advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

technology  research  practice

All Our Practice Tips

iOS 8.1.1

Relief is at hand, at last, for iPad2 users who have suffered through two months of sluggish, under-performing, and perpetually stalling tablets since installing September, 2014’s iOS 8 update.

Apple has this week released iOS 8.1.1, an operating system update that magically restores speed and luster to its older mobile devices, including the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4.

After installing the update Wednesday morning, I noted my iPad 2’s immediate resurrection to useful and pleasing life. Its performance has returned to its pre-iOS 8 level, which was always pretty good – good enough for me to resist the temptation of any of the more recent iPad incarnations.

Numerous media reports confirm across-the-board improvement in mobile performance on older devices after installation of this update (see: Apple Releases iOS 8.1.1, It’s An Essential Update, from Forbes, for example).

iOS 8.1.1 therefore gets an unreserved two thumbs up.

Today’s Tip:  If you have been having issues with your older Apple devices since installing iOS 8 or 8.1, this new update will solve your problems.  Install it, with all due haste!

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)


♫ It doesn’t have to be like this
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking…♫

Lyrics and music by: David GilmourRichard Wright and Polly Samson, recorded by Pink Floyd.

Dragon Dictate 4 Box Image (Right)dns13professional_leftfacing






Garry’s last post inspired me to write about using dictation on both PCs and Macs. I have been a long-standing fan of voice recognition and the latest versions are even much better than earlier versions. While there is voice recognition built into the Windows operating system, I haven’t seen it used in practice. Rather, I have found that people use DragonDictate for the PC, currently at version 13; or on the Mac, you can use either Dragon for the Mac, Version 4 or use the Dictation & Speech capabilities built into Yosemite. The best thing about the latest version of dictation in Yosemite is that you can download a file and use dictation what are you are on or off-line. This is a significant advantage over prior versions. It’s a matter fact that this column was “written”, if you can call it that, using Yosemite’s dictation capabilities. Another improvement in dictation in Yosemite is that you can use continuous dictation. Prior versions meant that you could only dictate up to the size of the buffer.

It is amazing how easy it is to use and I am referring to both Dragon Dictate for the PC as well as Dictation in Yosemite. I work on both platforms and use voice recognition on both.

Garry noted that he does most of his work either on an iPad or Microsoft Surface and barely touches his keyboard. I have to say my experience is much the same (except that I prefer laptops over tablets) and I agree that I am much faster using voice recognition than I am typing. Furthermore, voice recognition never misspells; but it could substitute a synonym or possibly a word recognized in error, in which case you still have to proofread your work. But it is literally amazing to to talk to your computer and see your text appear, correctly transcribed and formatted, on the screen.

Now DragonDictate for the PC is much more fully developed then Dictation for the Mac that is part of the OS. However, if all you need is dictation plus some formatting, then dictation for the Mac maybe just fine. I have written extensive papers for conferences using just dictation for the Mac. Why don’t I use DragonDictate for the Mac? Unfortunately, the versions of Dragon that I have, namely versions 2 and 3, are incompatible with Yosemite. I may upgrade but for the moment I’m happy with Dictation in Yosemite.

PC users would be delighted with all the additional commands that you get with Dragon for the PC. You can literally browse the web, save your work, apply detailed formatting and do much more  by voice commands.

When it comes to interfacing with your computer it doesn’t have to come to just using a keyboard.  All we have to do is make sure we keep talking…


-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver.



Today’s post is not so much a “tip” as a confession.

For it’s true – I have been two-timing on my iPad with a Windows tablet. Because for all its virtues, and there are many,  I’ve still had more than the occasional sinking feeling that my iPad just isn’t enough…

I could fill endless column inches discussing everything the iPad does wonderfully. And I have. But we already know all about the iPad’s many virtues, right?

Unfortunately though, there are a few things the beloved iPad simply doesn’t do very well.

“Like what?” I hear you saying.


  • Dealing with Microsoft Word forms and tables and maintaining formatting on Word documents generally;
  • Gaining remote access to my office computer via LogMeIn Ignition;
  • Navigating the Word Press and Blogger interfaces that I use to compose my posts on SlawTips and Wise Law Blog;
  • Viewing Flash videos;
  • Transferring data from one computer to another, since there is no USB receptacle on Apple mobile devices.

