required and what the client’s needs are, requiring an individual approach to each request received.

Your firm is often required to provide a range of information, including documentation and examples of experience, as well as responses to specific questions tailored to that project. The client wants specific information in simple terms – gone are the days of copying and pasting from one response to another. The various moving parts of putting together a winning RFP make them a time-consuming and challenging aspect of the business, but if done correctly, the results make the effort worthwhile.

The right response to RFPs

Take a close look: The first step of the process is to evaluate the RFP critically. Gauge the appropriateness before deciding to respond – don’t automatically reply to each request. In order to make it worth the cost of your time, you must be selective about which RFPs you respond to, which requires more than a cursory glance.

Check to see what the issuer needs, determine their intent, and assess what their priority is; are they primarily concerned with consolidation, service, pricing, or counsel change? Also, research the buyer’s trend in procurement to make sure they aren’t issuing RFPs without granting new rewards.

Assemble the right team: Involve your marketing and business development professionals as part of your proposal team. Having a highly effective team has a huge impact on your overall success; include a proposal writer, business development, strategy and pricing personnel, and the lead attorney. If it’s a labor-intensive RFP, you might want to have more than one attorney involved.

If you are the lead for the response, you will be responsible for key decisions and should be listed as the person who will do the work if the RFP requests that information. Make sure everyone involved understands their role and are prepared to contribute.

Check for conflicts: This may seem obvious, but the timing of this step is crucial. Assess the potential of any conflicts before letting the issuer know you intend to respond or accepting. You wouldn’t want to invest the time and concern for a job you cannot do.

Decide to respond: Once you’ve evaluated your team and the response, you need to determine if you’re going to pass on the RFP or submit a formal response. Start with the following:

  • Research if you’ve done business with this issue in the past, or if you currently have a business relationship.
  • Find out if you have professional relationships with specific people who work within the organization.
  • Confirm that you are experienced and knowledgeable in the required services issued in the request.

The RFP is most likely a good prospect if all the above can be answered in the affirmative. If you’re missing an element, re-evaluate your strength in one of the other two before proceeding.

Attorney involvement: Although the proposal writer, marketing and business development team members can help with details such as formatting, verbiage, and research, the attorney needs to be hands-on when it comes to strategy and insight in a way that demonstrates expertise and experience. Read and respond carefully.

State your offerings: Following directions, including well-researched information, and defining your strategy are the foundational steps of an effective RFP response. Make sure you clearly state what service you’re offering, how you will deliver that, why your firm best benefits the client, evidence of past success, and an estimate of cost. Covering all those bases will help you stand out as the optimal choice.

Reviewing RFP submissions can be as cumbersome as preparing them; poorly prepared responses stand out as taking up valuable time and are quickly cast aside. Ultimately, that’s a waste of time and energy for both sides involved.

Create a well-structured and clearly-defined RFP response process, pay close attention to the buyer’s needs, and collaborate with your team members based on their innate talents to produce a response that puts you in a league of your own, while helping you win more RFPs and guaranteeing a better return on your investment of time.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Scan, Store, and Save: The Advantages of a Paperless Law Practice

Scan, Store, and Save: The Advantages of a Paperless Law Practice on bossreporting.com

Tips and tricks to help your law firm transition to a paperless filing system

When you’re rifling through fully-packed file cabinets or maneuvering around stacks of documents waiting to find their permanent home in storage, it’s easy to see the allure of running a paperless law practice. Not only is it more convenient but it’s also environmentally-friendly and can safeguard your clients’ information from fire, natural disasters, or a break-in.

The biggest issue always seems to be where and how to start. Figuring out how to transfer existing documents to digital copies, and where to store them so that they are easily accessible but also protected, is a daunting task. Once you climb that paperwork mountain though, it’s all coasting from there – the effort is worth the reward. Take up less space, waste less paper, and access your files easily and from anywhere with a paperless office.

Putting the “less” in “paperless”

The first and most important step of transitioning to a paperless practice is to determine your goals. Remember that there’s no such thing as “paperless” – the actual intention is to rely less on paper and transition to digital storage. Start slowly by identifying how your firm currently uses paper and what categories those uses fall under, and then begin implementing new processes in one area. For instance, you could start scanning old files and uploading them or create a new digital workflow for new clients. Setting out to digitize everything all at once is a surefire way to feel overwhelmed and wonder if you’re complicating a process that already (mostly) works – but isn’t optimal.

