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All Our Practice Tips

 

Today’s tip is simple and focused. How should lawyers ask for referrals?

I asked lawyers, accountants and consultants to share how they go about it. They shared their tips generously and, as you will see, everyone has a slightly different approach.

In Part 1, we will hear from lawyers and accountants.

This is what they told us.

FROM THE LAWYERS:

Mitchell Rose, Stancer, Gossin, Rose:

Getting to know your colleagues, both online and off, can not only lead to genuine friendships – but it can also help set the stage for referrals.

Even with lawyers that are in the same area, there is often a need to refer a file due to either a conflict or the need for a different skill, experience or hourly rate.

But, still, some lawyers are passive about this. They are shy to ask for referrals if they are not forthcoming.

It’s okay to tell people that you are looking for additional work. You just have to do it at the appropriate time and that depends on the relationship. To simply introduce yourself to someone at a networking event and ask for a referral doesn’t work. There’s a degree of emotional intelligence, luck and timing involved. Always make sure to put relationships first and referrals second.

Joseph Caprara, Caprara Barristers:

Lawyers have two key sources for referrals – professionals and clients.

You will  need to treat them differently:

  • Many professionals may get turned off if you ask for referrals outright. It’s more about setting up the relationship. Referrals will come.
  • With clients, there are two opportunities when it’s ideal to ask – at the initial intake and after the case is resolved. That’s when we can do no wrong and they will go out of their way for us. I give out my cards and tell them that if they have any friends or family that need anything to feel free to pass them along. When something comes along, you’re the first one they call. I once had someone track me down after 20 years! They remember the results. But they also remember the way we treated them.

FROM THE ACCOUNTANTS:

Ian Wollach, Collins Barrow:

How do you ask for a referral? You ask!

You have a great opportunity once you’ve done something for a client. The easiest way is to start by asking if they are they happy with the work.

If yes, ask, “Do you know anyone else who has a similar need and would you mind providing us with a referral?”

Douglas Stansbury, Stansbury & Company:

Referrals are by far my most important source of new business. When I examined the referrals I had received, it was apparent that the best referrals were all coming from a small group of select people.

These were the people that I have the strongest relationship with, and who know what I am looking for in a client. I decided that rather than asking for referrals from a wide range of sources, I would focus on strengthening my relationship with this small group of referrers (and perhaps add a couple of more to the group).

The results – my practice has grown at a rate of 30% for the past two years, and I expect to repeat that growth again this year. Roughly 90% of that growth is from referrals.

…..

In Part 2, we will hear from consultants, with more tips on asking for referrals.

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

assistant

 

I started this article a while back after reviewing a NY Times article entitled: “Siri, Alexa and Other Virtual Assistants Put to the Test” (http://ow.ly/XABKz) as it highlighted the issue I have with technologies employing the words “virtual assistant” to describe their product or gadget.  More recently, a legal tech company called “Riverview” started tweeting out about the “virtual assistants” built into their product which brought this topic back to the surface for me.

First, to clarify, according to dictionary.com, the term “assistant” is defined as:

–noun

  1. a person who assists or gives aid and support; helper.
  2. a person who is subordinate to another in rank, function, etc.; one holding a secondary rank in an office or post: He was assistant to the office manager.

Did you notice the second word in each one of those definitions was “person”.  A “person” – not a gadget, not a cartoon character on your website, not an e-mail reminder service and certainly not a tech.

Just to be certain that I’m not going crazy, I checked and here’s the definition of a “person”:

–noun

  1. a human being, whether man, woman, or child: The table seats four persons.
  2. a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.

Don’t mean to be touchy on the subject, but I spend my days trying to help people figure out that you can’t replace the live thinking brain in the business process of having an “assistant” with some type of tech – no matter what the tech salesmen state!  If you remove the live, thinking “assistant”, chances are the software, tool or service you are being pitched will be much less effective and much more time/labor intensive than you’ve been lead to believe.

Technology purveyors are not helping the issue.  They throw the term “assistant” around on a whim.  They add it before or after their applications and processes as though any tech could take the place of a live, thinking brain.

Worse still are the ad campaigns calling out to you that if you use a real live assistant, you are “old school” or don’t have a clue about technology.  Not so!  They want to make you think you need to use THEIR tech… yeah only THEIR tech solves all your woes… and for only the low, low monthly price of ….

