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I’ll be speaking at ABA #TechShow in March

Posted on January 20, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Logo of the American Bar Association.
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I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the ABA TechShow in March. This speaking engagement corresponds with the expected release date of the book I’m writing with Carolyn Elefant, tentatively titled: “Social Media for Lawyers: the New Frontier”, which is being published by the American Bar Association.

I’ll be speaking at two different sessions:

Carolyn and I will also be holding a “meet the author” session on March 25th at 4 p.m.

I can’t wait to attend and speak at TechShow. If you’re going to be there, let me know– I’d love to connect with you!

If you can’t make TechShow, you can see my other spring speaking engagements here–maybe we can catch up another time.

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Collaboration tools for lawyers online.

Posted on January 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Collaboration tools for lawyers online.”

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

******

Collaboration tools for lawyers onlineMy co-author, Carolyn Elefant, and I are in the midst of re-writing the last and final draft of our book about social media for lawyers, which will be published by the American Bar Association in the spring.

When we began, we sought out an online platform that would allow us to collaborate and create the first draft. Ideally, we wanted a platform that was easily accessible to both of us and would provide a forum to collect all of our discussions and notes, as well as allow us to upload the most recent versions of our work in progress.

As I researched the possibilities, I sought recommendations on Twitter in an effort to capitalize on the collective knowledge of my large following of knowledgeable, tech-savvy followers — more than 5,500 of them. I received a number of great suggestions, and also received a reply from a representative of a company called Glass- cubes (www.glasscubes.com), a product that I hadn’t previously heard of. Ultimately, it was the platform we chose to use.

It worked out perfectly for us. It offered a free, password-pro- tected platform that included a discussion forum, a whiteboard that allowed us to create and edit documents online and the ability to upload recent drafts of Word documents, which then appeared as the first option when the draft was accessed, so the likelihood of inadvertently editing an older version was greatly reduced. We also had the ability to add separate comments at the end of each document, which were not included as part of the document, a method I prefer over the alternative (adding comments to the document text).

The interface was clean, user-friendly and intuitive. As is the case with many collaboration platforms, we could send messages to each other, schedules meetings and add task lists.Glasscubes was the perfect platform for our purposes and I highly recommend it as a collaboration tool.

There are a number of very good, similar alternatives for document collaboration. Google Documents (http://docs.google.com) is one of the most popular. The free service allows users to create, store and comment on word processing documents online. Documents can be either public or password-protected and users can choose whom to invite to “share” the documents and collaborate on the creation of the text. Documents can then be exported in any number of formats — including Word — and then worked on offline.

Another popular option is Zoho Projects (www.projects.zoho.com/google-apps), which is very similar to Glasscubes and provides a number of useful tools for project management and online collaboration. It offers group chat, a shared calendar, discussion forums, the ability to create and manage tasks and also integrates with Microsoft and Google Docs.

One final option worth checking out is Huddle (www.huddle.net). Much like the other platforms, it offers the ability to manage projects and create, edit, share and store documents online in a secure environment.

All of the platforms I’ve mentioned offer a number of levels of paid membership, although the basic level is free and a decent amount of online storage is provided.
Whether a particular platform works best for you depends on the type of project, the features that are most important to you and your personal preference regarding which interface is most appealing and intuitive.

Explore the alternatives, test them out and experiment with collaborating on a project online. I have no doubt you’ll find it to be a beneficial and worthwhile experience.

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The latest lawtechTalk episode

Posted on January 6, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Checkmark If you’re in the market for new legal technology products for your law practice, you may want to check out the latest lawtechTalk screencast, available for viewing at not cost, which features, and is sponsored by, the following legal technology products:

  • MyCaption–Provides a Blackberry application that converts speech to text within minutes and synchronizes seamlessly with Outlook.
  • Winscribe–Provides digital dictation and work management software that can be either server-based or cloud-based.

In this episode of lawtechTalk, I’ve tweaked the format a bit. During each screencast and demo, I’ll be interviewing a representative from each company. Hopefully this interactivity will make the screencast even more interesting for you, the viewer.

You can access all four parts of this episode by scrolling through and clicking on each segment below.

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Speaking Engagement-NYC 1/28

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Checkmark I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking at the New York State Bar Association‘s Annual Meeting on January 28th, 2010 in New York City. I’ve been asked to speak about cloud computing at the “Hot Topics in Legal Technology” track of the conference.

