Archive for October, 2008

Promote your practice through social media

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Promote Your Practice Through Social Media

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This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Promote Your Practice Through Social Media.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Promote Your Practice Through Social Media

Online identities are becoming increasingly important in the Web 2.0 world in which we live, along with the need to understand how to use social media to promote a law practice and manage online identities.

The Internet no longer is a quaint phenomenon, but rather an integral part of our daily lives, and the lives of our clients. People turn to the Internet for information, advice and social connections.

Career counselors were among the first to recognize the importance of responsibly utilizing social media and social networking to further one’s career. They continue to be at the forefront of the movement.

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services, for example, recently hosted a program for alumni that focused on social networking and managing online identities. At that presentation, I served as moderator for a technologically astute panel of knowledgeable local professionals: Juli Klie, president of Veritor LLC and co-founder of Digital Rochester; Greg Taylor, the managing partner of Excelsior Search Partners, a recruiting firm;
and Steven Tylock, author of “The LinkedIn Personal Trainer.”

A number of the panelists said they believed a LinkedIn presence is the cornerstone of a professional online identity. Others, myself included, recommended the use of other types of online social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. All participants agreed each platform has unique benefits, depending on a user’s goal —obtain a job, promote a business or network with other professionals.

The legal profession slowly, but surely, is beginning to realize the importance of an effective online presence. When I began my first legal blog, “Sui Generis,” in 2005, only one other Rochester-based law blog existed. Since that time, a number of Rochester lawyers now blog. Two local law firms entered the blogging scene within the last year. Attorney Alexander Korotkin publishes the “Rochester Family Lawyer,”which discusses recent state family law decisions and provides practical advice for clients and lawyers alike.

The newly established law firm Easton, Thompson Kasperek LLC recently joined the blogosphere as well. Its “New York Criminal Defense” blog provides insightful commentary and analysis regarding New York appellate criminal law decisions from some of the most experienced criminal defense attorneys in Rochester.

Another lawyer, Elizabeth Randisi, who is associated with the Rochester law firm WeinsteinMurphy, posts regularly at “Sui Generis”  regarding trusts and estates and elder law issues.

Local lawyer Gregory Bell, an editor at Thomson Reuters, blogs about law and technology at “Practicing Law in the 21st Century” and also about blogs and another passion of his, the local Rochester jazz scene, at “Jazz@Rochester.”

Blogs are not the only way to create an online presence, but maintaining an online identity, in one form or another, should be the crux of any law practice’s marketing plan. People no longer reach for the Yellow Pages when they need an attorney. Instead, they ask friends for advice and seek information on the Internet. If your firm does not have an online presence that is easily located, without a doubt you are losing potential clients left and right.

Promoting a law practice online is a no-brainer. It’s easy to create and manage an online presence using any one of the many free or low cost online platforms I’ve discussed. I assure you, the minimal monetary and time investment will be well worth the effort in the end.

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Technology, social media and the Penal Code.

Posted on October 7, 2008. Filed under: criminal law, Social Media, The times they are a'changin' |

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Technology, social media and the Penal Code.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Technology, social media and the Penal Code.

While working on the annual update for the West criminal law treatise that I co-author, “Criminal Law in New York,” I noted with interest the effect of the increasing use of social media and technology on New York’s penal code and interpretive case law.

Not surprisingly, the crime of Aggravated Harassment, which prohibits certain forms of harassing or annoying communication, soon will be amended to keep pace with the concepts of “communication” and “data storage,” which always are evolving as a result of technological advancements.

Effective Dec. 3, Penal Law §240.30(1) will be amended to prohibit a person from communicating or
causing communication to be initiated, whether anonymously or otherwise, “by telephone, by telegraph, or by mail, or by transmitting or delivering any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.” Also effective Dec. 3, a new subdivision will be added to Penal Law §240.30, to clarify the meaning of subdivision one, providing that “[f]or the purposes of subdivision one of this section, ‘Form of written communication’ shall include, but not be limited to, a recording as defined in subdivision 6 of section 275.00 of this part.”

Penal Law §275.00 defines “recording” as “an original phonograph record, disc, tape, audio or video cassette, wire, film, or any other medium on such sounds, images, or both sounds and images are or can be recorded or otherwise stored, or a copy or reproduction that duplicates in whole or in part the original.”

Rapid technological changes and the increasing use of social media, likewise, have required New York courts to grapple with issues of whether the use of new forms of communication violate the crime of Aggravated Harassment.

In People v. Rodriguez, 19 Misc.3d 830, 860 N.Y.S.2d 859 (Crim.Ct. 2008), the court noted that messages transmitted through MySpace, an online social networking site, can constitute Aggravated Harassment, as long as there is evidence that the communications were unwelcome.