So, exactly when did having or being an assistant become a negative?  When did the noble profession of assisting become a badge of shame; some sort of weakness or incompetence on the part of the person using the assistant and some sort of sub-human, subservient position to hold as the assistant?

I’m not certain, but I believe it coincided about the same time that the majority of the population started typing with more than four fingers.  No, I’m not kidding.  It’s sad really.  Why? Having the skill to type relatively fast does not mean you can or should be spending the majority of your time behind a keyboard performing the administrative and secretarial functions required to run your practice.

So let me take a moment here and set the record straight. I am a legal Virtual Assistant. No – I’m not a voice trapped in your phone nor am I some technology.  I am a live, thinking brain and I say it loud and proud!

By the way, how many “successful” people do you know who do NOT have a live, thinking and without a doubt human assistant?  Presidents, celebrities, doctors, CEOs … about the only peeps who don’t have assistants are the ones who could use them the most – Moms!

-Andrea Cannavina, New York City.

 

Many I speak with have a misperception that sending an e-mail is as secure as sending a letter through the US Mail. Simply put, such is not the case. The US Mail has a secure process in place which includes controlled physical access to your sealed letters and envelopes by approved and monitored equipment and personnel.

In comparison, each e-mail message you send travels through an unknown number of servers, switches, routers and electronic equipment ~ bouncing along what I call the digital superhighway on its way to the intended recipient’s ISP for download to their e-mail application. There is no way to control over which wires, servers and equipment your e-mail goes and anyone with the applied knowledge and time can intercept, review and alter any e-mail message which touches their electronic equipment. So your e-mail touches their equipment = them able to do whatever they want with information contained in or attached to it. <-let that soak in

This is why I say e-mail is more of a postcard than it is a sealed envelope. Your information is really in the open and you never really know who may have read it along the way.

What About The E-mail You Receive?

Along with worrying about the confidentiality and security of the information and files you send in outgoing communications, you also must worry about the e-mails being received by your domain and downloaded into your e-mail application. Just one wrong “OK” by you or an employee (or anyone at any computer for that matter) can wreak havoc on the machine itself, the network to which it is connected and even worse – can potentially replicate and send itself to contacts and thereby infect them too!

Three of the most common incoming e-mail threats are:

1. PHISHING

Phishing is any attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out using e-mail and instant messaging.

You’ve probably received messages like this – from banks, credit card companies and financial institutions – many of whom you’ve never heard of or could even been one you actually have an account with (that’s why it’s called “fishing” ). These messages all look real enough, with appropriate logos and great motivational copy, almost always trying to make you think there is something wrong with your account and that you need to hurry. Don’t be fooled!

Never navigate to your bank or other on line service provider for which you need to type in a password through an e-mail you receive. Never! <-Read that sentence one more time so you don’t forget when you’re doing 100 other things! STOP AND DON’T CLICK IT!

Instead, open a new, secure browser and log in to your account to look for information from customer support about any issues. You can also call the customer support number listed right there in your on line account to speak with someone at the actual company or even advise of the phishing e-mail.

2. VIRUSES

A computer virus is a program that can copy itself to a computer without permission or knowledge of the user/owner. A computer virus reproduces by making copies of itself in the computer’s memory, storage, or over a network.

3. WORMS

A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other computers on the network. Unlike a virus, a worm does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms typically harm the network, whereas viruses infect or corrupt files on a targeted computer.

In many instances, computer viruses and worms are an attachment to or a link embedded in an e-mail. <-Now read that sentence again and let it sink in!!

This is why you should never open an attachment or click on a link in an e-mail received from an unknown recipient. In fact, even if you do know the sender you still need to be careful and pay attention!! How else can you be certain you’re not clicking on something a contact may have sent you by mistak?! Certainly, when in doubt – opt for no and DON’T CLICK IT!

Let’s face it, e-mail is not going away any time soon.  In fact, if your e-mail is anything like mine, over time the volume of incoming only increases.

That’s why it is more important than ever for those using e-mail to understand the inherent risks of conveying personally identifiable or company information and records using e-mail.  When used properly and with a mind towards safeguarding your personal and company information, as well as the equipment you use, e-mail can be the one tech that literally sets you free – from your office, your desk and even the 9-5 grind. It’s how I got my start to full mobility.