Determine digital storage needs

The right storage option is essential to your success; after all, that’s the problem you’re mainly working to solve. Your best bet is to store your data in the cloud. Online cloud storage allows for around-the-clock access to all your files regardless of where you are. There are a few things to consider when choosing a service:

  • Go with a reputable vendor – this isn’t the time to experiment.
  • Carefully read the terms and conditions and make sure they meet your needs.
  • Determine if the terms and conditions are legally enforceable.
  • Make sure the interface is user-friendly and conveniently accessible.

Think safety first

Since you have an ethical duty to protect your law practice’s data, and since a lot of the information being stored is sensitive material, security is paramount. Whether you store your files in the cloud or on your firm’s servers, it’s important to take steps to make sure the information is safe. Experts recommend that you back up at least three copies of your law firm’s digital data at two different locations. Add an extra level of protection by encrypting the data in order to protect it from potential security vulnerabilities.

Update your workflow

Once you understand how, where, and why you’ll be storing your files, you need to establish a paperless workflow for your law firm and make sure all essential staff fully understands the process and its importance. Consider the difference in treatment of a handwritten document versus a form created online versus a document that must be scanned and stored, and all the options in between. Clarify whose duty it is to complete each task.

Have a system from the start

Implementing an organizational system for your digital documents is important to the success of the project of going paperless. Again, every employee should be familiar with what has been put in place so that files are stored correctly and easily accessed again. You may even consider asking for feedback from your team so that they’ll feel further invested in the process – and you might luck out and have a natural organizer onboard.

Create a protocol for file names too, so that each will be easily searchable. For instance, creating a digital file folder named for each client might be a good starting point, with all relevant documents stored inside.

There are many advantages to going paperless in your law practice, and although the transition may require some effort, being able to save space, search files more easily, reduce your environmental impact, and make backup copies of your firm’s most important data is well worth the additional work.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

Pencil It in: Finding the Right Legal-Calendaring System for Your Firm

Pencil It in: Finding the Right Legal-Calendaring System for Your Firm on bossreporting.com

Organization is part of the job

Time is money, and this is particularly true when you’re a practicing attorney. Being organized and efficient is essential to scheduling your days for maximum productivity, and professionalism and punctuality go hand-in-hand when dealing with both clients and judges. Organizing your day, meeting deadlines, and allotting the appropriate amount of time for each task is not only a form of risk management but it also helps reduce stress and confusion.

Technology has a wide variety of options to assist you in streamlining your schedule; legal calendaring tools can improve your workflow, protect your reputation, and increase client satisfaction. Find the right calendar management tool for your practice by assessing key features, and understanding which tools are the most compatible with your firm’s scheduling needs.

Save the day

Missing deadlines is one of the most common reasons attorneys find themselves involved in legal malpractice cases, so maintaining a constantly updated calendar is about more than just simple etiquette or day planning. The consequences of a missed court deadline can be severe, and it’s easy to make a scheduling error. Court dates must be accurately determined as soon as a matter goes before the court, which can involve internet searches or phone calls and can change based on extenuating circumstances.

The calendaring process is a challenge for firms of all sizes; large firms have more work to coordinate between multiple attorneys, often practicing in different areas. Small firms often have less staff and more limited resources.

There are a lot of options when it comes to maintaining a calendar – from a simple desk blotter and day planners to sophisticated rules-based legal calendaring software that estimates court dates and tracks schedules. The three most popular categories include:

  1. Paper calendars: Although it’s inexpensive and requires no training, a paper scheduling method isn’t recommended unless you’re a technophobe. Not only does it require more manpower, but there are also no options to sync, share, or create reminders. If you are the type that remembers and understands more if you write it down, keep a paper day planner as a back-up to your digital scheduling tool.
  2. General online or software-based calendars: Commonly used calendars like Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar are friendly for both budgets and users. The learning curve is low but since these products weren’t specifically designed for legal work, the time investment is high since someone has to be in charge of determining initial court dates and must input that data manually which leaves room for oversight or error.
  3. Legal calendaring programs: There are numerous advantages to utilizing software specifically designed for the legal industry. Rules-based calendaring systems offer helpful features such as built-in court rules databases and keep track of things like holiday schedules, which makes it easier to calculate court dates with accuracy. However, this is the most expensive option so make sure you choose an option that makes you feel as if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Check all boxes

Because of the importance of maintaining an accurate calendar and the potential consequences for failing to do so, there’s a lot to consider before committing to a system.

First and most important, who is in charge of maintaining the calendar? Responsibilities and workflow need to be clearly defined due to all the different moving parts. Decide who submits the information, who researches the initial deadlines, and who inputs and edits the information. Scheduling needs to be a standardized process that can be easily reassigned if the employee in charge leaves the firm.