Now, this is not a long list of fatal flaws, and there indeed are makeshift ways on the iPad to fudge and work-around almost of these obstacles.

Most, but not all of them.

I do approximately 80% of my professional work on my iPhone and my iPad. I barely touch my desktop computer at my office any more, preferring instead to compose most of my documents on my iPhone using the Siri dictation function – even when I am sitting at my desk.

When I am working from home or away, however, it gets complicated. I need access to my office computer and my files, and I greatly prefer LogMeIn via the Windows interface (as opposed to the clunky LogMeIn Ignition mobile app) to get onto my desktop.

If I have a phone call to make from home, and I need to review some files at my office to prepare, the iPad just doesn’t cut it. Perhaps this is more of an indictment of LogMeIn Ignition than the iPad itself, but if the “app is crap,” the iPad isn’t going to save it by miraculously creating functionality that just isn’t there.

Similarly, even as I draft this Tips post using Siri on my iPhone, it is clear I am going to have to get onto a Windows computer at some point to post it, add photos or media, and perfect the formatting.

Again, it may not be the iPad’s fault, but it just doesn’t work very well on WordPress. In fact, I have rarely been able to complete a full blog post on my iPad alone, without final touch-ups via a Windows computer.

So lately, I’d been using an old Windows netbook beside my iPad, in tandem, to achieve maximum efficiency. Everything that the iPad does well, I continued to do on my iPad. But I sure was glad to have a Windows machine nearby, just for those occasional moments where the Apple tablet fell short.

My five year-old netbook, however, suffers from sluggish speed and a seriously malfunctioning keyboard, the ultimate result of which is it’s missing a few of the letters I need for most of my passwords. That is also easy enough to fudge by cutting and pasting the occasional “a” and “b,” but hardly trend-setting in terms of optimal use of the latest and greatest technologies.

Which is where my new Windows computer, an ASUS Transformer T100TA (purchased earlier this week via Costco online) comes in.

It’s a “convertible” machine, meaning the screen snaps in and out of a keyboard that doubles as a dock, so that this computer functions equally well as a Windows tablet and as an upgraded netbook computer.

The tablet portion is a bit wider and not quite as tall as an iPad, and feels like it weighs a bit less. To this layperson’s eye, the screen brightness and resolution appear reasonably comparable to the iPad display. Like the iPad, the ASUS tablet is a bit too heavy to hold comfortably in your hand for too long. But it functions quite nicely.

The real conundrum is wrapping my brain around using the Windows desktop interface and software with a touchscreen. It just doesn’t seem natural. At least not yet, three days into my proud ownership. That may well yet change.

Nonetheless, my presumably typical knee-jerk, early resistance explains much about the split personality of the Windows 8 universe, one-half iPad wannabe, and one-half reliable and familiar, old Windows desktop.

And therein lies the challenge for Microsoft and Windows in the tablet universe.

The Metro interface, the gateway to the Windows 8 apps universe, simply isn’t as immediately enticing as the iPad interface, despite the many Windows 8 apps that work extremely well and elegantly in this strange new Microsoft world.

The sole, remaining point of superiority of the Windows OS is that so much of its legacy software – and the functionality thereof – hasn’t yet been replicated effectively for the iPad. So if you want to use the software, you have to use Windows.

And while that software remains exclusively available via Windows, most legacy software isn’t particularly touch-friendly or optimized for viewing and manipulation on the smaller Windows tablet surface.

At least not at first try.

So while I will continue experimenting, I suspect I will continue to use my iPad for just about everything, except for the few things it does poorly that I need to do on Windows.

If this proves to be the case, my Windows tablet might have a sad future of remaining firmly docked on its keyboard, to be summoned only for traditional Windows uses, except for those occasional moments when I want to wow my friends by showing them how it really is a tablet, too, after all.

So to my beloved iPad, I haven’t really left you (and perhaps I never will), but I confess that I might still be tempted to stray – occasionally – just to get my job done.

