Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : May 2005

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 SOLO/SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONER:

BY PAT YEVICS  

"ABA Tech Show Tips"
By Pat Yevics

In early April I had the opportunity to attend the 19th Annual American Bar Association (ABA) Tech Show in Chicago. Having regularly attended the show since 2000, I was very interested in seeing what the latest technology offered the legal profession.

Most of the sessions that I attended were very good, and I will share some of the information with you here. It should be noted, however, that there is nothing radically new in technology in the legal profession. Rather, what is happening now is a maturing of legal technology. Now that we have come to the realization that the paperless office is not really going to happen for most practitioners and firms, we can start focusing on how to use this amazing technology to help us be more productive in very practical and cost-effective ways.

Materials from the Tech Show – much of which is excellent – are available on CD-ROM (as either single sessions or in its entirety) and may be purchased directly from the ABA. For more information, visit www.abanet.org/techshow/ (which also features the list of “60 Sites in 60 Minutes”).

This year’s big topics included blogs and RSS feeds, computer-generated evidence and litigation technology. Over the next few months, I will share some of the information that I learned at Tech Show. Moreover, by the time you receive this issue of the Bar Bulletin, our department will have its own blog, through which I will share any information that I receive that I think will be important to solo and small firm practitioners. The “blawg” (or legal blog) will be available on the MSBA website, but the address is http://loma.typepad.com/law_office_management_ass/.

“Marketing with Technology”
This outstanding session (the materials are excellent and worth getting) was presented by Larry Bodine and Matt Homann. Bodine is a regular contributor to Law Office Computing and has a very down-to-earth approach to using technology. One of his main points was that e-mail for technology is dead, the primary reasons being spam and junk e-mail. Bodine believes that technology techniques for marketing will instead include blogs (more on that later and in future issues), websites, web seminars, online communities and making information available for PDAs (way high-tech for now).

Bodine noted, however, that these high-tech methods must be used in conjunction with low-tech methods such as the telephone, face-to-face contact and Fed Ex; his point about Fed Ex was that if someone was willing to spend the money to send him something via Fed Ex, he would read it. While that may prove too expensive for most practitioners, it highlights the problems of information overload and how to get the biggest bang for your “marketing” dollar.

Although, as Bodine pointed out, there are some difficulties with e-mail newsletters because of spam, they are still an effective means of communicating with clients and potential clients. He referenced a survey done by Touchpoint Metrics (www.tpmetrics.com) about the “Best Practices in Legal Marketing: Effective Use of Websites.” In an article on the Legal Marketing Portal website (http://tinyurl.com/7o4p4), there is a discussion of the survey. I also suggest that you go to the Touchpoint Metrics site and scroll to the end (www.tpmetrics.com/reports_faq.asp). The sites of all the firms who participated in the survey are listed and linked. This is an easy way to view the websites of other firms to get ideas.

Also listed in the materials were “voodoo words” that many anti-spam filters look for in the subject or body of the e-mail newsletter. Some of them that law firms might use include “Click, Trial (as in trial lawyers), Dear, Not intended for residents of (in disclaimers), Bankruptcy, Call or register now, Urgent matter, millions of dollars (as in verdicts, toll-free prefixes).”

At the end of his 21 pages of materials, Bodine lists his Top Ten Deadly Mistakes for Law Firm Websites (read at your own misery):

  1. Endless list of practice descriptions

  2. Welcome from the managing partner

  3. Mission statements

  4. Firm history

  5. Research links

  6. Old content

  7. Hard-to-guess website address

  8. Animated graphics

  9. Disconnected recruiting page

  10. Viewable only onT-1 lines

“60 Tips in 60 Minutes”
One of the best sessions at the show was “60 Tips in 60 Minutes”, which has become a staple at the Tech Show. It is very difficult to achieve the right balance at this type of session so that everyone in attendance comes away with something new, but the speakers did all that and more. Among them were colleagues of mine from all over the country, including Laura Callaway from the Alabama State Bar; Ellen Freedman, a consultant with the Pennsylvania State Bar; Dan Pinnington of the Lawyer’s Professional Indemnity Company, a risk-management firm in Ontario, Canada; and Reid Trautz from the D.C. Bar Association.

A few of the best tips of the 60 included the following:

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Elaws (www.dol.gov/elaws) is a new service from the Department of Labor that lists federal employment laws for workers and small businesses.

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A list of wireless access points can be found at www.wififreespot.com or www.hotspotheaven.com.

bullet

Sendoutcards.com is an easy, on-demand way to make sure that you never forget to send a card by mail. The cost for the service is about $2 (but could be worth a fortune under some circumstances).

bullet

My Skills Profile (www.MySkillsProfile.com) allows you to perform assessments on your skills and skills of current employees and potential employees right from you computer.

bullet

The best site for gadget-freaks is www.gizmodo.com.

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For reviews of over 500 cell phones, visit www.phonescoop.com.

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For information about protecting your documents by removing metadata, go to www.practicepro.ca/metadata.

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One of the coolest sites mentioned was www.readplease.com. This site will read your documents out loud to you. This is great for proofreading your own work because one never catches all of one’s own errors. If you do a lot of writing, this could be an invaluable program. The site offers a free trial version which can be upgraded for an annual cost of $49.95.

This is but a sampling of the topical sessions that I attended at this year’s Tech Show. If you would like a copy of “60 Tips in 60 Minutes”, please e-mail me at pyevics@msba.org, and I will forward it to you. I will list all the sessions I attended at the LOMA Blog at http://loma.typepad.com/law_office_management_ass/, with a longer review of each to determine whether or not you want to get the materials.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, complaints or compliments, please feel free to contact me at (800) 492-1964, ext. 3039, or pyevics@msba.org. Please note, if I do not respond within 48 hours, it usually means that I did not get the message or that it simply went off my radar screen. (Never hesitate to contact me again to remind me that I missed getting back to you; I get so many e-mail messages, some just get away from me.)

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: May, 2005

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