Another consideration is how the master calendar will be viewable to all and what options are available to back it up in case the data is lost or inaccessible. A cloud-based service allows all attorneys and employees to view the calendar on their own device, and provides an off-site backup. Look into filtering options so that each can prioritize the dates that are relevant to them personally.

If using a legal-based calendaring system, examine how specific it is to your actual work. Will it include all jurisdictions and practice areas that your firm specializes in? Does it allow options that will help streamline invoicing and managing client information databases?

Making major changes to the way your firm handles scheduling may seem like an overwhelming and risky endeavor. However, the alternative of continuing with a system that’s not efficient or all-encompassing is equally daunting. With the right technology and workflow, your practice can reduce the time spent on calendar management, along with the inherent risk of scheduling mistakes, and devote your time to doing good work.

Looking for more technology tips and tricks to make your job easier? Check the Boss Reporting Blog and upgrade your practice.

Legal Briefs: A Quick Tour of Tech News

Legal Briefs: A Quick Tour of Tech News on bossreporting.com

Catch up on legal-related tech news from across the internet

The world moves fast these days, thanks to technology and globalization. It seems like the legal industry always has more to learn and know and do, and it can be hard to keep up with the outside world while also holding down a life and a career. However, staying abreast of legal news is part of your profession if you work in a law-related practice. We’ve collected a sampling of summarized stories about tech trends to keep track of, so you can stay on top of your professional game.

Texas ethics panel says lawyers can use Internet forums for legal questions

The State Bar of Texas’ Professional Ethics Committee recently tackled the question of whether or not seeking advice from other attorneys online followed the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Because lawyers commonly have informal consultations with colleagues about client-related issues, doing so in online discussion groups, CLE seminars, or with a trusted mentor is permitted as long as the lawyer does not reveal confidential client information, which would break Disciplinary Rule 1.05 which prevents lawyers from sharing information protected by attorney-client privilege.

However, the opinion notes that disciplinary rules allow exceptions, such as Rule 1.05 (d)(1), which allows such revelations when necessary to carry out representation effectively.

“It’s a balancing situation that is very perilous because, on one hand, lawyers supporting lawyers by being mentored is strongly in a client’s best interest, but protecting a client’s confidential information is also in a client’s best interest,” said Scott Rothenberg, the Houston attorney who posed the question to the committee and teaches a State Bar of Texas CLE course on legal ethics.

He suggested that lawyers become familiar with what information is available on the district, intermediate appellate and Supreme Court websites about a case to make sure they do not accidentally reveal identity. Rothenberg also said lawyers may want to include verbiage in their employment agreement that informs clients that social media or informal consultations with other attorneys may be used to better serve their interests.

The human challenges of implementing artificial intelligence as financial services counsel

The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here, but the laws are still forthcoming. Among the challenges of utilizing AI in the legal industry is the hard-to-duplicate value of the human eye. For example, if there’s a question about a subjective decision in regard to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regulations, the governing laws are based out of wherever the decision was made – as in a physical location, with a person in charge. But what if there is no person?

Mayer Brown partner, David Beam, said, “There you have an ambiguity because the OCC rules and guidelines don’t address what happens in there. They don’t even consider the possibility that it’s a machine creating these underwriting standards.” He also pointed out that regulations predispose human error. How will that be handled when humans are no longer part of the equation when it comes to error?

Most AI systems will involve some sort of licensed software or technology, and often include a warranty that the software is in compliance with laws. However, AI evolves in a way that most software doesn’t since the machine develops protocols and algorithms as part of its process, which the vendor may not be aware of.

So, if the machine violates fair lending laws, for example by discriminating against a protected class, does liability fall with the person who licensed the technology or the person who used it?

Because of the rapid development and legal ambivalence around AI, there’s a possibility that courts will be addressing issues around artificial intelligence before legislatures even get the opportunity.

Do employers own social media accounts established as part of the job?

The Roanoke Times recently sued a reporter for keeping his Twitter account after leaving his job there, in a case that may have consequences for the future of social media accounts used for business.

BH Media Group has brought a lawsuit against a former employee and sports journalist over his continued use of a Twitter account they claim to own, citing employee contracts signed by the reporter.

BH Media charges that the reporter violated the Defend Trade Secrets Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Stored Communications Act, as well as state laws in Virginia, by continuing to use the account.

However, the reporter, Andy Bitter, claims he is the only person who has used the account since 2011 and was the only one who knew the password and login information.

The lawsuit may help define how a social media account related to a business should be treated under the law, or at least bring more awareness to employers regarding how to protect their interests related to social media accounts after employee termination or resignation.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.