And so, I will finish dictating this post on my iPhone. I will pick it up from the cloud on my Windows tablet via, and cut and paste it to WordPress to create a SlawTips post.

As well, I’ve taken a couple of pictures on my iPhone of my new Windows computer, and I’ll email them to myself, pick them up on my Windows computer, merge them into one composite photo using a Windows photo editing program,, and complete this week’s post, which was a much longer one than expected, at WordPress.

If nothing else, I hope I’ve demonstrated that while the Apple universe is almost perfect, I may still need the occasional blast from the new Windows 8 past to get the job done.

(Hopefully, you’ll agree with me that the sum of these parts at least justifies the many technologies used to create it).

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)


♫ You’re a leftover
Pastrami on rye
Succulent and delicious
Yes, the sandwich of my eye…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by Hot Soda Apparatus.

Katz's Deli.I read an article today in Slate Magazine entitled “The UR-Deli – How Katz’s stays in business against the odds by Jordan Weissmann.”  This article is about how Katz’s deli in New York City has remained in business in the lower east side of New York since 1888 while its competitors have failed.

The business model is to deliver a hefty pastrami on rye for $19.75.  Believe it or not, that sandwich is not much of a moneymaker.  The old-style delis are facing a conundrum: the very thing that makes them loved..those wonderful stacked pastrami and corned beef sandwiches – is the thing that makes it hardest from an economic standpoint.  They don’t make much money.

Compare and contrast that with law firms:  the very thing that makes us loved – delivering bespoke legal services – is the very thing that makes it hardest from an economic standpoint.  We can’t seem to deliver legal services at a lower cost. We are facing a basic economic issue similar to these old delis…

How does Katz’s deli survive?

The reason Katz’s was able to live on while its competitors disappeared largely boils down to real estate. As Sax writes in Save the Deli, New York’s delicatessens can basically be divided into two groups: those that rent their buildings and those that own. Famous renters, like the Stage Deli and 2nd Avenue Deli, have closed in the face of rent hikes. Famous owners, like Carnegie and Katz’s, have lived on. (And when 2ndAvenue Deli reopened, it bought a building … on New York’s 3rd Avenue). If Katz’s had to deal with a landlord, it would likely have disappeared or moved long ago.

Is there a lesson here for law firms?  Could – possibly – part of the solution to the access to justice issues be that law firms start owning their own office buildings? There are a number of advantages arising from this model.  The partners of such a firm would be building equity in the property over time; that same equity could be used to retire older partners when newer partners purchase an interest in the business as well as the real estate asset.  Keeping ownership of the office space may reduce the overhead costs that could help the firm render legal services to a broader base of clients.

Certainly the issue of trying to broaden the ability of existing law firms to deliver legal services economically to a wider group of society does not have any easy solutions.  However, perhaps Katz’s and similar survivors have lessons for us today. Notwithstanding we are a leftover, perhaps we can still be the sandwich in a client’s eye…

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.


Today is the OBA TECHxpo at Toronto.

My good friend Bob Tarantino and I will be presenting “The Ultimate Guide to Being a Mobile Road Warrior:”  

Track 1 — The Ultimate Guide to Being a Mobile Road Warrior

With the right tools you can work on anything, anywhere, anytime. Come to this session to learn how. • Take your office with you • Tablet versus smartphone • iPhone vs Blackberry vs Android • Essential gear and gadgets • Tips for surviving on the road

I’m expecting a lively discussion on iPhones, similar wannabe devices, and the tools lawyers can use most effectively when working away from the office.

The full programme agenda is here.

It’s not too late to register, so join in the fun.

I hope to see your there.

Garry J. Wise,  Toronto


♫ I want you
Do you want me too?
I have one question
Can I help you?
Now watch me, what I do
Now thank you for coming through my drive-thru..♫

Lyrics and Music by: Julian Casablancas, Santi White, Pharrell Williams, recorded by Julian Casablancas, Santigold, and Pharrell Williams.

drive thru lawyer

In the four prior posts in this series, we looked at how price is just one of seven components of the legal marketing mix. Part 2 discussed the product mix – and how changing your product mix may result in a great match between your services and the needs of the clients. Part 3 looked at who was on your team and how they deliver your services – and how this can have a big distinguishing effect on how clients view your services against the competition. In Part 4 we looked at promotion and how this can make your services stand out from the pack. In each of these posts we have looked at how each of these components helps distinguish your services from the competition; services that are distinguishable are priced differently, as they are no longer comparable with the competition.