I’m particularly excited about this program since I just recently signed a publishing contract for a book about lawyers and cloud computing, which I expect will be published at the end of 2010.

You can learn more about the program here and you can register for the program here. Hope to see you there!

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Focus on your online presence in 2010

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Focus on Your Online Presence in 2010.”

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

******

Focus on Your Online Presence in 2010

People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves.

— Seth Godin

You’ve been reading my column for a while, haven’t you? So by now we must be friends, buddies, pals, right?

Right.

So listen to me my friends, my fellow lawyers, my technologically-challenged colleagues: 2010 is the year you must focus on your online presence.
Believe me when I tell you the Internet is where therest of the world spends much of its time. If your business is not there, much like Bender, a character from one of my favorite movies, “The Breakfast Club,” it may as well not exist:

Andrew: You know, Bender …you don’t even count. I mean if you disappeared forever it wouldn’t make any difference. You may as well not even exist at this school.

I urge you: Do not let your firm suffer the same fate as Bender. I’ve been trying to convince you of this fact for years now and, as Seth Godin aptly notes in the opening quotation here, telling you your online presence is of paramount importance simply
hasn’t been enough. It seems I’ll have to prove it to you by way of example, show you that a strong online presence will pay off in the long run.
Let’s examine an effective online presence and its benefits,shall we? To that end, I offer you my story.

In 2003, I had been practicing law for more than eight years. At the time I was an associate with a Rochester law firm. I loved the firm, but nevertheless was unhappy. I wasn’t sure why I was unhappy, but I knew that I was. I felt as if a part of me was dying and I desperately needed a change. So, I took a self imposed hia-
tus from law.
I returned to law in 2005, opening up shop as a contract attorney and started my first blog, “Sui Generis.”

From there, things began to fall into place. As I blogged, business found me. Lawyers hired me to do work for them and, at the same time, writing and speaking opportunities were offered to me based in large part on the body of work I’d created through my blog.
Those opportunities arose because my online presence —which includes blogs, Web sites and active participation on a number of social media platforms —is very strong.

How strong? My blog is the first result on Google when you search for Rochester, NY lawyer; Rochester, New York criminal lawyer; New York law blog; Rochester, NY technology lawyer; Rochester, New York technology lawyer; Rochester, New York Internet lawyer ; Rochester, NY Internet lawyer; Rochester, NY online lawyer; Rochester; New York online lawyer; Rochester, NY cloud computing lawyer; Rochester,
New York cloud computing lawyer; or Rochester, New York lawyer.
My blog is the third result for this search: Rochester,New York attorney.

For the search Rochester, NY social media lawyer, I am mentioned in nine out of 10 of the Web sites listed on the first page of the results.
Because of my online presence and my high standingin Google rankings, I regularly receive inquiries via e-mail and phone from people seeking an attorney.

The strength of my online presence and the body of work contained in my various law blogs has resulted in many other opportunities, the likes of which otherwise never would have been available to me.
Since I first started blogging in 2005, I have been quoted in the print media nearly 20 times. I have spoken about the intersection of law and technology 14 times since the spring of 2007 and I have four speaking engagements booked this spring at conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, among others.

Early on, I began to write this column for The Daily Record and was offered the opportunity to co-author the West Thomson treatise Criminal Law in New York.
Currently I am in the process of writing a book about social media for lawyers, which will be published by the ABA in the spring. I also recently signed a publishing contract to write another book, which will focus on cloud computing for lawyers.

The strength of my online presence, based in large part on the useful content I create and share online, resulted in all of those opportunities. Imagine what an effective online presence can do for you and your law firm.
Shouldn’t 2010 be the year you stop wondering and find out?

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Happy Holidays!

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Wishing you and yours Happy HolidaysGift_box_1

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Is 2010 the year lawyers will enter the 21st century?

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Cloud computing, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Uncategorized, Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?”

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

******

Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?

We’re probably about five years into a 30-year cycle of trans- formation. … But there is simply no doubt that 25 years from now, when people reflect on the seminal changes of the early days of the century we are about to begin, the impact of networked com- puting will stand in relief.

— Lou Gerstner

Many members of the legal profession simply are ignoring Internet technologies and writing them off as a fad. In doing so, they are refusing to acknowledge a fundamental cultural shift has occurred.

Those lawyers, quite simply, are living in another century. Their failure to acknowledge and learn about the radical changes taking place ultimately will lead to their downfall, as more tech-savvy lawyers take advantage of the cost-effective and time-saving opportunities the new medium provides.