But when not used properly – when you let e-mail take over or when social security and credit card numbers are openly e-mailed, bad, bad, bad things happen (usually to very nice people).

Don’t let that happen to you and don’t let it happen to anyone who entrusts their confidential information to you. You owe it yourself, your co-workers, your contacts and equipment to use e-mail wisely.

Now here’s a little 2minute-ish video I created out of a past presentation about security:

DSS

 

Direct link: https://tlcxn.podbean.com/mf/play/jgez6h/SecuritySalad2016.mp4

EXTRA RESOURCES:

To check to see if your connection is secure, try Shield’s Up! http://ow.ly/11vLg

FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR OWN IN THE COMMENTS:

-Andrea Cannavina, New York City (and a Canadian!).

 

I’m going to check email for an hour until, “Oh, I have to take that call from the client. We’ve been playing phone tag. Hello?”, while I’m signing a cheque and your cell phone rings from that other client you said you would call back when you got out of the car. Back to email until I forgot to message that person back on my Facebook account about giving a quote.

Ah, the beauty of multi-tasking, says the first-born Aries!

It’s the thing that makes us all feel busy and useful and then we end our day accomplishing, nothing. Or, nothing we wanted to.

That is when I learned started to switch (no pun intended) my brain from a multi-tasking mindset to a multi-interrupting one. Multi-tasking is a myth. It cannot be done successfully if you want to complete anything.

Interruptions are generally detrimental when you are focused on one project and then you’re interrupted by something completed unrelated. You have to shift your focus, your resources and “warm up” to the new topic. It takes much longer than you think and then you have to “warm up” to the original task.

Studies show that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the original task! Okay, so what if I lose about 23 minutes every time I switch projects?

Unfortunately, the other major draw back is that it causes a significant amount more stress because you tend to work faster to try to compensate for the interruption, which fuels more stress. And then the stress of feeling like you’re not being able to keep up

Sound familiar? All too much for lawyers these days.

Some tips, which I’m trying to incorporate into my day:

1. Set a timer. I set a timer so that it keeps me focused for at least short bursts of time (maybe 20 minutes or one hour, depending on the type of “project”).

2. Do not disturb. Manage your interruptions by setting time aside to let people know that you are not to be interrupted. Stack all you interruptions together so you can deal with them in a block and then focus on some things.

3. Stop self-interruptions. Turn off your internet browser, notifications (audio and pop-ups) so that you can minimize your self-sabotage to productivity.

Did you read this whole post without looking at something else? Good start, if you did.

-Elizabeth Mah

 

I have operated my practice as a paperless one since I opened shop in November 2011. I was not a techie (nor am I). I did not have a background in science or computers other than what I needed to get through university. I much preferred reading things on paper than a screen (there are a few physiological and psychological reasons why many of us do). I printed out all my reference material when I could do so on someone else’s dime.

Organizing digital documents and prepping them for disclosure is straightforward, with commonly-accepted practices. The ISO-standardized portable document format (aka “PDF”) has become the de-facto standard. It has come to replace many of the analog equivalents of the old three-ring binder, but with more powerful tools for searching, reproduction, and ease of reference. Today, many lawyers are comfortable sharing documents as PDFs in the place of printing, binding, and couriering documents around town or across the province.

Despite its lack of security, many counsel email documents. Indeed, despite the security measures put in place by their law firms, many clients usurp those measures by using unsecure email services. Email has become the standard practice except where large volumes are involved, in which case flash drives and DVDs are sent around. I will save the security of email and couriering storage media, which are cultural ones in many respects, for another day.

What we do not have in BC (and I presume the rest of Canada) is an accepted practice for using digital documents in oral discoveries. Many stakeholders are discussing digital evidence in hearings, but I am unaware of similar discussions taking place for discovery practices. It seems, understandably, that those things are left to informal agreements between counsel.

Discoveries are far more common exercises and often more influential to the ultimate outcome of a case than a trial, but it remains that there is no accepted practice of using digital documents at discovery. I have been inconsistent myself – while I always bring my laptop and iPad, I also have, at times, printed and bound documents, especially when I want to mark exhibits put to the opposing party (of course, there is no current means of marking PDFs as exhibits although the technology exists). Of course, using digital documents in the absence of commonly-accepted practices.