In this post we are looking at yet another component of the marketing mix – namely the place where you deliver your services.  Just consider the range of physical office configurations – from storefront offices on main street to walkup offices to Class A office space in a gleaming skyscraper. Each one of these sends an unwritten message to a potential consumer of legal services. Furthermore, you can practice as a solo, in an office sharing arrangement, an associate or a partner of a firm, large or small. Lawyers can maintain branch offices in the suburbs, in another town, province or state or even another country or continent. You can be a travelling lawyer who attends clients at their places of business, home, hospital, care facility, union hall or even a Starbucks. You can offer handicap access or after-hour access.  Lastly but certainly not least, you can maintain a virtual office, using internet technologies to meet, share, collaborate and meet the needs of your clients who could be down the street, across town, in a distant city or even across the world.  The range of possibilities are unbounded.

Indeed, bold lawyers have envisioned practising in ways that break the familiar constraints. Axess Law in Ontario has launched law offices that are embedded within Wal*Mart stores in Ontario and offer home, family, business services, legal contracts and notary services in an affordable and approachable context.

The range of offices and services that can be offered from different locations to meet client needs is as open and wide as your imagination. Perhaps one day a lawyer will open an office where a client can receive legal advice right in their car…and the lawyer would say…”Can I help You?” and then conclude with: “Thank you for coming thru my drive-thru…

 -David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.


In today’s second instalment of our Video for Lawyers series, SlawTips brings you a Tips vlog on choosing topics for your law firm videos:


Hello, I’m Garry Wise from Wise Law Office  in Toronto and Wise Law Blog.  Today, I’m using my iPhone to talk to you about choosing topics for your law firm’s videos.

Tip #1:  Identify Your Target Audience

Before choosing a topic, decide who your target audience is.

Are you looking to do:

  • information pieces for existing clients?
  • educational videos for the general public?
  • marketing-oriented videos to build your practice and attract prospective new clients?
  • perhaps you want to speak to the legal profession as a whole to comment on a controversial issue or even to introduce yourself as a candidate for election as a bencher?

Tip #2: Pick Topics that Speak to the Audience You Are Targeting

Once you’ve decided who your videos are targeting, pick topics that will be interesting to the audience you have in mind.

Tip #3:  Demonstrate Expertise

As an example, if you are looking to do marketing videos to attract new prospective clients, demonstrate expertise – use your videos to answer the types of questions that you are typically asked on introductory consultations:

  • What are my rights?
  • Am I entitled going to be entitled to compensation?
  • How much compensation?
  • How long will it take?
  • How much will it cost to hire a lawyer?
  • What happens if I lose?
  • Will your firm stay in touch with me?
  • How will I be kept in the loop?

These are the kinds of questions that people who are looking for a lawyer have in mind.

Tip #3: Go Deep

A different approach is “go deep.”  Take a single topic and do a series of videos, each addressing one aspect of that topic.

For example, if you want to speak about spousal support, you might talk about:

  • Who qualifies for support?
  • What are the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines?
  • How is the amount of support calculated?
  • What happens if your circumstances change and you need to change your support order?
  • When does support end?

And so on.  By doing a series of videos, each focusing on one aspect of a topic, you really demonstrate your expertise, and you let your prospective clients know that you have the ability to handle the kinds of issues that they need to have dealt with when they retain counsel.

A couple of other small points:

Tip #4:  Keep it Short and Sweet

Sound bites work better that long soliloquies.  Get to the point and get there quickly.

Tip #5:  Your Videos Should Be 3-5  Minutes at Most

Try to limit your videos to three to five minutes maximum.

Tip #6:  Include a Transcript of your Video in Your Post

Always include a typed transcript in then post in which your video appears.