Two of the most important Internet technologies affecting the legal profession in 2010 and beyond are social media or, as I like to call it, “intermedia,” and cloud computing. All lawyers with an interest in keeping their businesses afloat in the coming year would be wise to learn about and selectively use those two tech- nologies in their law practice.

In 2009, “social media” became a household term. Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter saw an explosive growth as more and more businesses realized the connection between networking online and business profits.

Not surprisingly, the legal field was not immune from the phenomenon. A good percentage of lawyers in the past year attempted to engage in intermedia in one form or another for the first time, as evidenced by a recent study of online networking in the profession.

The 2009 Networks for Counsel Study —available online here —was conducted by Leader Networks on behalf of LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell. Some key findings include:

  • Networking remains critical to the legal industry, yet resource constraints make it more difficult than ever.
  • The use of social networking sites has grown significantly over the past year, with three quarters of all counsel now reporting they are members of a social or professional network.
  • While some counsel take a “wait and see” attitude about the strategic value of the networks they’ve already joined, there is general belief online networking will change the business and practice of law over the next five years.

Like online networking, cloud computing —where applications, software and data are hosted by the cloud computing provider, offsite —also is gaining greater acceptance in the legal field. According to the Am Law Tech Survey 2009, 84 percent of responding law firms now use SaaS, a form of cloud computing, in some capacity. Most are using it for e-discovery or ancillary functions such as human resources, with only 7 percent use it to manage confidential client data.

As the concept becomes more familiar, however, more firms will use cloud computing for services such as document management or law practice management. I predict those numbers will increase exponentially over the next few years as cloud computing providers adapt their products to respond to attorneys’ concerns about the confidentiality and security of their data.

The bottom line is this: Intermedia and cloud computing, once emerging technologies, are being accepted slowly by our profession. Lawyers who choose to ignore them, take heed: You do so at your own risk.

The writing is on the wall; the choice is yours. Learn about emerging technologies and adapt, or your profits will slowly, but surely, disappear.

We’re nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Whenever you’re ready, you’re welcome to join the rest of us in this century —the sooner, the better. We’ll be waiting.

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Is cloud computing really less secure than the status quo?

Posted on November 16, 2009. Filed under: Cloud computing, Practice Management, The times they are a'changin', Uncategorized |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Is cloud computing really less secure than the status quo?”

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

*****

Is cloud computing really less secure than the status quo?Cloud computing, defined at Webopedia.com as the “sharing [of] computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications,” is a buzzword that has many lawyers up in arms.

For an even better description of cloud computing, watch this Common Craft video online at http://www.commoncraft.com/cloud-computing-video.

Examples of cloud computing used by many lawyers and their clients on a regular basis include Gmail and other Web-based e-mail services. Many platforms and services available to attorneys for use in their law practice that are cloud computing-based include practice management and document management software.

Cloud computing critics decry the trend of using cloud computing services in law practices. One of the main criticisms is that cloud computing may result in the loss or disclosure of confidential client data. Such concerns certainly are valid, and most certainly there are a number of issues that need to be addressed.

I would argue the security risks posed by cloud computing platforms are far less than the systems currently in place in most U.S. law offices. If the majority of law offices began using cloud computing services in their practice, client data would be far more secure than it is now.

Despite coverage in the mainstream media suggesting otherwise, the vast majority of lawyers are solo practitioners.  According to a 2006 report issued by the New York State Commission to Examine Solo and Small Firm Practice, more than 83 percent of New York attorneys are solo practitioners; 14.7 percent work in offices of between two and nine attorneys, and only 1.8 percent of attorneys work in large firms with 10 or more attorneys (See http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/solosmallfirmpractice/index.shtml.)

In other words, nearly 95 percent of New York lawyers work in very small law offices. The vast majority of those small firms don’t have IT support on staff, and most lawyers in those firms don’t know the first thing about computers.

Undoubtedly those attorneys continue to use systems and software from the late 1990s —at least, that’s the case in many law offices I’ve visited. Their anti-virus software is antiquated and their practice management software, if they even have it, has never been updated because most attorneys are too busy practicing law to bother with that “computer stuff.” Many don’t understand the importance of updating software and the security issues created when security patches are not installed.

For the vast majority lawyers, as long as their computers are basically functional, it’s business as usual because, as we all know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I would argue these law offices —like the vast majority throughout the country —are walking security hazards. Anyone with minimal computer skills and a passing interest in hacking into a law office’s computer system could do so in a heartbeat.