The issue recently came to a head in a discovery in a comparatively document-intense wrongful dismissal matter. My client was being examined. I was taking notes on my laptop and, when opposing counsel would ask that a document be put to the witness, I would pull it up and slide my computer to the witness, much the same as I would do with a binder of documents. In one instance, opposing counsel asked to go off the record and began complaining (almost a diatribe, in fact) about how the use of PDFs was impeding his discovery and taking too much time. It became evident that this was highly frustrating to this lawyer, as the complaints evolved into a rather personal criticism of me in my clients’ presence.

Specifically, the issues raised were:

1. It was a waste of discovery time to pull up the documents – I was “trying to be paperless” with no corresponding benefit.

2. He could not see whether there were any annotations on the documents (I had previously advised him that I would be using PDFs and collapsing my annotations so the witness could not see them)

3. I was possibly feeding the witness evidence by pointing to things on the screen (I have a touch screen laptop and was flipping to the page opposing counsel to which counsel wanted to refer to save us all time).

It went on, but I will digress. It will suffice to say that the tone and nature of the comments were such that I doubt this experienced lawyer would have wanted them on the record. Nonetheless, this caused me to be introspective about an issue that I felt had no good solution at present.
Despite the expanding reliance on digital evidence in legal proceedings generally, reporting agencies are not seeing the same increasing use of digital documents at discovery. This might be for a few reasons. Reporting agencies typically follow the courts, given their role in providing services essential to the effective and just adjudication of cases. There is no accepted means of digitally marking exhibits. There is also no existing practice for displaying documents or allowing witnesses to read documents at discovery through digital media – whatever is there might not be suitable for every witness.

In that particular respect and also generally, we have to tackle cultural barriers to using digital evidence. Some people would say this is generational, but I think that the issue is really about reluctance to learn something new. Certainly, many of the leaders in legal technology were not raised in a digital age, but realized that adoption of new technology and adaptation are vital in a service-oriented industry that must conform to their clients’ practices (the ever-knowledgeable David Bilinsky was called to the bar before the PC came about, but that hasn’t slowed him, nor many others, down). Beyond that, the law is likely the fastest evolving profession in terms of substantive knowledge. Medicine, engineering, accounting, business, etc. do not see the same sea-changes occur overnight or the constant evolution of subject matter that the common law does. If we can continuously take on new substantive knowledge, which is not always easy, then why can’t we take on new technical knowledge?

There are many different solutions to these obstacles. I am sure an affective solution requires greater consultation, dialogue, and experimentation, but here is what I think we need to be able to make better use of digital documents at discovery:

1. User-friendly media to display and read digital documents: an iPad or other tablet is likely the most user-friendly media. Standard tablets are a touch too small for this. The 12.9” iPad Pro is conveniently about a half-inch larger in each dimension than a sheet of familiar A4 paper with the Apple “Pencil” allowing users to markup documents. (being half-Scottish, I think I will wait until my nearly-new iPad clunks out before making the upgrade, but we shall see).

2. A means of marking documents as exhibits by the reporter: the Electronic Transactions Act S.B.C. 2001, c. 10, allows this, but there are no reporters in BC doing so. Adobe Acrobat will create stamps equivalent to the ink-stamps we all know. While I am not sure if building a form into a stamp to make informational input faster currently exists as an option, it is certainly within the bounds of technical feasibility. For convenience, one could also hyperlink the reference to the exhibit in the transcript to the exhibit itself.

I have experimented both with my iPad Air and with my laptop as display media for my client, with one device being used for note-taking while the other is exclusively used by the client. There are pros and cons to both. The iPad has a smaller screen, but opposing counsel can (sort of) see where the client is at in the document and that there are not any annotations by counsel. Of course, the inverse is true when a laptop is used. One pro of a laptop is that I can let the client use the screen to read and I can use a Bluetooth mouse to pull up documents and jump to the right page without being on top of the client or passing the device around. This avoids the need for training or familiarization with the display app (e.g. GoodReader or PDF Expert) or how bookmarks work like tabs in a binder.

Of course, these technical solutions are only responsive to technical problems. The cultural obstacles remain.