Tip #7:  Make Your Video Title Interesting and Descriptive

As well, make your titles interesting and Google-friendly.  Remember, Google is going to index your videos.  You want your prospective audience to recognize immediately that your video contains the content that they are looking to see.

Tip #8:  Have Fun

Lastly, have fun.  The more video you do, the easier it becomes, and the better you will get at it.

So give it a try, and we will look forward to seeing you at the movies!

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)


♫ That’s why I fell for (the leader of the pack)…♫

Lyrics and Music by: George “Shadow” MortonJeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, recorded by The Shangri-Las


In the three prior posts on lawyers and pricing, we have looked at how price is only one part of the 7 components of the legal marketing mix. Part 2 discussed the product mix and how you can change your legal product mix to better meet the needs of your clients in a way that distinguishes your services from those of the competition. Part 3 examined how the people on your team can have a big impact on how your services are delivered. In fact, in Good to Great, Jim Collins said that the most important factor applied by the best companies is that they first of all “Got the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus.” In this post we are exploring how promoting your business can be a distinguishing feature, setting your business up as being different from the competition…allowing you to price your services differently from the competition.

Think about all the different ways that your clients learn about your services.  Certainly word-of-mouth is the gold standard of referral marketing, but not everyone who is a client in your firm came in the doors as a result of a personal referral.  When it comes to marketing your practice, the one truth is that whatever works today will stop working at some time in the future for reasons that you might never know. Accordingly you need to change up your promotional or marketing activities and keep trying new things. Small changes can have big effects.

Social media is all the rage today and for good reason. Facebook has now reached 1.3 billion people – and that doesn’t include anyone in China!  LinkedIn and Twitter are the other members of the “big three” social media networks. Have a look at your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile and your use of Twitter.  You can choose to not be on any of these (after all you can choose how to market your firm and your practice) and if these wouldn’t resonate for you or your clients ..fair ball. What is worse is being there but not having updated anything for some time.  This indicates lack of commitment and follow-thru.  Same goes for a blog – I personally find blogging to be one of the easiest and more effective way for a young lawyer to establish themselves and their expertise in the market, if done consistently and well. Combine a blog with your thoughtful use of twitter on developments in your legal area of choice and you can become known as an authority in short order.  For a great overview of how Canadian lawyers are blogging see the Clawbies website – the Canadian Legal Blog awards.  You can be as creative as your imagination will take you..provided you still stay within the marketing ethics of your jurisdiction.

If social networking is not for you, there are a host of more traditional marketing methods.  In person presentations and webinars are one way to get known and demonstrate your knowledge of your area of practice.  Financial institutions are always putting on presentations.  If writing is your thing, then offer to do a regular column in a local or community newspaper (you can then reuse these articles in a blog or newsletter).  You can clearly show your involvement and interest in local affairs, schools, sporting events, churches and other organizations and help them – thereby building your presence in the community.

Whatever you do, try to ensure that your marketing makes you stand out from the pack.  After all that is its purpose – to show that you are different from the rest.  You want your clients to have fallen for the leader of the pack.

David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.


ShanaTova-5775The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, is upon us.  On behalf of all Slaw Tips writers, l’shana tova – have a good year – to those of our readers who are celebrating.  A happy, healthy and prosperous 5775 to all.

Now, while I am by no means a pious person, I would like to reflect a bit on this important holiday’s lessons.

It is customary at this time of the Jewish calendar for each person to take stock of his or her actions, and to seek  – and offer – forgiveness for the wrongs committed, intentionally or inadvertently, personally or  professionally, in the year gone by.

This process, which culminates after ten days on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is among many things, an exercise in spiritual and moral cleansing, with the elimination of grudges and personal disputes a critical objective, as this commentary on a parable notes:

But my rabbi’s take was different. A misunderstanding had needlessly caused a terrible rift. “Never hold a grudge. By the time you’re ready to forgive, it may be too late.”

His message to us was clear: How can we expect God to forgive us when we refuse to forgive others?