Similarly, in M.G. v. C.G., 19 Misc.3d 1125(A), 862 N.Y.S.2d 815, (Fam.Ct. 2008), the court concluded that e-mails also are a form of communication and, thus, can constitute Aggravated Harassment. In another case, text messages sent using a cellular telephone were held to violate this statute. People v. Limage, 19 Misc.3d 395, 851 N.Y.S.2d 852 (Crim.Ct. 2008).

Not surprisingly, another area of the Penal Law affected by technological change is Article 275, which sets forth offenses related to unauthorized recordings.

One recent case of interest is People v. Colon, 46 A.D.3d 260, 847 N.Y.S.2d 44 (First Dept. 2007). In
Colon,the defendant was accused of selling pirated music and, subsequently, was convicted of failing to disclose the origin of a recording in the second degree.

On appeal, the defendant argued his inclusion of the manufacturer’s Web site address on the allegedly pirated music satisfied the address requirement of Penal Law §275.35, precluding his conviction. The First Department disagreed, concluding the term “address” refers to a physical location, as opposed to an Internet address.

The holding surprised me. Arguably, the legislative intent of the statute is to ensure credit where credit is due, and it seems the defendant in this case did just that. A Web site provides far more information about the manufacturer than the physical address does, and the physical address most likely can be found on the Web site, in any event.

I suspect that, with the passage of time, ideas that were once universally understood, such as that of an address, will become more malleable as technology alters the landscape of our lives. Clearly, such adaptation occurs more easily with the concept of communication as opposed to that of location.

While the courts, initially, may resist the rapidly changing conceptual framework of our culture, eventually, as in the case of the Aggravated Harassment statutes, change will occur.

–Nicole Black

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Organize your law practice, and your life, online

Posted on October 2, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Organize your law practice, and your life, online.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Organize your law practice, and your life, online

A few weeks ago I encouraged you to explore Google’s free, online Web applications, such as Gmail, Google’s word processing platform, Google Docs and Google’s online calendaring system.

One of the reasons I recommend using Google’s applications is their compatibility with innumerable free
Web-based productivity applications and organizational tools.

Many programs are designed to interface with Gmail and Google Calendar, making them particularly useful and convenient.

One of the most popular task management programs is Remember the Milk, a free Web-based application that allows you to create tasks, to-do lists and schedule regular reminders for approaching deadlines. It can be accessed using most smart phones, and is compatible with iPhones, Black-
berries and Windows Mobile.

Tasks can be added either online or via e-mail and RTM will send reminders via e-mail, SMS or instant messenger. RTM also integrates with Google Calendar, allowing all tasks to appear on your calendar. You can also use RTM to easily access Google maps when interfacing with Google Calendar in order to determine the location of your daily tasks or appointments.

I use RTM to remind me of tasks I tend to forget, such as car inspections and annual doctor’s appointments. It also can be used as a tickler system for important dates, such as looming statutes of
limitations.

When RTM is used in conjunction with another Web-based application, Jott, the ability to create and manage tasks and schedule appointments becomes mind bogglingly simple.

Jott is, at its essence, a voice transcription service that you access using your cell phone. You simply make a phone call and dictate short notes and reminders and schedule appointments on your calendar. RTM then automatically adds the items to your calendar.

Jott can be accessed online, and is fully compatible with Outlook, Google Calendar, Blackberries and iPhones. Using your Blackberry, you can simply and easily reply to e-mails, and create to-do lists on your iPhone with a phone call.

Jott also is compatible with TSheets, a Web-based time tracking system. With a single phone call, you can track time spent on a particular matter.

Until recently, all features on Jott were free; however, over the summer Jott enacted a fee-based pricing plan that is quite reasonable, all things considered. Various features are available for either $4 or $13 per month.

If the idea of a voice transcription service appeals to you, but you’re not interested in a fee-based system, there are free alternatives that include many of the features offered by Jott.

First, there’s ReQall, which allows you to dictate notes, to-dos and shopping lists using a cell phone. It recognizes certain words, such as “buy” and “meet” and automatically files those memos in the appropriate category of your account. Reminders can be e-mailed to you at intervals that you determine.

It has a really nifty iPhone application, which I find particularly useful, and also is compatible with Windows Mobile, integrating some of that system;’s calendaring programs.

Finally, another free Web-based voice transcription application is Dial2Do (www.dial2do.com). With Dial2Do, call a number on your phone and record reminders or send e-mails and text messages. The
application comes in handy if you’re frequently on the road and need a viable hands-free alternative for communicating with friends and colleagues.

The Web-based applications I’ve described here are rapidly increasing in popularity due to their ease of use and accessibility.

And, of course, you can’t beat the price.

For busy lawyers attempting to manage law practices and home lives, such organizational tools can’t be beat. I think you’ll find them to be useful and time-saving alternatives to the traditional methods to which you’re accustomed.

-Nicole Black

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