I welcome any feedback from readers regarding their experience and ideas with digital evidence at discovery: mike@whitecaplegal.ca

  • Michael McCubbin

*I am indebted to Christy Pratt, owner of Reportex Agencies in Vancouver, B.C. for her feedback and insight to supplement my own experience (there is no way that even the most seasoned trial lawyer in BC, which I am not, has as much oral discovery experience as Christy). Reportex is, in my view, one of the most forward thinking agencies (if not, the most) and her willingness to offer her insight is really part and parcel of the progressive culture her firm maintains.

 

These days there’s no excuse for a bad social networking photo. A bad photo looks unprofessional and can diminish your chances with prospective clients. A good one can accentuate your personality. Your website bio, LinkedIn bio, and Facebook photo all communicate something about you to the public. Like it or not, we are judged partly by how we look. With a free app, a cell phone with a built-in camera, and some good technique, you can take a great bio photo. Here’s how.

  1. The App: http://www.photofeeler.com/

Upload your photo to Photofeeler and other users will give feedback about whether your photo makes you look competent, likeable, and influential. The rating in each category tells you what percentile your photo ranks in, so anything over 50% means you’re better than average. Photofeeler is free to use if you’re willing to rate others – you get credit for each review, and when you have enough credits, you can have your photo rated by 20 to 80 users. If you’d rather just get your ratings in a hurry, then you can pay about $10 (CDN) and buy a block of credits for 40 users to rate your photo.

Experiment with several different photos and use the one with the best rating.

Ian Hu

  1. The Camera

Most cell phones take perfectly acceptable bio photos. You don’t need a high resolution camera because bio photos tend to be very small, often thumbnail-sized. What you do need is good lighting, good posture, and good technique.

Research shows that the background doesn’t affect how you are perceived. So this gives you freedom to get creative with a background. If you’re taking the photo outdoors, do so when the sun is near the horizon, typically in the first hour after sunrise and in the hour before sunset. If indoors, choose a spot opposite a window with a white wall behind you. You want to use natural diffused light, so avoid having the sun shining directly into the room.

Set your cell phone up at the level of your head, put it on a timer, and strike a pose. You’ll want to capture your head and shoulders, and perhaps down to your waist. Capturing your head alone is too intimate, and capturing below the waist is too casual.

  1. Strike a pose

Squinch. What’s that, you say? Squinching is a technique coined by professional photographer Peter Hurley (click the link to see how it’s done). Photofeeler’s research shows squinching can greatly improve a bio photo. It’s a subtle squint that makes everyone look better. Figure out how to do it in the mirror and suddenly you project more confidence.

Another tried and true technique is to stick out your forehead and angle it downward. This will make your face and jawline look better defined and slimmer.

If your body faces the camera this can look intimidating – it’s the same thing when someone stands with their shoulders squared to you. Try turning your body slightly away from the camera, while keeping your face looking directly into the camera.

Play around with different poses and use Photofeeler to figure out what your best photo is. In no time at all you’ll arrive at a great bio photo.

Ian Hu, Toronto

 

I’ve been working in and through the “cloud” since before it was called the cloud. First and foremost, I learned how to credibly publish to the web. If we haven’t met – google “legaltypist”…

I set up my service based company, LegalTypist, Inc., to be able to securely work with any attorney who could dial a toll-free number; and I amassed others who were like me to do the day to day tasks and typing of the law firms I set up on “the System” <-original I know, but the more technical name makes people’s eyes glaze over!

I picked the tech of LegalTypist for very specific reasons – including the criteria I have for any cloud based service entrusted with my client’s data/information/files.