(There have been serious technological advances in the art of seeking forgiveness, I should note.  The “forgiveness request” of this millennium could arrive via email, text or even Facebook)

Now, the legal profession has no similar process whereby practitioners are mandated annually to reach out to our colleagues to seek and offer  forgiveness for any offense or insult caused through our adversarial encounters in the year gone by.

Maybe that’s a shame.  Given all the talk we hear about incivility, an  annual, enforced timeout and “make-nice” intermission in the supposed “contact sport” of litigation might not be such a bad idea.

Aside from the few, truly bad apples among us (who simply can’t control themselves), I suspect that most instances of incivility between counsel arise from an unintended escalation of ill-will between practitioners who, in good faith, have simply been trying to do their jobs well under heated circumstances that unfortunately have caused interactions to get “personal.”

There is a way to break the cycle of acrimony, when it emerges.

Discuss it directly with your adversary.  Be direct, take responsibility and confront the situation objectively with a view to diffusing the conflict:

“Obviously, we aren’t getting along here.  The judges aren’t going to appreciate this and we certainly aren’t doing our clients any favours by bickering.

I’m sorry that I have offended you, and I am sure the feeling is mutual.

Can we work together to get this back on track?”

Which brings me to Today’s Tip:

Seek and offer forgiveness in our professional lives when our adversarial feathers are getting a bit ruffled.

Now there’s a concept.  And there’s no time like the present.

In the Jewish tradition, the outcome pursued through this annual process of reflection, cleansing, atonement and forgiveness is inscription in the book of life, or good fortune and well-being in the year ahead.

I’m sure we’d all be happy to have a bit of that in our personal lives – and in our professional practices.

So a closing wish to you all:  Gmar Chatimah Tova – May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good.

Happy 5775.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)


♫ Well, rave on it’s a crazy feeling
And I know it’s got me reeling
I’m so glad that you’re revealing your love for me…♫

Lyrics and music by: Shaun Ryder, Paul Richard Davis, Mark Philip Day, Paul Anthony Ryder, Gary Kenneth Whelan, recorded by Buddy Holly.



In the prior two posts on lawyers and pricing, we have been discussing the issue that price is but one part of the 7 components of the legal marketing mix. Part 2 discussed the product mix and how you can change your legal product mix to better meet the needs of your clients in a way that distinguishes your services from those of the competition. In this post we are exploring how important the people who deliver your legal services are and how this can be a distinct competitive advantage.

All of us have experienced situations where your first contact with a business is with someone who just makes you feel like looking after you is the most important thing for them to do in their day. I had that experience today – I called a law firm and spoke to an assistant who, when I asked to speak to her principal, said in the most caring voice: “Well, he isn’t in his office right now but let me go out and round him up for you.”  This was my very first contact with this firm and this wonderful lady didn’t know me from Adam. The way she made me feel was simply amazing.  She made me feel valued and important. I  recognized her exceptional people skills and thought about how she was a tremendous asset to the firm.

In Good to Great,  Jim Collins said that the most important factor applied by the best companies is that they first of all “Got the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus.”   In other words, your ability to select, recruit, train and retain the best people with the skills and abilities to do the job right is more important than everything else put together.

The Spectacled Marketer says:

If a customer feels their expectations of your business are exceeded, then the chances of a referral are exponentially increased because their loyalty to your company is exponentially increased as well!

You need to strive for your clients to feel exceptionally satisfied so that they rave about your services.  How do you exceed your client’s expectations? The first step is …hold on now…ask them!  Yet lawyers and law firms *shudder* at the thought of asking clients three simple questions:

  • What did they like about the firm’s services,
  • What didn’t they like, and
  • How could the firm firm do it better.

If you find out that there is someone on your bus that shouldn’t be there…you have a decision to make. If you find out that you have someone on your bus who is simply exceptional and is a tremendous asset to your firm, make sure you recognize and reward them accordingly!

In considering the marketing of your practice, consider how the people in your business can either make your clients rage on, feel indifferent, feel satisfied or preferably, rave on about your services.  Your client service can be a strong distinguishing factor as compared to your competition. In terms of your marketing mix, strive for having very satisfied clients showing their “love by raving on about you!”

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.