Cloud computing providers are newcomers to the legal software market. Their products aren’t perfect, but they are responding quickly to concerns raised regarding security and other issues. The cloud computing providers that offer software services host the software and data at extremely secure facilities with high levels of bank-grade encryption and update their programs automatically. The attorneys using the services no longer need to worry about these issues and are, in my opinion, in far better shape security-wise than they were before they began using cloud computing services.

Discounting the technologies by using scare tactics and rhetoric is short-sighted and harms the profession in the long run. Cloud computing technology providers are receptive to feedback and continuously adapt their products to meet critics’ legitimate concerns. While the technologies may not be perfect, they are improving rapidly and are a much better alternative to the current computing status quo at most law offices.

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Slides from my presentation: “6 Things Lawyers Need To Know About Social Media”

Posted on October 19, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

These slides are from my recent presentations with Lisa Solomon at conferences in NYC and LA.

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Still more social media for lawyers: Participate!

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Still more social media for lawyers: Participate!”

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

******

Still more social media for lawyers: Participate!

My thoughts continue to be focused on social media because of two upcoming speaking engagements on lawyers and social media.

The first is sponsored by Gotham Media Ventures, to be held Thursday in New York City. I’ll also be speaking Oct. 16 in Los Angeles at the American Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm conference.

One important concept I intend to stress to attendees at both conferences is that engaging in focused online participation and interaction is the best way to amplify
and reap the benefits from an online presence.

It’s not difficult to do, as long as you’ve followed the advice from my two previous columns in this series:

Establish a basic online presence and identify the online platforms with which you are most comfortable participating. The final step is to dive in and interact.

Learn and interact, exchange information and network and share your content, including blog posts, recent achievements and media mentions.

Of course, an individual’s level of participation and interaction vary from one platform to next The key to effective participation is to be genuine, transparent, and to provide useful, relevant information no matter what the context.

Interact and converse, rather than merely broadcast and boast. Don’t be afraid to share personal interests occasionally alongside professional ones. Doing so humanizes you and makes you appear more approachable to potential clients and other attorneys.

Attorneys with a law blog should respond to people who comment on posts. Post comments to other law blogs, leave links to your blog when inputting your name and contact information.

Link to other law bloggers’ posts, discuss the points raised and offer your take on the issue.

Engage in a conversation with other bloggers. You’ll make new connections, increase the number of incoming links to your blog —important for search engine optimization —and, perhaps, you might even learn something new.

If online forums are your platform of choice —groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, or online legal communities Lawlink (lawlink.com), Martindale-Hubbell’s “Connected” (martindale.com/connected) and the ABA’s legal network, “Legally Minded” (legallyminded.com) —be sure to check in a few times each week

When visiting a forum, reply to posts from other attorneys if you’re able to offer useful commentary or information. Start new discussions relating to your areas of practice by asking for input regarding a change in the law, soliciting advice as to the procedures in a particular court or jurisdiction or asking participants for opinions on how to handle a particularly thorny procedural
issue.

By participating in online legal forums, you’ll gain useful information, increase your reach online and network with new colleagues.

Users also can engage in conversations with colleagues using the status update feature on Facebook and LinkedIn. Post your firm’s most recent blog posts to your accounts on those sites, post occasional updates about your professional activities and accomplishments, link to interesting news stories relevant to your areas of practice and comment on your colleagues’ recent activities. By doing so, you’ll provide colleagues and friends with useful and relevant information, engage with them, maintain professional and personal relationships and promote your practice and accomplishments.

Finally, if Twitter is your online platform of choice, follow my 50-30-10-10 rule. 50 percent of “tweets” should provide followers with links to articles, blog posts and other online content you think might be of interest; the percentage includes “re-tweets,” or re-posts of tweets from other users, of relevant content; 30 percent should be replies to other users’ tweets —in other words, engage in conversations with others 20 percent of the time; 10 percent of tweets should consist of self-promotion, including your firm’s blog posts and information about professional
activities and accomplishments;

Tweet about your personal interests and hobbies about 10 percent of the time. Doing so, again, will do much to humanize you, make you more interesting to your followers and allow you to connect with non-legal users who share similar interests.

That segment of your audience should not be ignored —they are your potential clients or referrers, with whom we all know it’s always a good idea to connect.

In summary, an effective online presence revolves around visibility, relevancy, personality and engagement. Find the forums with which you are most comfortable and put these principles to work. You’ll find it well worth your time and effort.

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