Here are the 7 Questions I ask, and you should too:
1. Where are your servers and my data located?
If the answer is not 100% in the US (or the country in which your practice is located), move along.
2. What kind of security measures are in place for my data?
From the physical servers to the connections to your accounts, all access points to your data should be secure. Every time you log in, you should see https (not http) at the beginning of the url. The “s” means that the connection between your device and the website is encrypted and secure. Other things to look for are display of certifications from companies like Thwate and Verisign <-which indicate that the site, and depending on the certification, the company, seriously “get” web-based security.
3. Are the servers geo-redundantly backed up to servers also located in the same country?
What is geo-redundancy? That’s when back up servers are outside the same power grid as the main servers in case of a wide-spread power outage. How could that affect you? Here’s how it adversely affected one cloud based player (who’s top brass had said “yes” to this question over pizza at LTNY months earlier, I might add): See How Far We’ve Come–The Importance of Redundancy in the Cloud
4. Who is on staff to fix the servers should they go down?
If the answer does not start with “We have x number of engineers on staff…” or “those servers are hosted in a remote location; where the only people who can physically access them have biometric permissions in place” … move along.
5. How do I retain local copies of my data?
If a cloud provider does not at least have in place a way to download your contact database into .csv format, that’s a huge warning. Keep in mind that all cloud services are programmed differently – and since cloud means the software too – there is generally no way to manipulate your data outside of that particular service provider’s paid monthly account. However, if you can get your data into .csv, you may be able to figure out a way (or pay someone) to populate it into a different program.
6. Can I work off line?
Is there a way to download a full, local copy of your data that you use until you get back on line and update the cloud data? The answer is probably not. Never hurts to find out for sure.
7. How long have you been in existence?
The longer the better. If you can get with sustained growth over time without huge investment in outside VC, that’s the best possible scenario. The last thing you want is to select a service, take the time to load all your data, then train everyone (including your staff and clients) on how to use it, only to have the company go belly up or not secure another round of funding.

Of course, the above list is not the ONLY things you should ask – however, the answers to these 7 questions should give you a good feel for how seriously the company takes your privacy and the duty of confidentiality you have to your clients.

Andrea Cannavina

 

♫ Love was out to get me
That’s the way it seemed.
Disappointment haunted all my dreams…♫

Music and lyrics by Neil Diamond and recorded by The Monkees.

Hal

 

I have a confession to make. While I love technology, I am not quite sure the feelings are mutual. You see, technology has come to disappoint me so many times that I am questioning its intentions. In fact it causes me concern when thinking of the rise of artificial intelligence. You see, if technology at its current level of development can be so confounding, what lies in store when technology reaches some level of self-awareness?  It could be that we would move from our present epoch of relatively benign technology and cross over to the world of self-aware machines, we move into the state of “Artificial Malevolence”.

Now I am aware that I am not the first to think of these things. In fact, being named Dave, the words of Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey haunt me.  Hal was supposed to be ‘foolproof and incapable of error.’ However, when asked to take action that would save Dave’s life, he states, devoid of emotion: “I’m sorry Dave – I can’t do that…

In fact,Wikipedia states that:

“Siri”, Apple’s natural language voice control system for the iPhone 4S, features a reference to the film: it responds “I’m sorry I can’t do that” when asked to “open the pod bay doors”

Well what happens when you ask your favourite technology to open a file and (since it mostly hasn’t – yet – reached the point of communicating by voice), simply displays text stating: “file not found” or words to that effect.  ARGH!!  Renting of garments, gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair!

What is a mere mortal to do?  Well my standard remedy when dealing with malevolent technology is to have a data backup.  In fact, not just one, but rather..three.

If you put all your eggs in one electronic basket there is a consequential rule that you should watch that basket very, very carefully. Accordingly, making copies of your electronic data and ensuring that this data is stored in at least two locations, one on a hardened hard drive (such as the ioSafe line of hard drives that are designed to withstand fire, flood, temperatures, immersion etc. for extended periods of time) and the second being a cloud storage system is not only prudent but well advised.  In fact I am now advising that you have a third backup. The third is a cloud-based backup that is not connected 24/7 to your network.

Many firms that the writer has spoken to have been hit with various variants of ransomware malware. These malevolent applications encrypt everything they can find on your network and demands a ransom to be paid – otherwise they disappear taking the decryption algorithm with it…leaving your data …useless.

In once case, fortunately, the firm’s cloud backup – which only backed up on a schedule and was not continually connected to the network – was left untouched by the malware and they were able restore their data without paying the ransom. This is perhaps one of the best arguments for backing your data up into a secure cloud backup that can remain isolated from a malware attack such as the ransomware nasties.

It is important that you have a multiple layer redundant backup system. Don’t depend on a sole backup system…if that backup fails … you are left totally vulnerable. It is important to test your backup system and ensure that it is operating properly so that you can restore your data as needed. I have seen situations where the sole backup system seemed to be functioning fine until the time came when it was needed – and then the realization hit that the backup was corrupted and useless. In one such case what had been backed up to Dropbox was recovered … all other data was lost.

The benefit of having a local hardened hard drive backup is that you can restore your data quickly in the event of a loss. Cloud backups…while wonderful for preserving your data in a safe location…will take considerable time to restore onto your network since you are limited by your download speeds. However, if your system is hit with a system-wide problem, such as ransomwear malware, a flood, fire or other disaster or a failure of your primary backup, you will be thanking your lucky stars for having a complete cloud backup no matter how long it takes to do the restore.

Believe me, I have had to restore data from the cloud after a system-wide failure (did I mention that technology seems to hate me?). A fast Internet connection can never be fast enough when time is money. But ultimately, having a cloud backup made the difference between sheer inconvenience and absolute disaster.

After all when technology is out to get you, you don’t want disappointment to haunt all your dreams.

 

 

 

It’s information overload out there. And many lawyers are seeing readership of their blogs, articles and newsletters dropping off. So, this week’s tip is to consider changing things up by adding video. How can you make that decision? Give some thought to the following questions:

1. Do you know where the surfers are? Youtube has surpassed Google for searches. That’s right… Google! There is no higher mountain. Enough said.

2. Does your target market watch video? It’s not just celebrity and cat videos that are making the rounds. Business executives are watching video. In fact, research shows 59% of them will choose video over text, when both are available on the same topic.

3. Would your team be amenable to being part of a video series? Don’t know? Find out. Even the most introverted and shy lawyers can do well on screen… if there is a professional plan in place.

4. Is there room in the budget? The truth is that most law firms have some fluff in their marketing plan that can easily be cut out or modified without impact to the return on the program. Why not take a closer look at your plan to see what can be cut?

5. What does your market respond to? How you listen? Bolster their confidence? Answer their questions with ease? This type of human rapport translates well to video, when it’s strategic, client centred and focused on the firm’s central brand messaging.

So, the next time you sit down to a partners’ meeting and the question of ‘how can we get our marketing to perform better’ comes up, don’t let the energy in the room drop. Talk about how you’ve scrutinized the marketing plan (and hopefully received expert advice about that) and have some ideas for discussion.

For more on video marketing, see previous posts on SlawTips:
A Beginner’s Guide to Producing Law Firm Videos – Part 1

A Beginners Guide to Law Firm Video – Pt 2: Choosing Topics for Your Firm’s Videos

Also see Toronto Marketing Blog, for light banter about the value of video, along with some interesting statistics:
One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words – A “Video takes off” series

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

You know how to plan effectively. Well, at least you have read dozens of articles on it, right? But you are alway too busy to do it. You promise yourself that as soon as things slow down, you will get right on that because its such a great idea. But either you never slow down or you go golfing instead. Either way, you end each working day in a panic, you go home exhausted with little to show for it, and whatever enthusiasm you have the next morning dissipates like political promises on E-day + 1.

The best solution is the office equivalent of radical, emergency surgery: lock the doors, put the answering machine on, turn off Outlook, and stay there until you have a Plan that will allow you to practice efficiently and effectively. Jim Calloway will outline the basics for you, if you forgotten them.

But if you cannot, will not, act so drastically, try a band-aid for today. When you think you have had it for the day, stop. Just stop. Three deep breaths. Rummage through your To Do list, the pile of files on your desk (or the floor), or even your frantically-splnning mental list. As you identify a file that MUST BE DONE, set it aside. When you have 3 files, stop. No second guessing or looking for another file that might be even more MUST BE DONE. Move every other file out of sight – not just on the corner of the desk because you will see them out of the corner of your eye and be distracted; completely out of sight (hopefully in a filing cabinet but that is for another day). Your work area is now clear except for 3 files. In no more than 10 seconds – a gut reaction – pile them with the one you fear the most on top and descending levels of fear from there.

Tomorrow, put on the answering machine and turn off email – no alerts, visual or audible. Close your door. Set an alert for 2 hours later. Work on that top file until it is under control (files are never done until they are billed and reported out – just aim for under control i.e., no more panic). If you get all 3 done before the 2 hours is up, spend the remaining time reading Jim’s article. At the end of the day, rinse and repeat – 3 more ugly files, etc. Within 10 working days, you will have everything under control and a working plan that will keep your practice that way thereafter.

Barney (Bjorn)  Christianson